back to article Apple picks death not compliance for open source iPhone game

Apple has removed an application from the iPhone App Store after the Free Software Foundation complained that the store's terms of service undermined the application's open source license. To the countless "inappropriate" apps Apple has ejected from its App Store, you can add GNU Go, a chess-like game that's open sourced under …

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FAIL

Ermmm - non story

Of course I expect nothing else from el Reg at the moment but anti-Apple stories and Apple haters in the comments (of the last 5 stories all are hate packed).

What we basically have here is:

1) Developer takes a GPL licensed game and releases it into app store. Presumably knowing that Apples terms break the license.

2) Apple accept unaware that it is GPL.

3) FSF shout "gotcha, change your standard terms and conditions or else you can't sell it."

4) Apple say oops, sorry we will remove that then.

Where's the story here? Ohhhh what they wanted was Apple to change a set of standard terms and conditions for iTunes, hmm how many companies are likely to do that really on the basis of one single example?

The app maker could easily have gotten round this by putting in a link inside the app, but no this wasn't about that, this was more about the "gotcha" moment and the press coverage that could be generated by stating how awful Apple are for FSF.

Apple are not going to start changing terms and conditions in this way, it would lead to more attempts to play "gotcha".

Wouldn't even surprise me to find this was intentional anyway.... cynical, me?

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WTF?

And?

It's Steve's ball FFS! If he wants to be all childish at every turn, take his football and sod off home, just let him!

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FSF

The FSF calling Apple's DRM "Digital Restrictions Management" doesn't help their cause, it makes them come across as petulant children calling people names, it may go down well with a certain element of uber geeks, but the majority of people who work in big serious companies will cringe reading this. Herein lies the problem - it's the big companies that the FSF should be going all out to attract, so they need to speak the language of big companies, it is also big companies who are most likely to be running a blend of free and pay for software so don't want lectures on others' ideology.

For the record: I think Apple are bang out of order here, if someone wants to give their software away for free, Apple should allow this to happen, rather than restricting the distribution of someone else's code.

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FAIL

ahhh

But the point is you can give this software away free with Apple, what they wanted to change was the fact that Apple have some legal terms stating you can only put it on five devices once you have downloaded it

Petty, stupid game playing from FSF..

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If it's unsurprising...

...why did they even bother submitting it, if they expected it to fail?

..and if they *knew* it was going to fail, then this was a cynical attempt to put Apple in a bad light, because they dared not to believe in the same values of open distribution as themselves.

This is a bit like the naturalists asking Obama to walk naked over the whitehouse lawn, and when he refuses, start a pre-prepared negative campaign about his stance on liberties and open values.

You want to distribute Free Software/OSS correctly, make sure your licence is valid in the distribution channels you choose - especially if that channel is a revenue stream for the supplier.

If Apple's terms are too strict...use something else (android?)!! If Android's market share grows as a result - so be it; the joke's on Apple then. *Then* we can point an laugh.

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RDW
Thumb Up

Fair enough

'...why did they even bother submitting it, if they expected it to fail?'

'They' (the FSF) did not submit it. GNU GO was released over 20 years ago and runs on all common operating systems (most of which do not impose the sort of peculiar restrictions that Apple deems necessary for the iPhone). GNU GO is not only GPL software but also an official part of the GNU system (meaning that the FSF holds the copyright):

http://www.gnu.org/software/gnugo/gnugo.html

The iPhone port was written around the GNU Go engine by a third party, Robota Sotfwarehouse, and was released in 2008:

http://forum.robota.nl/2008/01/08/iphone-igo-13-first-official-release/

Robota is of course entitled to take the FSF's GPL'd code and write its own apps, but not to distribute such works in direct contravention of the GPL (except with the explicit permission of the FSF, who could choose to dual license but obviously won't). Robota and Apple should have read the (very well known!) licence of the code they were re-distributing. The terms of the GPL are very clear in this situation, and there's no reason why Apple should be exempt just because the iPhone is cool and shiny.

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Grenade

So who gets to sue them?

From memory, the GPL also says Apple will need to continue providing the source code for the next few years too... regardless of whether the software has been removed or not.

Guess this means they're directly violating the license in that way now too.

So, who gets to sue them?

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Jobs Horns

Nobody

IIRC, the app was ported by somebody else and resold via the store. That person is most likely offering the full source so the GPL is satisfied on that account.

It is the actual means of redistributing the binary via the store and the way it is wrapped by iTunes for install and redistribution which violate GPL.

