TiVo in unenviable role as GPL3 vs. DRM guinea pig

TiVo in unenviable role as GPL3 vs. DRM guinea pig

Summary: A little more than a week ago, in a blog entry where I wrote about how digital restrictions management (DRM) technologies (the better acronym is C.R.

TOPICS: Open Source

A little more than a week ago, in a blog entry where I wrote about how digital restrictions management (DRM) technologies (the better acronym is C.R.A.P.) are incompatible with the new draft version of the GNU General Public License 3, I talked about how TiVo could end up in a bind as a result.  Now, given the way eWeek's Peter Galli has covered the GPL3-inspired Catch-22, it's beginning to look like TiVo may end up becoming the poster child for the fundamentally opposed ideologies. Wrote Galli yesterday in a story that cited no other commercially known victim but TiVo:

The DRM provisions are designed to go after companies like TiVo, which uses Linux but collects information on consumers' actions. While TiVo complies with GPL 2.0, it may have more difficulty complying with GPLv3's anti-DRM provisions....Asked if TiVo could avoid using GPL 3.0 when that license is released next year, [FSF General Counsel Eben] Moglen said, "Once a GPL'd work has been relicensed under GPLv3, although a party having a copy under GPLv2 could continue to distribute it under that license, any further maintenance from upstream would force the license upgrade." TiVo could avoid using GPL 3.0 even if, say, the Linux kernel were to change licenses, but only by freezing itself at the last version of the kernel that was licensed under GPL 2. "That will prove to be impracticable in almost every real commercial setting," Moglen said.

Topic: Open Source

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  • Another DRM Hairball

    Just to make your day a little worse, take a look at the latest announcements regarding Vista:

    MSFT tightens the Trusted Computing screws in Vista
    Vista, the new version of Windows, has tightened the Trusted Computing screws, putting hardware companies on notice that they will have to get their drivers approved by Microsoft before shipping them. Microsoft had previously designed Vista to simply warn users if their drivers were "unsigned" -- that is, not approved by Microsoft -- but in a new announcement, the company pledged to make it impossible to load any unapproved drivers under Vista.
    This has been positioned as an anti-spyware measure, but it will also have the effect of making copy- and use-restriction systems more restrictive. You won't, for example, be able to install alternative drivers for a video-capture card that lets you ignore anti-copying watermarks in your videos, effectively taking control away from you, the owner of the computer, and indiscriminately giving it over to anyone who can insert a watermark (no-copying watermarks have already been illegally inserted into many Fox programs, resulting in their not being stored by TiVo video recorders).

    Another effect of this will be to raise the cost of developing drivers, since developers will be required by Microsoft to buy a VeriSign Class 3 Commercial Software Publisher Certificate, at an unknown cost.

    More here:
    tic swayback
    • I saw that..

      but I don't get it. I can record any FOX show on any one of my 2 TiVo boxes. Where is the proof to support these so called 'facts'? TiVo rocks, most of these writers socks!
  • Ummm, but Linus

    will not move Linux to GPL3, so I guess this tiny, little itty bitty single paragraph that David wrote is premature.
  • it will fork,,,,

    ....as commercial organisations will have to support their GPL2 versions as they can't use GPL3 releases.

    Meaning either (a) More confusion as multiple code streams proliferate to the advantage of no-body. (b) people continue to use GPL2 and ignore GPL3 and it dies.

    My personal view is that (a) will happen..there will be a war of words, confusion amongst business managers then eventually when plenty of damage has been done people will use GPL2 again.
  • How has this become an issue?

    The simple facts are:

    1. GPL v3 is not a currently used license, as it's not even written yet; only a first draft has been published. It will take at least months before a final version is made available.

    2. When it is published, no code currently licensed under GPL v2 is "automatically upgraded". The license terms for any project don't change unless the author(s) actively decide to relicense the code. Some projects allow the user to decide to use a later version of the GPL, but this means more choice, not less, so it couldn't possibly be a problem.

    3. It seems extremely unlikely that Linux itself will ever be released under GPL v3, as Linus opposes it (and probably other copyright holders) so GPL v3 has about zero influence on any company that uses Linux as a platform.

    4. GPL v3 is just a suggestion. Anyone can release code under GPL v2, v3 or any other license they see fit, like GPL v3 without any clause deemed unnecessary. The fact that GPL v3 has or doesn't have this or that is meaningless until developers start choosing licensing their code under it.