In a move sure to be welcomed by developers and users, Apple has announced plans to revise QuickTime 3 licensing policies (see "Furor Over Developer Programs & QuickTime Licensing" in TidBITS-425). The original QuickTime 3 licensing agreement allowed royalty-free distribution, but only if developers copied a Get QuickTime Pro movie to the desktop each time their program launched. This requirement had been labeled "desktop spamming" and was widely criticized for creating technical support burdens as well as opportunities for Trojan horses. Apple also discontinued all licensing of QuickTime 2.x, leaving no option for products using QuickTime under Windows 3.1.
The new QuickTime 3 licensing terms, which should be available along with new QuickTime 3.0 installers at the end of May, change the terms of QuickTime 3’s royalty-free distribution such that developers must run the QuickTime 3 installer as part of their product’s installation, or direct users to it if the product doesn’t have an installer. The new QuickTime 3 installer will show an ad for QuickTime 3 Pro and copy the Get QuickTime Pro movie to the user’s desktop once, rather than every time the product is launched. As before, products can include ad-free versions of QuickTime 3 or QuickTime 3 Pro for $1 or $2 per copy. In addition, Apple plans to revise the QuickTime Web browser plug-in so that it plays the Get QuickTime Pro movie (and copies it to the desktop) only the first time it’s invoked, rather than every time. Apple has also introduced new licensing terms for QuickTime 2.1.2 for Windows, so if Windows products using QuickTime distribute QuickTime 3, they can include QuickTime 2.1.2 for Windows 3.1 systems only.
Although we applaud Apple for responding positively to the QuickTime 3 licensing debacle, the problems with the original policies and (more importantly) the distrust and animosity they generated during the last several weeks could have been avoided altogether if Apple hadn’t acted unilaterally.