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Television Media GNU is Not Unix Linux Business

TiVo Says It Could Suffer Under GPLv3 710

Preedit writes to tell us that those busy folks over at InformationWeek have been scrutinizing yet more SEC filings, and Novell and Microsoft aren't the only ones concerned about certain provisions in the final draft of GPLv3. TiVo worries too. The problem is that TiVo boxes are Linux-based. They're also designed to shut down if the software is hacked by users trying to circumvent DRM features. But GPLv3 would prohibit TiVo's no-tamper setup. "If the currently proposed version of GPLv3 is widely adopted, we may be unable to incorporate future enhancements to the GNU/Linux operating system into our software, which could adversely affect our business," TiVo warns in a regulatory filing cited by InformationWeek."
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TiVo Says It Could Suffer Under GPLv3

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 03, 2007 @03:00AM (#19368891)
    Dear Tivo,

          There are many good commercial operating systems, use one of those. Using Linux has been a good choice up till now but things have changed and now it is incompatible with what you want to do. It is no big deal, you will survive.
  • by Rix ( 54095 ) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @03:02AM (#19368903)
    Even if Linux doesn't go GPL3, presumably they're using a lot of GNU userspace stuff, like glibc.
  • by Tharkban ( 877186 ) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @03:49AM (#19369127) Homepage Journal
    First, there is MythTV which does what a TiVo does, I think (I haven't used either). Second, we don't need TiVo, the free software community is doing them a favor by letting them have the software, not the other way around. I'm happy if they use free software, it grows the community, assuming they want to be a part of it. However, they have shown that they do not want to be part of the community, they want to lock the community out of their own work. Sorry, but I just can't agree with that. If TiVo continues acting the way it has then I say "Give me back my code, you don't get to play with it." I completely agree with the GPLv3 on this one.
  • Re:Well, duh! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cp.tar ( 871488 ) <cp.tar.bz2@gmail.com> on Sunday June 03, 2007 @03:52AM (#19369139) Journal

    Therefore, poor TiVo can bitch and moan that Stallman & Co. are out to get them.

    Which is what they're doing.

    Surprise, surprise.

  • by AHumbleOpinion ( 546848 ) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @03:59AM (#19369169) Homepage
    The problem with "truly free software" is that companies/people are free to make it non-free. While that would be great for companies like Tivo, it is bad for end users, since they do NOT get the freedom to further enhance the proprietary fork of the code.

    Proprietary forks are rarely bad for end users in general. The vast majority have no interest in enhancing the code, or getting someone to enhance it for them. However end users in general benefit from the proprietary code forking off of open code. Compare Apple's Mac OS X to Microsoft's Windows. Consider Microsoft's use of the TCP/IP stack. GPL 3 type tactics merely encourage companies to reinvent the wheel, to indulge in not-invented-here tendencies. Such tactics also deter investors and make it that much more difficult from startups to form or succeed. It squeezes the middle between the hobbyists at one end and the big companies at the other. I'd argue that end users benefit when there is a healthy and vibrant startup community.
  • by evanbd ( 210358 ) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @04:22AM (#19369253)

    I tend to be a GPL fan. For stuff I write, it's my preferred license. However, there are a few cases where I think BSD type licenses are superior. The major one is where you're trying to create a standard. For example, Ogg Vorbis -- it is far more valuable to the community if it *does* get included in proprietary places, because promoting the *format* is a good thing. BSD promotes exactly that. There are plenty of similar examples.

  • Re:Well, duh! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RobNich ( 85522 ) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @04:41AM (#19369323) Homepage
    They're using RedHat 7.x for the boxes I work with (according to the software updates they provide). I don't think they would need to provide source for their components, as it all runs within Tomcat, etc.
  • That's fine (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @05:11AM (#19369425)
    However then don't get mad if companies do as you suggest and stop using Linux. Linux is getting widely used in embedded type devices because it is good quality for that and doesn't cost anything. Thus it is a good starting point. The condition of having to release source code changes is minor enough that companies are ok with it. However it isn't the only game in town. There's plenty of commercial solutions like vxWorks, QNX and even Windows (there's a special embedded version of XP you can get). While many companies would rather not pay the money, if the Linux license becomes too restrictive, they'll do it.

    Make no mistake, that's what they are talking about with the GPL is a more restrictive license. The idea behind it may be to encourage more free development but the license itself is more restrictive.

    This isn't necessarily a good thing as you have to have a balance if you want to be large and get good stuff back. If you license is too open, like a BSD license, everyone may use your stuff, but you'll never see any of it back and thus it doesn't do you any good in terms of having more contributed. However if you license is too restrictive you can find yourself in a situation where people don't use your stuff at all. Even if you license is designed to ensure that everyone has access to all the changes, that doesn't do any good if no changes are made.

    One of the reasons that Linux enjoys the success it does is that I think the GPLv2 does a great job of striking a balance. You still have to give your code out, but there aren't really any restrictions of what you can do with it. I am worried that if a more restrictive license starts to take over, you'll see companies moving away from Linux.

