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
    Fission, 26 Aug 2005 @ 5:54am

    Re: Illegal Tinkering=Stupid

    That's changing something that is legal into something that is specifically illegal.

    If you own it I see no reason why you shouldn't be able to modify it with out making it illegal. Altering what you own should be allowed unless it specifically makes the item you are altering illegal.

    Changing the scope on a weapon is legal isn't it? Do you need the government’s permission to take apart and clean a weapon?

    Then why should taking care of, repairing or altering, what you own any different? I don’t need a permit to clean my house. Why should I need permission to take care of my electrical wiring? Instead of repairing my computer myself, will the government soon make me take it to am ‘approved’ shop every time?

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
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: I Invented Email
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.