Why I had to pay Apple $99 (plus tax) to read their Mac OS Development License

I hope to release Linux SPITBOL for Apple’s MAC OS shortly.

I only did this after verifying that Apple allows the use of GPL-licensed software in MAC OS apps.

I first investigated Apple’s postion on the GPL a couple of days ago, by searching on “Apple GPL.” The available posts indicate that GPL-licensed code was NOT allowed. See for example the article by Steven Vaughan Nichols (one of my goto guys on all matters Linux and open-source) in January 2011: No GPL Apps for Apple’s App Store.

I sent this note and a query about the GPL to a colleague from my days CIMS who now develops Apple apps. He sent me an excerpt from their Developer License Agreement saying that it was ok to use GPL-licensed software, as long as I met the terms and conditions of the
GPL license, which I can easily do just by shipping the GPL-licensed part of my app with the app.

I decided to confirm this by reading the full text of Apple’s agreement, and so headed off to Appstore Development Guidelines, only to find the following

Developer Program License Agreements

The iOS Developer Program License Agreement and Mac Developer Program License Agreement details your obligations and responsibilities as a member of an Apple Developer Program. The latest Developer Program License Agreements can be reviewed in Member Center. Log in to Member Center (emphasis added).

I thus learned that I needed to login to the Member Center, and did so.

I then learned I had to pay Apple $99 (plus tax) to proceed further.

Simply put, Apple was asking for over a C-note just to read their developer license!

After suitable gnashing of the teeth, I went throught the signup process, including charging my credit card for over $100.

Turns out Apple does indeed now accept GPL-licensed code. Here is the relevant part of their agreement:

3.3.20 If Your Application includes any FOSS, You agree to comply with all applicable FOSS licensing terms. You also agree not to use any FOSS in the development of Your Application in such a way that would cause the non-FOSS portions of the Apple Software to be subject to any FOSS licensing terms or obligations.

Good news indeed, even though I had to pay Apple to learn it.

In any event, I hope to release SPITBOL for MAC OS soon.

Some say you can’t make money with the GPL, but Apple has definitely found a novel way to do so


One Comment

  1. Posted July 14, 2012 at 16:46 | Permalink | Reply

    A little late now but there are several apple devoted developer communities out there where you could have asked. A local cocoaheads chapter as a for instance, or #macdev on irc.freenode.net can be useful for mentoring.

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