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The Latest Attacks on GPLv3 and a Word About Tivo
Friday, March 10 2006 @ 08:04 AM EST

I guess it's true what my brother-in-law tells me: you can't get good help nowadays, no matter how much money you're willing to spend. I say that because while Microsoft has almost all the money in the world to spend on FUD, its FUDsters do such a truly poor job of it.

No matter what the debate, they and their minions don't seem able to honestly portray their position or that of FOSS. Why is that? I think it's because if they told their true position and goals, we'd all be disgusted.

There is a particularly offensive bit of subversive Microsoft FUD on CNET. Surprise. You remember CNET. The unsuccessful but would-be co-intervenor with Maureen O'Gara and Forbes in the SCO v. IBM case. A Jonathan Zuck attacks the GPLv3 and Richard Stallman. It seems Mr. Stallman is an "extremist" and "impractical", and he risks marginalizing himself for taking a stand against DRM and Tivo.

And who is Mr. Zuck, again? Why, the president of the Association of Competitive Technology (ACT). You remember them, don't you? Some have accused ACT of being a front for Microsoft. They are supporting Microsoft in the EU antitrust litigation, for one thing. Remember too when Morgan W. Reed, VP of ACT, showed up at Berkman Center's ODF Conference and tried to dominate with what sounded like Microsoft talking points? FFII has an entire page on Mr. Zuck. Here's another example from 2003, pearls of wisdom [PDF] from Mr. Zuck, called "Prevent Antitrust Suits from Undermining Intellectual Property Rights and Stifling Innovation". The title alone should tell you all you need to know. Today's FUD by Mr. Zuck seems to be more slop from the same trough. But what about Tivo? What's the real story there?

First, here's the essence of Zuck's argument on CNET, and it tells me what Microsoft is afraid of:

With products such as Linux and Apache leading the way, software loosely categorized as open source has seen a renaissance of its own.

To meet the needs of the heterogeneous market, this community has focused many of its efforts on building bridges between open/free software and proprietary products. Under GPL 2, companies have found many ways to create these types of hybrid systems. Today, Linux distributions from Red Hat, Suse and others include many pieces of proprietary and nonfree code. But this "mixing" has not been without its detractors. For leading Linux users like TiVo and Adaptec, the ability to protect key intellectual property is essential. But this protection is a direct assault on Stallman's version of freedom and the need to share software with the community. How do you balance the promotional value of high-profile Linux implementations against the philosophical compromise?

Stallman would argue that you don't. He views these practicalities, hybrids and commercial compromises as "vanities" that divert attention away from the real issue, which is and always will be his version of "freedom." GPL 3.0 is his call to dump all such transgressions in the town square and set them on fire. In interviews, he talks about preventing the "TiVo-ization" of software (the merging of free and proprietary software into a single system). GPL 3.0 has also become a platform to rail against digital rights management technology, viewed by Stallman as one more attempt to restrict his freedom.

This is beyond wrong, although it is wrong. It misrepresents Stallman's views and even his expressions, and it certainly mischaracterizes the issue about Tivo. I just wrote an article for Linux Magazine that is in the April edition on GPLv3, and in it Richard Stallman is quoted saying this about Tivo:

GPLv3[does] not require Linux developers to publish the private keys that they use to sign Linux source versions to show they are authentic. But GPLv3 would require the manufacturer of the Tivo you bought to give you the key needed to sign a binary so it will run on your Tivo. That means you will really be able to run the modified versions on your Tivo and they will really run. The Tivo was the first well-known case of a machine that included free software but refused to run the users’ modified versions. Surely, it won’t be the last. It happens that Linux is one of the programs that were “tivoized” in this way. We hope that the developers of Linux will adopt the GPLv3, so as to make future Linux versions resistant to “tivoization” in the future. —Richard Stallman

Does that match what Zuck wrote? Here's something Microsoft and all its lackeys needs to seriously ponder. If you can't win without telling half-truths and even outright lies, there is probably something the matter with your position. So what about Tivo?

Let's review some basics. Here are the four freedoms that the GPL seeks to protect, and I'm talking about GPLv2 as well as v3:

Free software is a matter of the users' freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. More precisely, it refers to four kinds of freedom, for the users of the software:
The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

A program is free software if users have all of these freedoms. Thus, you should be free to redistribute copies, either with or without modifications, either gratis or charging a fee for distribution, to anyone anywhere. Being free to do these things means (among other things) that you do not have to ask or pay for permission.

Tivo uses the Linux kernel. It modifies it and redistributes and it does distribute its changes to the kernel. But while benefitting from the GPL'd code, it then turns around and seeks to block Tivo customers who also use the Linux kernel from being able to benefit from two of the four freedoms that Tivo built its business on, namely the freedom to improve the program and adapt it to your needs. If you modify your kernel, then Tivo won't let you run your Tivo any more. The DRM blocks you. They don't have to run their business that way. It's just more convenient for them, I guess.

Under GPLv2, Tivo squeaked by just barely, but it clearly was not in harmony with the purpose of the GPL or its goals. And GPLv3 seeks to close this backdoor way they found to limit the freedoms of others, because it makes a mockery of the GPL. Now, if Tivo wants to use proprietary code to do whatever it wishes with its DRM, that's certainly fine with me. But if it wishes to use GPLd code, benefit from it, accept it under the GPL license with all that it stands for, and then pervert it to limit others' freedoms to modify their GPLd code, despite the clear intent of the license, that's not OK with me, because it isn't playing fair.

Some might say, well, we shouldn't restrict what people can do with code. No? Then don't use the GPL. It does restrict what folks can do with GPLd code. That is the purpose of a license, to let people know what they can and can't do with your code, and pretending otherwise gets you in logical difficulties, on top of the ethical ones. Microsoft's EULA restricts what you can do with their code. The Mozilla license restricts what you can do with their code. So does CDDL. So does the GPL. It always will, because there are always selfish folks who care only about what's good for number one and look to bypass your clear intent in your license, no matter what license it is. You have to realistically plan for that, and the GPL does.

The GPL stands for the freedom to access the source and to modify it to suit yourself. If you use GPLd code, then realize it comes with a license and it's only honorable to live up to the terms, not to seek to squeak under the wire with clever legal footwork. Tivo needs to behave honorably toward the license, in my view, or stop using the code. I don't care which it chooses, personally, but it is at a fork in the road, and it will have to choose.


The Latest Attacks on GPLv3 and a Word About Tivo | 637 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Off topic here please
Authored by: fudisbad on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 08:10 AM EST
For current events and legal filings. Please make links clickable.

(Insert obligatory first post remark here.)

