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The iPhone SDK and free software: not a match

Posted by: Anonymous [ip:] on April 16, 2008 07:14 PM
This article is complete FUD. Code signing isn't a problem because the author can do whatever he wants with his own program, including distribute binaries through iTunes. NO license takes away the rights of the original author, even the GPLv3. iTunes distribution is done *through* Apple, not *by* Apple -- otherwise, Apple would require a separate license for proprietary programs, etc. No, distribution through iTunes is an action taken by the author, and it doesn't implicate the GPLv3 at all until when/if a licensee downloads it from iTunes.

Now, if someone other than the original author wants to distribute modified versions on iTunes, that *might* implicate the anti-TiVoization clause. Hmm. Nope. Section 6 of the GPLv3 provides that "[i]f you convey an object code work under this section in, or with, or specifically for use in, a [TiVo or iPhone or whatever], and the conveying occurs as part of a transaction in which the right of possession and use of the [TiVo or iPhone or whatever] is transferred to the recipient ... the Corresponding Source conveyed under this section must be accompanied by the Installation Information." Since iTunes-distributed iPhone apps aren't distributed as "part of [the] transaction in which the right to possession and use of the [iPhone] is transferred to the recipient," that doesn't seem to apply here.

Let's assume that I'm wrong about that, and the anti-TiVoization clause is applicable to this situation. The "Installation Information" might include the process of getting a key. Nothing in the GPL says that the installation process can't require tools which cost money. After all, computers, (some) compilers, and internet bandwidth all cost money. Where does the author here get the idea that the key can't cost money?

Even if the ATC applies, and even if the ATC requires the key to be free, nothing prevents the original author from dual-licensing his code. If the first license is the GPLv3, then the second license could be something like "You may distribute modified, non-GPLv3 binary versions of this program through the iTunes App Store, so long as you also release the full source under this same dual license, and the modified binary version conspicuously displays instructions for getting the dual-licensed source of your modified version."

But let's say, just for the sake of argument, that I'm wrong about the ATC applying, wrong about the ATC prohibiting the requirement of non-gratis tools, and wrong about the ability to dual-license with GPLv3. Even if I'm wrong about all of those things, who's to say that non-GPLv3 is unfree? GPLv2, BSD, etc. are all free software licenses.

As for the non-disclosure agreement, it remains to be seen if it'll be included in the final terms, and if it is, if it would prohibit distributing source code that makes API calls. Somehow, I doubt both of those things.


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