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Flame

Boohoo

Poor little freetards

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Linux

Freeloaders indeed...

> Poor little freetards

Yes. Why should we expect corporations to obey the law or honor licenses.

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WTF?

Call me thick, but I don't understand

Can someone in lay terms please explain this to me? Ta.

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Silver badge

Quite Simple

GNUGo is released under the General Public License. This License implies a perpetual license to each user to use, modify and redistribute the license as they see fit (so long as they abide by the license, obviously)

Apple have added their own terms to it, despite not being the authors/owners of the code, to say it can only be used on 5 devices (i.e. limiting the distribution possible)

Bit of a non-issue in as much as Apple have taken the only action available - they removed the app. They shouldn't have added their own terms in the first place admittedly, but removing the app or changing App store terms are completely their choice.

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Anonymous Coward

Thanks, Ben!

But I still don't understand. We're not talking about 5 devices in total. And the app store isn't the only distribution route to these devices. Sounds like a bit of a pissing content over nothing, eh?

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FAIL

Hmmm

Is it not more like that the dev added the terms, Apple may well have not been aware of the GPL it was under, the dev submits it (for whatever reason), Apple are informed and they the do right thing...

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Stop

Not really

Erm... no.

The dev added the original license, it was Apple who added the terms (whether deliberately or otherwise).

Maybe the Dev didn't know about the term, maybe Apple were unaware? Makes little difference to what the end effect was.

If Apple were unwilling to change App store policies, then it should be removed. Which it has been, hence my saying it was a bit of a non-issue (especially if both sides were both unaware of their relevant bits at time of submission).

Question: Are you the same A/C who's been through all the other Apple stories slating any anti--apple comments? Why post A/C if you believe that strongly?? If you've an opinion, be proud of it and put your name to it!

Not that I'm saying you shouldn't have a right to anonymity, I just like to know who I'm talking to (even if it's just a pseudonym)

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Thumb Up

Some will be not all!

Anonymous was set by default when I commented on some more "choice" stories (non apple), where I couldn't leave any links (even via pseudonym).

I don't mind people not liking apple or their products, but the FUD is unbelievable on here, as you have said this is a complete non-issue, but I guess "Apple complies with FSF policy and GPL license" is less interesting headline than this story.

Apple users might miss out on open office, other GPL stuff, but what is Apples loss is Androids gain.. Everyone is a winner..

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@Ben Tasker

I really don't think it was Apple that added the terms. Without checking, I'll wager that the submitter is explicitly responsible and liable for ensuring compliance with all necessary intellectual property laws and agreements, just as they would be if they decided to rip off somebody else's trade mark. And the developer programme licence no doubt indemnifies Apple against any loss they may suffer due to misrepresentation by the submitter.

If the FSF were to take the issue to court, I'd be surprised if they seek anything beyond nominal damages, as the whole thing is probably just down to some enthusiastic developer who didn't read all the legal print.

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RE: Thanks, Ben!

>> But I still don't understand. We're not talking about 5 devices in total. And the app store isn't the only distribution route to these devices.

Well actually, unless you buy development tools and learn how to use them, or you break the licence terms of the software running on the device (and the associated technical measures put in to enforce them), then the AppStore **IS** the only route for putting software on your i<wotsit>.

Whether it's of practical relevance or not, the GPL is quite clear that if a piece of software is under the GPL, then anyone who receives the software is permitted to redistribute both it and derivative works as long as they distribute it with the GPL intact. So it doesn't matter that anyone else can get the program from the AppStore, any one person is contractually allowed (by the GPL) to redistribute it - but Apple's terms specifically prohibit that.

Apple cannot remove the GPL licence from the software, and neither can the person who ported it - without the express permission of every holder of the copyright in the software (in practical terms, everyone who contributed to it). And since Apple weren't prepared to make their store system compatible with the requirements of GPL software - they've removed it.

For Apple this is great - it reduces the competition since they've ruled out any GPL software going on the AppStore. Allowing redistribution as required would have broken their control over users devices. Note the bit about "derivative works" I mentioned ? Well it means that anyone could get GPL software from the AppStore, and would be entitled to the source. They would also be legally entitled to redistribute not only the version on the AppStore, but also derivative works - ie versions NOT approved by Apple.

If the software were under GPL V3, then part of the requirement (added in GPL V3 to prevent a repeat of the TIVO debacle*) would require the distribution also of all information needed to build a working derivative. That means, you would need to distribute enough information to build a binary that would run on an i<wotsit> - and that means being able to sign it without Apple getting involved.

