Sunday, January 7, 2007

Richard M Stallman

Okay before I say anything else I definitely believe in the free exchange of knowledge and ideas. I do not however believe that those ideas should be the only way that technology and software is developed.

I am no fan of Microsoft, matter of fact I no longer will use their products. I run Linux on both my laptop and my desktop computers. Not because I am a Open Source fanatic, but because I find Linux to be a far superior product where it counts. I also don't have to worry about updates that lock me in (and / or down) to some scheme cooked up by MS to control what I see, hear, read and create on my computer.
(Here is my Desktop's desktop)
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I am also not a fan of Richard Stallman either. Don't get me wrong he's an extremely intelligent man but he doesn't need to bring politics into the GPL and into Open Source vs. Closed Source debate.

Linus Torvalds has a problem with the upcoming GPL V. 3, so do a lot of other people developing Open Source Software. I'm not saying the GPL didn't need to be updated but to write a GPL with the sole intention of keeping companies like TiVo from using the Linux Kernel as they did, and Digital Rights Management systems as they do is not only ludacris, but dangerous.

Let me explain a couple things about TiVo, I have worked for them, they are good company with a lot of good ideas. They are also a company fighting more lawsuits and potential lawsuits than anyone realizes.

In regards to the TiVo Linux kernel, they made their kernel work exclusively with their hardware. They publish and make available the source code as required under the GPL V. 2 but it won't do you a whole lot of good unless you actually own a TiVo, and know how to hack it. (BTW neither are that hard to do.) The rest of the Software on the TiVo is proprietary and no they don't have to publish it. So the kernel is available and modifiable under the terms of the GPL.

In regards to the DRM software TiVo uses, well they really don't get a whole lot of choice on this matter. Why? Because the content providers aren't giving them any. They either have the DRM installed or TiVo goes bye-bye and buddy they aren't kidding.

Mr. Stallman needs to also realize TiVo doesn't make a dime from the sale of any one of those beautiful DVRs. They are manufactured by outsourced services not TiVo. TiVo gets its money stream from one source. It's subscribers. The service TiVo provides is its real product. Mr. Stallman doesn't like TiVo's Business model because he feels the service should be provided for free. There is however one little problem with that, the cost of running the service must be taken into account as well.

TiVo is a legitimate and legal business model that has to cut a fine line between providing features the customers want and keeping the content providers happy and not suing them. Richard Stallman has no right, or business to place his political objectives in TiVo's way.

Stallmanism is my new catch phrase here. RMS doesn't want to see a tivoised software system and I don't want stallmanism in my software license. Seems we have a conflict of interest here.

One final note. The GPL V3 will not hold up in court folks because of the non DRM clause. That part at the very least will be struck down by the courts when (and it will) gets challenged.

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