GPL and the Mac App Store

Evan Schoenberg, M.D. evan at
Tue Jan 11 22:43:31 UTC 2011

I just got off the phone with Karen Sandler, our legal representative at, the not-for-profit firm which provides lawyery goodness to the IMF and therefore us.

In the current agreement for the App Store - on all platforms - there are several provisions which restrict distribution.  These are incompatible with the GPL.  If we were to submit Adium to the App Store, any contributor - which includes contributors to underlying libraries like libpurple, libglib, or libintl - could (1) sue us directly and (2) activate the deauthorization provision in the GPL to remove our right to use the code, both because we would have knowingly violated the GPL.

The only ways around this would be:
1) Every contributor agrees to allow Adium to be submitted. This would require all libraries' contributors.  It's completely infeasible to contact the 1000+ people that would include... not to mention that one or more would almost certainly object on free software principles.


2) Have Apple modify the license to allow for the GPL.

Apple, according to Karen, generally dislikes the GPL, and (2) is therefore unlikely.  However, she has a contact within Apple's legal team and is going to make a few inquiries... although the VLC takedown was quite public, it's unknown if a request for such a modification has really been attempted, either through usual App Store channels or through a direct appeal to Jobs himself.

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