* TIVO took GPL software and complied with the letter of the licence. However, they built a system where you could get the code as required, and you could modify it as required, and you could distribute it as required. Trouble is, they used a signing technique that meant that only official TIVO versions would run.

GPL doesn't sit well with Apple because it doesn't allow them to control the users use of their devices. This test case simply allows Apple a good way to prevent most users of i<wotsit>s from ever using GPL'd software and reliasing how much they are missing.

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Stop

Money for nothing?

The whole app store 30%/1lb of your flesh thing is unsustainable in the long run. No problem with you building a device/software stack and selling it for cost + mark-up, but to expect the rest of the world to make you a billionaire of the back of some legal weasel words and no effort on your part? Please!

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Flame

The FSF are a bunch of egotistical hypocrites.

They've done a bang-up job of convincing all and sundry that Public Domain doesn't exist for a start. If I wanted to give back to the community, I know which I'd use: Public Domain. No egotistical demands for credit no matter how much you've changed my work. No puerile attempts to tell others what they can and cannot do with my donated labour. Just the code. No strings attached. THAT is what donation should be like.

As for the FSF's assertion that "Apple doesn't value people's independence and creativity"—and leaving aside the fact that the App Store has plenty of examples of both—Final Cut Studio and Logic Studio also prove otherwise. As does OS X itself, which is (a) built on the Open Source Darwin core, and (b) more than happy to run Open Source stuff.

It's only Apple's consumer electronics gear which is closely tied to their App Store.

Besides, if Open Source is your bag, why are you bothering with iPhone? I thought Android was supposed to be doing really well!

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Thumb Up

Agreed.

Long live the BSDs.

Though I am unsure how much Apple _contributes_ back to thank the community for OS X's underpinnings. With BSD, they don't _have_ to though and that is fine by me. If I ever write worthwhile-to-release and willing-to-maintain software, I will go BSD myself.

Mind you, thinking of Apple as cuddly is akin to thinking that a jellyfish is a squeeze ball. Regardless of the merit of its products.

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Boffin

I hate to point out the obvious

^ but here we go:

1, You can have it on up to 5 devices ... but how many people have got 5 iPhones or iPads?

2, You could always just install it on a device, remove it from iTunes, download it again and install it on another device. This would allow you to put it on as many devices as you like...

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Paris Hilton

ahhh but thats not the point is it!

Then they could not have made such a big song and dance of it...

<- No such thing as bad publicity ask Paris

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Silver badge

Im guessing

It's probably more the principle than the practicalities?

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Silver badge

It's Stallman

He's being a righteous twit. As usual.

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Ummm...not too hard really

My family and I have 4 iThingies (iPhone or iPod), one for each of us and we share the same iTunes store account. Not unusual from where I sit...

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If you have more than five Apple devices ...

... that you would want to use this on at once, are you really going to care about spending another $2 to get an extra five uses?

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FAIL

FSF isn't really free

By this action the so-called Free Software Foundation demonstrates once again that the use of IP governed by their license isn't really free.

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Yey

Go isn't all that important, but this precident is. The app-store model and locked down computing platforms is incompatible with the GPL - thats a *lot* of software that all open platforms will have available. The world doesn't care about Go too much, but just wait for the flap when you can't install OpenOffice/GIMP on your iPad or iWhateverNext and the price of the commercial alternatives starts to impact purchasing decisions :-)

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Silver badge

unlikely to matter

I, for example, have Open Office on my Mac (and on my Win 7 box) but I rarely use it because it's, well... clunky. Open Office takes longer to load on the Mac than MS Word does, and God knows that Word takes forever and a day. The _only_ time I use Open Office is when someone sends me an .ODT file. And even then I use it only 'cause Lotus Symphony, which will also read ODT, is even clunkier. I expect that most users will never need more than the iWork for iPad stuff... and that's an extra $10/equivalent in Euros/Pounds/Yen/whatever for each item, or $30 total. <http://www.macworld.com/article/145941/2010/01/iwork_ipad.html> Another $30 on top of the $500 or so for an iPad is not going to make a significant difference. And if it does... well, IBM should be trotting out Lotus for iPad Real Soon Now, so those who like free can have their clunky fix then.

