OVS & GPL & BSD

This week I’ve been researching what type of open source license to use with the Open Video Sync (OVS) project — one of the many things I’ve got going on at Eyebeam.

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Open Video Sync will do amazing things for video artists (and others), namely the ability to synchronize video playback across multiple cheap video players, such as the iPod touch.

The legal issue is that OVS is an iPhone application and is therefore running on an essentially developer-unfriendly and closed environment. In addition to the numerous restrictions that Apple imposes upon developers, including esoteric developer’s certificates and provisioning profiles, programmers have to pay $99 fee to download their custom programs onto their mobile devices.

After meeting with Fred Benenson today, it became clear to me that iPhone development presents problems with the GPL namely that it is not free software. This means that I will end up deploying the software with a more liberal, BSD-style license.

Why not Google Android — a device that is open? Simply: iPod Touches are cheap, require no service plan and  the iPhone SDK supports inter-phone communication. Some day, I’d like to port Open Video Sync to a more open platform, but not until it is cost-effective for users.