GPL and the Mac App Store

Stephen Holt stephen.holt at
Wed Jan 12 17:44:00 UTC 2011

The issue, as I understand it, isn't about availability of source, but extra restrictions applied to the App's license (whatever that is) which is incompatible with the GPL.

 from <>:

> You agree that the Services and certain Products include security technology that limits your use of Products and that, whether or not Products are limited by security technology, you shall use Products in compliance with the applicable usage rules established by Apple and its principals (“Usage Rules”), and that any other use of the Products may constitute a copyright infringement. 

and from the Usage Rules section:

> (i) You may download and use an application from the Mac App Store (“Mac App Store Product”) for personal, non-commercial use on any Apple-branded products running Mac OS X that you own or control (“Mac Product”).
> (ii) If you are a commercial enterprise or educational institution, you may download a Mac App Store Product for use either (a) by a single individual on each of the Mac Product(s) that you own or control, or (b) by multiple individuals on a single shared Mac Product that you own or control. For example, a single employee may use a Mac App Store Product on both the employee’s desktop Mac Product and laptop Mac Product, or multiple students may serially use the Product on a single Mac Product located at a resource center or library.
> (iii) Use may require sign-in with the Apple ID used to download the Mac App Store Product from the Mac App Store. Mac App Store Products can be updated through the Mac App Store only.

Essentially - the App Store EULA dictates how you can use and distribute the binary you download, which is a big incompatibility with the GPL.

For some more background, the FSF has a good article on why the GPL and App Store are in conflict: <>

Steve Holt

P.S.  Please don't take any of this as a value judgement either for or against the GPL.  This is merely the situation we're in as I understand it.

P.P.S. I am not a lawyer.

On Jan 12, 2011, at 9:22 AM, Joe Hildebrand wrote:

> On 1/11/11 3:43 PM, "Evan Schoenberg, M.D." <evan at> wrote:
>> In the current agreement for the App Store - on all platforms - there are
>> several provisions which restrict distribution.  These are incompatible with
>> the GPL.  
> Could you provide us with the relevant provisions, please?
> What about out-of-the-box approaches like providing (all of!) the source as
> a part of the application download?
> -- 
> Joe Hildebrand

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