[hackerspaces] Pirating Linux

John de Largentaye john at largentaye.org
Tue Apr 3 01:19:34 CEST 2012

"Pirating" Linux (violating the GPL license) is a problem. Some prior art:

- the TiVo Digital Video Recorder (DVR) device uses Linux at its core.
That doesn't mean you can hack the code. (look up "tivoisation")
- The whole openwrt project started after a Linksys released the
source code of their Linux-based WRT54G router in 2002. There was some
drama when a company tried to make a proprietary derivative
withholding sourcecode.
- My favorite ISP from my former country, Free, revolutionized the ISP
business by being (among?) the first to provide triple-play: TV, Phone
and Internet via a  set-top-box based on Linux, the Freebox. They do
tivoisation too, and had some run-ins with the FSF-EU because they
refused to release source code, claiming a) it was unmodified so you
could get it from the original source and b) you couldn't modify your
Freebox anyhow. They since provide patches at
http://floss.freebox.fr/, though you still can't modify the Freebox.

The whole basic argument of the FSF's controversial copyright
assignement policy is to strengthen their position when somebody
violates the GPL.

In Germany, Harald Welte has been having some success fighting these
pirates with http://gpl-violations.org/


On Mon, Apr 2, 2012 at 3:30 PM, Yvan Janssens <ik at yvanj.me> wrote:
> Hello,
> Today I discovered that the major ISP over here uses GPL'ed software in
> their set top boxes, without even putting a GPL notice in the box (like most
> TV manufacturers do nowadays). I phoned their customer service, and they
> "don't know" that the device runs linux (it runs "proprietary polish
> software"), and know nothing about GPL notices.
> My questions are now:
> Can GPL software be pirated?
> If yes, is this a form of OSS "piracy"?
> How do I get them to release the source code?
> Where should I start to find a copy of the source code - the telco, or
> further? The device uses a Broadcom SoC with 256MB RAM and 4MB boot ROM
> (looks like any other set top box to me).
> Sincerely,
> Yvan Janssens
> --
> |_|0|_|   Yvan Janssens
> |_|_|0|
> |0|0|0|
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