I'm going to use some GPL-covered code in my app. Firstly, I'm not sure if GPL is compatible with Apple's App Store, i.e. whether apps entirely covered by GPL can be published through App Store.

Second, iOS does not allow 3rd party dynamic libraries, which means, to my understanding, you can't legally combine GPL and non-GPL code in one iOS app.

So what are my options if I want to use some GPL code in my app?

  • Voting to leave open because this a licensing question about Apple products, only superficially related to programming. – tubedogg Jun 20 '15 at 7:20
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    Can we presume you need many pieces of code and various licenses (gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/old-licenses.html#GPL) and haven't asked GNU foundation for assistance? Also, can we assume you are using the app store for distribution and that your app is free for users to download (no money for you or Apple)? I'm putting a temporary hold - you already have a fine general answer, but without refining your situation (where you reside and what licenses specifically you are seeking to understand) it's quite a large undertaking to explain all the various gnu licenses... – bmike Jun 20 '15 at 17:56
  • For the first part, the FSF (stewards of the GPL licenses) interpret the App Store requirements as restrictive. In response, Apple has removed GPL-licensed apps from their store. For the second part, I assume you are concerned about your GPL app having non-GPL dependencies - this is perfectly acceptable if they are system-level dependencies (not third-party libraries). – lofidevops Sep 5 '18 at 11:05
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    I would love to post the above as an answer to this legitimate question. Please consider reopening the question. – lofidevops Sep 5 '18 at 11:06

As this is a legal question you have to ask a lawyer about this, any answer on the internet (including this) is not reliable

However The Free Software Foundation (which write the GPL) have written this blog about GPL v2 and the App Store http://www.fsf.org/blogs/licensing/more-about-the-app-store-gpl-enforcement

This includes

That's the problem in a nutshell: Apple's Terms of Service impose restrictive limits on use and distribution for any software distributed through the App Store, and the GPL doesn't allow that.

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    Apple via iTunes connect has customer support and you could ask them about including specific versions of open source code. Worst case, you could contact the authors of the code you want and ask for a license that allows you to do your work. I would say if you can't afford legal advice on understanding licensing, you'll want to be sure you only use code you are confident you understand the licensing terms or write it all yourself. – bmike Jun 20 '15 at 17:54

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