Washington Apple Pi

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Apple Revises QuickTime 3 License Terms

By Dennis R. Dimick

Washington Apple Pi Journal, July-August 1998, pp. 38-39, reprint information

After more than a year of pre-release hype, Apple finally released QuickTime 3 the end of March. The software has been acclaimed for its cross-platform uniformity and versatile toolset. In the July MacWorld Magazine, reviewer Jim Heid called QuickTime Apple's "Crown Jewel."

The main complaint from users and developers hasn't been with the software. It's been restrictions on licensing and distribution that Apple imposed. To the relief of many, Apple in May relented on its restrictive policies, and this should benefit everyone.

When Apple released QuickTime 3 it set a three-tiered licensing scheme for use and distribution. If you as a user want to get QuickTime, you can go to Apple's web site and download the seven megabyte file. The basic "non-Pro" version of QuickTime 3 enables movie playback, but no movie creation tools are enabled using Movie Player 3.

If you want to use authoring tools built into Movie Player 3, and the file-saving abilities of the QuickTime 2.0 Browser Plug-In, you get to pay $30 to Apple at their web site via credit card. This is the only place and way to buy QuickTime Pro.

New QuickTime logo

Apple's new corporate graphics scheme has abandoned the six-color approach in favor of a single-color look. This logo came from Apple's web site and is designed for use on products containing QuickTime.

Choose: Free with Movie, $1, or $2

Apple offered three licensing options for those who want to distribute QuickTime with their multimedia program, or perhaps want to include it on a disk with other software, such as the Pi's popular new CD-ROM.

You can distribute the QuickTime installer for free, but it will cause a "Buy QuickTime Pro" movie to pop up on your Mac (and stay on screen) each time you launch Movie Player 3. You can pay Apple $1 per copy to get a version of QuickTime 3 installer that doesn't produce this "popup" movie each time, or you can pay Apple $2 per copy to get a QuickTime installer with no "popup" movie and all Pro authoring features enabled.

Developers started complaining on various Internet mailing lists shortly after release that the "popup" desktop movie forced them to pay $1 per copy distributed to avoid the intrusive "ad" movie, or to suffer wrath from users about the "spam" movie that won't go away. Many multimedia developers are small-scale, and a $1,000 fee paid for a 1,000 CD-ROM press run, for example, was causing developers to abandon QuickTime as a tool because even a $1 per disk fee would break their budgets.

QuickTime dominates on the Mac, but the relentless "spam" movie was forcing Windows developers who had planned to use QuickTime to abandon it in favor of other free solutions from Microsoft, for example. Further, Apple revoked all future licensing of QuickTime 2.12 for Windows when it released QuickTime 3.0 and placed some developers in the unhappy spot of abandoning projects nearly completed that required QuickTime 2.12.

As an example, the State of Wisconsin could not get approval from Apple to release a CD-ROM project on state history to schools because its disk's Windows components needed QuickTime 2.12.

Just before Apple's WorldWide Developer's Conference in early May, Apple realized its new licensing terms were causing more problems than benefits to small developers, non-profits, users groups, and other no- and low-budget groups who wanted to evangelize the new QuickTime. Apple also relented on the QuickTime 2.12 issue, saying it was okay to distribute 2.12 as long as an installer for QuickTime 3.0 was also on the disk. Wisconsin was able to proceed with its history disk.

Apple also changed the behavior of the "popup" movie imploring users to "Buy QuickTime Pro." On the freely distributed QuickTime 3 installer this movie will appear only once at installation and will go away of its own accord. Users will no longer have to click on the movie to make the movie disappear each time Movie Player is launched.

QuickTime spam movie

If you install QuickTime 3 and do not upgrade to the Pro version, you will be greeted by this screen each time you launch Movie Player 3. Apple revised QuickTime licensing terms in May to make this movie more discreet.

The distribution terms and $1 and $2 fees for QuickTime installers without any "popup' movie and the Pro-enabled version remain the same. Apple expected to have revised QuickTime installer applications reflecting the licensing changes posted to its web site by the end of May.

For further information on QuickTime 3 and its myriad features, check out Apple's web site: http://www.apple.com/quicktime/. Also check out two articles I wrote for The Journal earlier this year.

Pi member Dennis Dimick can be reached by email: ddimick@aol.com


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Revised December 28, 1998 Lawrence I. Charters
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