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SubjectRE: Dual-Licensing Linux Kernel with GPL V2 and GPL V3

> On Jun 16, 2007, Daniel Hazelton <> wrote:

> > I don't see how TiVO has done this. They have placed no restrictions on
> > *modification* at all. What they have done is placed a restriction on
> > *REPLACEMENT* of the program.

> Technicality. In order for the software to remain free (which is what
> the GPL is all about), the user must not be stopped from adapting the
> software to suit his needs and running it for any purpose. TiVo
> places restrictions on it. It's really this simple.

No, this is completely and utterly wrong. By this logic, Linux isn't free if
I can't run it on *YOUR* laptop. TiVo places restrictions on *hardware*. The
hardware is not free.

> And then, TiVo doesn't really prohibit replacement. You can replace
> it as much as you like; just not as conveniently as TiVo can replace
> it. And then, if you do, it won't run, because it's not signed with a
> key that they omit from the source code. And they do this in order to
> prevent the user from changing the behavior of the Free Software that
> they use, while they keep this ability to themselves.

> If these are not restrictions on the freedoms that the GPL is designed
> to protect to ensure that Free Software remains Free for all its
> users, I don't know what is.

So why is it not a restriction on this freedom that I can't modify the copy
of Linux running on *your* desktop? If it helps you to understand the
situation better, think of TiVo as not really selling you the hardware.

To see why this isn't a GPL issue, imagine if TiVo explicitly didn't sell
the hardware. Imagine if they only rented it or sold it but retained the
right to control what software ran on it. Essentially, your TiVo would be
like my laptop -- you don't get to decide what software runs on it. But if
you get GPL'd software, you get source code.

Regardless of how the GPL came to be in the first place, the vast majority
of people who chose to use the GPL (including Linus himself) choose it so
that the code can't be modified and distributed and those modifications kept
secret. The idea is that any change widely distributed in binary form is
nearly assured to propogate back in source code form, and is assured to get
to those who paid for the binary.

Linus, and many other people, don't give a damn (from a GPL perspective)
about what TiVo does with their hardware. They may agree with it, disagree
with it, think it's legal, maybe even illegal, but they don't think it has
*anything* to do with the intent or spirit of the GPLv2 as *they* understand
it and for the reasons *they* chose it. They just want to get source code,
and they really don't care what other people do with it -- they care about
what *they* can do with it.

They just want the source code, and TiVo gives it to them. GPL was about
source code not being secret, to them and to many others.

> No, they're using the hardware (along with other pieces of software)
> to deny users (but not themselves) the freedoms that the license of
> software *meant* to defend, for that software, even if some believe it
> doesn't actually defend them.

At least to Linus, the GPL was never meant to defend the freedom to run
Linux on any hardware you want. It was just meant to ensure that you
couldn't keep the source code secret. I personally feel precisely the same
way and I think many other people do too.

I think that what TiVo is doing is wrong for completely different reasons
that have nothing to do with the fact that it happens to run Linux or that
Linux happens to be free software. But I think I've already made that clear
in other posts.


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