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 license.

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 software.

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 it does.

GNU-Darwin is a combination of GNU and Darwin that is supposed to include only free software.