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How has this been allowed to happen?[edit]

I don't understand why people let "Tivoization" slip through. After all, secret and/or private cryptographic keys must be interpreted as "source code" according to the legal definition given in the GPL V2.

I think it is the TIVO hardware that enforces the key. The TIVO hardware platform will only run code signed by TIVO.
If so, how can GPLv3 solve that? Does it specify that free software can only be run on "free hardware"? --LA2 08:48, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
GPLv3 only places conditions on on combinations of software and hardware. The general concept is that when you give someone GPL'd software, you tell them, among other things, that they are free to adapt the software to their needs. If you give them the software in a way that requires something, such as a certain digital fingerpint, inorder to actually make use of that freedom, then you have implicitly promised to give the person that digital fingerprint (or whatever). The specific context here is that GPLv3 says explicitly that if you give someone hardware with GPLv3'd software, and if modified versions of the software will not run on that hardware without a certain digital key, then you must provide that key. Gronky 10:03, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
First, whether it was good or bad is up for debate. The GPL people say it was bad, but BSD people would be fine with it. Addressing your question, if keys are stored in separate files, the GPL wouldn't cover files opened later. What about headers? The GNU/Linux people have argued that headers aren't really source code; if they were, SCO would have had a better case. That, and the other posters are right; it might very well be at a different level. 04:27, 13 September 2007 (UTC)


My understanding is that what made tivoization different from GPL violations was that TiVo did not actually violate the terms of the GPL. To make this distinction clear, I added a statement that tivoization was lawful. Another contributor edited my statement to say tivoization may not be legal.

I believe my original statement was correct and I would like to restore it. Richard Stallman has stated that one of the differences between GPL v.2 and GPL v.3 is that GPL v.3 will prevent tivoization. That is one of the reasons he advocates moving Linux to GPL v.3. If tivoization were an unlawful violation of GPL v.2, then there would be no need to use GPL v.3 to prevent it. GPL v.2 would be sufficient.

Here are some quotes from Stallman in a Forbes interview (

Are there other ways in which movie companies today use GPL-licensed programs that will become a violation under GPLv3?

I don't know that the movie companies, as such, do this. However, there are certainly such cases involving movies. They are in systems that the public uses to watch movies and TV, such as the TiVo.

What effect will GPLv3 have on TiVo?

It will stop products like the TiVo from using any GPLv3-covered software

If Linus Torvalds decides not to adopt GPLv3 but all those other parts of GNU/Linux do adopt GPLv3, what happens?

This would not cause anything spectacular to happen. GNU/Linux already contains programs with many different free software licenses. If, five years from now, some programs remain under GPLv2, that won't cause any serious problem for free software users. It will be inconvenient for those who want to copy code from those programs into programs covered by GPLv3 and vice versa, but that's all. The reason I hope Torvalds will decide to adopt GPLv3 is to make Linux resistant to "tivoization."

Are there credible references claiming that tivoization is unlawful under GPL v.2? If so, we should cite those sources. Otherwise, the current wording strikes me as weasel wording.

Perhaps a compromise would be to say "...complies with the literal text of the GNU General Public License...". -- Seitz 18:01, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

Richard Stallman has stated that tivoisation is legal under GPL version two, but I know someone (Person A) who found another company that was using tivoisation with GPLv2'd software, and who told them to hand over the means for running modified versions, and won. That was in Europe.
The legal foundation for the Person A's action was that tivoisation violates the spirit of the licence, and the licensor's intent - both of which have legally meaning and would be taken into account in a court case.
The difference between GPLv2 and GPLv3 is that, like the patent grant, the anti-tivoisation stance is explicit in v3 where it was only implicit in v2. Changing something from implicit to explicit is important because legally solid things are rarely taken to court and are easier to fight with in court. Gronky 18:16, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
That makes sense. Perhaps we should just finesse the issue whether tivoization is legal until there are legal sources to cite, and simply describe the issues and the debate over whether it should be allowed. Let me take a crack at it and see what you think. -- Seitz 01:56, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
OK, I've removed any legal conclusions and simply described what TiVo did and why Stallman objects. -- Seitz 02:26, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

GPL vs. Free Software vs. Copyleft[edit]

I changed the explanation of tivoization from saying it applies to Free Software to saying it applies to GPL v.2 software. I did so for these reasons:

  • Free Software may allow code to become non-free. For example, the FSF says the modified BSD license and X11 license are Free Software licenses, but they both intentionally allow changes to be kept proprietary.
  • I have only seen the term "tivoization" applied to GPL v.2 licensed software.