See my bio for copyright details re: this post.
Darl McBride, show your evidence!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections here please
Authored by: fudisbad on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 08:12 AM EST
Everyone makes mistakes and typos, like thsi.

See my bio for copyright details re: this post.
Darl McBride, show your evidence!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Tivo does nothing wrong...
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 08:21 AM EST
You can adapt and modify the program as much as you want. Nothing in the GPL version 2 says you have to allow users to install modified code on the medium the original came on. If it did, you couldn't put GPL binaries on a CD-ROM.

Also, Linus Torvalds has quite explicitly said he is OK with what Tivo is doing. And since he's the copyright holder, his interpretation of the GPL goes above what its drafted may have intended.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Anit-Antitrust != Shill for Microsoft
Authored by: tarran on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 08:22 AM EST

There are is a powerful argument backed up by historical
evidence to be made that the entire premise of anti-trust
legistlation is flawed.

1) Anti-trust legistlation has been used exclusively as by
businesses that were not competing effectively to go after
their competition. When officers of the Morgan family of
companies were put in charge of the DOJ, they would go
after the Rockefeller empire. When officers of the
Rockefeller empire were given those positions, they
returned the favor etc.

2) Every business which does too good a job faces the
possibility of prosecution. The most egregious case was
the conviction of Alcoa because they essentially were so
good that nobody was willing to back any hypothetical
competitor. The judge essentially found that the skill and
experience of their managers alone was criminal. (Yes, do
such a good job that nobody is willing to compete with
you, and you too can be a felon).

3) Every monopoly in history that did leave customers
feeling ripped off has either been put out of business (or
placed in very diminished circumstances) or maintained its
position of dominance by lobbying for government
regulations that block their competitors out. End the
practice of government interference in businesses (such as
approving mergers or licensing facilities), and they are
denied this coercive tool.

4) There are very powerful mechanisms to break the back of
every "predatory" practice listed in the Sherman law. I
think Dupont did this early in his career to a cartel of
European chemical manufacturers.

There are plenty of laws on the books against fraud,
tortious interference in trade etc. Enforce them, and so
called "predatory" monopolies would not be able to last
too long.

We also need to get rid of patents of monopoly as well.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Two Corrections
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 08:26 AM EST
The hyperlink "Some have accused ACT" should only have "have
accused ACT" hyperlinked. Move "Some" outside of the link.

"it tells me what Microsoft if afraid of:" The "if" should
be an "is".

[ Reply to This | # ]

Tivo does nothing wrong...
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 08:31 AM EST
You can adapt and modify the program as much as you want. Nothing in the GPL version 2 says you have to allow users to install modified code on the medium the original came on. If it did, you couldn't put GPL binaries on a CD-ROM.

Also, Linus Torvalds has quite explicitly said he is OK with what Tivo is doing. And since he's the copyright holder, his interpretation of the GPL goes above what its drafted may have intended.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Latest Attacks on GPL3 and a Word About Tivo
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 08:32 AM EST
Actually it's not a bad article and he's dead on correct with where Stallman is
dragging the GPL. I thought the article brought up alot of solid points and
mirrored alot of what I'm hearing from other developers on the new and not so
improved GPL. Most people I know are staying with GPL 2 or moving to a BSD
license. The article is dead on too qupting Stallmans piece about software with
less capability being better as long as it's free.
I dont know what RS has been smoking but put me in for a doubleshot.
Good article.
RT Smith

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Latest Attacks on GPL3 and a Word About Tivo
Authored by: jsusanka on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 08:32 AM EST
"If you modify your kernel, then Tivo won't let you run
your Tivo any more. The DRM blocks you. They don't have to
run their business that way. It's just more convenient for
them, I guess."

what is sad is that tivo does not gain any business from
doing that - I guarantee if they did away with this they
would still sell the same amount of units.

All I know is I am tire of companies dirty little secrets
that they think they need to stay in business.

one example is video cards. their main business is
selling video cards. why keep their drivers secret.

maybe one day businesses will get it and let their
customers do what they want with the equipment they bought
from them.

I am tired of these leasing business models that are so
popular these days - i.e ipod/itunes - just sell me the
dam song and let me play on as many devices as I can.
untill that happens I won't buy any of this junk.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Two Groups of Users
Authored by: Prototrm on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 09:22 AM EST
This sort of conflict is not only going to continue, but I suspect it's going to
get a lot worse before everything is resolved. There are two groups of FLOSS
users today, the tradional ones to whom the Four Freedoms are extremely
important, and the casual ones, newcomers who see real value in the software
itself, but who don't care at all about those freedoms, or at least, don't care
about some of them. This second group is going to grow larger as time goes on,
and because of their beliefs (some may say the lack of them) they may want to
push things like Linux in directions the traditional group doesn't want to go

How many computer users out there neither know nor care what operating system
Tivo uses? How many people treat it as just another appliance in the home? For
myself, sure I hate the copying restrictions on the box, but for the moment, it
does what I need it to do, and that's good enough for me.

As for DRM, I am 100 percent against it, but as a Windows programmer, I'm also
against mixing unrelated functionality in the same tool. That is the curse of
Windows: so many things are just munged together that you get unexpected and
unplanned interactions. A flaw in one component of the mix can create problems
for the entire system. That is why I don't like the idea of adding anti-DRM
clauses to the GPL. In my opinion, such restrictions do nothing to protect the
Freedoms inherent in the source code, and that is the purpose of a software
license: to protect the software it is applied to. So, if you're against nuclear
power as a danger to all humankind, would it then be a good idea to add an
anti-nuclear clause to the GPL?

I strongly believe in the "KISS" principle, in code as well as
management of code. Just because you *can* do something doesn't necessarily mean
you *should*.

Plugging the "tivo loophole" is a legitimate concern for the GPL.
Whether it *should* be done depends on which of the two groups of users you
belong to: traditional or casual. However, the DRM issue is not (IMHO) a
legitimate concern for the GPL, and will only serve to start a lot of shouting
matches and supply grist for the fudster mill.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Latest Attacks on GPL3 and a Word About Tivo
Authored by: tz on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 09:42 AM EST
I do embedded and cross platform development.

At a recent users group meeting, someone suggested that there should be more
allowance for binary-only USB drivers. Fine, but what does that mean? That it
will only run on a PC? What about PowerPC Macintoshes?

Or the router which has an embedded MIPS processor and USB port I'm currently
doing mods to and I can only do so because most of the source is available and
it runs Linux. (It is a new product, and I won't be too contentious about GPL
violations as the source is appearing intermittently for the programs that run
on it, but I can't yet reconstruct the runnable image).

