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Television Media GNU is Not Unix Hardware

TiVo Goes After Sites Hosting Image Backups 423

Posted by timothy
from the net-loss dept.
TiVo User writes "TiVo has apparently decided to come down on sites that hosted 'image backups,' essentially tarballs of the OS for the machine, which just happens to be Linux. TiVo owners use the images to install on new, larger hard drives (increasing the recording capacity of the unit) or to recover a dead system. Why TiVo has a problem with this, but allows others to sell the same images for profit is beyond me." Read on for the rest of TiVo User's comments.
"The images are not used to create pirate TiVos (as a subscription service, TiVo justifiably controls access to their database tightly), so there wouldn't appear to be much harm in allowing them to be hosted. TiVo has always walked a fine line in allowing the user community to mod their units, perhaps they have finally stepped over that line, considering there are free alternatives that are less restrictive. To their credit, the legal mumbo jumbo in their cease letter is non-threatening compared to most other of this type, but it's interesting the letter draws no distinction between the portions of the software that are Linux, and therefore expressly distributable, and those that are proprietary to TiVo."
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TiVo Goes After Sites Hosting Image Backups

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  • Hmm (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Isn't that illegal given the GPL?
    • Re:Hmm (Score:4, Interesting)

      by dreamchaser (49529) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @08:55AM (#7679036) Homepage Journal
      Probably not if they didn't alter the GPL'd components of the system.
    • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Informative)

      by AllUsernamesAreGone (688381) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @09:01AM (#7679062)
      If the code that does all the work is in userland then all they are required to do is allow people to get at the kernel source, they don't have to release anything that runs on top of the kernel as a normal process.

      But if they've added drivers for TiVo specific hardware (don't know if there is any, don't have a TiVo) then it's down to the old binary modules argument, and if they've modified the kernel in any way then they need to release those modifications.
      • by Otto (17870) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @10:06AM (#7679485) Homepage Journal
        But if they've added drivers for TiVo specific hardware (don't know if there is any, don't have a TiVo) then it's down to the old binary modules argument, and if they've modified the kernel in any way then they need to release those modifications.

        There is and they have. http://www.tivo.com/linux

        The objection to distribution of images is that image necessarily contain their proprietary userland code, which is decidely not GPL.
        • by HTH NE1 (675604) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @12:39PM (#7680812)
          The objection to distribution of images is that image necessarily contain their proprietary userland code, which is decidely not GPL.

          As well as certain video content which is also copyrighted by TiVo, such as the menu background video loops.

          It has been made clear to the people at the AVS Forum website [tivocommunity.com] that offering drive images for download would be infringing and that no postings there would entertain such action. In not-so-recent history this appeared to become more lax. Apparently the hammer has come down.

          Another issue is people installing Series2 standalone images on their USB-enabled DirecTiVo combination boxes so that they could run 4.0 on that platform. The installation apparently works. Any discussion of this is now forbidden on the aformentioned forum. Shutting down image providers will shut down people's ability to make the installation.

          This may also however make it impossible to do the kernel monte hack to regain access to the software in face of the lockdowns in the firmware. Though it should be possible to hack together a monte-able image without including TiVo-proprietary code.
    • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Informative)

      by kinnell (607819) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @09:04AM (#7679086)
      No. They are required to supply the source to all the GPLed software that they are distributing, and any of their own software which is linked against GPLed software (which is also therefore GPL). However, they are not required to allow people to view/distribute any proprietary code which doesn't fall into these categories. Since the OS images contain both GPLed and proprietary software, they are within their rights to prevent distribution. They are however required to provided the source of the GPLed stuff on the image seperately, on request, but this is probably not very interesting anyway
      • They are however required to provided the source of the GPLed stuff on the image seperately, on request, but this is probably not very interesting anyway

        This seems to be an odd provision of the GPL. Since the components they use are undoubtable widely available in source form at other sites, why should they be required to provide a mirror of it? Pointing you to a mirror site of the source packages should be sufficient for most reasonable people.

        • Re:Hmm (Score:4, Interesting)

          by kinnell (607819) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @09:14AM (#7679148)
          why should they be required to provide a mirror of it?

          They aren't - the GPL doesn't specify how the code must be made available. They simply have to make the source available somehow, and are entitled to charge the cost of providing it. I imagine pointing to a mirror would be sufficient, at least in practice, if not in theory. The point is to make sure that any changes they make are also distributed to anyone who wants them.

          • Re:Hmm (Score:4, Informative)

            by arkanes (521690) <arkanesNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @09:23AM (#7679202) Homepage
            I, personally, would consider a link to the original source to be sufficent, but heres what the GPL has to say:

            c) Accompany it with the information you received as to the offer to distribute corresponding source code. (This alternative is allowed only for noncommercial distribution and only if you received the program in object code or executable form with such an offer, in accord with Subsection b above.)

