Building a free future in embedded devices
Posted Oct 20, 2006 0:32 UTC (Fri) by jdivine
In reply to: Building a free future in embedded devices
Parent article: Free gadgets need free software
Please do not accuse me of making up a straw man argument. I attempted to distill what exactly you were arguing (from two responses to the same question, I might add, not "multiple discreet arguments") and I posed the question to you if my distillation was in fact correct! I even asked you to clarify your argument if my interpretation was wrong!
Many have already argued why tivoisation does not affect the freedom of free software; I won't rehash the same thing, except to say that the user _can_ use, modify, run, and redistribute the software. Only the device is constrained, not the software. It's unfortunate that manufacturers would sell crippled hardware, but it doesn't affect the freedom of the software.
"Tivoisation" can not kill Rockbox. Rockbox can only die if people stop developing it. Even if all manufacturers suddenly stop producing uncrippled hardware, all existing devices will continue to run Rockbox quite happily. This scenario would be unfortunate (we all want to see Rockbox ported to more shiny new devices) but is quite unlikely -- because a sizable market exists for uncrippled hardware. This market will continue to exist unless uncrippled hardware is made illegal, in which case any anti-tivoisation clauses become quite irrelevant. In short, the scenario in which Rockbox developers would be locked out of their own project is implausible.
I do not know if Rockbox will move to GPLv3 -- I don't know whether they can or if they use "GPLv2 only" code, or whether they even wish to switch. If they do, I don't have any problem with that -- it's entirely the choice of the Rockbox developers. I'm not opposed to the GPLv3 at all (although I hope they might consider naming it the "GGPL" or something else, to avoid the whole mess with "GPLv2 or later" licensed code.) I oppose DRM on principle and I think that Tivo played a dirty trick, and I'm glad a license will exist that developers can choose if they don't want their software used on crippled hardware. I'm just unconvinced that the "anti-tivoisation clause" advances free software or software freedom.
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