If I don't have the source, and they don't make anything but Kernel 2.N binaries
for x86 processors (and maybe using some specific set of instructions that
aren't on the embedded 386s), I'm stuck with using Kernel 2.N on a very limited
set of hardware.

One solution which is already in the Linux Kernel to some extent, and has been
for a decade is microcode. This might fix the graphics card problem too, though
it might require a new series of cards. Why not provide a source code to a
simple but universal interface and download a binary image file (microcode) with
all the gory proprietary details into the card that does the magic? That
microcode blob would work across all platforms (Something like the Java Virtual
Machine). The existing drivers can be more easily reverse engineered, and
graphics cards have more computing power on the chip than many systems.

I don't think Stallman has ever demanded VHDL files, schematics, or PLD sources
for the hardware the software runs on. If he doesn't, then microcode would be
like the flash image on a chip on a board which he hasn't to my knowledge
worried about.

Being in embedded, I inhabit the grey area between hardware and software. The
same router has two spaces for LEDs but they didn't put them in. It would be
nice to add them as indicators (for signal strength, or if an attached GPS is
active or locked). But I can't quite figure out how to turn them on or off,
though they flash at bootup. The full source might help, but it might not -
they might be attached to something which isn't a controllable port. I can't
really know that without the equivalent of the hardware source.

Oh, and the mechanical plans to my old printer. I could use the stepper motors
and such more easily if I had the exact dimensions... There is the
electromechanical frontier and that gray area.

I don't know quite where I come down. Microcode could be used for DRM purposes,
so normally I would oppose it on that grounds, but it is also generally useless
to have the source as what happens is a very narrow function.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Geekdom gone mad
Authored by: golding on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 10:02 AM EST
This business of listings starting at zero has become an affectation that makes
no real sense and verging on the rediculous.

When listing items in any document, you start at (1) not (0) as above (freedom
0). I am as geeky as any, however, when I have a single item in my posession,
there is ONE of them, not ZERO.

This would be because we use the base ten in our day to day dealings, or am I
wrong about that too?

Regards, Robert

..... Some people can tell what time it is by looking at the sun, but I have
never been able to make out the numbers.

[ Reply to This | # ]

A fifth freedom - but is is a freedom
Authored by: yscydion on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 10:04 AM EST

Having just looked at the GPLv3 draft, I believe that it says that a modified version of a program must be able to access the same data that could be accessed by the unmodified version. This is not one of the four freedoms listed in the article. It seems likely that this is a response to the behaviour of the big media companies, but it has various other consequences.

There are some interesting and dificult issues in knowing that a remote system has not been compromised, or in allowing remote systems to handle sensitive data with confidence that they cannot do inappropriate things with it. There are valuable applications in areas such as finance and healthcare where these issues may arise. It seems that GPLv3 code will be limited to the cases where it is sufficient to trust whoever is operating the remote system and excluded from situations where we wish to trust that appropriate software is running there.

Perhaps the most worrying aspect is that it is precisely where sensitive data is being handled that we need the code quality and many-eyeballs scrutiny that we get from open source, but that will have to be some other kind of open source than GPLv3 if it is open source at all.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Tivo's behaviour
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 10:23 AM EST
"Tivo needs to behave honorably toward the license, in my view, or stop
using the code. I don't care which it chooses, personally, but it is at a fork
in the road, and it will have to choose."

I don't see that as being true; unless Linux changes over to GPL 3 (which is not
automatic for Linux, as they don't use the indirect pointer to teh GPL version
number), there's nothing preventing this behaviour.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Devils Advocate
Authored by: sirloxelroy on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 10:42 AM EST
Devils Advocate. If they allowed everyone to modify or run their own additions,

1) Their Tech Support costs would go up. For the simple fact that you and I
both know John Does Kids or wife or friends would try and load something,
realize they messed it up , not tell dad, and he would call yelling saying it is
a Piece of Junk. That is one example, but overall it would increase the costs
of offering tech support, even if you charge for an instance, because you have
people calling in going through the prompt system, telling their story a couple
times till they say Hey, you have to pay us $X per hour to solve this non-defect
related issue. And you still have to pay for the call, phone line, phone system
capabilities, and operators to tell more people it would cost for theat form of
2) DRM, I don't like DRM's, but closed minded and sourced companies and
governments want it. Your average Joe on the street doesn't care too much, if
they did, DRMs wouldn't be around as more people would do something about them.
But for most music, movie, TV companies DRMs seem to be a required Evil to
appease the monopolies at large (RIAA MPAA Etc...).

[ Reply to This | # ]

A Condurum for the community?
Authored by: rsteinmetz70112 on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 10:55 AM EST
RMS is a great advocate for freedom. He is also a great advocate for privacy. I
seem to recall he has refused to use a card access system because he believed it
invaded his privacy. I also recall the uproar around PGP, which allowed people
to keep their personal information private.

In his original free software advocacy RMS pretty much focused on the
availibility of code to programmers for use in developing new better code.
Translating this freedom to users and access to data which is arguably not
entirely theirs has security implications. I just heard this morning about a
group which had possibly cracked some computers and stolen the account nuumbers,
pins and encryption keys for ATM cards and was using this information to make
withdrawals in Eastern Europe.

Tivo is perhaps a borderline case because the information is generally not
terribly sensitive, it is generally entertainment, although some celebraties
might disagreee that someone cracking their private videos is not important. ATM
cards and financial information is another matter.

Rsteinmetz - IANAL therefore my opinions are illegal.

"I could be wrong now, but I don't think so."
Randy Newman - The Title Theme from Monk

[ Reply to This | # ]

a more apt analogy
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 10:58 AM EST
I posted this coment on the site ..

re: Your comparison of Girolamo Savonarola and the Medici family with Stallman
and presumably Sir William. A more apt analogy would be the Chamberlen family
and Royal College of Physicians.

History records that for monetry gain, they kept secret the invention of the
forceps thereby retarding the develpement of obsterics.

Microsoft/ACT being Chamberlen and the Royal College of Physicians being the
Free Software Foundation.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • a more apt analogy - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 11:08 AM EST
  • a more apt analogy - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 07:34 PM EST
    • Re Savonarola - Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, March 11 2006 @ 08:17 AM EST
Richard Stallman an "extremist"
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 11:02 AM EST
PJ, unless I misunderstand you're poking rather fun at the twisted logic that
say that this particular fact is relevant in any way to the merits (or lack
thereof) in GPL3. It's simply a case of attacking personality being easier then
debating substance.