            So, a link the the mirror is only acceptable if you're re-distirbuting binaries without modification, and then only if you're doing it non-commercially.

          • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Informative)

            by Cee (22717) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @09:43AM (#7679309)
            They aren't - the GPL doesn't specify how the code must be made available. They simply have to make the source available somehow, and are entitled to charge the cost of providing it.

            The GPL DOES specify how the code must be made available, either by using a or b:

            a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

            b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,
        • Re:Hmm (Score:4, Informative)

          by GigsVT (208848) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @09:29AM (#7679241) Journal
          Because not everyone is getting software from the Internet. When the GPL was written, the Internet as we know it today didn't even exist.

          The clause still makes sense in the Internet world though. Suppose I include a link to a third party site to get GPL code I distribute. They go out of business or change their domain name, or even take down the version I used because it became obselete. I'm now in violation of the GPL.
          • Re:Hmm (Score:3, Informative)

            by Ian Wolf (171633)
            My understanding is you are not in violation until the consumer requests the source and you fail to comply. As someone mentioned earlier, you don't have to distribute the source immediately, but must comply when so requested.
      • Re:Hmm (Score:4, Informative)

        by jtdennis (77869) <oyr249m02@sneakema i l . c om> on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @09:39AM (#7679293) Homepage
        and they do provide it. It's at http://www.tivo.com/linux/index.html [tivo.com].
    • Re:Hmm (Score:3, Informative)

      by Yoje (140707)
      TiVo already offers GPL-based code [tivo.com] on their website. The backup images being offered on other websites include the full OS and TiVo GUI, which aren't covered under GPL. So technically they have the right to shut these sites down, although, as mentioned, I think it's a shame as it could shut down the TiVo upgrade/white-hack community.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @08:53AM (#7679022)
    There are plenty of free choices now, and they are geting better every day, seems like a bad time for Tivo to start upsetting their biggest fans.
  • TiVo (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This practice does not surprise me. About 4 months ago, I purchased a TiVo refurb for $200. In those 4 months, I have sent back 3 TiVo's. My fourth recently went bad (the screen gets all pixelated). Unfortunately, the 3 month warranty only counts for 3 months from when the TiVo was first purchased! Never mind that for the duration of the warranty period they never managed to send me a working product!

    TiVo is a company with no scruples, this practice does not surprise me in the least.

    • Define pixelated, depending upon what quality the show is recorded at, you will get pixelation. If pixelation is a problem do the storage space trade off and record at the "Best" setting; a tivo will never be able to record "perfectly" from an analog source there's allways going to be some artifacts.
    • Re:TiVo (Score:2, Informative)

      by Can (21457)
      TiVo does not actually sell receivers. They license the software and hardware designs. Your issue was more likely with Philips, Sony, Hughes, or some other hardware manufacturer.

      TiVo themselves actually have a very good reputation for customer service (if you bought a standalone TiVo and purchased service directly rather than through DirecTV, of course).
      • Re:TiVo (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        TiVo's website sells refurbished receivers.
    • I was in this precise position 6 months ago, except with HP. They had enough CSR's to pick up the phone when I called and keep me happy while I spoke with them, but kept sending defective units and the wrong parts (why the hell would they ship a UK power cord to the US?? Especially when I explicitly told the CSR I did not need a power cord at all????) and it took a month to fix a very simple issue. That month spanned when the original warranty ran out.

      However, this is what you need to check on - with H

    • Re:TiVo (Score:5, Informative)

      by gnu-generation-one (717590) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @09:21AM (#7679187) Homepage
      I have sent back 3 TiVo's...

      Try this [mythtv.org] -- you need a standard computer, and a couple of TV cards.
    • Re:TiVo (Score:5, Informative)

      by snkline (542610) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @10:07AM (#7679487)
      If I remember correctly from my Business Law courses, it doesn't matter if the warranty has expired. They never fixed the problem satisfactorily and therefore are still legally obligated to send you a working product.

      Now once you have a working TiVo, they may be able to say to hell with you, but until then they are still bound by the original warranty, no matter how much time has passed.
    • Re:TiVo (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jaredmauch (633928) <jared@puck.nether.net> on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @11:27AM (#7680076) Homepage
      If you're in California, this is not the case.

      "A buyer of this product in California has the right to have this product serviced and repaired during the warranty period. The warranty period will be extended for the number of whole days that the product has been out of the buyer's hands for warranty repairs. If a defect exists during the warranty period, the warranty will not expire until the defect has been fixed. The warranty period also will be extended if the warranty repairs has not been performed due to delays caused by circumstances beyond the control of the buyer, or if the warranty repairs did not remedy the defect and the buyer notifies the manufacturer or seller of the failure of the repairs within sixty (60) days after they were completed. If after a reasonable number of attempts, the defect has not bee fixed, the buyer may return this product for a replacement or a refund subject, in either case, to deduction of a reasonable charge for use. The time extension does not affect the protection or remedies the buyer has under other laws.

