Live Studio, TikTok’s new livestreaming tool for Windows, is said to be based on Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), a free livestreaming application (via Protocol). Because OBS is open source, this would normally not be an issue; nevertheless, TikTok allegedly does not comply with OBS’ license rules.
After a user uploaded screenshots of what looks to be Live Studio’s code on Twitter, the issue became public. The programmer who captured the photos argues that TikTok is a “illegal fork of OBS,” and that TikTok utilized OBS and then slapped its own user interface on top of it.
If TikTok does use OBS’ code, as another user points out, the platform is compelled to make the source code publicly available under the GNU General Public License (GPL), version 2. If TikTok does not comply, OBS may pursue legal action against the platform.
Ben Torell, OBS’s business development, later agreed with that tweet, but added that OBS is open to collaborating with TikTok: “We are committed to dealing with GPL violations in good faith, and in the instance of TikTok/ByteDance, we would be pleased to engage with them in a pleasant manner as long as they abide by the license.”
In October, the Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG) was fined for a similar reason: it failed to make the source code for Truth, Donald Trump’s future social network, publicly available after building it on the open-source Mastodon platform.
Just a few days ago, TikTok secretly began testing Live Studio with a select sample of users. It looks to be a barebones streaming software that allows users to broadcast live from a camera, phone, game, or application in its current condition. TikTok did not respond to a request for comment right away.
Earlier this month, OBS was embroiled in a feud with Streamlabs that erupted on Twitter. OBS admitted that it had not given Streamlabs authorization to use the OBS name, yet Streamlabs did so nonetheless. Following threats from prominent broadcasters such as Pokimane to cease using and promote Streamlabs as a result of the problem, the company decided to eliminate “OBS” from its moniker.