You can't be proposing that Stallman is neither an extremist nor impractical at
many times. I don't think he would deny it. It's something we all have to live
with. He's also a *very difficult* person to interact with (from personal

I also agree that he risks marginalising himself for that stance.

*However* Stallman is a visionary - despite him being a pain to interact with,
it's worth that pain for wonderful vision he provides (normally with clarity
that I could never approach). Also a lot of the reason for him being so
difficult is that he's a very principled person and he doesn't bend his
principles for anything - for instance convenience, practicality or
congeniality. This naturaly makes him an extremist to people less rock solid in
their principles (us mere mortals).

At the same time that's why he's such an important person and why I have so much
respect for him, but he is a very easy target for people with an axe to grind.

Finally the people he risks marginalising with his DRM/Tivo approach are only
people who have a vested interest in DRM/Tivo - not the consumers and so that's
not actually a drawback from his perspective (or mine, or the debate at hand).

I guess most of us regulars (in my case as an IANAL lurker) on Groklaw will know
this, however people who don't see the big picture (newcomers here) should have
it explained why the statement I quoted above is deceptive and misleading
despite as a matter of fact being correct.

Sorry to nitpick, but I think you've been doing such a fine job of properly
debunking such nonsense in a fair and even manner by examining the premise and
facts and documenting that process. Here I feel you've jumped some working (you
are correct in your conlusion; the sentiment does obligate poking a little fun)
and so come to a conclusion that some of your readers may miss.

You see if I was Richard then I'm sure I could have written this entire post in
a paragraph, but then I'd probably have better things to do with my time -
saving the world, defeating the borg and of course protecting freedoms for us
all. Do you think he secretly has a spandex outfit and long flowing cape?

As always thanks, and keep up the good work :-)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Nice interview with Linus about GPL3
Authored by: Alan(UK) on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 11:07 AM EST
Forbes Daniel Lyons, 03.09.06, 12:30 PM ET

I rather like Linus's point of view, sense of humour too.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Latest Attacks on GPL3 and a Word About Tivo
Authored by: shingebis on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 11:25 AM EST
Thankyou, PJ, for explaining what the DRM clause in the GPL v3 actually means.
This has allowed me to decide that I absolutely disagree with it.

Another (anonymous) poster here made a very good point, but unfortunately buried
it in a rant attacking PJ's integrity, so it got deleted. I'll repeat it here,
minus the personal attacks: Why do Tivo have an obligation to allow your code to
run on their box?

And some follow-up questions of my own:
* What if they hadn't used digital means to lock out modifications to the code,
but had instead burned their kernel image onto a ROM chip, and stuck a blob of
epoxy over it to make sure that nobody was going to modify their box (but still
released the source separately)? Would that be considered any more or less of a
* What if the Tivo was built as a co-operation between two companies - one which
wrote the software and released it under the GPL, and one which built the
hardware including the DRM chip? Which one of them would be at fault?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Misrepresenting Stallman?
Authored by: kutulu on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 11:30 AM EST
<blockquote><i>It misrepresents Stallman's views and even his

You can't honestly have read anything RMS has ever written about his personal,
philosophical views on software, and still beleive that Mr. Zuck is
misrepresenting him. Stallman is *exactly* the extremist Zuck paints him to be,
and he makes no bones about it.

RMS actually, seriously does beleive that "hyribdizing" or
"bridging" open source --> proprietary software is wrong,
anti-freedom, violates the spirit and intent of the GPL, and is destructive to
the free software movement. Read, for example, <a
href="">Why Not Use the
LGPL</a> for a clear example of this: Stallman vehemently argues that
<b>his own free-software license<b> is a horrible idea, and you
shouldn't use it, precisely because it allows developers to bridge the
FOSS/Closed licensing gap.

The problem with Mr. Zuck's article is that he confuses Stallman's personal
beleifs with the concrete legal basis for the GPL. Despite the fact that he
doesn't exactly like it, Mr. Stallman has never argued that it's
<b>illegal</b> to do what companies like TiVo and Adaptec are doing.
He's simply argued that they are damaging the Free Software movement by
(legally) using Free Software for their own non-free purposes.

<blockquote><i>Does that match what Zuck

Lets see. Zuck wrote: "In interviews, he talks about preventing the
"TiVo-ization" of software (the merging of free and proprietary
software into a single system)"; RMS wrote: "We hope that the
developers of Linux will adopt the GPLv3, so as to make future Linux versions
resistant to “tivoization” in the future.". Looks like a match to me.

Wether you agree with RMS or not is a matter of personal opinion. I happen to
agree with him in principle but get very frustrated with his refusal to make
practical concessions. (Count me much closer to the Linus/ESR camp here). But
when you try to claim that RMS doesn't stand for exactly what he DOES stand for,
it can only mean that 1) You don't truly get his vision for Free Software; or 2)
You do get it, you get that it's just not realistic, and you want to try to tone
it down for a broader audience. Neither of this is doing RMS or Free Software
wany favors.

[ Reply to This | # ]

I have successfully setup a homebrew tivo using MythTV
Authored by: kawabago on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 12:34 PM EST
MythTV is open source, fairly mature, works well and is relatively easy to
install. It has subscription-free tv listings you can search and have record
your favourite shows and you can pause live tv. Better yet it doesn't have any
DRM in it! If anyone has questions I'd be happy to answer them.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Latest Attacks on GPLv3 and a Word About Tivo
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 12:50 PM EST
I'm a Linux user and don't care for MS at all. But,
really, RMS is an extremist. That's not a bizarre piece of
FUD. It's just plain ol' true.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Attacking Tivo is unfair.
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 01:03 PM EST
This sounds just like RIAA to me. I am a long time customer of Tivo, I own 2 of
their devices. The open source community licensed under the GPLv2 at their own
choice. Tivo has stayed within the legal constraints of that license. Now you
want to paint them as bad guys because they obeyed the license that the software
was licensed under? This is no better than RIAA who want to make it illegal to
move your music to your Ipod. Its about someone who licensed their IP under one
license that now wants to make a new license that their customers have to
follow. Its absolutely a violation to licensee's rights to try to change the
license under them, and try to apply that to people who had previously licensed

Tivo isn't trying to break the rules of the original license, you are. PJ, I
don't want you to take this wrong. I agree with you on most issues, but
slamming Tivo for using the software the way it was licensed to be used is, just


[ Reply to This | # ]

What TIVO will probably do...
Authored by: thombone on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 02:00 PM EST just snub whatever the GPLv3 becomes and stick with the GPLv2 (which is
their right). End of story.