  • Here's a clue (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kinnell (607819) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @08:57AM (#7679042)
    Why TiVo has a problem with this, but allows others to sell the same images for profit is beyond me

    If they are allowing other sites to sell their images for a profit, presumably they are getting royalties, and would therefore want to encourage the growth of this market by stopping people doing it for free. Follow the money...

    • This is BS (Score:4, Interesting)

      by gad_zuki! (70830) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @09:35AM (#7679273)
      First off, the DirecTivos probably have the worst QC of any DVR on the market and I found myself shipping my first DT off and waiting *are you ready for this* 4 months for a replacement. The fan decided to stop and burned out the card reader.

      A few months later the HD broke. So I pulled it out and got the linux-based rescue CD-image from someone at the excellent tivocommunity forums. Luckily that old drive had a little life left in her and I managed to do a DD copy onto a new 80 gig drive.

      What Tivo should be doing is producing better products and stop punishing us who are trying to fix the junk they sold us. Making money off of a fauly product is ridiculous and those with the skills to be able to fix these things deserve access to the images.

      If Tivo thinks I'm going to waste another 4 months on warranty service or pay for a damn OS image that should be mostly OSS they've got another thing coming.

      Tivo, I'm afraid (because I truly love their product) will be non-existant once the Comcast and Dishnetwork DVRs start coming free with the service. You can take at look at them at gizmodo. [gizmodo.com] If Tivo wants to compete they need to kiss more customer ass, not spit on existing customers with lemons.
      • Re:This is BS (Score:4, Informative)

        by kaybee (101750) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @10:42AM (#7679714) Homepage
        I hope you are not right. I have both a Tivo and a Dish Network PVR. The Dish Network PVR is a complete piece of crap. It frequently locks up, randomly reboots, etc. It has none of the season pass features that makes the Tivo so great. It doesn't even let you give labels to your "manual timers". It is a big, glorified VCR that crashes more often.

        Not only that, it doesn't record shows sometimes. A had a period of time where every show was recorded for only 1 second. I had to delete and re-create all of my manual timers.
      • Re:This is BS (Score:5, Informative)

        by n1m1tz (179573) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @10:49AM (#7679779)
        And for a perspective from the other side of hardware reliability; I've owned a DirecTivo unit for going on 3 years and I haven't experienced any reliability problems with my unit at all. And believe me, it gets a workout! ;)
  • A question (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Scholasticus (567646)
    Since parts of Tivo/Linux are freely redistributable under the GPL, does Tivo the company have the right to order all of these images taken down? In other words, are they legally required to say, "You have to take this part down" (their proprietary stuff), but "not these other parts" (GPL'ed stuff)?
    • Re:A question (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Can (21457) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @09:14AM (#7679144)
      TiVo themselves have already posted their kernel modifications on the web site. They're Good Guys, usually. They have no obligation to let the rest of their code be tossed around the internet.

      I suspect their concern is that someone will figure out how to hack their way into their servers or steal DirecTV service or eventually manage to run the whole image on "stock" hardware.

      Much better for them to nip this copyright violation now than to try to stop it in a year or two when they'll annoy even more people. It may be harder for people to fix "hacked" TiVo's, but you take your own chances when you break that warranty seal...

      • Re:A question (Score:5, Informative)

        by Otto (17870) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @10:02AM (#7679462) Homepage Journal
        I suspect their concern is that someone will figure out how to hack their way into their servers
        Already done, but easily detected on their end, more or less.

        or steal DirecTV service
        Also already done, and not easily detectable either. But it's no easier than stealing DTV on any other DTV box.

        or eventually manage to run the whole image on "stock" hardware.
        Not bloody likely, and considering that this particular site has been in operation *at least* three years to my explicit knowledge, nobody is really interested.

        I know a lot about Tivo and the hacking community and such, and I'm at a loss to satisfactorily explain why Tivo would do this. I suspect a Tivo lawyer found out about it. Most of the Tivo engineering people have no real issue with this sort of thing.

        Tivo is well within their rights here, but to my absolute and certain knowledge, several key people at Tivo have known about ftp.abs.net for at least 2 years. I'm just not sure why this is happening now.
  • Three points (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Space cowboy (13680) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @08:58AM (#7679050) Journal
    1. If Tivo has commercially-sensitive proprietary kernel modules, they are not obliged to distribute them, and AFAIK, the Tivo filesystem code falls into this category

    2. They're bound to get a lot of people jumping on them "you must distribute", etc. See (1).

    3. They're walking a fine line. I'm setting up a Mini-ITX/Hauppage 350 PVR with MythTV as a front-end. It looks cool, and it'll have a lot more features (like: burn a DVD as well as the normal PVR stuff :-) If I can do it, a lot of others can too...

