article on GPLv3, Linux kernel, and Devices Rigged to Malfunction

Alex Hudson home at
Sun Oct 22 13:07:27 UTC 2006

On Fri, 2006-10-20 at 20:08 +0100, Ciaran O'Riordan wrote:
> > Is there a way to effectively prevent Tivoization without the help of
> > the Linux developers?
> Option #2 is market pressure, which is a much more difficult.  Our job would
> be much easier if our kernels were GPLv3'd, but as Alex explained, even
> GPLv3'd kernels are not a magic bullet.

I'm not sure it would make much difference.

The kernel is currently GPL'd, yet it doesn't encourage people to write
free software drivers. Whether or not NVidia/ATI's system for writing
non-free drivers is technically legal I don't know, but it seems no-one
with affected copyrights cares enough to do much about it.

OpenBSD seem to have been measurably more successful in opening up
wireless drivers than Linux, and their license doesn't even require

I also worry that a lot of GPL violation appears to be in the embedded
arena. It's unlikely that a new GPL version would increase compliance in
and of itself, and I would suspect that un-Tivo-ising something after
the fact may or may not be possible. I'm not sure what implications that
would have in terms of post-facto compliance, damages, etc.

There is a limit to which you can use copyright on a work to govern
precisely how it gets used (hence the pro-DRM laws).



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