GPL and the Mac App Store

Colin Barrett colin at
Wed Jan 12 19:36:36 UTC 2011

On Jan 12, 2011, at 9:58 AM, Zachary West wrote:

> Additionally, the EULA you are forced to add on your application requires a non-transferrable license, while the GPL is explicitly transferrable.

This gets at the heart of the philosophical clash between GPL and the App Store. From the Free Software Definition (not a legal document but it lays out the philosophy of Free Software):

> - The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2). 
> [...]
> The freedom to redistribute copies must include binary or executable forms of the program, as well as source code, for both modified and unmodified versions.

Legal language aside, the code signing and receipt system is tied to each individual machine, even for free applications. It's possible a legal eagle might be able to work something out, but this is the fundamental conflict we're dealing with: Apple wants you to buy / download copies of applications through their online store which not an onerous requirement these days but the GPLv2 at least was written and designed in a world where most software came on floppies and ordering another copy might take weeks thus their insistence on being able to distribute binary copies to "help your neighbor".

Personally, I find that particular Free Software freedom to be increasingly outdated, but my opinion does not hold much weight with the FSF ;)


More information about the devel mailing list