    Maybe you are ok with that, and if so that's fine, but recognise that if you decide to play hardball and say "We are going to make you do this or you can't use our stuff," that people may say "Ok fine, we won't." If that happens, you aren't really in a position to bitch about it.
  • by rjforster ( 2130 ) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @06:06AM (#19369655) Journal
    Bruce Perens wrote this back in March.
    http://www.linux-watch.com/news/NS9312220011.html [linux-watch.com]
    He basically said Tivo have nothing to worry about if they are willing to do a bit of work to implement their checking process in a different way.

    Given that the text of the GPL3 has changed since he wrote this, do his points still stand true?
  • by cheater512 ( 783349 ) <nick@nickstallman.net> on Sunday June 03, 2007 @06:32AM (#19369757) Homepage
    If you RTFA then you will find out that TiVo is worried because under GPLv3 they cannot take away your freedoms.
    If they used BSD then they could.
  • by Crayon Kid ( 700279 ) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @07:37AM (#19370045)
    And on your definition of "conducive", and of "community", and of "creating", heck, and of "definition" and so on. Come on, it's ridiculous. RMS has been spending decades explaining "free". Let's not split hairs.
  • by babbling ( 952366 ) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @07:50AM (#19370115)
    This is why you should pick a license appropriate for your software. Richard Stallman has actually endorsed the use of BSD-like licenses for Ogg Vorbis libraries since it is in the interests of the community to have such code in use as widely as possible.
  • by WgT2 ( 591074 ) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @07:58AM (#19370151) Journal

    By this logic a dictatorship is the only free system, because it includes the freedom to take away yours. And the system lives with that "freedom".

    By your logic you just condemned the GNU license in that: it takes away your freedom to 'not release' changes you have made to GNU'ed software and the 'freedom' under GNU'ed software absolutely lives by that dictated 'freedom'.

    I only disagree with the parent poster in that I would have 'completely free' instead of 'truly free'.

    However, as I think about it 'completely free' isn't 'completely' accurate either in that I think the difference between the BSD and GNU licenses is this:

    • the BSD license make the end user free (to do what they want with the software)
    • the GNU license(s) make the actual software free (for others to use/chance it as well)
  • Re:The Real World! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by the_womble ( 580291 ) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @08:55AM (#19370469) Homepage Journal
    You said:

    I don't get to use a developed and tested software solution and the open source community doesn't get any derived work I may have come up with based upon that solution
    Which is not consistent with:

    Yes I am not willing to accept the GPL
    If you are not willing to accept the GPL, which essentially says you must contribute back your derived work if you redistribute it, then you are not willing to contribute back, so how could the open source community benefit from your work?

    I am not willing because it can infect software that I do not have the rights to.
    It cannot for the simple reason that you cannot change the licensing terms unless you have the rights. If you mix GPL code with non-GPL code you are simply in breach of the copyright on the GPL code.
  • by AHumbleOpinion ( 546848 ) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @11:27AM (#19371491) Homepage
    When they are free to proprietarize the open code, then _everyone else_ has to reinvent the wheel.

    You subscribe to a fallacy, open code remains open. Only their changes, not the open code, are proprietary.
  • by zotz ( 3951 ) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @01:00PM (#19372107) Homepage Journal
    Once, again, the FSF is using something they don't believe in to undo the effects of that thing.

    Have you ever heard of using the enemies weapons against him?

    Have you ever heard the phrase "Hoist by his own petard"...?

    They are not the same thing.

    Until the law changes, the rights exist. Or at least the powers exist. In law. They can use what is at hand to try and undo the damage, or they can let others make things worse. If you see them take up the arguments of intellectual property, or if you see them pushing for longer copyright terms, or if you see them trying ot restrict the right to run programs with EULAs, or if you see them pushing for jail terms for copyright violators, let me know. Until then, I am not gonna buy your argument that the two groups actions amount to the same thing. Sorry.

    all the best,

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @05:43PM (#19374569)

    • the BSD license make the end user free (to do what they want with the software)
    • the GNU license(s) make the actual software free (for others to use/chance it as well)
    Except that's not right either. End users are the people who run the software, not write it or sell it. The GPL is about assuring that the people who run the software have the ability and the right to tweak it however they need to. Such as fixing bugs without being solely reliant on the good graces of a potentially defunct software developer.

    Tivo's attitude is entirely compatible with BSD license's intent, but it isn't compatible with the GPL's intent to allow the tivo unit's user to fix bugs like DRM (yes, DRM is definitely a bug in the eyes of the user, and remember it is the user's interests the GPL protects).
  • by lysse ( 516445 ) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @05:49PM (#19374619)
    Good to have official confirmation from the people it's specifically aimed at that the GPLv3 will do the job it's intended to do.

    Meanwhile, TiVo might want to look into an interesting little niche project, whose licensing might be more suited to their specific business model, called NetBSD. They might have to do a little more assembly themselves, of course... but then, sponging off a community whilst deliberately frustrating the very motive for allowing them to do so could never be described as a sustainable practice, could it?

"Yeah, but you're taking the universe out of context."