    Simon
    • Concerning point 1 (Score:5, Informative)

      by Mr Smidge (668120) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @09:17AM (#7679165) Homepage
      The email from TiVo itself:

      Your website (ftp.abs.net) has recently come to our attention. We appreciate your enthusiasm for the TiVo(R) DVR and we have some specific requests regarding your website.

      We request that you cease hosting backup images of TiVo's proprietary software. The software represents valuable intellectual property of TiVo's, and making it available for copying and distribution is a violation of TiVo's copyrights. Such use is without our consent and is illegal under US federal copyright law. In particular, we are requesting that all of the files and directories located at ftp://ftp.abs.net/tivo/Backups/ be removed.


      If they are correct in their statements, then this does indeed suggest that there is some proprietary code in addition to the GPL'd kernel in there. I suppose the best thing to do here is verify what can be distributed (under the GPL) and what can't, from the TiVo package.. (But I don't own a TiVo, so that may not be possible)
      • by grahams (5366)
        As has been stated a gojillion times here already:

        TiVo releases their kernel mods, but they have tons of userland apps that provide all the functionality that makes a Tivo what it is.

        These images that were asked to be taken down were not simply kernel images, but images of the entire Tivo disk.
    • Re:Three points (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AKnightCowboy (608632) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @09:21AM (#7679186)
      If Tivo has commercially-sensitive proprietary kernel modules, they are not obliged to distribute them, and AFAIK, the Tivo filesystem code falls into this category

      That's not what Linus said in this [slashdot.org] earlier Slashdot story from Monday. It seems pretty unbelievable that TiVo developed their "proprietary kernel modules" for whatever hardware they're using without any knowledge of the kernel internals or intention to link the resulting binary module to the kernel. IANAL of course, but from reading through Linus' postings it seems like he thinks this kind of situation would require TiVo to release the source code to any binary kernel modules as well since they are derived from the GPL'd Linux kernel. I'm not familiar with TiVos in particular, but does anyone have any proof that they've made no derivative works from userland code or the Linux kernel without releasing source code to the modifications?

      Personally I think TiVo should have to distribute the source code to their product so that people can choose whether or not they want to buy the service or would prefer to just write their own interface to guide information using XmlTV. One of the main reasons I wouldn't buy a TiVo is I don't want to be tied to one company's guide information. If they fold I am screwed and my TiVo would be useless. It almost happened to ReplayTV users.

      • Re:Three points (Score:5, Informative)

        by Otto (17870) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @09:49AM (#7679352) Homepage Journal
        I'm not familiar with TiVos in particular, but does anyone have any proof that they've made no derivative works from userland code or the Linux kernel without releasing source code to the modifications?

        a) Tivo does distribute their kernel changes. See http://www.tivo.com/linux/index.html . There's enough there to build a Tivo kernel with a lot of effort on the user's part. In the case of later Tivo's you can't build your own *working* kernel because you can't sign the code, but there's ways around that.

        b) Most of their code runs in userland, not in the kernel. This includes the MFS filesystem stuffs, AFAIK.
    • Re:Three points (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 241comp (535228)
      Speaking of MythTV - does anyone know if there are processes in MythTV that could benefit from OpenMosix? I mean besides just moving basic background processes off of the box and out to another processor, does anyone know if the actual encoding is something that could be successfully migrated off to another computer? What about when transcoding something (eg. changing the coding type)? I ask because I have a home network (100Mbps Ethernet) and both my Laptop and Desktop (XP2400+, XP2000+ respectively) ar
      • Re:Three points (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Aardpig (622459) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @12:23PM (#7680648)

        Speaking of MythTV - does anyone know if there are processes in MythTV that could benefit from OpenMosix?

        Definitely! The transcode processes would be perfect candidates for moving to another machine; they are usually quite computationally-expensive, since one is usually trying futher to compress an already-compressed stream. In my MythTV set up at home, I use a Hauppage PVR-250 to capture video in MPEG-2 format. Since the hardware does this initial encoding, the CPU is pretty much untaxed by the capture.

        However, when it comes to transcoding the MPEG-2 files into MPEG-4 (to achieve double space savings), the transcode processes chew up quite a bit of CPU time. If this job could be moved to other machines, that would be very good, since it would leave spare CPU cycles on the master for playback.

