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Re: [fluid-dev] Another application using FluidSynth announced

From: David Henningsson
Subject: Re: [fluid-dev] Another application using FluidSynth announced
Date: Wed, 07 Sep 2011 22:38:28 +0200
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:7.0) Gecko/20110828 Thunderbird/7.0

On 09/07/2011 08:08 PM, Pedro Lopez-Cabanillas wrote:
On Wednesday 07 September 2011, Matt Giuca wrote:
In this situation, it was the Wesnoth team themselves that published
the game in the App Store (for a fee as well). Apparently the core
team were okay with it, but one of the contributors, Rusty Russell,
disagreed and raised a stink.

He has a point. What good is a license if some (but not all) of the
team can decide to violate it later on?

The game was released under the GPL. I don't see a license violation committed 
by the release team.

Hmm, but whoever put it on the app store, or intended it to be put there, are either doing the violation themselves or actively promoting someone else (Apple) to do the violation.

I will assume
we're dealing with the more blurry issue of people who release the
modifications' source code, but which end users technically can't make
use of (because the only way to install the software is to get the
unmodified version from Apple).

You are assuming too much here. We don't know under which license Rouet 
Production is going to release his product in October.

That is a fair point, and we should probably give them a ping before speculating too much, but looking from the front page of Rouet Production, it seems already available.

In that case, I would still say it is a violation of the *spirit* of
the LGPL because it violates this nice symmetry of the FS developers
saying to the downstream developers (Slide Control, for example), "You
can make modifications to this software however you like, but when you
pass it on, you must extend the same freedom to your users."

And how do you know that they are modifying FS, and not respecting the license 

We also don't know which version of FS they use (maybe 1.0.9, the last one not requiring glib?), so we don't even know who of us are copyright holders.

I can't say whether it violates the letter of the LGPL (v2), since I'm
not a lawyer. But my reading of it (as I went into detail on here

Maybe you know much more than I, then. Is Paul Brossier, the guy that posted 
that question, working for Rouet Production? Are them related somehow?

, is
that it's probably a violation of both Section 6 and 10. Section 6
says that you must "Accompany the work with ... the complete
machine-readable "work that uses the Library", as object code and/or
source code, so that the user can modify the Library and then relink
to produce a modified executable containing the modified Library" --
aside from requiring relinking, this also has the problem that most
users (those without an Apple developer license) will not have the
ability to produce a modified executable, so you cannot satisfy this

You need a compiler and some other tools to produce an executable in any platform. To 
compile FluidSynth for  Linux you need to accept a license of the GCC compiler as well, 
which is also the official iOS and Mac OSX compiler, distributed by Apple under the GPL, 
of course. You can download the Xcode package from Apple (containing GCC and other tools) 
to build Mac and iOS applications, and it doesn't cost money. Note that 
"gratis" is not required by the GPL, anyway.

I'm unfamiliar with exactly how development for iPhone works here. If I develop for iPhone, how do I put my own software on there? I mean, even Apple would think there should be a way to test your software on the real thing before publishing? Is that a legitimate path for distributing source code to e g FluidSynth?

Section 10 says that "You may not impose any further
restrictions on the recipients' exercise of the rights granted
herein," and the App Store does impose additional restrictions on the
use of the software.

And _this_is_the_real_problem_ with Apple's App Store. By distributing a GPL 
program with additional restrictions, they are violating the GPL. Not the 
program authors, or the release team, but Apple.

IMO, since everybody know that this is what Apple does, I'd say whoever puts (L)GPL binaries there, is also responsible. Like giving out free guns to serial killers.

When the VLC developers (http://www.videolan.org) protested against Apple 
because the distribution of VLC in the App Store was imposing restrictions on 
top of the GPL, the reaction from Apple was to pull VLC from the store [1], 
because Apple don't want to respect the rights given by the GPL to their 
customers, and of course they don't want to face a copyright lawsuit either. 
The same happened with GNU Go [2].

So, my opinion is that if you publish a GPL program in the Apple Store, you may 
be losing your time because Apple will remove your product from the store as 
soon as anybody raises his voice. There are other distribution channels for Mac 
and iOS, anyway.

And of course any product including FluidSynth, released for iOS or any other 
platform, must respect the LGPL license of FluidSynth, choosing a compatible 
license [3].

As for my own opinion, I tend to be pragmatic in the sense that I look for practical possibilities rather than the letter of the law.

But even if Rouet would plan not to give out source code to the extent needed to relink FluidSynth, one thing keeps bothering me. They actively chose to credit us by having our logo at startup, mentioning it on Youtube etc. This is positive, and they could have just have hidden that fact away and the chances anyone would notice it would be fairly small I guess. I'm just afraid that going after them with threats will lead to the next iPhone app developer just using FluidSynth without telling anyone instead, and likely getting away with it.

// David

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