As for the GIMP... whenever there's an update to the GIMP I download it and try it out to see if it's worth using. So far I've deleted it within a day of downloading, every time. Sorry, but it simply doesn't do what I want graphic software to do. Not that I'd be using an iPad for graphical work, anyway.

Nah, the lack of GPL software in the App Store will be significant only to those who already like GPL software, which is not the target market for iPads. Apple, and its customers, will not care. And it's not as if having GPL software would attract the Tuxers, anyway; see the various comments on this very thread from those who are most likely to favor GPL, they all wouldn't buy an iPad in the first place.

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Jobs Horns

Go probably matters enough to some IPad users

Who are very unlikely to buy I-anything in future because of this. If free software is worth developing and promoting, business models based upon controlling users will ultimately have to be destroyed. If that means killing the market for user-controlling devices all well and good.

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Bod
Jobs Horns

Good on them (FSF & GPL that is)

I'm not a complete fan of the GPL myself, but the spirit of the licence is such that everyone must comply in a likewise fashion. No exceptions.

Flies in the face of Steve's attack on Adobe for not being "open" when he has to be slapped down for breaching the terms of exactly what true "open source" is all about. That on top of the fact that Apple is about as closed as you can get anyway.

So I hope all GPL apps are now pulled (if there are any others). How much of OS X is GPL anyway? Surely if there is any Apple are in breach there too on not only all iProduct but the Mac, as they strictly control what devices you can run the OS on.

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Anonymous Coward

I might be wrong

But isn't the OSX built upon a BSD Kernel, using an BSD license - which is less restrictive than the GPL?

- Posted from my Windows Box

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I'm confused

Is there any physical restriction stopping me sharing the download with six devices?

If I do so and Apple come after me for breach of contract I produce the GPL which overrides Apple's. No contest. Apple's lawyers wouldn't even waste their time surely?

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If anything

there *might* be a restriction in itunes or something when it comes to syncing more than said number of devices -- can't be sure, don't own that many devices.

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Perpetuating the viral myth

This article, and several of the comments, are clearly intended to perpetuate the myth that the GPL is a viral license that will destroy any legitimate business. In this case a developer used GPL code and distributed it in a manner that the developer knew or should have known would violate the GPL. Everyone and their dog knows about the 5 device limit.

When Apple learned about this they cut the distribution method, thus guaranteeing that no other developer would use GPL code for the iPhone by guaranteeing that there would be no legitimate way to distribute any binary. Case closed. There is no reason for FSF to be disappointed. If the purpose of the GPL is to guarantee that code will remain open, then that is exactly what happens.

The problem is that some people are not happy unless the entire world works the way they want. These people either want everything covered under the GPL or civilization to end. They are bigots. They are the ones that give ammunition to the likes of MS to characterize the GPL as a viral license that will destroy businesses. I suspect this example will be used everywhere as a reason to avoid the GPL. Look at Apple, everyone will say. They did the right thing by pulling a product that violated the GPL, and now everyone is criticizing them. Those GPL folks can't be trusted.

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Linux

A new ultra-proprietary low...

The problem is that a lot of people like to do what they please with their own property. This flap with the GPL only highlights a problem that applies equally well to any bit of proprietary software that Apple doesn't approve of. Apple has chosen to make their new platform specifically hostile to Free Software rather than just neutral to it like Windows or MacOS is.

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WTF?

Developers can submit their own License

I'm pretty sure developers can submit their own license for their product during submission. If they don't, then the Apple license applies.

Of course this only applies to the end product, not the source, but I don't see why it should matter since the source is not Apple's regardless.

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Flame

FSF can boil their heads

The GPL serves to promote closed-source development, by keeping its code base so far apart from the world of commercial software.

There are many developers who would be happy to contribute patches and improvements to a bit of open-source code if they could use it in their employer's products. With the GPL they can't (the Linux kernel being the exception that proves the rule).

So there is an entirely unnecessary set of paid-for toolkits and libraries out there whose existence is entirely due to fear generated by the FSF. Fortunately the world is waking up to this, and a lot of useful code is now coming out under Mozilla- or BSD- type licences.

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Linux

Nonsense anti-GPL FUD.

> The GPL serves to promote closed-source development, by keeping its code base so far apart

> from the world of commercial software.

Nonsense. Companies like EA and Oracle can exploit Free Software quite readily.

It's those companies that want to take liberties with other people's property that usually have problems with the GPL.

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Silver badge

It was never a problem with the GPL

You don't have to distribute the code with the app to comply with the GPL so all the author had to do was ensure that there was a way of the app 'owner' of being able to get the code.