    • I'm setting up a Mini-ITX/Hauppage 350 PVR with MythTV as a front-end. It looks cool, and it'll have a lot more features (like: burn a DVD as well as the normal PVR stuff

      I was considering doing this, but the screenshots on the MythTV site are just awfully ugly. Is the interface really this klunky? It seemed to me there would be no way for my wife to operate the thing once i set it up on our living room tv. People don't want to see filepaths in the final interface, and, again, it was just extremely raw
      • The setup screens are a bit more techy-orientated, but the in-use ones are reasonably friendly, imho. Besides, it's themeable and modular, so feel free to improve it :-)

        Actually at the moment, I'm spending more time on the hostip stuff, though that's peaked now (as far as demands on my time go), and the PVR stuff will start to take over after Xmas.

        Simon.
      • A lot of the filepaths depends on how the file in question was produced. MP# files with proper ID3 v2 tags display according to their ID3, files ripped using CDDB or FreeDB to fill in the tags display the Artist/Track/Title inf o etc.

        DVD rips against the IMDB display cover art, title, etc.

        The ones displaying filepaths are the ones MythTV cannot determine any other information for, i.e. the ones without proper tagging. Nothing MythTV can do about that, it tries to make a match and falls back on displaying
  • RE: (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rdilallo (682529) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @08:59AM (#7679052)
    Tivo's business model is upsetting everyone. Advertisers get commercials skipped, shows are getting ripped and download from the web... it doesn't surprise me that they're trying to keep their "source code" in house.

    If it wasn't for someone having their image of the OS out there, I wouldn't have been able to fix my Tivo Series 2 that's less that one year old!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      You obviously know nothing about Tivo for someone who has a series 2. There is no official Tivo commercial skip, just a widely known easter egg to enable a 30 second skip. That's quite different from a real commercial skip feature. Also, Tivo discourages shows getting ripped and downloaded from the web and I'm not really sure how one would accomplish this easily anyway though I haven't really looked much into modding besides adding capacity.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rude Turnip (49495)
      If skipping commercials was a problem, then advertisers would have been bitching since the dawn of the VCR. Tivo doesn't make it any easier to fast forward through a commercial.

      All advertisers need to do is make their commercials interesting and relevant. I hardly ever skip the commercials during Adult Swim because they're so fun to watch.
  • by PastaAnta (513349) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @08:59AM (#7679053)
    I know this is slightly offtopic, but what hardware is required for the free alternatives (MythTV/Freevo) to work smoothly?

    Will a 1GHz VIA MiniITX board be able to do simultaneous encoding/playback (timeshifting) in MPEG2 or is an Athlon XP 1800+ necessary?

    What hardware do YOU use?
  • DMCA? DMCA. (Score:4, Informative)

    by cliffy2000 (185461) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @09:03AM (#7679072) Journal
    Opening the box, extracting the images, installing the images... all illegal under the DMCA.
    Is it fair? No.
    But it's the law -- an asinine and relatively untested law -- but the law nevertheless.
    Get used to it. Your property is no longer your property. You merely own the license for its use.
    • Re:DMCA? DMCA. (Score:5, Informative)

      by InsaneGeek (175763) <slashdot@insanegeeks. c o m> on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @09:11AM (#7679130) Homepage
      Sorry your wrong. It's not illegal to do that at all. It's only illegal to distribute the information on how to break the access control, you can *legally* modify it to your hearts content (break encryption, add backdoors, etc)

      Even in this case it's not against the DMCA until Tivo puts controls in place to specifically prevent it from happening. If Tivo had put weak encryption in place and someone found a way around it, the hacker couldn't post it to the web how to do it; but also they could not be taken to jail for just doing it.
  • by JimDabell (42870) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @09:03AM (#7679079) Homepage

    How is this different to somebody hosting Windows ISOs? If there is software that is copyrighted by Tivo inside the images and they haven't given the people distributing them license to do so, then they are well within their rights to stop the distribution.

    • by wfberg (24378) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @09:32AM (#7679257)
      How is this different to somebody hosting Windows ISOs? If there is software that is copyrighted by Tivo inside the images and they haven't given the people distributing them license to do so, then they are well within their rights to stop the distribution.

      TiVo software is tied to the hardware anyway, there's no use for it other than on a TiVo. They are legally within their rights (as long as they don't go after people only distributing the GPL'ed bits), but morally it's a shakier situation. In essence they're using their copyrights to go after people who modify their kit; and they have no other legal avenue or compelling interest to go after people modifying their own, fully owned hardware. If you'll remember, people get uppity about such things (e.g. DMCA, modchips) all the time..

