In short, App Store users must agree to only share each copy of an app with up to five devices. In other words, each user has a limit. On the other hand, the Video Lan Project is an open source program that is distributed through GNU General Public License. Under that license, the number of users should not be limited and users should be free to tinker with the program.
Today, a formal notification of copyright infringement was sent to Apple Inc. regarding distribution of the VLC media player for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. VLC media player is free software licensed solely under the terms of the open source GNU General Public License (a.k.a. GPL). Those terms are contradicted by the products usage rules of the AppStore through which Apple delivers applications to users of its mobile devices.
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: http://www.fsf.org/news/2010-05-app-store-compliance . Thus, 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. In any case, while the rules for distribution of open-source or “free” (as in speech) software are extremely relaxed, they do exist and have to be abode by.
VLC and open-source software in general would not have reached their current quality and success if it had not been for their license. Therefore, blatant license violation cannot be tolerated at any rate. Concerned users are advised to look for application on more open mobile platforms for the time being.”
This is unfortunate, as VLC for iOS is a really good app, and we shouldn’t have to live without it over some ridiculous licensing woes.
Since it may soon be gone, go ahead and get a copy of your own while you still can. If you don’t get around to it, it will probably be re-released on Cydia eventually.