Apple wouldn't allow that - its their problem not the GPL.

As for the GPL being bad for business - yes it is for those that want to take others work and use it for free and good riddance to them too.

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Gold badge

"not a big deal"

To paraphrase steve jobs "let the submitter turn off the 5 device limit. Not a big deal." to you guys who say this restriction is ok, it is if it's your own code. But this isn't. It's gpl, which requires the source to be available and no redistribution restrictions. Quit the Apple fanboiism, they *could* allow this but they don't. Which is within apple's rights for sure but don't make excuses for apple about it.

As for being incompatible w/ commercial products -- a lot of libraries use lgpl, you can link that code in without having to open your source. For gpl, tough shit. You are expecting something for nothing. If you are reusing gpl code for free, your product is bound by gpl, deal with it, use bsd code, or public domain, buy code, or write it yourself. Some gpl projects are dual license so you can use code for free & gpl your product, or pay up and not open your source.

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Paris Hilton

FSF > Linux > android > iphone

From what I understand FSF considers Linux too commercial, linux considers Android too commercial (and, besides the point but, Android considers iphone too commercial).

:1,$s/considers \([a-Z][a-Z]*\) too commercial/wants the world to believe \1 is not good for them/

Point being there are internal politics in FSF world as well. And the Daddy is currently being knocked into irrelevance by the step-child (and step-child's richer altho illegitimate child). The whole mud slinging on (stinkin) apple is about trying to reclaim the same venerable position it enjoyed once in a world dominated by big box mainframes and Unices.

I am afraid this strategy has FAIL written all over it - because this time the LUSER IS not really the big bad corp, but A LOYAL FSF DEVELOPER (I am unable to take a long term view of things here when android/gplphone would beat the shit out of iphone *because* it is GPL complaint).

And winner is not a bunch of code deprived geeks but nobody really (discounting smugness).

This is not some 70s IBM too closed to dish out software to let the geek at the customer site/MIT play with it. It's not even 90s MS - which, btw, still dominates the PC. This is the retail gadgets world. The avg sucker is no longer computer literate/enthusiast. Software is really cheap here. And many other rules of the game are a bit different this time around. Instead of reinventing itself, FSF is playing the game it has always played and hopes to win using it's trusted trump card(after all GPL gave FSF partial bragging rights on Linux and emacs).

I'll be put my money on everybody else this time, even though I generally share the view that Linux revolution couldn't have happened (not in the same way for sure) without FSF's GPL.

Al.

PS:I don't think this episode has anything to do with GPL being viral at all, but someother (lesser known) clauses of GPL.

Paris, coz she is like GPL - once something goes into her. it must be made public & downloadable for years.

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a stupid question gets a stupid answer

or in this event, a stupid submission gets a stupid result.

this is no different than people in the US (mostly celebrities) saying boy you know people in other countries don't have freedom of speech and they can't walk down the street with their same-sex partner. Yet all the while spitting on the people over here that have fought for and enjoy these 'rights'.

However, that's how the world is and we should respect other countries that aren't as debased as ours here in the US.

Why these open source people think they're going to get anywhere with a company that basically implements child & slave labor in China is beyond me.

The goal of free software isn't to have an society where everyone has a begging cup out working for free, at least that's not how I see it. Free software has provided alot of good to the world. However companies like Apple do not; it's all about the bottom line. Even if you have to outsource your product to china all the while charging top dollar for it over here.

People whine at the thought of paying more for a head of lettuce if american workers pick it yet will pay $500+ for these pieces of crap.

Guess changing the world failed this time. Better luck next time!

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FAIL

If this is such a non-story...

...then why are you all getting your knickers in a twist about it?

All these words like "arrogant", "self-righteous", "egotistical" which the FSF may or may not be, don't seem to apply in this case. They highlighted a violation and Apple dealt with it in the way they would be expected to. The FSF are on record as having highlighted the violation in public this time round because they wanted remove the mystery/speculation when yet another bit of software was yoinked from the "App Store" for what would have otherwise seemed to be no good reason.

The FSF weren't being histrionic about it or getting all riled up and threatening to sue; in fact the only people I see getting wound up are certain foam-mouthed commentards whose pantyhose seem to have flown off at the mere fact that an IT news site has had the temerity - nay, audacity - to publish this IT story involving one of the industry's best-known players and, horror of horrors, didn't use it as an excuse to lay in to the FSF.

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