The universal VLC Media Player for iOS application has been removed from the App Store. The news comes following several months of dispute between the original developers of the VideoLan Project, and the developers of VLC for iOS (Applidium).
In case you’re not familiar with the history, here’s what happened. The developers of the original VideoLan Project weren’t happy with the VLC for iOS port, because App Store users have to agree to only “share” an app with five people. As the VideoLan Project is an open source program, this goes against what its original developers stand for. Essentially, it’s a licensing issue. Back in October, the original developers of the VideoLan Project commented on the matter:
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.
Today, Apple has removed VLC for iOS from the App Store. One of the original creators of the VideoLan Project confirmed this on the group’s blog, stating:
It’s definitely a shame VLC for iOS has been pulled, as it was a great app. Personally, I think Apple’s five device limit for iOS apps should be scrapped. After all, we’re not seeing this limit in the recently launched Mac App Store.
Let us know your thoughts on the disappearance of VLC for iOS in the comments below. Hopefully you managed to get a copy of the app before it was pulled.
VLC Media Player is now available to download via Cydia. Read on for more information.
Thanks to the guys over at 9to5Mac has spotted an update to the quotation above (by Remi, original creators of the VLC open-source platform):
He also wrote a post on Apple’s involvement in the matter:
On January 7th, I was told by an Apple attorney that VLC media player had been removed from the App Store. That is how I was able to break the news first. However as can be expected from an attoryney, there was not really any explanation. A number of people and -unfortunately- popular bloggers have jumped to the obvious conclusion: the VideoLAN project, and I in particular would be idealist morons who care more about technical license details than users, and we would have constrained Apple. This is not quite true. First, even I do not know for certain why Apple removed VLC, and Apple will probably never state the truth. Second, Apple has already removed VLC from the “old” Mac Store for computers… already about 4 years ago, at a time when VLC was one of the most popular applications, and I am yet to learn the reasons why. Third, Apple received my copyright notification more than 2 months before they pulled the application. This was not expedited, as the US copyright law would require. As such, it seems dubious that my well-publicized notification from last october is the root cause of the removal. It is nevertheless the reason why I was learnt directly from Apple that VLC was removed. Last, Apple had the power and plenty of time (2 months) to adjust and clarifiy the terms of the App Store. Indeed, said terms were modified several times since then. Alternatively, Apple could even have continued to carry VLC implicitly distributed under the GPL by Applidium. This is effectively what I believe the situation was before the removal. All in all, we will probably never know the truth. But I am inclined to believe what Eben Mogel, from the Software Freedom Law Center, foretold me 2 months ago: Apple would remove VLC simply because it cannot stand software distributed under the GPL on its stores. But, it is Apple’s choice and business decision, therefore Apple would have no reasons to expedite the process. It could also be that they do specifically not fancy VLC on their platforms. That would account for the removal from the Mac Store a long time ago. I know this would be disappointing to the many Apple fanboys who have insulted or slandered me on the web or over email in the last few days. But I might not be the (anti-)hero people made me.
Interesting, don’t you think?