Sandals, not flip-flops

everybody loves eric raymond episode 41 strip

My guess is that TiVo don’t actually do any DRM in the Linux kernel and that it’s all done in their proprietary user-space software. So, assuming they don’t use any GPL3 licensed code in that, the anti-DRM measures shouldn’t affect them. Though with all the TiVo controversies listed on Wikipedia, I’d like to think people will stop buying them anyway. Either way, the customer is always boned.

  • arstechnica.com: GPL 3 disses DRM
  • Linus: “Conversion isn’t going to happen.”
  • Linus: “I’m not _entirely_ dismissing an upgrade”
  • linux-watch: Linus: “It’s “quite possible,” said Torvalds that the GPL 3 could be used”
  • blogs.zdnet: TiVo in unenviable role as GPL3 vs. DRM guinea pig
  • eff.org: Digital Rights Management and Copy Protection Schemes
  • ELER tshirts

21 Replies to “Sandals, not flip-flops”

  1. After pissing off the republicans with goatse, now you’re pissing off the democrats with Kerry?

    1. Insult audience
    2. ???
    3. PROFIT!

  2. Well, if there’s one thing about America, you can’t selectively piss off people, you have to be an equal-opportunity pisser-offer. Otherwise, you’re an -ist, racist, sexist, etc.

  3. Here’s what you’re missing: let’s assume that the Linux kernel changes to GPLv3 licensing. Let’s also assume that Tivo wants to upgrade its systems in the field, by downloading a new kernel to them. Naturally, the Tivo unit checks for a correct digital signature before allowing the kernel upgrade to be installed, refusing to install it if it does not verify correctly.

    The result of this is that GPLv3 code cannot be used in a setup where the device seller restricts what software the device “owner” can install. So Tivo can’t use any GPLv3 code at all, since they require all code that is installed on their boxes to be signed by Tivo.

    But Tivo doesn’t need to worry. It can make forks starting from the last available GPL2 code, and after that it can maintain the software on its own. They might have to hire a few programmers, so it will have a cost, but not enough to affect the stock price much.

    But the real loser, if Linus should accept GPLv3, will be Montavista (the embedded Linux company that provided the kernels for Motorola’s cell phones). I heard their CEO speak recently, and he pretty much said that GPLv3 would be a disaster but he’s not worried because Linus is “he says” rejecting it.

  4. Ha ha ha! It might have been even more funny, if the Tivo icon’s smile turned into a frown, and then into a painful grimace, as Tivo’s stock price went down. But that might require actual artistic talent from John ( just kidding, John! )

    It’s still a good, funny strip. Good job!

  5. @Joe: That is only true if TiVo does not allow customers to disable that checking. The moment they add a “do not check binary integrity” option they have no problem with GPLv3.

    And quite frankly: It seems good that TiVo hardware would run what its users want to run, which may not always be identical with what TiVo wants to run.

  6. But that might require actual artistic talent from John ( just kidding, John! )

    PJ Cabrera – are you suggesting that John lacks the artistic talent to show emotion in these fabulously three-dimensional characters? If so, you’re clearly forgetting Linus’s sadness in the last panel of Open Shares, the wonders of eyebrow art Bit taker and the conveyance of shock, awe and horror for Eric in SafeSearch is off. In my (admittedly slightly biased) eyes, it’s moments like those that these silly, fictional characters appear almost like real people.

  7. A small addition to Ano Nym. At the launch conference of the GPLv3 revision process, Stallman commented:

    the Tivo is designed so that if you modify the program and install it, it won’t run. We have written provisions designed to forbid that use of our software. We can’t forbid people from making such devices, nasty as it is, but we can, we believe, forbid them to use GPL covered software in that corrupt way.

    (Here’s a full transcript of that opening presentation of the GPLv3 changes and their reasons.)

    Which I’d summarise as saying that Tivo-like devices can take away the freedoms which the GPL is designed to secure – so GPLv3 will not allow Tivo-like devices to benefit from free software.

  8. “so GPLv3 will not allow Tivo-like devices to benefit from free software.”

    Which seems to contradict the clause preventing an author from defining how their software is or is not to be used.

    I guess RMS finally discovered that freedom sometimes means people do things he doesn’t like. Golly, who’d’a thunk it?

  9. > I guess RMS finally discovered that freedom sometimes means people do things he doesn’t like.

    He alread said sometime ago (sorry, too lazy to find the reference again) that Freedom to take another people Freedom is ridiculous.

  10. “I’m a Libertarian. Republocrats, Democans, they’re all repulsive.”

    gee and i thought a third party would provide some common ground for some people, that’s why i want a third (And fourth, and fifth) party…. but if we all thought like you, it wouldn’t work.

    i mean say there are 5 parties… it isn’t economically feasible to hate 4/5 of everyone. maybe we should go back to a two-party system then :P better to only hate Half the population. thanks for making me believe.

  11. > He alread said sometime ago (sorry, too lazy to find the reference again) that Freedom to take another people Freedom is ridiculous.

    You mean like taking away the freedom of a copyright holder to determine how their work is used, be that making it public domain, GPLed, proprietary, or sold only to people with three or more Great Danes?

    Don’t want DRMed content? Don’t buy DRMed content. Simple solution. I’d like to have the freedom to watch Battlestar Galactica entirely legally without needing to buy a TV and premium cable, and DRM lets the Sci Fi Channel feel safe about offering me that option. That’s a win for me, and a win for them.

  12. > You mean like taking away the freedom of a copyright holder to determine how their work is used, be that making it public domain, GPLed, proprietary, or sold only to people with three or more Great Danes?

    When it’s *their* work, they can do whatever they want with it. Don’t like the GPL? Don’t use it.
    When it’s *other people’s* work they reuse, they must respect the original author’s will. Can’t make money out of someone else’s work? Aw, life’s too bad.

  13. “Which seems to contradict the clause preventing an author from defining how their software is or is not to be used.”

    Not really. DRM goes against the fundamental philosophy of free software, which protects these 4 freedoms:
    * 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.

    Nowadays, in a computer system which has Digital Restrictions Management, even if the system uses GPLv2 software, the user doesn’t have freedoms 0 and 1 .
    Distributors of software licensed with the GPLv3 in a DRM system, will be obliged to provide to the user the means to get those 2 essential freedoms back (like giving the user the key so he can digitally sign and run his modified gplv3 software in this DRM system).

    You can get more information about GPL version 3 at http://gplv3.fsf.org/

  14. “DRM goes against the fundamental philosophy of free software, which protects these 4 freedoms”

    This is already like cliché. The four freedoms are not the _basic human rights_. They are really ideas contrary to the commercial conventions. I cannot say it is wrong, but at least it is something I cannot agree with.

    For me personally, I have Freedom -1: the producer of something can choose the licensing terms of whatever he produces regarding _copyright_. Yes, I am against patent too. As long as there is no patent or monopoly, if someone does not agree with my licensing terms, he can always do it by himself, as long as he feels more worth while. This is how a free market works.

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