So, nothing to see here, move along. Seriously, the cat is out of the bag, and
whether TIVO is using a loophole in the GPLv2 or not is moot, because the GPLv3
will not replace the GPLv2 per se anyway. Anyone who doesn't like v3 can just
stick with v2, which is, I am certain, what TIVO's ultimate response to all of
this will be.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Tivo Mods = Service NIGHTMARE!
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 02:26 PM EST
" If you modify your kernel, then Tivo won't let you run your Tivo any more."

And I fully support them in this: Just imagine yourself as a Tivo support person trying to support a modded Tivo box. Where do you start if the functions and appearance are not what they were when that model left the factory?

[ Reply to This | # ]

amateur thoughts on software and morality
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 02:27 PM EST
I don't think I have a strong opinion yet one way or the other on what
license(s) are better. But over the years in reading interviews with RMS, I've
found that what I believe does not always jive with what he thinks.

I guess one main example would be "software should be free" (if that
is not a central pillar of his thinking then of course the rest of this post is
just a waste and I'm totally wrong).

I like free software, as in beer and as in speech and as in freedom.

But as a developer I have a hard time accepting that software *should* be
anything. If the author wants it to be free, wonderful. If the author wants to
sell it, great. But I can't get myself to attribute morality to software
development. There is no moral transgression if software is or isn't something
someone else says it should be.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Freedom, the Linux Kernel, and GPLv3
Authored by: cventers on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 02:32 PM EST
As an introductory aside, I must say that practically ever
attack I've ever seen on Stallman's intent seems driven by
either a lack of actual understanding of what the man (or
his license) proposes, or perhaps a more malicious motive.

I think Stallman is very right to worry about the 'TiVO
situation'. Granted, TiVO is following through with the
real world execution of the GPLv2, but certainly not the
intent. Thus, in the scope of the GPLv2, the only failure
here is one of ethics.

You have to remember that these licenses are designed to
uphold an ideal. And if you don't agree with the ideal,
your choice still remains the same - either abide by the
terms of the license, or don't redistribute the software.
The GPLv2 is by this measure quite a fair license, and so
is the GPLv3. Neither license restricts what you, as a
user, can do.

But mechanisms like TiVO's crypto chip restricts what you,
the user, can do. They take away freedoms the GPL was
designed to guarantee you. And it's important to remember
that free software is concerned most with its users, not
with those that have a commercial interest in it.

Keep in mind, of course, that for many TiVOs, there is a
wealth of free software available. That's because TiVO
made a mistake and signed a kernel that contained a 'hole'
through which we could instruct the device to run our own
code. Many people have found great use of this software.
But if TiVO was successful in their crypto efforts, none
of this would have been possible.

IANAL, but it seems that TiVO is legally in the clear.

And it may be true that Linus doesn't see anything wrong
with TiVO's methods, while other kernel developers perhaps
do. Since all of the kernel is currently available under
the GPLv2, differences in opinion are currently moot. Some
may call this a failure of the GPLv2 license, and elect
GPLv3 for their future applications.

Linus has a difficult job of balancing licensing issues
within the kernel. Many developers, for instance, think
binary drivers are illegal, but Linus currently tolerates
them for the benefit of his users. I must confess - as
much as I think binary drivers are at least 'wrong', I'm
currently using nvidia.ko.

So where is all of this going? I wish people's natural
reaction to anything Stallman proposes was something other
than idly dismissing him as an extremist. Many people did
when the GNU project and the GPL were born. People have
continued to do so throughout the years. And yet the GPLv2
license arguably aided in the development of an entire
worldwide industry of GNU/Linux products and services.
Competition is healthy but thanks to the GPL it does not
come at the expense of the end users, as it does in nearly
every other software market. That's quite something for
the license of a so-called 'extremist' to accomplish.

As time goes on and Linux grows popularity, we find
ourselves looking at all the new devices on the store
shelf that contain Linux. "Cool, a wireless router! A cell
phone! A TiVO!" we exclaim. And in doing so, some of us
are ready to tolerate more 'questionable' usages/abuses of
the kernel than we might otherwise. After all, the fact
that these devices do run Linux means that there's a good
chance they can be hacked.

But what will you do or say when your ability to do so
vanishes? What will you say when your next MP3 player runs
Linux, the vendor distributes the source code, but the
kernel has been modified to take away all of your own
natural rights to the music you've purchased? You can see
the offending code, right there, in plain sight. A couple
of keystrokes in vim later, and the MP3 player's kernel is
no longer your enemy. But the device no longer works,
because it has been artificially designed to accept no
derived code (despite the clear intent of the license to
guarantee your right to modify).

Defending our freedom is what the GPL licenses are all
about. Please don't lose sight of that.

[ Reply to This | # ]

A worry about confounding the goals of Torvalds and Stallman
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 02:57 PM EST
I hope I can assume that there is a difference between a license and the intents
of the licensor. A licence may be deficient in addressing all the intents of
the license writer.

I think most would agree that it's dishonorable for a licensee to know the
licensor's intent and work to undermine it while still falling within the letter
of the license. Critical to note, though, is that the license may not have been
written by the licensor. It can therefore happen that the letter of the license
can exactly match the licensor's intents without matching the license writer's

I hope I can also assume it's no secret that Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman
do not see eye to eye on all things. GPL v2 was intented to be a reflection of
Stallman's vision. Given that Torvalds has reservations about switching to
GPL3, it makes one wonder if the ills that Stallman finds do not match up with
the opinions of Torvalds. After all, some people don't mind the BSD license
even if it allows easy proprietary extension. Torvalds clearly has spent time
to discuss his own theories of what GPL compliance should mean. It seems
relevant to bring up in the Tivo context.

This is not to suggest, PJ, that your blog entry is inaccurate in any way, only
that a little more subtlety on the Tivo example might be helpful in clarifying
this distinction. Doesn't the contrasts between Stallman and Torvalds deserves

I'm also not quite sure I understand the ills of tivoization, although I
sometimes think I do. If Tivo's hardware is defective in that it cannot run a
derived version without signature, isn't that a hardware problem, not a GPL

[ Reply to This | # ]

New Scientist article on DRM
Authored by: geoff lane on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 02:57 PM EST
There is an excellent article by Barry Fox about DRM, its history, Sonys little trouble last year and the new DRM to be used on new technology DVDs.

A short online into is available.