This has now been changed back to saying "tivoization" can apply to any "Free Software". Since there are "Free Software" licenses which intentionally allow proprietry modifications, I think this statement is overly broad.

I do recognize that it is theoretically possible this problem could apply to other Free Software licenses. It appears the term that distinguishes Free Software licenses that try to prevent propriety modifications from ones that intentionally allow them is "copyleft". So I will be editing this statement to say that tivoization applies to "copyleft" licensed software. -- Seitz 05:22, 10 September 2006 (UTC)

Torvalds and NPOV[edit]

I am bothered by the addition of this statement to the section describing Torvalds's statements regarding tivoization:

"However, no draft of GPLv3 prohibits using private digital signatures as a security tool."

This statement is unattributed and advocates that one side of a controversy is correct (Torvalds obviously disagreed). If there is evidence that Torvalds is mistaken, then it should be cited.

I am also bothered by the new framing of Torvalds's position:

"In explaining his opposition to the GPLv3's attempts to protect freedom from tivoisation,..."

This statement bothers me because

  • Torvalds does not refer to GPLv.3, he just refers to some theoretical modified version of the GPL
  • The phrasing "...opposition to...attempts to protect freedom..." uses rather loaded language and seems like a critique of Torvalds's position, not just a reporting of Torvalds's position.
  • There have been reports that later GPL v.3 drafts had language changes to address the concerns raised by Torvalds. That seems to argue that Torvalds was at least making a reasonable argument that earlier drafts might be reasonably interpreted to prevent digital signatures for security purposes.

I think the combination of these two statements convey a negative tone towards Torvalds's position and threaten the neutral point-of-view that Wikipedia articles are supposed to maintain. I would prefer if these statements were edited to avoid advocacy and simply report the arguments made by both sides. Let the reader decide who is correct. -- Seitz 05:22, 10 September 2006 (UTC)

I'm concerned about the emphasis given to Torvalds position since it is practically moot anyhow. The copyright of the kernel is widely held by many different groups. The kernel did not include the rider GPL 2 and later so even if there was the desire to change to the GPL 3 it would require the practically impossible task of contacting all the contributors. -- Horkana (talk) 18:39, 18 June 2009 (UTC)

Citation for GPL v.2 requiring private keys[edit]

Recently, a paragraph was added positing the theory that GPL v.2 may already require private key disclosure. It states that has won court cases supporting this. I checked and could not find any statement saying that a court case held that GPL v.2 required disclosing private keys. We should either find a citation or remove the claim. -- Seitz 04:00, 30 September 2006 (UTC)

This claim is incorrect, I'll see if it's still in the article and will remove it if it is. Gronky 16:18, 10 March 2007 (UTC)

It's Easy to Fix![edit]

All someone has to do is create a TiVo clone with hardware that doesn't have DRM, and uses the same source code as the original TiVo. It would sell like hotcakes among Free Software advocates! --Munchkinguy 00:02, 12 November 2006 (UTC) a term...[edit]

I'm not sure adding " a term that describes..." adds anything. Every entry could be described as "...a term that describes...". Aside from a technical distinction along the lines of The Treachery Of Images, it seems to say the same thing. -- Seitz 05:10, 19 February 2007 (UTC)

I agree. Gronky 05:15, 19 February 2007 (UTC)

GPL draft 3[edit]

Some of the information here is now outdated, e.g., the GPLv3 draft 3 now allows for some devices to have unmodifiable hardware but classifies others (like a tivo) as a user device or a consumer device. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 10:17, 29 March 2007 (UTC).

