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HR20 seems to be running Linux...possible GPL violations?

Discussion in 'DIRECTV HD DVR/Receiver Discussion' started by mateom199, Mar 16, 2007.

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  1. Oct 8, 2007 #121 of 267
    cruxer

    cruxer Mentor

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    It seems pretty clear to me that source code must be made available for any GPL or GPL-derived code. In other words, if they've modified the OS so that it runs on their hardware, then the source code for the new OS must be made available because it's just modified GPL code. So it seems to me that any Linux distribution needs to have the source available. The spirit of this rule is unmistakable. You can't benefit from work of the GPL and not contribute back to the community.

    The application stack that actually makes the HR20 work as a DVR is a totally different issue. Unless D* included GPL code in their application stack they would be under no obligation to release this code. They would have been incredibly stupid to have included any GPL code in their application stack for this very reason. They would want to keep that code proprietary. Lots of ISVs offer application stacks that run on Linux and may even distribute appliances containing Linux and their application stack (think firewalls, as one example). They are under no obligation (and typically don't) release the code for their internally developed, proprietary application stack. Any requirement to do so would be legally dubious and would seriously diminish the commercial viability of Linux as an application platform.

    I'm a huge proponent of open source, but there has to be a way to monetize this software too. This is a great discussion, but we really should understand the license and what the requirements before we make too many requests to the vendors who choose to adopt it. If they determine that they need to have an army of lawyers to defend themselves against these types of claims every 6 months, this will tend to reinforce M$'s contention that open source can't be trusted and closed ($$$$) systems are preferable from a legal standpoint.

    My $.02, and caveat: I'm not a lawyer so I could be totally wrong. ;)

    -c
     
  2. Oct 8, 2007 #122 of 267
    Doug Brott

    Doug Brott Lifetime Achiever DBSTalk Club

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    If it's a "closed system" has DIRECTV actually even licensed their software to you, let alone the Linux kernel it runs on? Truth is, all DIRECTV really does is distribute television content into your home. If DIRECTV could successfully argue that the software was never distributed, then any discussion of the GPL is moot.
     
  3. Oct 8, 2007 #123 of 267
    Doug Brott

    Doug Brott Lifetime Achiever DBSTalk Club

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    Ah, but the protection plan is for the hardware, not the software .. different discussion.
     
  4. Oct 8, 2007 #124 of 267
    Ken S

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    Doug,

    Please read the DirecTV agreement I linked it earlier in the thread. They are licensing the software to end users. Truth is, among other things, they distribute hardware and software through lease and license.

    If they could successfully argue that a month only has 15 days in it they could double their revenues too.
     
  5. Oct 8, 2007 #125 of 267
    oakwcj

    oakwcj Lower Echelon

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    Here's a discussion of "Tivoization":

    http://gplv3.fsf.org/pipermail/info-gplv3/2006-March/000004.html

    Also see:

    http://www.fsf.org/blogs/licensing/gplv3-lockdown/view?searchterm=tivo

    and:

    http://www.fsf.org/blogs/licensing/gplv3-fda/view?searchterm=tivo
     
  6. Oct 8, 2007 #126 of 267
    mateom199

    mateom199 Legend

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    True, but how can I have the hardware but not the software?

    Or, another way to put it is, how can they claim that the software isn't being distributed to me, but the hardware is, when the software is running on the hardware? And its not some sort of dumb terminal, connecting to a D* mainframe that is running the code. The code is physically sitting on my harddrive (or EPROM, or whatever) and is executing on the hardware sitting in my room. Seems like a weak argument.
     
  7. Oct 8, 2007 #127 of 267
    Open Sores Man

    Open Sores Man Banned User

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    The software in question was copied onto a flash chip and shipped into a customer's living room. Probably a few hundred thousand times over, by now.

    If that doesn't count as "distribution," I don't know what does.

    If DIRECTV had based their product on an illegal copy of Windows CE instead of an illegal copy of Linux, do you think for a second that Bill Gates wouldn't shred them to pieces in court?

    BTW: here is the GPLv2 and here is the FAQ. I see that a number of posters in this thread have not read either document yet. Please take this opportunity to educate yourselves on the issues so that we can try to have a somewhat intelligent discussion. Thanks.
     
  8. Oct 8, 2007 #128 of 267
    Open Sores Man

    Open Sores Man Banned User

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    Sorry, this is NOT an acceptable answer. The GPL explicitly puts this burden on commercial entities who redistribute covered works. There is NO expectation that end users will have to "play detective" to figure out where to get the code that they are owed.