I'm not a Windows user, consequently I'm not
afraid of receiving email from total strangers.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Latest Attacks on GPLv3 and a Word About Tivo
Authored by: jig on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 04:43 PM EST
i don't know, i think i'm with tivo on this one.

they follow the letter of the gpl, and the freedoms you have said aren't there,
are actually there, you just also need to put together hardware to run your
modifications as well.

the tivo system depends on selling (leasing?) their hardware for less than it's
worth, and then making up the difference by selling a recurring service, the
guide. well, that, and now the cell phone and web stuff that's come up.

the problem is, if you can apply software modifications to their hardware, you
can also completely devalue their buisness, because you can set up your own
guide, and probably set up your own cell phone and other internet services. so
you buy their hardware, under implied contract to use their services for the
life of the product, but then you break the contract by chopping off their
revenue stream.

if there was another way to ensure that they could still make money providing
the hardware, other than forcing the hardware to only run signed code, then i'm
sure they'd jump at it.

the problem i have with the gpl enforcing hardware specifics is that it's the
same type of thinking that the **aa brings up in congress when they talk about
"plugging the analog hole". software is software, and hardware is
hardware. the gpl's stated goal is, basically, peer review, and all the benefits
of peer reviewed publication. nothing in that ever states that reproducing the
experiment is going to be easy or cheap, and i don't think tivo should be
obligated to make their service based buisness model easy to circumvent WITH

the tivo additions to the community (all their software additions, right?) have
probably had some traction with the myth tv crowd (a linux based pvr system
built with reatil and custom hardware). i don't think it's correct, or rightious
to ask for more than that.

if you are afraid of comsumer devices being buit in ways that basically make it
impossible for almost everyone to run homebrew code to perform custom services,
then i think you need to rely on the public to take a stand with their buying
dollars. linksys bought into the system by creating a line that facilitates
custom firmware. it costs a little more, probably more than what it cost to keep
the extra memory installed over their less customizable line, but they still
offer the hardware. and i'm sure it's far less than what it would cost to build
your own from scratch, even with the plans in front of you.

and what about apple trying to make it so that only their os boots on their
hardware? in essence, they buy the systems from (now) intel, and then resell
them to you with a signed code bit set. well, they owned the hardare, messed
with it (frankly devalued it) and then sold it to you... you're the dupe for
buying it.

and if you are afraid of them criminalizing you getting around their hack, then
i think it's more reasonable to attack that in law rather than start dictating
what people can and can't do with your software in their hardware.

next you'll put in the gpl4.0 that gpl software can't be put in anything that
can be construed as a weapon....


anyway, we can discuss other drm and code restrictions further, but i don't
think tivo should be singled out for doing anything but follow what the gpl is
really about, regardless of what stallman is saying about it now that the
fuctionality of gpl code is at risk from (i'll agree, superfluous) hardware

is it the argument, that tivo could survive if they offered a separate version
of their hardware, costing more, that didn't have the signed code restriction?
has anyone seen a tivo statement on doing that or not?

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Latest Attacks on GPLv3 and a Word About Tivo
Authored by: Nick Bridge on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 04:59 PM EST
Tivo is in an unfortunate position.

They had allowed users (and even worked with them) to modify their Tivos to do
various things. They had taken a neutral position.

But, if they didn't try to prevent the local copies of television shows from
being copied around, or even being written onto a DVD-R (or similar), they would
come under fire from big business.

Both the TV networks, and the movies studios, are doing their best to prevent
copying of this material.

It is my personal opinion that Tivo was actually threatened, and backed down.
Their entire business was based on one thing. Fairly recently they started to
change their business model, and cater to other businesses. Part of the reason
is certainly that many other devices now have the classic Tivo-like
functionality, but I'm sure another part is TV and Movie Big Business.

I cannot stand DRM, nor those that would take away our freedoms.
And I loved that Tivo was based on Linux.

It's a real shame that Tivo went down this path.

[ Reply to This | # ]

political licenses
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 05:10 PM EST

I don't think that political problems can be fixed with the GPL or any other form of license. Attempts to do so lead to lousy, unenforcable licences. Similarly, I think that attempts at a technology fix for a political problem leads to lousy technology. While Richard Stallman has made an attempt to solve the current Open Source political problems by creating GPLv3 the result is inherently weak.

Our political problems can best be addressed by political action. We need to lobby governments for or against laws that affect us. We need to support political candidates and political parties which agree with our political positions.

Linus Torvalds' attitude that he would prefer to ignore politics, office or otherwise, is widespread among technically oriented people. So in keeping with the Open Source philosophy of doing what interests you, we need people who are interested in politics to begin active lobbying for the political positions and candidates that we favor. Those activists who happen to be good at politics will rise to the top on merit and lead the charge.

Steve Stites

[ Reply to This | # ]

Excellent Tivo article in ACM queue
Authored by: lgrant on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 05:56 PM EST

I just ran into this article in ACM Queue vol. 1, no. 5 - July/August 2003 - "From Server Room to Living Room". It is an article by Jim Burton about how Linux is moving into entertainment systems.

The interesting part starts on Page 4, where he talks about the Tivo, and the design considerations, and why they used Linux, and why they keep parts of the Tivo proprietary.

The rationale seems quite sane and honest: "The TiVo Client Device is of necessity a closed system. As a service provider, we must prevent theft of service, so TiVo pays a great deal of attention to security of the device and resistance to hacking. Additionally, we sell the TCD at a price that provides a net margin to retailers, but no profit to us. Our profits come from providing service to each device over time, rather than from up-front costs."

I don't think I have a problem with what they are doing. They have made changes to the kernel, and they have published them, just as required by the GPL, and they will help others who are working on similar projects. While it might be nice if you could customize your own Tivo, I'm not convinced the GPL requires that in letter or spirit.

The Tivo business model is similar to that used by portrait studios. When you have a portrait sitting, they charge you a fairly lowball sitting fee, because if they charged you a fair rate, it would scare a lot of people away. They make it up when you get prints made, which is why they don't want you to have the local drug store copy your prints. In commercial (magazine) photography, on the other hand, the customer may have a lot more rights to reproduce the film, but he pays a lot more in shooting fees.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Latest Attacks on GPLv3 and a Word About Tivo
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 06:27 PM EST
Redhat having a Trademark on a product does not stop you from redistributing
that product under the GPL you just cant call your modified/redistributed
version REDHAT Linux.

You can call it anything else you want as long as that is not trademarked

You can purchase one copy of Redhat's product and install it on any number of
machines, but you only get support for the original licence, the support is
basically what you are paying for (that's my very basic understanding).

You can still Modify, Redistribute, Change the Code to suit what ever you want,
you just cant call it Redhat linux. It is very simple Redhat, SUSE, Mandriva,
use their Trademarks to distinguish their version/distributions from others.

[ Reply to This | # ]

News flash: PJ stirs nest of astroturfers, trolls and shills!
Authored by: grouch on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 06:51 PM EST
I love an easy target as well as the next long-haired, smelly GPL "zealot", but this is getting ridiculous! We need some of those softy corporate types to jump in and explain why they've become GPL "zealots".

