iOS Do free iOS programs that don't work on their own have a chance?


macrumors regular
Original poster
Dec 23, 2012
I'm willing to release a source port for a classic game on iOS. The problem is that the game assets are commercial and copyrighted by someone else, but the source code -- the part that I modified -- is not (i.e. it's GPL and anyone can modify it).

If I submit it without the game resources, and the user will be instructed to get the asset files from their computer installation into the device, and the app is free (so no one would get ripped off), may the reviewers accept it?

Jessica Lares

macrumors G3
Oct 31, 2009
Near Dallas, Texas, USA
No, that wouldn't go through. The app wouldn't be usable to begin with, and you're asking the person to supply their own copy of the copyrighted material. There has always been issues with GPL on the App Store because Apple's TOS and the GPL licenses conflict with each other (I think?).


macrumors G3
Nov 26, 2007
No. You'd have to create and include the assets yourself, I think. I have no idea how copyright works on that kind of thing, though… like, can you make assets that look nearly identical to the originals? Can you make them look like updated versions of the originals?


macrumors 6502a
Mar 30, 2012
There has only ever been one issue that I'm aware of where an App was pulled,
for GPL violation, and it came out that the reasons were political.
The Copyright holder complained about the App in question conflicting with GPL
because he was working for another company at the time with conflicting
interests with Apple and/or the App itself.

If the GPL code you wish to use has a single author, you can write him and see
if he will create a dual license for you. This has been done before, and is likely
to happen if your App is also going to be free, as intended by the author.

There is plenty of GPL code in the App store including a free App of my own.
Copyright holders are the only people who can take action against an offending
App, but Apple may react to any complaint to avoid any trouble.

In my case, I contacted as many authors as possible, (since out of 70 or so
contributors, some may no longer be with us), and all were happy for their
contributions to be released in the App Store for free to the end user.

I am not a lawyer, and none of this constitutes legal advice,
but if you have your heart set on the game, I would simply contact the graphic artist,
and I'm sure you'll get the same result for the graphics too.

You can do your best to comply with GPL at the same time as the license created for you
by making it free, and providing source code for your modifications
on the support website that is included in the App Store description.

Apple have not frowned on me releasing source code for my App Store Apps
whether it be GPL or Public Domain.


macrumors regular
Original poster
Dec 23, 2012
Please ignore that I said GPL. It's possible it won't matter if I don't make a fuss about it.

What about the other thing -- requiring something more in order to work? Aren't there already apps that, for example, only work if you're subscribed to some service (and not everyone can subscribe for free), and until then they only show a blank login form?