Tivoisation vs Tivoization vs Tivo-isation[edit]

The article's title is "Tivoization" but some of the RMS transcripts spell it as "Tivo-isation", and even on the Wikipedia article, some are called "Tivoisation". Is there a way to decide on one or should all three be used? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 04:27, 2 April 2007 (UTC).

"Tivoisation" is correct for most of the World (UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and India). "Tivoization" is how it is spelled in USA-English (which is also the dialect used in the Philippines). Most transcripts about GPLv3 have been published by European organisations, and thus "isation" is the spelling used. For this article, I don't know which dialect should be used. Wikipedia accepts both, but aims to keep articles internally consistant.
Interesting article: American and British English differences
Wikipedia policy: WP:ENGVAR
Gronky 14:21, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
  • Gronky, interestingly enough, "most of the English speaking World" does not equal "most of the World". Most of the World includes countries speaking things like Chinese and Spanish. "Tivoisation" (British English) is correct in a larger number of countries (more than American English is), but I doubt that it is so for a larger number of speakers. Most of English-speaking Wikipedians (counting non-natives) speak more of an American dialect than a British dialect (or directly don't really care, and don't see why they should). Anyway, Stallman made up the word, so let it be in his dialect: American. — isilanes (talk|contribs) 13:16, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
Indeed, I should have said that "tivoisation" is correct for most of the World's native English speakers. Either way, I've no plans to initiate a change in this article in either direction. Gronky 14:10, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
Actually, I think that's backwards. According to Britannica, 69% of the world's native English speakers live in the United States, so for most of the world's native English speakers, "Tivoization" would be correct. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:55, 4 September 2010 (UTC)


The title is a neologism, and we're supposed to avoid them. Perhaps the article should be renamed to "Embedded software and the GPL v3" or since it's only relevant to software licensing, merge it into GPL, or split GPL into articles for each version, while maintaining summaries of what was changed in each version. 16:03, 12 September 2007 (UTC)

It looks to me like the first external link [1] is what should be used as a reliable source; it's an article about the word and the concept, titled same, from a reliable source (in my opinion). If there's one or two more such, then this neologism can pass the notability test and it's OK. The WP:NEO doesn't say you can't have articles on neologisms, just not until they are notable as evidenced by multiple independent secondary sources about them. One might argue that this source is not independent; I'm not sure who coined the term, but that might be an issue here. Anyway, these are the kinds of points we should address here. Dicklyon 02:36, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
I would agree with the well-expressed argument of User:Dicklyon. WP:NEO shouldn't prevent WP from using a neologism as the title of an article about the phenomenon named by the neologism. OTOH, the page's lead needs improvement for the idly curious passers-by. DCDuring 01:54, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
This isn't an article about the neologism itself, but about the concept. In principle, it could be renamed to something more generic if someone comes up with a good title ("hardware restrictions on modification of free software"?). But if there's no agreement on a better title, I think Tivoization is good enough. --Itub 07:41, 11 October 2007 (UTC)
I agree. The fact that it's a neologism is only an issue if there's a better non-neologism name for the topic, which I think there's not. Dicklyon 23:26, 11 October 2007 (UTC)
I also think the title is fine. To discuss this topic, the IT press used this term and no other, so I don't see how it would make any sense to try to talk about this topic without using it's name. --Gronky (talk) 01:27, 15 October 2008 (UTC)

Most GPL software?[edit]

"Unlike most GPL software, the kernel does not automatically adopt new versions of the license.[14]"

The linked LWN article does not say anything about "most GPL software", nor can I find any reference (in some brief searching) to suggest that most GPL software uses the "or any later version" language. Is it even true?

I'm not even sure what "most" means here -- lines of code, programs, developers, functionality? Only software still in use, or only software still maintained, or everything? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:59, 4 September 2010 (UTC)

How about discussing the text of the GPLv3 that prohibits tivoisation?[edit]

Currently the article is more concerned with discussing drafts of the GPLv3 and how Linux relates to all this, instead of discussing the actual text of the GPLv3 that prohibits tivoisation. I would suggest that we at least list the parts of the GPLv3 below, and try to explain them.

Hritcu (talk) 10:51, 27 January 2011 (UTC) (Updated Hritcu (talk) 11:11, 27 January 2011 (UTC))