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Television Media GNU is Not Unix Linux Business

TiVo Says It Could Suffer Under GPLv3 710

Posted by kdawson
from the no-prevention-of-hacking dept.
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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  • Huh? (Score:4, Informative)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @02:55AM (#19368863) Journal
    Whatever happens with everything else, I thought Linus said Linux wouldn't be distributed under GPLv3
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

      by LocalH (28506) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @03:00AM (#19368893) Homepage
      Notice they specifically said "GNU/Linux".
    • 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 harlows_monkeys (106428) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @05:03AM (#19369397) Homepage

        Even if Linux doesn't go GPL3, presumably they're using a lot of GNU userspace stuff, like glibc

        Well, glibc is not under GPLv2, so it seems unlikely to go GPLv3. It is under LGPL.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Rix (54095)
          Will there not be an LGPLv3?

          Even if not, there are a lot of other things that *aren't* under the LGPL essential to any Linux system. It wouldn't be practical to work around these, as I'm sure Tivo knows.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Cyclops (1852)
          Hey Mr... the Lesser GPL is also being revised, and you know what? It's basically GPLv3 with Exceptions A B and C :)
  • Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Protonk (599901) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @02:57AM (#19368869) Homepage
    Gpl3 is divisive, but correct in this case. Companies like Tivo benefit from the OSS model of tinker/hack/remake and still restrict users in doing the same. The same privileges that are extended to end users with the source code should be established with the freedom to tinker.

    If Tivo feels that DRM is worth more than continued use of GPL software, so be it.
    • Re:Good (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Brotherred (1015243) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @04:58AM (#19369379)

      Gpl3 is divisive, but correct in this case. Companies like Tivo benefit from the OSS model of tinker/hack/remake and still restrict users in doing the same. The same privileges that are extended to end users with the source code should be established with the freedom to tinker.

      If Tivo feels that DRM is worth more than continued use of GPL software, so be it.
      Well said. I love that last comment. This issue has been hot for a while. So I just pulled a comment that I had written on my Frapper some time ago. Yes I know that anything connected with Google is not FREE but I do not maintain a real blog to this just works for me. The point of freesoftware The technology in freesoftware, the companies that support its growth and build on it and even its users are all tools. Novell has forgotten this, simple fact. The principle difference between open source and freesoftware is that in open source all of the rights to use it with out restriction are not protected. The GPL puts no limits on the cost of software production, packaging or distribution. To brake this down a little: 1. The point of freesoftware is not so people can get a program with out cost. 2. The point of freesoftware is not to make it popular. 3. The point of freesoftware is not to make great technology. 4. The point of freesoftware is not to make rich CEO's even more rich. The point is to free the user of the tyranny of monopolistic situations and doing so primarily in the digital space. Some or all of the non-points listed must take place at some point in time for real freedom to come to said users, clearly that is true. Novell has been in the past a tool for that very cause. That may not be so in the future. I have even told them these very things. I also look forward to telling them again in person at the Ohio Linux Fest. Um well um that would refer to GNU+Linux of course. Maybe there will be some talk of GNU+Hurd there as well. Then I guess you can not really consider such and event specific to GNU+Linux. Call me a Stallmanite. I do not care. You know I am right. The software that some of you are such fans of would not even exist if it were not for this most simple, most important, most forgotten, fact. Novel has forgotten this and Tivo has clearly never bothered to understand it.
    • 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.
      • Re:That's fine (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Crayon Kid (700279) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @07:49AM (#19370105)
        [..] if the Linux license becomes too restrictive [..]

        "Too restrictive"? What the hell are you on? GPL v3 simply makes explicit some things that GPL v2 already mentioned implicitly. It's an attempt to stop assholes from exploiting several loopholes in v2. The rest of the thing keeps the same spirit as v2, and it's not more restrictive than it. Well, now, if you feel that v2 was restrictive as well, tough on you.
      • Re:That's fine (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Sunday June 03, 2007 @01:11PM (#19372193) Homepage Journal
        We'd like some companies to stop using Free Software: the companies that can't comply with the license in both letter and spirit, and insist on engineering loopholes - be they in hardware (Tivo) or in law (Novell-Microsoft). Those companies work to de-motivate the developers of the software that they are using, who contributed their software on a share-and-share-alike basis and expect that to be respected. We would do better without them.

        Bruce

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The same privileges that are extended to end users with the source code should be established with the freedom to tinker.

