GPLv2 or, at your option, any later version
Posted Oct 13, 2006 19:21 UTC (Fri) by malor
In reply to: GPLv2 or, at your option, any later version
Parent article: Busy busy busybox
Of course I describe it as stealing. The whole point of copyleft/GPLv2 is that the original author of the code maintains full rights, but gives up some of those rights voluntarily. In exchange, all other users of the code cannot reserve more rights for themselves than people they give it to.
That's really it. That's the contract. If you write Neato Program A, and kindly give it away under the GPL, I can build on that and make it into Neato Program B. But I can't distribute it in such a way that my downstream users can't add on to make it Neato Program C. And none of us can distribute it in such a way that YOU can't take our changes, incorporate all of them into Super Neato Program D, and then freely distribute that as well.
If I, as a device manufacturer, want to make a non-modifiable device that I can't change, I can use GPL code to do that. But I can't reserve rights for myself that my end-users don't have. If I can modify the device, they must be able to also.
Tivo, in other words, is stealing code. They are taking the kernel code and releasing a locked device with it; they are using GPLed code with a hardware addition to reserve rights for themselves that their end users don't have. If they want to release a locked device, that's fine, but then they can't piggyback on the work of thousands of volunteers. They have to create the device themselves, with their own code, or buy it from someone that has the right to release it under a non-GPL license.
If you argue to the contrary, you're in favor of giving hardware manufacturers special powers to enslave those who write software. You're relegating the software guys to second-class citizenship.
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