Sunday, June 03, 2007

Tivo vs. GPL v3

So let me get this straight.  Open source advocates would sue Tivo over the rights to their software's intellectual property if Tivo tried to prevent those same pundits from cracking other people's protected property?

This is how I interpreted what I read about this in Information Week.  (Sorry in advance for the full page ad you'll get by clicking the link to read the article.)    It sounds so absurd I just had to reiterate what I'm reading.

Actually I didn't post this to harp on the amazing hypocrisy of the situation -- though, if you consider the outright socialists out there, it's not hypocritical for them to believe "the people" own all intellectual property.  I posted to point out that anything that comes of this is entirely on Tivo's head.

Tivo bootstrapped their product on top of GPLed code instead of either licensing an OS or writing it from scratch.  At the time that they started, this might have made sense.  Linux hype was very high, and it seemed like the Linux advocates were on board with trying to commercialize the thing.  

But this post is about review and outlook, not agreeing that might have looked good in 1997.  This comes back to my post a few months ago about when you should bet your company on other people's tech.  That post was about vendor lock-in, but it applies here too.  Tivo's entire product line is based on a foundation that they apparently have no right to change to their liking, DRM or whatever.  I'm sure that even the die-hardest open source guy out there can agree that, as a company, having your business plan dictated by Richard Stallman is simply not desirable.

Speaking of Tivo and business plans.  Are they ever going to release a reasonably priced product again? I've wanted a Tivo Series 3 for a while, but they're still ridiculously expensive.  I can lease my Comcast DVR, as crappy as it is, for another 5 or 6 years before it costs as much as a Tivo Series 3. 

I'm not sure this whole GPL stink matters because Tivo seems finished unless the mythical  Comcast Tivo ever appears.  I tend to wonder if that deal is a Microsoftian deal on Comcast's part.  Deal with the little guy, then crush them once they depend on your help for survival.  Sad.

No comments: