[cryptography] Complying with GPL V3 (Tivoization)

Benjamin Kreuter brk7bx at virginia.edu
Tue Jan 10 18:59:25 EST 2012


On Tue, 10 Jan 2012 21:34:53 +0100
Florian Weimer <fw at deneb.enyo.de> wrote:

> * Thierry Moreau:
> 
> > [D] The GPL V3 compliance would forbid any transfer of such
> > gplv3-turned-proprietary ROM-based equipment outside of the
> > organization (one would put back the original ROM version as part of
> > IT equipment sanitization before disposal).
> 
> This is not true.  You can transfer such firmware images to the
> recipient if they solely run the software on your behalf; the GPL
> version 3 has an explicit exception for this.  I think this reflects
> the Tivo situation pretty well (they give you a device, you provide
> power and connectivity to it, but you don't get to tamper with the
> software in any way), so I fail to see how the GPL version 3 prevents
> "Tivoization".

One would be hard-pressed to prove the claim that TiVO is distributing
software that is run on their own behalf.  TiVO users may direct their
TiVO units to do anything that is within the capabilities of the
software and they do not receive specific instructions from TiVO
regarding what to do.  The GPLv3 also describes in general terms a
category of devices that TiVO fits squarely into:  devices intended for
use in a dwelling, by a family, etc.  A transfer of *ownership* is not
required either; the transfer may be for a fixed period of time.

-- Ben

> This doesn't help when you want the recipient to be able to tweak or
> even redistribute the image.  Then the GPL exception does not apply;
> it is worded in such a way that it comes only into play if the
> recipient isn't granted any rights whatsoever.
>
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-- 
Benjamin R Kreuter
UVA Computer Science
brk7bx at virginia.edu

--

"If large numbers of people are interested in freedom of speech, there
will be freedom of speech, even if the law forbids it; if public
opinion is sluggish, inconvenient minorities will be persecuted, even
if laws exist to protect them." - George Orwell
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