      And for a windows example; why do you need a separate license to put your IT departments image of windows XP on a Dell that comes with an OEM version of XP? It's the same collection of bits, just from a different source. It's a rip off.
  • ReplayTv (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nearlygod (641860) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @09:05AM (#7679088) Homepage
    Maybe it is time for some of the Tivo faithful to move over to ReplayTV. I wouldn't give mine up. Tivo may be better of the average consumer but if for a geek, I think ReplayTV is the way to go.
    • Re:ReplayTv (Score:2, Informative)

      by AnswerIs42 (622520)
      But. Replay does not work well or at all with DirecTV systems. I tried a replay last year about this time.. 3 days, a lot of calls and a lot of headaches later. I got both Replay AND DirecTV to admit that the two providers don't work well/at all with each other. ARGH! So, take the thing back to best buy and return it.. and the person at the service desk said I was the 4th person this month returning a Replay unit because they can't interact with DirecTV receivers. So, I went and got a DirecTV/Tivo rec
    • Re:ReplayTv (Score:5, Informative)

      by evilviper (135110) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @09:36AM (#7679278) Journal
      but if for a geek, I think ReplayTV is the way to go.

      You obviously aren't a true geek...

      The true geeks custom-built their recording system from pieced together shell-scripts, perl code, and a little C. And carefully control every step of the process, to get the absolute highest performance from their setup.

      ReplayTV, with it's inability to crop off black borders, hence requiring MUCH higher bitrates, and it's regular tendency to drop frames, and no way to get around that, is not functional enough to be very useful at this point. I hope it improves, but I'm not holding my breath.

      Those of us who put a little more work into it, can easily have a system with much higher quality, needing less CPU time, less disk space, less memory, and overall-getting much more functionality out of the system. But I guess I'm just ranting at this point. I hope the two projects quickly get to a point that they are good options, but they certainly aren't right now, and nobody seems to be in a hurry to integrate the most important features.
  • by Oscar_Wilde (170568) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @09:13AM (#7679141) Homepage
    I don't know why you would link directly to sourceforge project page for Freevo when they have a much nicer homepage, including screenshots [sourceforge.net], at http://freevo.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @09:16AM (#7679160)
    For those GPL whiners. It took a whole 30 seconds to find this:

    http://www.tivo.com/linux/index.html
  • by wowbagger (69688) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @09:17AM (#7679168) Homepage Journal
    I follow the Tivo discusson forums, and there is one good reason Tivo may not want these images distributed.

    The images for different Tivos are slightly different - a Phillips unit is not quite the same as a Sony, a DTivo is different than a stand alone Tivo, and of course Series II Tivos are MIPS rather than PPC based.

    The common use case for these images goes something like this:

    Joe L. Usr tries to upgrade his system. He, of course, does not back up his system. He adds a drive and botches the process.

    Joe figgrs he will just download a new image and "fix" his system. So he pulls down the first image he can find, and BAM! his Tivo is now not merely broken, but toast.

    Now, the upgrade sites actually require you to tell them what hardware you have, and thus (one hopes) can insure you get the correct image.

    So Tivo MAY want to prevent folks from moron-izing their systems, but not have a problem with folks that don't have a history of doing so.
    • Yes, that makes a lot of sense. Might Tivo also be concerned that some of the unauthorised images may have been altered in some malicious way?
    • Even more important, Tivo pays every time a unit upgrades itself. The core of the problem from their standpoint is a hard cost when someone installs an image onto their Tivo that isn't the current software their Tivo should have. At a minimum, a very long download is wasted to get the newer version, and if you go back too far in versions, the Tivo won't upgrade properly, and they pay for tech support calls.

      This is kind of a silly thing for people to get worked up over, anyway. If you're hacking your Tivo,
    • So Tivo MAY want to prevent folks from moron-izing their systems, but not have a problem with folks that don't have a history of doing so.

      If you fudge up your system with bad software, you're out of warranty. Buy a new system. Sale! So that's not the motivation..

      If you don't have access to software, there's no way to upgrade, say the harddrive, without springing for a newer model. Sale!

      So, apparantly it's come to the point that more people are succesfully upgrading their kit than people who're moron-izi
  • by Gannoc (210256) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @09:24AM (#7679204)
    Just because they're using Linux as their OS doesn't mean they have to give out copies of their entire source tree. It also doesn't mean they have to provide isos of their HD images. It certainly doesn't mean they have to allow other people to do it.


    I remember way back in the day, when Tivo hacking was overly encouraged by the company, the president of Tivo posted on the boards pissed off that people were imaging. Evidently, several people had imaged a Philips image on a Sony system or vice-versa, and it was screwing up the company's update system. That may be why they're cracking down on the sites.


    Then I come here and read stuff like "Since they use linux, they're required to send an engineer over to my house to explain how their data structures work." Great! Some microsoft exec is already planning a happy hour for their marketing group. Maybe you'll get invited.

  • Myth TV

    It's better.

  • It's Linux, right? There must be some way to extract the image yourself by pulling the drive out and using dd to copy it.
    • Of course you can... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Otto (17870) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @09:57AM (#7679412) Homepage Journal
      That's more or less exactly how these images were made. Early on, images were made using dd. Nowadays, people make images using a special program called "mfstool" which is capable of backing only the necessary parts of the Tivo drive, reducing the size of the created image. So all the sites recommend making your *own* image. But sites like abs.net existed as a just in case type of mechanism. If your system failed, and you never made a backup, here was a solution.

      It was well known (or should have been) that distributing these was illegal, and this was in fact why I didn't allow posting links to these sites on the Tivo Community forums, back when I was running the Underground forum there. But they were well known nonetheless, and I myself sent links to abs.net to users in need.

      Tivo is well within their rights to not have these images distributed, but it's a pretty sad thing that they now feel the need to exert those rights. I guess it's finally happened and Tivo is no longer "hacker" friendly. Oh well. It was a joyous time while it lasted, I guess.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @09:51AM (#7679376)
    Someone figured out if you restored image from a standalone Series 2 to a HD for a DirecTivo, you could get the full range of Tivo Series 2 functionality (USB Networking, etc.). The 'second generation' DirecTivos do not have a number of features that the standalone Series 2 Tivos have (DirecTV has chosen not to enable them).

    It also caused problems with DirecTV's over-the-phone software update, as every night the machine would attempt to get new software but fail after applying the patch, tying up lines for several hours.
  • alternatives? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mr_Silver (213637) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @09:58AM (#7679422)
    considering there are free alternatives that are less restrictive

    Is it really an alternative? I don't mean that lightly, i mean is freevo really just as good as tivo in every single way so as to make it a prefectly viable alternative?

    Or is this is a case of it'll work reasonably well, some things it'll do that Tivo can't, something won't work as well, the interface won't be quite so polished, it won't do everything you'd hope it did, it's got a few quirks here and there and above all the hardware actually costs more to purchase before you even start thinking about messing around trying to get it installed.

    Or will it save you hours of pain if you just cough up the money and get something that works as soon as you plug it in?

    Yes, I know there is KnoppixMyth, but can you really set that up and give it to your parents? Looking at the technical specifications for one record and one playback (1.4 GHz CPU and 384 megabytes of RAM) thats quite pricey and you haven't even considered the fact it'll be a huge box and you need a DVD drive, controller, HD and some serious soundproofing.

    Not something that you can sit under the TV!

    • No, it's not (Score:3, Insightful)

      by HarveyBirdman (627248)
      Is it really an alternative?

      No "free alternative" can compete with an integrated unit with dual tuners and direct digital capture of the original DirecTV data streams combined with a mature GUI for (as of today) $99. Generic PC solutions will rarely beat a specialized device with embedded components dedicated to a single function.

      The fanatics will cry about the monthly fee because, as far as I can tell, they place zero value on their time. Honestly, I sometimes get an image of these guys stuffing their

  • money (Score:4, Interesting)

    by perlchild (582235) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @10:59AM (#7679859)
    Why TiVo has a problem with this, but allows others to sell the same images for profit is beyond me." That one's obvious, because the "for-pay" images channel parts of the profit back to TiVo somehow, either through advertising, or commission on sales, etc...
  • by Captain Rotundo (165816) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @11:09AM (#7679937) Homepage
    I would switch to a freevo like program in a second, you point me to the card for my PC that can decode DirecTV, or for that matter digital cable. I have directv and a couple of TiVos the integration is seemless and workds great, my family has digital cable with a stand-alone tivo that automatically changes the channel on the cable box, it is super annoying and I don't know how they put up with it (not to mention the advantage of dual recievers) - I even know someone who has a TiVo that can't change the cable box's channel if the number has consecutive digits (ie 33 or 44) TiVo says its a problem with the box, and vice versa.

    The service providers hold thier hardware close to the chest, as long as all I can do with a PC card is standard broadcast or remote IR control I am locked out. The service with a single integrated unit it too good.

    I don't even dump video to disc or anything, I don't care about TV enough to do it, but the cable/satellite people don't release PC based decoders because they are afraid of what may happen (I am not really sure why, the ones that aren't content providers shouldn't even care what we do with the feed)

    Maybe the "broadcast flag" will give them an excuse to make computer peripherals that work with satellite and digital cable ? (slim chance I know but I can hope :) - either way as soon as I see a PCI card that does directv I'll order it immediately (price factoring in of course)
  • the death of TiVo (Score:3, Interesting)

    by The Lynxpro (657990) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `orpxnyl'> on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @12:56PM (#7680985)
    You know, I'm really sick of reading all these predictions of the death of TiVo from various soothsayers here on Slashdot. If you doubt TiVo's staying power, I suggest you stroll down to your local Best Buy and see how many TiVos they have stacked up ready to sell for the holiday season. Best Buy is predicting large sales of TiVos; the same for the Xbox this season.

