Popular iPad and iPhone media player VLC has been out for less than 45 days and its days may already be numbered. Videolan, makers of VLC for the Mac, PC and Linux, sent Apple a copyright infringement letter stating that VLC for the iPad and iPhone infringes on its Open Source License. The iOS version of VLC is made by a third-party French company Applidium and it seems that the Videolan guys aren’t too happy that Applidium used their open-source code for an app in Apple’s App Store.
Since VLC is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL), it can not have any DRM restrictions which limits the copying and use of the app in question. Apple’s App Store of course uses DRM to protect its apps to ensure applications are not freely copied or pirated so the hard work of developers isn’t for naught.
Rémi Denis-Courmont, one of Videolan’s key developers, said that due to the copyright infringement claim from his group, Apple will most likely remove VLC from the App Store. This isn’t the first time this type of situation has happened. GNU Go, an open-source Go game, was slapped with a similar infringement claim and instead of changing its Terms of Service to adhere to the GPL terms, Apple simply removed it from the App Store.
In an earlier post, Rémi Denis-Courmont said “At the time of writing, the infringing application is still available. However, it is to be expected that Apple will cease distribution soon, just like it did with GNU Go earlier this year in strikingly similar circumstances.”
While there has been a storm of public criticism against Videolan’s copyright claim, Denis-Courmont deflects any blame away from Videolan and puts it all on Apple’s shoulders, ”users of iOS-based devices would be deprived of VLC media player, as a consequence of the intransigently tight control Apple maintains over its mobile applications platform.”
If you’ve been waiting to get VLC, you might want to move quickly as VLC could soon disappear from the App Store. As of this writing, VLC is still available for free.