GPLv2 & the App Store

As Discourse is licensed under the GPL v2 license, any app using Discourse code is not allowed in the App Store as Apple further imposes conditions on the user. If someone using Discourse wants to build an iOS app, would the founders (as the copyright owners) consider giving permissions specific to the app store so as to make it compatible with the App Store?


An app will use the API, not the Discourse code per se, so i guess you’re good to go.

Besides that, there is that.

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@iamntz Would that view work for a wrapper app? The topic you linked to was relevant but my issue is not the founders having an issue with us publishing an ios version, but Apple not supporting it from the license point of view.

As I understand it, on the web we are hosting a Discourse instance and not distributing it to users. On the app store, we or Apple are not distributing the software as well - we are only providing a service to users to access the software that is hosted on our server.

I would think this would be different to the VLC case where their app was removed since the software itself was distributed, whereas it could be argued that we are providing a service, rather than the product.

Its a grey area, and unless the founders provide their views on this I guess I am just going to publish the ios app and see.

If you are planning to get the mobile version of Discourse and wrap it into a Cordova app, then yeah, probably you’re not OK for at least couple of reasons:

  1. First is, obviously, the legal one.
  • Second is more like practical. You’ll have to push a new version of the app on every Discourse update :slight_smile:

However, I don’t think the GPL also cover the API calls, so if you decide to build an app that will only consume the Discourse API you’ll solve both of the above issues.

Considering the GPL license, I’m pretty sure the founders won’t have anything against this with two exceptions:

So as long as you don’t use Discourse name or logo, founders probably have nothing against this.

So I’d say your beef is with Apple, not with Discourse.


@iamntz I do eventually plan to have a native api based app for my forum, but for now Ill just do a wrapper based one. There are a few new and better alternatives to cordova and Ill see how I go with minimizing the wrapper feel of the app.

Thanks for your help!

I think this is all irrelevant since there is the official iOS app now:

… and it is under MIT license.