FSF's Opinion of the Apple Public Source License (APSL) 2.0
The Apple Public Source License (APSL) version 2.0 qualifies as a free
software license. Apple's lawyers worked with the FSF to produce a
license that would qualify.
The problems previously
described on this page are still potential issues for other
possible licenses, but they do not apply to version 2.0 of the APSL.
We encourage everyone who uses any version of Apple Software under the
APSL to use the terms of version 2.0 rather than that of any earlier
In version 2.0 of the APSL, the definition of “Externally
Deployed” has been narrowed in a way that is appropriate for the
respect of users' freedoms. It has always been the position of FSF
that the freedom of Free Software is primarily for the users of that
software. Technologies, like web applications, are changing the way
that users interact with software. The APSL 2.0, like
the GNU Affero GPL, seeks
to defend the freedom of those who use software in these novel ways,
without unduly hindering the users' privacy nor freedom to use the
The FSF now considers the APSL to be a free software license with two
major practical problems, reminiscent of the NPL:
- It is not a true copyleft, because it allows linking with other files
which may be entirely proprietary.
- It is incompatible with the GPL.
For this reason, we recommend you do not release new software using
this license; but it is ok to use and improve software which other
people release under this license.
Aside from this, we must remember that only part of Mac OS X is being
released under the APSL. Even though the fatal flaws of the APSL were
fixed, and even if the practical problems were addressed, that does no
good for the other parts of Mac OS X whose source code is not being
released at all. We must not judge all of a company by just part of what
GNU-Darwin is a combination
of GNU and Darwin that is supposed to include only free software.