Apple's legal team dropped a bombshell on AltConf on Thursday when it told event organizers they can't show the Worldwide Developer Conference keynote live stream to its attendees. AltConf is an independent event for OS X and iOS developers that runs at the same time as Apple's own WWDC in San Francisco, and has streamed the keynote in previous years. While the move sucks for AltConf attendees, it makes sense considering Apple's live stream licensing terms.
Apple to AltConf: No WWDC Streaming for you
WWDC is Apple's annual conference in San Francisco to bring together its own engineers and third-party developers. The company offers up face-to-face help with app design, and gives developers a preview of what to expect over the coming months. The event is exclusive in that only a little over 5,000 people can attend, and those lucky enough to be there managed to win a ticket lottery.
The letter from Apple's attorneys didn't stop with the keynote; it also specifically prohibited AltConf from streaming any conference sessions. AltConf organizers noted the restriction on their website stating,
AltConf has received a letter from Apple's legal representatives demanding that AltConf refrain from streaming or displaying any video content from WWDC. Unfortunately, this includes the Keynote and State of the Union stream on Monday, which has been a part of the AltConf program for the last few years. This also affects the Viewing Room, where video sessions from WWDC were going to be shown in the hopes to create a collective place where AltConf attendees could view and discuss WWDC content together.
Despite the lack of streaming content, AltConf is still on and the rest of the event's schedule remains unchanged.
The reasoning behind Apple's decision stems from the company's terms for viewing live streams. Apple's terms from previous streaming events states,
You are prohibited from copying, modifying, redistributing, rebroadcasting or re-encoding this content without prior written permission from Apple, except as may be permitted by law.
AltConf isn't the only organization that arranges for large group viewing of Apple's WWDC keynote, but it is the one that charges attendees—or at least some of them. AltConf is free to attend, but for US$300 you can buy a special pass that gives you priority access to certain conference events, including the streaming of the WWDC keynote.
The fact that AltConf is a structured conference, and that attendees can pay to be there, may well have been the factors that drew the attention of Apple's legal team. Exactly why Apple is choosing to enforce its licensing restriction now instead of previous years is up for debate.
Blocking AltConf from live streaming the WWDC keynote won't, however, stop attendees from watching in real time. Instead of watching on a single big screen, they'll just view the event on their Macs, iPhones, and iPads, which will have the side effect of taking a bigger hit on Apple's streaming bandwidth than letting AltConf show a single stream.
AltConf organizers are hoping to change Apple's mind and reach an agreement that will let them stream WWDC content. They only have a couple days since WWDC starts on Monday, and considering Apple's legal team is involved, it's a pretty safe bet they won't be able to work something out in time.
[Some image elements courtesy Shutterstock]