    TiVo has buzz. Yes, it is true that Dish has been hurting TiVo by giving away the inferior DishPlayer PVR as standard fare and thus DirecTV has been putting pressure on TiVo to renegotiate their contract to keep price competitive, but when people hear what a PVR is, they think TiVo. Look at the current DirecTV promo; up to 3 rooms for $38.99 per month (plus the $99 sign-up fee) and you can get the master receiver as a TiVo Series2 unit for only $5 per month more (service fee) or free if you bump up to one of the Total Choice Packages. That's a great deal. Unfortunately, DirecTV has chosen not to enable the Home Media Option for whatever reason.

    Bottom line is, TiVo will be profitable by Q1 2004 (with the increase of subscribers), both to the chagrin of lots of advertisers, the Nielsens, the chief of Turner Broadcasting, the new owners of Replay, Microsoft, and some Slashdotters who refuse to support a company that is actually putting Linux devices at the heart of entertainment centers throughout the nation...of course, without TiVo as a subject, these same posters would be ranting about the deaths of Apple or Sun instead...

  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @01:03PM (#7681056) Journal
    Holy mackeral. Such outrage at what (for a lawyer) was a fairly straightforward request. Is is possible that there might be a middle ground, allowing partial or logged access to the images with the permission of TiVo.

    Sure, TiVo has had issues with some of the hacking done, especially wrt video extraction. Overall, however, they have been very laid back about the tinkering with the internals of a consumer electronics box. They appear to be scared stiff about running afoul of content distribtuion laws, but they don't want their business model (and hard work) to go up in smoke because of over zealous users to whomo they provided assistance. The assistance of TiVo is what has given it the core of it's cult following.

    Perhaps if abs.net opened a dialog, a solution might be found which keeps some or all of the images online. And of course, as mentioned in other posts, if the host goes down the folks who are smart enough to use the images are also smart enough to know where to find 'em without an ftp site.

    Cracking/theft of service...now that's just not nice, and TiVo has every right to pound 'em into the ground.

  • I know why (Score:4, Informative)

    by Bwana (2384) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @01:05PM (#7681064) Homepage
    Because they're in the midst of releasing updates to the OS to work with Apple's AAC format with Home Media Option [macminute.com]. I bet there's some code that Apple doesn't want to share (I don't blame them). Apple probably told them to stop allowing image downloads if they're going to get on the AAC front.

    Just my $0.02.
  • by digital photo (635872) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @01:53PM (#7681546) Homepage Journal

    From some of the posts online, you'd think some people have no idea how the law works and/or how a Tivo works.

    Tivos) The images for series1 and series 2 tivos are essentially the same, allowing for differences in the hardware. The capabilities each Tivo has is dependant on what they are "allowed" for. Ie, home media option and such is enabled when the Tivo connects to the server and determines that it should be enabled.

    Along that note, the things which a downloader of a Tivo image would be potentially "stealing":

    • Tivo's copyrighted and protected source code to their custom application.
    • Tivo's copyrighted and protected filesystem code.
    • Tivo's copyrighted and protected images/works/video clips for the menu systems, and sound effects.
    • The copyrighted video streams which are buffered on the hard drives, if the downloadable image contains such items.
    • The potential bypassing of the access enablers for their home media option services and/or their lifetime membership flags. But these are stored on Tivo's servers and would be cleared on the next download.

    The GPL states that if you modify the kernel itself and distribute it, you will need to distribute the modified source code as well. Tivo HAS done this. They have placed the GPL related portions along with their own direct modifications to the kernel for download on their web site.

    Kernel modules and other object linked source code is still being hotly debated, for better or for worse. The stance most companies take is to distribute binary modules.

    The application which runs on top of Linux, however, is NOT gpl'd. Nor are all of the other control mechanisms which Tivo has written. Nor are the images and other creative works put into the Tivo system.

    By offering an image of the drive for download, that Tivo user is offering both GPL'd(which is ok) and Copyrighted(which is not okay) works. And since just backing up the GPL portions of the Tivo system will not restore the system, the image that user is offering is in violation of Copyright laws and Tivo has the right to and needs to tell them to stop.

    Just because you use a GPL base for an OS does NOT make your application GPL as well. Graphical libraries are another matter and hence the LGPL, the BSD license, and a few others.

    People need to understand that it isn't about being against GPL. It is about protected the portion which ISN'T GPL. And people aren't seeing that distinction when they should.

    I've been a user of a Series2 Tivo for 2 years now and love it. One of the first appliances I bought when I moved into my current place. I upgraded mine and have had no problems with it. Though I'm thinking I'll be doing some routine maintenance myself to make sure the drives are okay, but otherwise, I have no complaints about image quality or any other problem with the system. (Except maybe the USB1.1 port which limits me to 11mbps when I really want 100mbps... :)

    Tivo has been a great company and has always been courteous when I had problems or questions of them. They see something wrong happening and they are doing what needs to be done to rectify the problem.

    They should not be dinged when they try to protect something legitimately, unlike another company which comes to mind.

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

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