Linux Is to Tivo...

Lora Bentley

For those of you experiencing withdrawal from GPL v3 discourse, IT Jungle's Hesh Weiner posted an informative and entertaining column Tuesday on tech changes that the yet-to-be-released open source license will address. The explanation of the licensing confusion that arises with "tivoization" is among the most lucid we've seen -- in part because Weiner uses the story of the late ventriloquist Paul Winchell as an analogy. Here's a taste:

...[S]uppose Winchell had claimed and exercised various legal rights to his entertaining routines by one or another means and further that he was able to nail down the rights to the characters he invented for use in his routines. But also imagine a world in which Winchell never created his own props and instead used various puppets...


Now suppose you go out and buy one ... at the local toy store and go around performing a ventriloquist act. You can use the dummy as you please.... But if you start calling your dummy Jerry Mahoney and you also copy Winchell's style and some of his acts, you are stepping over the line. Well, you might be, unless Winchell licensed his entertainment under terms similar to those in the GPL.

It's definitely worth a read -- and the pictures are a nice bonus, too.

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