(Note: "zealo t" is in quotes because it's a favorite attack word, generally used by those who must accept the contents of their software on religious faith, against all who are free to examine GPL software.)

-- grouch

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 07:29 PM EST
Linus seems to be OK with Tivo. He doesn't seem to be OK with the GPL 3
restriction to that. I kind of tend to agree with him, I like his cool shark
analogy. But that's as sophisticated as my argument would get, um.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 07:43 PM EST
How on earth are you going to assure that modified code can still be
recognized by a system? And from a security point of view, is this desirable?

Although I can see what the license wants to achieve, am I being naive or is
this license just a tad too idealistic?

I think - in the real world - I'm with Tivo btw. And with Linus. Gotta love
Stallman. Agree with him? Not always, but hey.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Tivo and Stallman and DRM
Authored by: philc on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 08:37 PM EST
Stallman is an extremist and that is what works for him, His positions are clear
and easy to understand and he is true to them. Were it not for his efforts, much
of what we have today in the way of FOSS would have been absorbed into
proprietary software. Thank you, Richard, for being there for us!

Tvio is playing by the rules. You may not like it because you read more into the
rules than is actually there. Tvio does provide its source and anyone can take
and use that source for ANY purpose that also respects the GPL. You don't have
to make Tvio software, you can use it elsewhere.

The GPL does not prevent you from protecting your products. It prevents you from
witholding the source code. Big difference. This protection is done in numerous
embedded devices simply because the binary is permanently burned into ROM (read
only memory) as part of manufacturing. Tvio and others that use DRM are trying
to pretend that the system is permanent in ROM. This is ultimately a large
liability to these companies and pretty much eliminates innovation. That alone
diminishes one of the great benefits of sharing code. Go figure.

I don't personally like Tvio because they keep track of what I watch on TV. This
is wrong at many levels and it keeps them out of my home.

There is nothing about DRM that is good for society. Some deluded souls think
that it can protect their profit stream. The jury is out on that.

Society flurishes when ideas and work are freely exchanged. Where ideas build on
each other and creativity and innovation abound. Society as a whole wins and so
do many of the individuals that contribute. As soon as you try to control the
process or the products in any restrictive way you slow things down. Consider
the IP/Patent/Copyright mess that we are in and what it does to promote
innovation. This is not good for society.

Things are going to get very bad for a while. With the help of the MPAA, RIAA,
Microsoft, Apple, and Intel (at least), we will have computers with significant
DRM at many levels of the hardware. It will not be possible to run other than
approved software and the approval can be taken back at will.

HDCP encrypts content while moving between chips in the system. A video/sound
stream arrives encrypted and is decrypted in the CPU. When it is passed to the
video or oaudio chips it is reencrypted. From the video and audio chips it is
reencrypted to the monitor/amplifiers and finally decrypted for display.
Microsoft and Apple are also working with Intel for hardware features that will
prevent other than their software from ever running on a given system. Think of
X-Box restrictions on all computers. In this world Linux will not run on most
computers just because the keys will not be available.

In what way does this improve society?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stick to reporting
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 09:22 PM EST
Groklaw is an extremely valuable resource, so long as PJ sticks to reporting,
rather than commenting on the news.

As it happens, R. Stallman is a bit of a fruitcake, with BO to boot, whose
genesis for gcc and the GPL was DEC not providing him with access to the sources
for TOPS-10. Get over it already.

GPLv2 strikes a comfortable (relatively) balance between the needs of
individuals and for-profit organizations. GPLv3 tilts the balance considerably
away from the for-profit organizations, and will tend to marginalize future OSS

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Latest Attacks on GPLv3 and a Word About Tivo
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 10:00 PM EST
does anybody know where the public can make comments on gplv3?
i've looked around the fsf site and i cant seem to find where to do it.
the whole debate over signed binaries is a dificult one, as signing does improve
security, particularly when it is done at the hardware level.
it seems to me that what is needed is symply the addition of a clause, allowing
developers to chose between providing the private keys for signing binaries, or
ensuring that whatever signing system is used allows for the public/private key
combination to be changed, perhaps on a bios level if necesary
the current wording may already allow for this, but perhaps it could be made
more explicit. this would allow for the security, while not allowing tivo style

[ Reply to This | # ]

Read the EULAs/GPLs carefully...
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, March 11 2006 @ 01:24 AM EST

The GPL stands for the freedom to access the source and to modify it to suit yourself. If you use GPLd code, then realize it comes with a license and it's only honorable to live up to the terms, not to seek to squeak under the wire with clever legal footwork. Tivo needs to behave honorably toward the license, in my view, or stop using the code. I don't care which it chooses, personally, but it is at a fork in the road, and it will have to choose.

This is common sense, and TiVo if they wanted to use freely available and useable code to suit their needs, they should have used code released under a BSD or BSD style liscense.

Anyone who uses licensed code should read the liscense/s carefully and know what his/her freedoms are. It would be unethical, illegal, and disrepectful to ignore or to deviate from any liscense by which any piece of code was released.

For those who steal or otherwise deviate from MSs EULA should have their knuckles cracked.

For those who deviate from GPL-style restrictions should have their knuckles cracked.

For those who deviate from the BSD-style restriction should have their knuckles cracked.

So what's new with this? Is this not common sense?

On the other hand, if the GPL community wants to be even more controlling of their licensed code, then they need to release the black and white before they claim, "Oh! That's not what we meant." I'm sure that if TiVo knew "what we meant" and thought they could be bound to "What we meant," then I'm sure they would have used code with a less constrictive liscense.

Heck, why not use MSs EULA as a template. That way, the GPL folks can have all the control they want. :)

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Latest Attacks on GPLv3 and a Word About Tivo
Authored by: billposer on Saturday, March 11 2006 @ 05:16 AM EST

I think you're all missing something. RMS is accomodating the non-geek reader. If he had numbered the list according to his druthers, it would have looked like this:

(0x00) freedom to use
(0x01) freedom to change
(0x02) freedom to distribute
(0x03) freedom to distribute altered versions

[ Reply to This | # ]

I feel privileged :)
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, March 11 2006 @ 06:23 AM EST
The company I work for was lised in MS FUD...

The bad thing about FUD is the half truths; Here is the whole truth about Adaptec and open source.