    Good corporate citizens publish contact information for the department that is in charge of GPL compliance, as part of the written offer. For instance, see this page.

    For those of you following along at home, the violation in question pertains to GPLv2 and LGPLv2. GPLv3/LGPLv3 are NEW licenses that address many of the ways people have abused GPLv2/LGPLv2 software (e.g. patents and code signing), but they have not yet been widely adopted.
     
  9. Oct 8, 2007 #129 of 267
    oakwcj

    oakwcj Lower Echelon

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    The link in Post 98 references simplecenter.org, which has both an open source and a commercially licensed media player/server application. The HR20 is mentioned in a thread on a simplecenter.com [they have both an .org and a .com domain] support forum. A response from one of the developers says that the HR20 is not a supported device, and gives no indication that the company is aware that DirecTV may be using some of their code:

    http://www.simplecenter.com/jive/thread.jspa?messageID=1517&#1517
     
  10. Oct 8, 2007 #130 of 267
    Open Sores Man

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    "rfish" is an active developer on this project, so he would be able to explain why he checked in DIRECTV code. He might also be able to comment on other details of this device, but is probably under NDA if he knows anything useful.
     
  11. Oct 8, 2007 #131 of 267
    Doug Brott

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    I'm just pointing out a different way to look at things. Clearly you are one of the people that disagree with my assertion. As for distribution, my argument is simply that DIRECTV's "walls" are on the video output of the receiver. The "closed system" starts on the other side of that video output in the box and continues all the way back to DIRECTV HQ, encompassing everything. If my assertion is correct, then there is nothing distributed and therefore no reason for the GPL to even be in play.

    Clearly you think that because it is sitting in your living room, it has been distributed to you despite the fact that there is no way for you to access the kernel without violating your TOS with DIRECTV. This seems like a logical position for DIRECTV to take.
     
  12. Oct 8, 2007 #132 of 267
    Earl Bonovich

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    We have no user here with the login "rfish"
     
  13. Oct 8, 2007 #133 of 267
    Earl Bonovich

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    Sorry... missed the reference that "rfish" was a user at the other forum..
     
  14. Oct 8, 2007 #134 of 267
    Ken S

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    Doug,

    The problem with your argument is it has no basis in law and DirecTV has already admitted by their own actions to making a distribution of software when they included a software license in the DVR section of their customer agreement.

    I don't understand why you would continue to just ignore DirecTV's own documents when you make your argument.

    I can't speak to whether DirecTV used GPL code or not. But without a doubt they are distributing hardware and software.
     
  15. Oct 8, 2007 #135 of 267
    Doug Brott

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    Personally, I don't really care either way. It would be interesting to hear the real argument. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that it has something to do with my assertion, though.

    Cheers.
     
  16. Oct 8, 2007 #136 of 267
    Open Sores Man II

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    The "real argument" is in this thread. It has been repeated several times over.

    Many of the individuals here have relevant experience in the software industry and know what they are talking about.

    Unfortunately, some of those who don't are willing to use the "ban" button to silence those who do.
     
  17. Oct 8, 2007 #137 of 267
    mateom199

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    Its interesting that you mention that theres no way to access the kernel without violating the TOS. In fact, there probably is no way to access the kernel without circumventing a security measure, aka, violating the DMCA. The GPL v3 is actually trying to address this problem, where corporations lock out GPL code from the end user.
     
  18. Oct 8, 2007 #138 of 267
    NorfolkBruh

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    ACTUALLY the protection plan covers software AND hardware issues. I wish I could find my copy of the protection plan (yeah I'm one of those people who demanded a written copy of it way back when!)

    If my unit stops working for any reason other then my violating the TOS I expect to be on the phone with D* and have another one delivered. It is, in fact, one of the best protection plans around and VERY few people who have it have complained about it (except the cost usually).

    Just my two cents.
     
  19. Oct 8, 2007 #139 of 267
    James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    While we don't normally discuss bans in public, the readers of this thread should know that "Open Sores Man" was banned for not providing a valid email address in his registration.

    :backtotop
     
  20. Oct 8, 2007 #140 of 267
    oakwcj

    oakwcj Lower Echelon

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    How would I go about contacting Mr. Fish without registering for the forum? To do that, I'd need to download their software. I clicked on Mr. Fish's profile, but it does not give an email address or other means to contact him.
     
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