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


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266 replies to this topic

#21 OFFLINE   mateom199

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Posted 17 March 2007 - 01:14 PM

I largely agree with you here.

As far as source code goes, in no way am I calling for, or even suggesting that any of D*'s own code be released. Just the kernel sources that to me, under the GPL, should be released. As you mention, even if D* said "Hey, we use this distro, you can download it at X website" that would satisfy me. Really, the whole source code question has more to do with enforcing the GPL, and less with actually getting my hands on any type of useful code. Clearly the HR20 kernel, modified or not, will not contain any code that most people would deem "useful."

If you look at Tivo, ( tivo linux page ) they have always released the kernel sources or any other GPL'd code they use on their boxes. Do these sources contain any proprietary Tivo code? Nope. But they are abiding by the GPL, which is important.

Source or not, D* needs to at include a copy of the GPL...

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#22 OFFLINE   macEarl

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Posted 17 March 2007 - 01:16 PM

I have a GPL released program. It is shell script. The license for it is inside the program. Our lawyers said, "Good enough!". These lawyers deal with this type of stuff all the time.


Your script is already in human-readable form. Your lawyers were right.

Believe me, D* is NOT going to open themselves up to a possible lawsuit over something so simple to take care of.


Correct. The FSF isn't about suing people, it's about ensuring rights are protected, and credit where credit is due. A lawsuit in this case would be a last resort after failure to comply once notified - and all that would be asked for, generally, is compliance with the copyright and license.

The general case isn't malfeasance - it's misunderstanding. Lawyers sometimes get things wrong.

With that said, I bid you good afternoon!


:)

#23 OFFLINE   mateom199

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Posted 17 March 2007 - 01:24 PM

OK

So maybe if you lay out the $700+ money to buy and actually own your HR20,for that extra money you will get a link to the 2.4 kernel that is being used and a piece of paper that you have to sign saying you received the GPL license.

Otherwise, this is leased. It is their equipment. There is NO reason why they have to give you anything like this for the use of the HR20.

I have a GPL released program. It is shell script. The license for it is inside the program. Our lawyers said, "Good enough!". These lawyers deal with this type of stuff all the time. Believe me, D* is NOT going to open themselves up to a possible lawsuit over something so simple to take care of.

If you noticed in my last post, the kernel mentioned has brcm in it. This is most likely a Broadcom kernel. D* may have license agreements that say anything and D* probably is not responsible to supply what is being discussed in this thread.

All of the real stuff that would matter to this Forum is not in the kernel. The kernel is only the heart of the system and user space. The real work running the HR20 are the arms, legs, head, etc. I think you get my point here.

With that said, I bid you good afternoon!


Again, I am no expert in this. I'm not a lawyer, and I haven't been around Linux/GPL for too long.

However, the situation you describe seems to go against the very essence of the GPL. I don't believe the GPL was built with such a large loophole as to allow someone to not abide by the GPL, by licensing the code from a third party. What your saying is D* is not responsible, because they licensed the code from a 3rd party. I believe your inferring this 3rd party is responsible for abiding by the GPL, not D*. D* cannot license GPL'd code from a 3rd party, and not divulge who, what, or where this 3rd party is. It is my understanding that no mater how many hoops, ladders, and levels of licensing and what not, if the end user is using GPL'd code, the end user must be informed of such.

It probably comes down to, that in order for D* to legally license any GPL'd code from a 3rd party, as people seem to be suggesting, D* itself must either refer its customers to the 3rd party for all GPL related inquiries, or take on the responsibility themselves. They cannot create a GPL blackhole.

Again, I'm not an expert.

#24 OFFLINE   macEarl

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Posted 17 March 2007 - 01:26 PM

If you look at Tivo ...

Source or not, D* needs to at include a copy of the GPL...


My DTivo user guides had it.

Either Spanky_Partain is right - the entire Tivo to D* handoff was handled so smoothly, and every i was dotted, and even better lawyers fixed the problem because the Tivo lawyers had it wrong all along - or we are, and this error needs rectification.

Soon.

And I want to go on record as never suggesting that perhaps the Tivo guys helped the D* guys look at the GPL in such a way as to unprovably allow or encourage a series of events whereby D* would become open to attack at a later time, because basically all issues are black and white.

#25 OFFLINE   macEarl

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Posted 17 March 2007 - 02:31 PM

OK

So maybe if you lay out the $700+ money to buy and actually own your HR20,for that extra money you will get a link to the 2.4 kernel that is being used and a piece of paper that you have to sign saying you received the GPL license.

Otherwise, this is leased. It is their equipment. There is NO reason why they have to give you anything like this for the use of the HR20.


That is an interesting point of view.

