FSF is making the Tivo situation worse
Posted Oct 2, 2006 21:05 UTC (Mon) by mingo
In reply to: FSF is trying to solve our coming problems
Parent article: Busy busy busybox
GPLv2 was not about forking, gainful employment or development at all; it was about replacing the darn printer driver in the 90's.
The printer driver situation was materially different from the Tivo situation. The printer driver was closed-source and he could not get the source code to fix obvious bugs in it.
Today most of the printers have free drivers. Why? Not because the printing industry symphatises with RMS's desire to hack his printer driver, but because they saw an economic necessity to serve a growing market. (Linux servers and Linux desktops)
In other words: the printing industry reacted to people's desire to run Linux, and to use their printers under Linux. Please remember: the key to having open printer drivers was people wanting Linux.
But the Tivo situation is completely different.
The Tivo was DRM-ed because it plays content from an industry that required its copyrighted works to be protected. There were people (besides honest tweakers) who were "hacking" not to fix bugs in the Tivo but to avoid having to pay for "pay per view" content. So replying to content industry pressure Tivo closed it down more than they have originally done (being an appliance, they never anticipated it being modifiable), and added this crypto based virtual-ROM technology that restricts the hardware to run only certain kernels that match a given hash. As far as the user is concerned it behaves like old-fashioned ROM, in practice it is not modifiable. (but the manufacturer can come and can flip in an upgraded ROM - just like with old-fashioned ROMs)
If Tivo couldnt use Linux they'd be using LynxWorks or some other embedded OS, because people are not interested in the Linux in the Tivo, people are interested in Tivo's userspace app and in the content the Tivo is offering.
Please think about it. By trying to go "eye for eye" with Tivo we only hurt Linux and help Hollywood's monopolization efforts, because one more small player would exit their market - and that small player does it all voluntarily, via a licensing change. We'd also further isolate Linux from a market that people are interested in. Whoah, Microsoft's dreams come true!
So what we are doing via the anti-Tivo language is that we hurt Linux and help Hollywood. It will not result in free Tivos. It results in no DVD playing hardware or software being associated with Linux at all! The reason again: people are not interested in the Linux aspect of these players.
And if the Tivo case is completely inapposite, if it achieves precisely the opposite effect, then why is the GPL trying to "address" it? Why are we doing all that anti-DRM stuff in the license to begin with, if it only hurts the little guy and helps big corp, even for the case that was singled out by RMS himself: Tivo?
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