Apple removes GNU Go after FSF complaint

By SiliconIndia   |   Friday, 28 May 2010, 07:45 Hrs
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Bangalore: Apple has removed its GNU Go iPhone port from the App Store after receiving a letter of complaint from the Free Software Foundation (FSF). FSF complained that the store's terms of service undermined the application's open source license, reports Gavin Clarke from Register.

Unlike other apps, which has been rejected by Apple prior to this, the rejection of GNU Go, a chess-like game that's open sourced under the GPLv2 license is considered different from others. The issue gained notice when the FSF discovered that the developers of the iPhone version of GNU Go were not in full compliance with the requirements of GPLv2. Those terms require that any software created as a derivative of code under the GPL will also be licensed under the GPL. Apple's terms of service did not let that happen.

"Apple is free to distribute our software through the App Store if they wish, but they cannot take advantage of the GPL's permissions while turning a blind eye to the conditions," wrote Brett Smith, License Compliance Engineer on FSF's website. "If they want to continue distributing this software, they must not prohibit others from doing so through the iTunes Store Terms of Service," Smith added.

GPLed open-source code, such as Doom, XPilot, Frotz, and Tyrian are used in many apps in the App Store. Apple's developer program agreements require that developers comply with any licenses for any code used in an app distributed through the App Store. The app's description also clearly states that the app is GPLed and that source code is available upon request.

According to the GNU terms, through distributing GNU software, the code must also be freely shared and can be copied and modified by the user. The FSF have contacted developers of such software and according to them, "legally, both parties have the responsibility to comply with the GPL."

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