And if I take 5.99*24+299, I don't add up to $700+ so I'm not the owner at the end of my two-year commitment. Notwithstanding that it was represented to me that I was buying and not leasing at $299, you are suggesting that if I had bought the unit, I'd get other documentation besides that that comes in the box for leased equipment.

You may be right and we've all missed the crux of the issue. My arguing with you is based on this - even you say maybe you will receive the piece of paper. That's an odd defense of a company from someone distributing GPL'd shell scripts - but, we're all different people.

So, there are two entirely different packaging and distribution control processes for leased vs. purchased HR20s? Weak. Very weak.

Odd, the GPL goes to use, not acquistion method. D* is providing the leased unit, so no copyright laws apply to the leased use? Odd that they credit the Double-D trademark on their pdf of the "technical spec" of the HR20.

Weak.

I have a simpler theory. The D* lawyers - if they were involved in this issue at all, which I still doubt - are used to Windows. My experience with the typical lawyer looking over the GPL is, "publish this - take no chances." I've seen umpteen GPL copies - with instructions not required in the GPL but from the GPL pages - distributed because the lawyers wanted to take no chances.

Per your theory, the D* lawyers advised D* that having two different processes in place for HR20 placement in the home, one with and one without the GPL, was a low-risk approach to the copyright issue, and those lawyers themselves are comfortable that they aren't open to having created the potential for a wrongdoing by D* or for upstream action against them by D* should an error occur in this mystical two-process system. And they did that after reading the GPL itself, a herculean legal document if ever there was one.

My company sure isn't as big and deep-pocketed as D*. I'm kinda glad I can only afford the lawyers that don't think as in the scenario above.

But it is possible that it works that way at D* because their lawyers are expensive and not stoopid. And if there's ever a problem - just one - with an HR20 not conforming to this hypothetical two-process system of distribution, then after many consultations and legal fees, the lawyers might hyptothetically stumble upon a brilliant legal idea to solve the hypothetical problem - act at all times with legal conservatism and always distribute the GPL copyright.

And they won't come to that unless and until all the hypotheticals fall into place even though it occured to someone to show those very same lawyers a copy of a DTivo user manual.

Uh... of course, those same lawyers did see a DTivo user manual when setting up their legal stuff for the HR20, right? They did think to look in a user's guide appendix for a critical document that might impact D* legally, because they knew that was a good place to look for legal notices - right?

Weak.

PS - In every lawsuit, there's a losing lawyer or team of lawyers. Even excellent - the very best - lawyers are human. Human mistakes happen.

#26 OFFLINE   Doug Brott

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Posted 17 March 2007 - 02:43 PM

macEarl, it sounds like you are probably right on this issue. If that is the case, a simple fix would be to have a web page made available with said documentation or a help menu on the HR20.

I know the TiVo does release information, but do they actually include the GPL with the box? What about 2nd hand transfers ... that, too would be a violation if the GPL text was not included.

Seems to me, though, that the people that really care about it (legal or otherwise) can actually find the GPL text easily enough. If the only thing missing is the text, then this argument is more on principle than necessity, IMHO.

It's a good analysis.
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#27 OFFLINE   mateom199

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Posted 17 March 2007 - 02:59 PM

macEarl, it sounds like you are probably right on this issue. If that is the case, a simple fix would be to have a web page made available with said documentation or a help menu on the HR20.

I know the TiVo does release information, but do they actually include the GPL with the box? What about 2nd hand transfers ... that, too would be a violation if the GPL text was not included.

Seems to me, though, that the people that really care about it (legal or otherwise) can actually find the GPL text easily enough. If the only thing missing is the text, then this argument is more on principle than necessity, IMHO.

It's a good analysis.


Its also about giving credit where it's due. Thousands and thousands of hours have been devoted to GNU/Linux by countless individuals. They did not have to release any of their work, but they did and did so under a relatively flexible license. Their hard work is available for anyone to see, use, modify, and even profit commercially from: all they ask in return is acknowledgment, and contribution to the community in certain instances.

#28 OFFLINE   leww37334

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Posted 17 March 2007 - 04:24 PM

I just skimmed through the posts above, but I didn't see the answer to this: Do you have to provide a copy of the GPL if you only lease something containing LInux and NOT sell it?
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#29 OFFLINE   Spanky_Partain

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Posted 17 March 2007 - 04:36 PM

macEarl,

Wow!

I had a whole page written up and I decided I would just drop this.

Good theory!

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#30 OFFLINE   macEarl

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Posted 17 March 2007 - 04:38 PM

macEarl, it sounds like you are probably right on this issue. If that is the case, a simple fix would be to have a web page made available with said documentation or a help menu on the HR20.


Web page for compliance would be UNusual and up to a negotiation with the FSF.

I do not advocate a help menu. That would be an invasive software change, and I'm not for that. If D* was invasive by not respecting the terms of the license and publishing it, then counter-invasion is no answer - my opinion.

