VLC withdrawn from iTunes

Steve Jobs has pulled the VLC media player  from his iTunes store because of a row over Open Sauce rules.

The problem is the General Public License, which governs VLC and many other open-source programs, and App Store policies.  Steve Jobs refuses to let it govern anything Applish.

Remi Denis-Courmont, one of the developers of the desktop version of VLC, wrote in a blog post that the developer gave Apple a choice.

Either make its walled garden of online delights a little more compatible with the GPL or lose the app. Jobs decided it was better to give open sauce a kick in the nadgers.

Denis-Courmont said that Jobs had resolved the problem of

incompatibility between the GNU General Public License and the App Store had been resolved the hard way.

The GPL lets people freely copy, distribute, and modify GPL programs provided the resulting programs are also covered by the GPL and this same provision.

However Jobs insists on digital rights management being applied to programs in the App Store so that it cannot be shared.

Denis-Courmont and others see that clash as a threat to the heart of the GPL.

Like many open sauce arguments the move to pick a fight with Apple is contested by someone who has an equally strong point of view.

Romain Goyet, co-founder of the company that created the iOS version of VLC, told Ars Technica  that he was not violating anyone’s freedom. He worked on it for free, opened all our source code, and the app is available for free for anyone to download. People are enjoying a nice free and open-source video player on the App Store, and some people are trying to ruin it in the name of ‘freedom.'”

In actual fact VLC for the Mac, was a lot better than Apple’s QuickTime. It played almost all common media files, was the second most popular Mac-software download during 2010 on CNET’s Download.com.

The incident can been seen as yet another case of the Open Sauce extremists fighting between the pragmatists. If you follow the extremist line then you can’t run anything open sauce on proprietary computers, or even think about it.

However there is also another important issue of control being overlooked. Jobs’ Mob’s walled garden of delights is more controlled than East Germany under Erich Honecker. In such a universe it is unlikely that Open Sauce would ever survive.  It is always going to be in the position of being shot while trying to leg it over the wall.