"That was easy"

Link to Adaptec open source policies and support pages

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Latest Attacks on GPLv3 and a Word About Tivo
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, March 11 2006 @ 09:39 AM EST
When i read your first 2-3 paragraphs i wasn't sure what you meant!
But ACT i definitely know as a M$ shill, hehe. That cleared up.
Expect the next incoming FUD from the guys called 'citizens against government
waste' :)
This is getting boring, M$ should really find new shills.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Tivo hardware, ...
Authored by: PeteS on Saturday, March 11 2006 @ 01:23 PM EST
and GPL software

There have been a number of posts basically saying 'Well, it's Tivo's hardware. Very true!

If Tivo wishes to close their box, they are free to write their own operating system and utilities or buy one from a commercial vendor

If they wish to benefit from the culture of free software, they should adapt to that culture. If they wish to lock their box to only their version of an OS and utilities, then that's perfectly fine by me, provided they don't expect to use my code.

Indeed, the DRM restrictions in GPL3 are wonderful from my perspective and I fully intend to use it in the future not only for code, but also for some pretty hefty Verilog/FPGA designs I am in the middle of (that I intend to give to the community at large - another 6 months minimum, though).

So - it's up to Tivo (and others who do the same) to either use GPL software in the spirit it was given, or write / buy something else.


Artificial Intelligence is no match for Natural Stupidity

[ Reply to This | # ]

Prediction and Comment
Authored by: stingbot on Saturday, March 11 2006 @ 02:03 PM EST
I believe GPL3 as it stands will never have the popularity of GPL2.
That is not to say there is anything wrong with GPL3. People have the
right to license their code in anyway they see fit as long as it is

I believe GPL2 is evolutionarily stronger than GPL 3. The GPL2
as it stands right now allows businesses to add and use the code
in a way that lets them thrive via services and through embedded
devices. As such, the community of paid developers on GPL2
projects is quite large.

GPL3 adds a new variable to the equation, hardware (via keys).
From what I can tell about the license (I have not read it in
it's entirety), it is designed to require people who distribute
GPL3 code with hardware, to enable people to adjust and recompile
that code, on that very same hardware. Most people think this
is extreme when you talk about embedded devices, but imagine
Windows Vista coming with some super cool GPL2 software with
the source code. You like what MS did with the software, and you
go to improve and recompile on your Vista machine and wallah...
Vista refuses to run it. While this sucks and really reflects
poorly on the company that delivers the product, I think that
there is no need to try and stop this for a single reason:

For starters, because linux is so popular, I do not think there is
a risk that we will run out of manufacturers for open hardware
that does not use DRM. Furthermore, for anyone to use open source
software, that means it had to be created in the first place, which
means without DRM encumbrance (otherwise who can contribute?).
Finally, as the open source stack increases (just look what SCO
delivers on their Legend platform), it cannot be ignored. If
MS tries to ride this wave, and create DRM roadblocks, they will
be sidelined and subverted by opens source patches and upgrades.
Any DRM platform with the open source stack will fall behind.

The reason RMS got the GPL right is because he followed a method
mother nature has taught us. Just as mother nature does
not succeed through ideals, but rather she succeeds through the
path of least resistance, so to will the GPL survive. As I see
it, the path of least resistance for GPL is version 2.

[ Reply to This | # ]

lets follow this logic to it's conclusion
Authored by: jig on Saturday, March 11 2006 @ 04:23 PM EST

is GPL 4.0 going to restrict all use of GPLed code to devices that cannot be
construed as a weapon?

where does the activism of software controlling hardware design stop?

isn't this the same as the **AA forcing DRM hardware on everyone?

why can't we rely on the public's buying dollar dictating free hardware?

why can't we build our own (myth tv vs tivo)?

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Note to fudsters: GPL in simple terms
Authored by: bigbert on Saturday, March 11 2006 @ 04:55 PM EST
"Thou shalt not steal, but you may borrow"

Seems fair to me.

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RMS trying to control Linux?
Authored by: KAKMAN on Sunday, March 12 2006 @ 01:09 AM EST

Unless I missed something recently, there is to this day very little love between rms and Linus, stemming from when Linux popularity took off and rms fumed that the OS should always be referred to as GNU/Linux, as Linus used GNU tools to edit and compile Linux. The popularity and development of Linux superceded rms slow moving HURD project by light years, while fulfilling the HURD original objective of a free available successful Unix OS for users.

What passes for security under the guise of "DRM" and the DMCA is despicable, deplorable, laughable and sad. I understand Moglen and rms motivations for addressing "this problem" with the current draft of GPL being offered for comments. Yet I also remember rms frustration of not having a large say in the direction of the Linux kernel; about not receiving fair share of credit he thought was due for Linux success (Debian distro try to rectify this by refering to OS as GNU/Linux); rms regarding himself as 'pure' while LInus regards himself as 'pragmatist';rms propensity to sticking to his guns that caused an almost disastrous fork in gcc temporarily (rival fork, egcs succeeded and merged back into gcc, rms role diminished, but far from gone). The current draft of GPL 3.0 dev by Moglen and rms I suggest does have a hidden objective apart from addressing the security keys, DRM issues. The new draft of GPL appears to me to also be rms attempt to influence or dictate control of Linux kernel and not just an update on licensing open source software in general.

True, GPL 3.0, if it is finalised as is, is merely a tool and license than can be used at the discretion of the developer, author, etcetera. No one is holding a gun to anybody's head to upgrade from current GPL, nor any other license, nor will current GPL license cease to exist or become invalid. But I believe rms taking a big gamble, risking dividing Linux community of sane heads, zealots, pragmatists, etc., over the sore point of DRM, encryption as a sneaky way of having a larger say in how Linux can and can't be used.

Highly unlikely event of a license fork occurs, though unfortunate, it would not undermine Linux and other FOSS projects; saner business, education, science interests would take the pragmatic road forward and also find alternative methods of dealing with DRM problem with technology, legislation, etcetera.

Still, in light of PJs recent revelation that rms mind not totally shut, and that this still a draft copy being floated for comments, there is the hope I have in coming months that some unforeseen compromise or solution will appear. Perhaps legisaltive, perhaps technological, perhaps thw RIAA will have collective change of heart (dream, dream).

But I do ascertain that the "encryption" provision was rms attempt to try have more say in steering the Linux community, by upgrading the license and assuming coders would blindly follow. If Tivo had used BSD, Windows, Zeta/BeOS or developed their own embedded OS, would we even care?

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Right on, PJ!
Authored by: hopethishelps on Monday, March 13 2006 @ 02:53 AM EST

Thanks for your clear explanation of exactly what the issues are.

It's interesting to notice that the FUD has spread to replies on Groklaw now. I think some of the early replies to your comments are probably "astroturf", willfully misunderstanding the situation.

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