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."

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    Oliver Wendell Jones, 26 Aug 2005 @ 5:46am

    Re: Illegal Tinkering=Stupid

    Actually, it's perfectly legal to modify a semi-automatic AR-15 (or m16 as you call it) to full auto.

    The catch is you have to notify the government of your doing so, fill out a form including a signature of your local Chief Law Enforcement Officer and then pay the government $500 for a tax stamp that authorizes your manufacturing of a Class III weapon.

    Failure to do that is what makes the tinkering illegal.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.