      The license doesn't have anything establishing that "freedom". Tivo has done nothing wrong, they used the software, provided the source code back to the community, but restricted how people can change the software ON THE MACHINES THEY SELL.

      People that fell so strongly about this issue are clearly not the audience for the Tivo products on the first place. Maybe building their own Tivo

  • And so what (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Zebai (979227) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @02:58AM (#19368875)
    I'm a fan of tivo, I have one myself but this particular problem I dont see as a problem. The DRM is already cracked and it requires little to no effort to extract tivo video files to DRM free files. I don't see a problem with them biting the dust on this one, its a feature designed to limit us and thats something I dont want. I got my tivo long before they did trash like this and I'm disappointed that tivo is catering to the DRM crowd now a days. Next thing you know they'll be dropping the hidden 30-second skip which shouldnt be hidden in the first place.
  • Really ? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jalet (36114) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @02:59AM (#19368881) Homepage
    Too bad !
  • by mrbill1234 (715607) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @03:00AM (#19368887)
    Mhh, why don't they just continue using GPLv2 linux code. Ok, they won't have new fixes - but this is an embedded device - do they need them?
  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 03, 2007 @03:01AM (#19368895)
    "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,"

    You are not 'unable' to do anything. You are unwilling. Easy solution: release your code under the GPLv3. Keep with the spirit of the community which gave you a whole operating system for FREE.

    p.s. FP!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      You are not 'unable' to do anything. You are unwilling. Easy solution: release your code under the GPLv3. Keep with the spirit of the community which gave you a whole operating system for FREE.

      You are absolutely right. Honestly I don't know why these companies that want to just rip off the hard work of others don't just use BSD.

      Rich.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by suv4x4 (956391)
      You are not 'unable' to do anything. You are unwilling. Easy solution: release your code under the GPLv3. Keep with the spirit of the community which gave you a whole operating system for FREE.

      That's only easy to say, not to do. If they release the full source to their DRM, it's even less of a DRM and they'll get sued again.

      Here's an easier solution: port to FreeBSD or another free OS that doesn't get released under GPL3. That's what will happen in the end.
  • About Time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wasabii (693236) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @03:01AM (#19368897)
    I think this is great. I'm sorry they built their work on the backs of other people who have always clearly stated their intentions with regards to the use of their software. The lack of this in GPLv2 is a HOLE. A HOLE which, of course, should be fixed.

    If they disagree with the fundamental goal of the GPL, to free software so people CAN tinker with it, then they should have chosen a different set of software to build their product on.
  • Cry me a river. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MadTinfoilHatter (940931) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @03:04AM (#19368917)

    Stallman and the FSF have always been perfectly open about what the GNU project and the GPL are about. They're about "The four freedoms of the user". This means that when TiVO decided to use GPL-licenced software, yet lock their hardware in a manner that denied the user some of these freedoms, they knew they were using a loophole, and thus acting in bad faith. They can try to play the victim all they want now that the loophole is being closed, but informed people will have no sympathy for them. They should have seen this coming from day 1.

  • Well, duh! (Score:5, Informative)

    by jpetts (208163) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @03:07AM (#19368927)
    TiVo operates on a business model that GPL3 is **expressly** designed to eliminate.

    See this essay [fsf.org] by RMS and search for "tivoization".

    Nothing in the least bit surprising here...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cp.tar (871488)

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

      Which is what they're doing.

      Surprise, surprise.

  • I've already heard a lot about how the legal dept's of companies discourage the use of GPL'ed and Open Source software. Corporations fear any form of risk, however remote. (Unlike a government, they'd never install a thermal exhaust port that could be used to blow up their space station.) Corporations want to have total control over everything they are involved with. This has, from what I've heard, slowed FOSS adoption significantly.

    If more fears of the GPLv3 affecting business models are heard, could th
  • Boo hoo! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Eric Smith (4379) * <ericNO@SPAMbrouhaha.com> on Sunday June 03, 2007 @03:18AM (#19368971) Homepage Journal
    They've gotten a free ride for a long time, and not contributed anything back, and now they might not get to use some of the free stuff that comes out in the future.

    It must really suck to be them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jmv (93421)
      They've gotten a free ride for a long time, and not contributed anything back, and now they might not get to use some of the free stuff that comes out in the future.

