VideoLAN association
A project and a non-profit organization, composed of volunteers, developing and promoting free, open-source multimedia solutions.
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VLC media player to remain under GNU GPL version 2

VLC media player (VLC) is an open-source cross-platform media player and streaming solution. In 2001, VLC was released under the OSI-approved GNU General Public version 2, with the commonly-offered option to use "any later version" thereof (though there was not any such later version at the time).

Following the release by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) of the new version 3 of its GNU General Public License (GPL) on the 29th of June 2007, contributors to the VLC media player, and other software projects hosted at videolan.org, debated the possibility of updating the licensing terms for future version of the VLC media player and other hosted projects, to version 3 of the GPL.

The VideoLAN project is a strong supporter of open-source and free software, and strives to provide a state-of-the-art multimedia framework for the indiscriminate benefit of all of its users, its contributors, and the open-source community at large. It is our understanding that our software licensing terms are of the utmost importance to protecting the rights of our contributors at the same time as the freedoms and benefits of our users.

We recognize that certain changes to the GPL constitute certain improvements and would help foster the long-term significance and quality of open-source softwares. In particular, we welcome:

However, several of our key contributors and users have clearly stated their objection to the clause on Installation Information, a.k.a. the "Tivo clause":

“Installation Information” for a User Product means any methods, procedures, authorization keys, or other information required to install and execute modified versions of a covered work in that User Product from a modified version of its Corresponding Source. The information must suffice to ensure that the continued functioning of the modified object code is in no case prevented or interfered with solely because modification has been made.

If you convey an object code work under this section in, or with, or specifically for use in, a User Product, and the conveying occurs as part of a transaction in which the right of possession and use of the User Product is transferred to the recipient in perpetuity or for a fixed term (regardless of how the transaction is characterized), the Corresponding Source conveyed under this section must be accompanied by the Installation Information. (...)

There is strong concern that these new additional requirements might not match the industrial and economic reality of our time, especially in the market of consumer electronics. It is our belief that changing our licensing terms to GPL version 3 would currently not be in the best interest of our community as a whole. Consequently, we plan to keep distributing future versions of VLC media player under the terms of the GPL version 2.

We would however like to remind our users that, because VLC media player depends on a wide range of open-source libraries, we may be forced into distributing certain, if not all, of our official binary releases under GPL version 3, should any single of those libraries switch to a license that is incompatible with GPL version 2 (at the time of writing, the only identified case is libsmbclient from the Samba project). We expect that third-party binary releases (such as those made by Linux and BSD distributions) will be similarly impacted. Nevertheless, we will continue to distribute the VLC media player source code under GPL "version 2 or any later version" until further notice.

Rémi Denis-Courmont,
on behalf of the VideoLAN project,
videolanremovethis@videolan.org

References:

VLC media player
http://www.videolan.org/vlc/
GNU General Public License
http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/gpl-2.0.html
Free Software Foundation
http://www.fsf.org/
Samba project
http://www.samba.org/