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You are here: Home Blogs Licensing Hypervisors a no-op for GPLv3 compliance

Hypervisors a no-op for GPLv3 compliance

by Brett Smith Contributions Published on Aug 29, 2007 11:36 AM

There's been a whitepaper making the rounds recently which discusses how a vendor can use virtualization to comply with GPLv3's anti-tivoization requirements, while keeping separate proprietary software locked down. Unfortunately, the headlines have had their usual sensationalist slant: "Can hypervisors circumvent GPLv3's 'anti-tivoization' clause?" they ask.

That's a pretty easy question. The answer is no.

GPLv3's anti-tivoization terms aren't quite as broad as some people apparently think they are. The license doesn't require that users have permission to modify all the software on the device; they only need to be able to modify the code covered by GPLv3 or LGPLv3. It wouldn't have made much sense for us to require anything else: even if we said that you should be allowed to modify all the software on the device, that doesn't help you much when you can't get the source for the proprietary programs.

So, the fact that GPLv3 allows you to tivoize proprietary software on devices isn't really news. Virtualization is one way you could do it, but it's not the only way. Anybody pushing a particular solution is probably trying to sell something.

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