Put it in the box where it belongs, send out a message to HR20 users grandfathered by the mistake - once they get the message-from-D* feature really working. :)

There are plenty of ways to fix this - big spending or disruption is not required.

I know the TiVo does release information, but do they actually include the GPL with the box? What about 2nd hand transfers ... that, too would be a violation if the GPL text was not included.


DIRECTV HD DVR User's Guide for my old 10-250, Appendix B, page 165 through 170 - GNU General Public License. It even includes the legal conservatism I mentioned, giving the example text of Ty Coon from Yoyodyne, Inc. They took no chances. I was skeptical of moving up to Tivo as a happy D* customer - but my first Hughes SD DTivo had the same thing - it literally hooked me on Tivo as coming from the good guys. The 10-250 continued the tradition (er, legal necessities).

So, yes, it's in the box. And yes, you screw up if you sell your DTivo without either the manual or a GPL notice.

Seems to me, though, that the people that really care about it (legal or otherwise) can actually find the GPL text easily enough. If the only thing missing is the text, then this argument is more on principle than necessity, IMHO.

It's a good analysis.


I'm fairly new here as a poster Doug - beginning of the year. Ordered the HR20 very early on, got it in September or maybe early October (I really have to look that up for my street cred, I guess :) ). Look at one of my earliest know-it-all posts - I credited the HR20 as being Windows-based. Not that anyone flamed me or anything, but I did get out some aloe, my asbestos underoos, and a red-shamed face when I thanked everyone for correcting me. It was the early days of the HR20 and I thought CSRs were gods who knew all and took care of me, like before. I found no GPL in the box. I had about 4 hours of uptime for the first 3 1/2 days (until a CSR walked me through a reformat, even back then). I asked if this was a Windows-based box, because my DTivos were GNU/Linux. I was told yes, nothing in common at all with DTivo, Windows' based. I asked the CSR if she knew what the GPL was - she responded, you bet, we all know what the GNU GPL is - pretty good handshake on that info, I thought. We laughed and I felt a lot more comfy reformatting a Windows machine new out of the box. Sorry to be a *nix snob/fanboi, but there it is - at least I admit it. :)

So nowhere in that exchange - as mateom99 and I are pointing out - did a lot of people who put in free work to make the HR20 commercially/technically possible get any credit, and that's all they wanted. Not by name, not by company, but by the clearinghouse that we share from.

I assert that the HR20 is a great value for the money and an advanced product. I also assert that it wouldn't be so if it were based on non-open-source - a lot of foundation-level stuff comes free no charge to the subcontractors->D*->you and me.

Where does necessity begin and matter-of-principle end? If we could trust everyone's principles, would there be any copyright law in existence to question?

I insist on painting this rose as red. "D* was not unprinicipled, they made a mistake." Must I prove that their mistake - left uncorrected - could encourage the unprinicipled or are there not sufficient precedents on that account?

A large corporation is profiting from open software having no cost of investment for that portion of their profit. It was provided under copyright. Only Spanky_Partain has an arugment against the copyright terms as the unit is only leased - to which I don't agree.

For me, copyrights are like 186,000 miles/second - not just a good idea, it's the law.

#31 OFFLINE   mateom199

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Posted 17 March 2007 - 04:39 PM

I just skimmed through the posts above, but I didn't see the answer to this: Do you have to provide a copy of the GPL if you only lease something containing LInux and NOT sell it?


The GPL applies to distribution, not ownership. Because leasing is still a form a distribution, the GPL should still apply.

#32 OFFLINE   Ken S

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Posted 17 March 2007 - 04:40 PM

I just skimmed through the posts above, but I didn't see the answer to this: Do you have to provide a copy of the GPL if you only lease something containing LInux and NOT sell it?


My understanding is anytime you distribute something containing Linux you must abide by the GPL's terms. Distribute, to me, would clearly include lease.

#33 OFFLINE   Drewg5

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Posted 17 March 2007 - 04:50 PM

If I'm not mistaken, D* had some remote remark in the paper work that cane with the HR20 about going to there website for more info on the system software, I do recall going to the link listed, and there was the GPL notice.. Its been some time sense I looked.. Humm wheres that book.... Well on page 61 section G. of the owners manual:

Certain additional terms and information for the Software and certain third party software (including the text of licenses applicable to any free, open source and other similar software that may be included in the Software) may be found in the DIRECTV Customer Agreement, the DIRECTV website located at www.directv.com, and the GNU website located at www.gnu.org

I hope this helps in your quest for the truth.