      You need to realise that the GPLv3 will change nothing to their contribution. If they did changes to the kernel under GPLv2 (no idea whether they did), they'd already have to release the changes and GPLv3 will change nothing to that. The area where GPLv3 would change things for them is the fact that right now, they distribute the source for the
  • by unlametheweak (1102159) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @03:22AM (#19368987)
    If they don't like it, then don't use.

    If using freely obtained software (with the associated licenses) is hurting their business, then they should just start spending some money hiring developers and making their own fully proprietary software. You can't have your free beer and drink it too.
  • Is there any actual law that requires Tivo to implement DRM on its PVRs? Would not doing so break any laws? (I am referring to a normal Tivo, not one with CableCard or other pay TV stuff in there)

    How is Tivo different from a VCR? (which, IIRC, is legal under the Betamax decision)
  • Good riddance (Score:3, Insightful)

    by iamacat (583406) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @03:27AM (#19369015)
    It's one thing for companies actually selling movie downloads to use DRM since otherwise they wouldn't get any content to sell from the movie producers. But TIVO is not getting anything from the media companies. They are including DRM so that their box might get bundled by a cable provider rather than actually chosen by users on it's merit. They should have started a rebel business and sell boxes that record component HD signal from a cable box and switch channels using an IR transmitter. As it is, nobody will mourn their passing.
  • by dircha (893383) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @03:29AM (#19369035)
    For crying out loud, they based their product on a system (GNU) whose founder - Stallman - openly believes that development and distribution of software that violates the so-called "4 essential freedoms of software users" are unethical and should cease. That's Tivo, that's what they do. The founder of the system they chose to base their business model on clearly and openly states that these practices are unethical and that it is the goal of the movement he founded, to eliminate them.

    If they couldn't have been bothered to figure this out before they went down this road then someone in their development organization needs to be fired.
  • by 91degrees (207121) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @04:09AM (#19369211) Journal
    It says as much in the article. GPL 3 doesn't prevent the use of DRM. It just prevents you from using legal means to prevent people from removing the DRM, which is something that there doesn't seem to be a lot of interest in anyway. The wording in GPL2 may well have been a perfectly valid defence in case of a DMCA complaint. GPL3 just makes it more explicit.
  • 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?
  • Suffer? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by matt me (850665) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @07:16AM (#19369947)
    Tivo users suffer under their current GPLv2 abuse. Their rights are unjustly stolen from them, exploiting a circumstance hard to imagine in 1991 when the GPLv2 was published. Tivo knows this full well. Now is time to clean up their act (before GPLv3 would be best) or else they await a just upcommance.
  • Leeches (Score:5, Insightful)

    by flyingfsck (986395) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @07:48AM (#19370101)
    Hmm, well, the whole purpose of the GPL is to discourage leeches and encourage co-operation. Nobody forced Tivo et al to mooch off GPL code. They are free to either re-invent it all, or to become honest players.

    He who keeps taking our ball and goes home with it, has to play alone or bring the ball back...
  • My own thoughts (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Evets (629327) * on Sunday June 03, 2007 @03:01PM (#19373113) Homepage Journal

    Stallman, however, indicated that the ban does not apply to products meant to be used primarily in business environments.


    This is an interesting quote. It appears I'm going to have to research the GPL v3 a little bit further.

    Aside from that - I don't see much REAL news here. Tivo basically has stated that they are riding on the backs of open source developers, haven't done much of anything in return, and now that those developers have an easy option of migrating to a license that protects their work from the likes of Tivo they have to spend some time thinking about how exactly to move forward.

    Tivo certainly could migrate to foundational software with BSD style licenses, but it will take some time rebuilding everything and re-testing. They can also migrate to proprietary licensed software as a foundation. Further, they have the alternative of re-structuring their DRM protection. They could also spend time, money, and energy lobbying needed GPL projects for alternative licensing.

    They are not without options, and given the fact that their "innovation" has made zero contributions back to the group of developers that formed the foundation of their business, and given the fact that they prefer to strip rights from consumers(DRM), developers(licenses), and other innovators(patents) I don't see why they gain much sympathy at all.

    If you don't like GPL3, don't develop under it. FSF and the GPL are designed to foster the OSS community. If you want to provide your users with more freedom, provide an alternative license, use an alternative license, or write your own license. If you don't like GPL3 from an end user perspective, don't use GPL3 software, lobby for alternative licensing, or promote alternative projects that don't make use of the GPL.

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