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TL:DR someone re-uploaded my MIT-licensed open-source app to the iOS App Store.


WHAT HAPPENED

I have created a small app for iPhone, which has been available on the App Store for over 2 years now.

It is licensed under MIT and I am the copyright owner. I accept contributions under the MIT-license. All information, including contributors and libraries are mentioned in the app's about page.

Recently I found that someone has compiled the app, removed the about section and changed the app icon, as well as the name. Then that person uploaded it to the iOS App Store, where it is now available alongside my own app.

QUESTION

I would like to know whether this is legal. While I am happy to share the code with others for educational purposes and for allowing others to improve their apps (in fact that's why I open-source it), I am not happy that an identical copy of my app exists on the App Store.

LICENSE FOR REFERENCE

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy
of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal
in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights
to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell
copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is
furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all
copies or substantial portions of the Software.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR
IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY,
FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE
AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER
LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM,
OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE
SOFTWARE.
  • 3
    Not answering your question but likely solving your problem: Apple will most likely take this app down if the copyright holder (you) asks them to do so. Whether the other guy acted legally or not. They may also take it down because it duplicates functionality if another app (yours) and adds no value to the App Store. – gnasher729 Feb 19 at 16:29
  • Thanks for your advice. I will give that a try. – erik_m_martens Feb 19 at 23:40
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Legal

You say “MIT-licence” like that is actually a singular, unique document; it isn’t, there are different versions and what matters is the one you used.

Notwithstanding, it typically only has one condition similar to:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

Providing they complied with this, then their use is 100% legal.

If you raised a take-down order, and they chose to dispute it, they would win.

Basically, you chose the wrong licence if you wanted to prevent this.

| improve this answer | |
  • I understand, thanks for your answer. This statement is in fact included in the license I have added to my project (I have added it's text into my question as an edit). I do not know which version of the license it is, it was filled by GitHub when I created the project and selected MIT. The text does not specify the version. However what does "... shall be included ..." mean exactly? Technically it can be included inside the application bundle but may not be accessible (which in the case of the re-release it isn't as access was removed). – erik_m_martens Feb 19 at 23:38

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