Bad, bad DRM
Posted Sep 23, 2006 18:40 UTC (Sat) by mingo
In reply to: Bad, bad DRM
Parent article: Kernel developers' position on GPLv3
The GPLv2 is much the same: closed and locked-down code is evil and must be avoided. Since the only way to achieve DRM is through closed and locked-down code, it is no surprise that DRM is considered evil now; just a natural consequence.
actually, that is not what DRM does. DRM is a method for hardware to only execute software from a "trusted source". DRM by itself does not "close down" software: in the case of Tivo you still get the full source code, you still get the binaries, and those binaries will still run on the DRM-ed device (and probably on other devices). What the DRM-ed device does not allow is to run /other/ binaries. Not yours, not other people's software. It is a special-purpose appliance. The Tivo manufacturer, besides having made a decision to limit your software to 128MB of RAM, by limiting you to have access only to a single IDE port, by limiting you to not have a keyboard and by creating a small form factor which has no expansion slots, he also decided to in essence burn the whole OS into "virtual ROM". Note that this "virtual ROM" (the DRM-ed OS) can still be upgraded by the manufacturer rather cheaply, but not by you. The manufacturer never sold this box to you under the pretense that it's a general purpose computer. It's a PVR. The Tivo manufacturer _never made it intentionally hackable_ and never benefited from its hackability. They never wanted an "enthusiast" community around the Tivo - and while you might disagree with their decision, it's their decision to make. They could have burned it all on ROM as well, with easy-to-remove ROM cartridges, where the ROM cartridges have some weird physical form factor that only Tivo produces - which would be just as "unmodifiable" as a DRM-ed OS is. Furthermore, if you still want to hack your Tivo, you can solder out the flash ROM that included their DRM-ed bootloader and can probably replace it with some free BIOS. Furthermore, Tivo is not a monopoly in any market, and you can readily buy other appliances with similar functionality, or you can run MythTV on your PC.
So tell me please, what evil thing did Tivo do?
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