Say That Again

by Mike Masnick




When Tinkering Becomes Illegal

from the too-easy-to-break-the-law dept

USA Today's Andrew Kantor has written a column that is basically a defense for everyone's "freedom to tinker." He goes through a variety of situations where the law is becoming increasingly gray and murky (and sometimes passing over into the ridiculous), and points out why it doesn't seem right that we shouldn't be able to modify or tinker with stuff that we've legally bought. He points to things like using an open WiFi network or making a backup copy of a DVD (and ditching the forced-watching of the commercials at the beginning in the process) and wonders how that's different from fixing his air conditioner or changing his oil. However, the point he makes at the end may be the most important. He's basically worried that people are coming to accept the fact that you don't own what you've bought -- and that makes people willing to accept laws that outlaw your freedom to tinker: "But as technology marches on, our laws don't always march with it. They're written by men with agendas that are different than ours -- men who don't understand (or have the incentive to understand) what they're trying to legislate. So chances are there will come a day when there won't be room for men to meddle with technology. The sad thing is that we'll think what they do is against the law in the first place."

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  1. identicon
    Evan, 26 Aug 2005 @ 6:26am

    Re: Illegal Tinkering=Stupid

    I think a reasonably clear line can be drawn here. Buying something legal, then tinkering with it to make it illegal is not a crime. Possesion or use of the illegal thing is, well..illegal. Sooo.... Making a legal car a nuclear bomb = illegal. Drilling "speed holes" in that car not illegal.

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