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#34 OFFLINE   mateom199

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Posted 17 March 2007 - 05:00 PM

If I'm not mistaken, D* had some remote remark in the paper work that cane with the HR20 about going to there website for more info on the system software, I do recall going to the link listed, and there was the GPL notice.. Its been some time sense I looked.. Humm wheres that book.... Well on page 61 section G. of the owners manual:

Certain additional terms and information for the Software and certain third party software (including the text of licenses applicable to any free, open source and other similar software that may be included in the Software) may be found in the DIRECTV Customer Agreement, the DIRECTV website located at www.directv.com, and the GNU website located at www.gnu.org

I hope this helps in your quest for the truth.


I don't have the manual handy right now, but I'll have to check mine later. At least we know its in some manuals (perhaps all).

Two things - I could not find any GPL info on Directv.com, and I'm still pretty sure the GPL license requires a copy of the license, not just an obscure blurb about a website and "additional terms and information."

Again, from the FSF FAQ:

Why does the GPL require including a copy of the GPL with every copy of the program?
Including a copy of the license with the work is vital so that everyone who gets a copy of the program can know what his rights are.

It might be tempting to include a URL that refers to the license, instead of the license itself. But you cannot be sure that the URL will still be valid, five years or ten years from now. Twenty years from now, URLs as we know them today may no longer exist.

The only way to make sure that people who have copies of the program will continue to be able to see the license, despite all the changes that will happen in the network, is to include a copy of the license in the program.



#35 OFFLINE   Drewg5

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Posted 17 March 2007 - 05:04 PM

I don't have the manual handy right now, but I'll have to check mine later. At least we know its in some manuals (perhaps all).

Two things - I could not find any GPL info on Directv.com, and I'm still pretty sure the GPL license requires a copy of the license, not just an obscure blurb about a website and "additional terms and information."

Again, from the SF FAQ:


I think the gnu link in there covers the GPL stuff but I could be wrong...nevermind....

Well I just spent like 20 min on there sight and nothing....If they are in the wrong then I would bet they know about it.

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#36 OFFLINE   macEarl

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Posted 17 March 2007 - 05:17 PM

If I'm not mistaken, D* had some remote remark in the paper work that cane with the HR20 about going to there website for more info on the system software, I do recall going to the link listed, and there was the GPL notice.. Its been some time sense I looked.. Humm wheres that book.... Well on page 61 section G. of the owners manual:

Certain additional terms and information for the Software and certain third party software (including the text of licenses applicable to any free, open source and other similar software that may be included in the Software) may be found in the DIRECTV Customer Agreement, the DIRECTV website located at www.directv.com, and the GNU website located at www.gnu.org

I hope this helps in your quest for the truth.


THANK YOU! Yes, I did miss that despite several searches in the user's guide for the printed text of the GPL, the norm as it has always been. But before launching into any of my posts on this subject, I checked the D* site. Today, before your post, I did think to check the Customer Agreement, http://www.directv.c...assetId=P400042 and nowhere do they mention the GPL in any form.

However, it's not at all sufficient, see: http://www.fsf.org/l...WhyMustIInclude and allow me to quote the relevant section:

"Why does the GPL require including a copy of the GPL with every copy of the program?

Including a copy of the license with the work is vital so that everyone who gets a copy of the program can know what his rights are.

It might be tempting to include a URL that refers to the license, instead of the license itself. But you cannot be sure that the URL will still be valid, five years or ten years from now. Twenty years from now, URLs as we know them today may no longer exist.

The only way to make sure that people who have copies of the program will continue to be able to see the license, despite all the changes that will happen in the network, is to include a copy of the license in the program."


Case closed - they acknowledged the need to satisfy the GPL, per your info, but have not done so.

(PS - mateom99 and I really are different people - even if we post the same quotes at the same time - :) )

#37 OFFLINE   Drewg5

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Posted 17 March 2007 - 05:23 PM

THANK YOU!
Case closed - they acknowledged the need to satisfy the GPL, per your info, but have not done so.

(PS - mateom99 and I really are different people - even if we post the same quotes at the same time - :) )


It is easy to miss, they placed it in tiney print at the bottom of the page almost as a side note... I dont know why I recalled seeing it in the first place, the link isnt there like I thought though... Something tells me that part is burryed someware else...

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#38 OFFLINE   macEarl

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Posted 17 March 2007 - 05:26 PM

It is easy to miss, they placed it in tiney print at the bottom of the page almost as a side note... I dont know why I recalled seeing it in the first place, the link isnt there like I thought though... Something tells me that part is burryed someware else...


Exactly why links are not liked by the GPL. Again, thanks!

#39 OFFLINE   bobnielsen

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Posted 17 March 2007 - 06:12 PM

OK, so who's going to spill the beans to RMS?

#40 OFFLINE   macEarl

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Posted 17 March 2007 - 06:18 PM

OK, so who's going to spill the beans to RMS?


Step one is contact D*, point out the non-compliance and request compliance and a handshake of same.

I've done that.

Obviously, I'm wired to follow this closure. No need to rattle him at the moment.




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