Who owns our modern stuff?

In my posting War on DIY Electronics I already told that that the trend is that electronics is heading to be less and less hackable. Wired has an opinion article Forget the Cellphone Fight — We Should Be Allowed to Unlock Everything We Own that has many good points that I can agree on. USA Congress is working on legislation to re-legalize cellphone unlocking. The copyright laws that made unlocking illegal in the first place and it makes many other things you might like to do illegal in USA.

Who owns our stuff? The answer used to be obvious. Now, with electronics integrated into just about everything we buy, the answer has changed, because in digital age even the physical goods we buy are complex (usually run by complex software that runs on embedded computer or many of them). Copyright is impacting more people than ever before because the line between hardware and software, physical and digital has blurred. We really don’t own our stuff fully anymore – the manufacturers do own at least some some important parts of it.

Because modifying and repairing modern objects (home electronics, cars, etc..) requires access to information (manuals, error codes, and diagnostic tools) that manufacturers don’t like to give out. Property rights issue is turning many regular people into criminals: When they try to do something manufacturer don’t like, the manufacturers claim those people are illegally “reproducing copyrighted material.” Fixing our cars, tractors, and cellphones should have nothing to do with copyright. We should be allowed to unlock everything we own.

Manufacturers have systematically used copyright in this manner over the past 20 years to limit our access to information to create information monopolies at our expense and for their profit. Most manufacturers seem to like to have a closed platform, walled garden or closed ecosystem.

Fortunately there are nowadays some exceptions to this rule, for example open-source hardware companies and open-source software companies. Open doesn’t conflict with money although it often appears to.

I do not think open conflicts with making money and further I think there are ways to make more money by being open rather than closed. Think about for example Internet, PC, Linux and Android. Open source software has created many well working businesses. Economic growth occurs whenever people take resources and rearrange them in ways that are more valuable.

62 Comments

  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Nick Statt / The Verge:
    Apple says its T2 chip in newer Macs will run a diagnostic after some repairs that may make the computer inoperable if not repaired by Apple or its network — Newer Macs now require a proprietary diagnostic tool be run after replacing the logic board or Touch ID sensor

    Apple confirms its T2 security chip blocks some third-party repairs of new Macs
    https://www.theverge.com/2018/11/12/18077166/apple-macbook-air-mac-mini-t2-chip-security-repair-replacement-tool

    Newer Macs now require a proprietary diagnostic tool be run after replacing the logic board or Touch ID sensor

    Reply
  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Not just Apple: Microsoft has been quietly lobbying to kill Right to Repair bills
    https://boingboing.net/2019/04/15/ssdd.html

    Reply
  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Louise Matsakis / Wired:
    Around 20 security experts have united with Securepairs.org to support right-to-repair legislation with expert witnesses at hearings across the US

    Security Experts Unite Over the Right to Repair
    https://www.wired.com/story/right-to-repair-security-experts-california/

    Two years ago, as Nebraska was considering a “right to repair” bill designed to make it easier for consumers to fix their own gadgets, an Apple lobbyist made a frightening prediction. If the state passed the legislation, it would turn into a haven for hackers, Steve Kester told then-state senator Lydia Brasch. He argued the law would inadvertently give bad actors the opportunity to break into devices like smartphones. The bill was later shelved, in part because of industry pressure.

    Now, with right-to-repair legislation gaining traction across the country, a new nonprofit advocacy group called Securepairs.org wants to push back against that kind of messaging, arguing instead that devices can be both easy to fix and secure.

    ight-to-repair bills often mandate companies release manuals and diagnostic software, as well as sell replacement parts and repair tools to the public s

    Securepairs.org, founded by technology journalist Paul Roberts, has attracted the support of more than 20 security experts, including Harvard University security technologist Bruce Schneier, bug bounty expert Katie Moussouris, and ACLU technologist Jon Callas. They plan to arrange for expert witnesses to testify at legislative hearings across the country in an effort to convince lawmakers that the right to repair is inherently safe.

    Reply
  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Apple Is Telling Lawmakers People Will Hurt Themselves if They Try To Fix iPhones
    https://apple.slashdot.org/story/19/05/02/202202/apple-is-telling-lawmakers-people-will-hurt-themselves-if-they-try-to-fix-iphones?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Slashdot%2Fslashdot%2Fto+%28%28Title%29Slashdot+%28rdf%29%29

    In recent weeks, an Apple representative and a lobbyist for CompTIA, a trade organization that represents big tech companies, have been privately meeting with legislators in California to encourage them to kill legislation that would make it easier for consumers to repair their electronics Motherboard has learned.

    Apple Is Telling Lawmakers People Will Hurt Themselves if They Try to Fix iPhones
    https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/wjvdb4/apple-is-telling-lawmakers-people-will-hurt-themselves-if-they-try-to-fix-iphones

    An Apple lobbyist brought an iPhone to meetings with California lawmakers and said consumers could hurt themselves by puncturing a lithium-ion battery.

    Reply
  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Top Cybersecurity Experts Unite to Counter Right-to-Repair FUD
    https://yro.slashdot.org/story/19/05/05/0546236/top-cybersecurity-experts-unite-to-counter-right-to-repair-fud?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Slashdot%2Fslashdot%2Fto+%28%28Title%29Slashdot+%28rdf%29%29

    Some of the world’s leading cybersecurity experts have come together to counter electronics and technology industry efforts to paint proposed right to repair laws in 20 states as a cyber security risk. The experts have launched securepairs.org, a group that is galvanizing information security industry support for right to repair laws that are being debated in state capitols.

    Security professionals for a fixable future
    https://securepairs.org/

    Even before we were a country, the United States was a nation of tinkerers, innovators, and fixers.

    The right of owners to repair, re-use, fix, modify, and improve the stuff they own is central to our identity as a nation. For three centuries, an implicit right to repair – grounded in Common Law – has been central to the United States’ growth and development as a nation. It was the foundation for American “thrift”: helping farmers, business owners and individuals endure lean times by eeking extra years and decades out of tools, equipment, automobiles, electronics and other possessions.

    In the modern era, tinkering and “modding” have been core to the growth of the high- tech industry in Silicon Valley, Route 128, Research Triangle Park and elsewhere.

    Reply
  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Tractors, not phones, will (maybe) get America a right-to-repair law at this rate: Bernie slams ‘truly insane’ situation
    Sanders blasts John Deere in John Deere-buying country
    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/05/06/bernie_sanders_repair/

    A person’s “right to repair” their own equipment may well become a US election issue, with presidential candidate Bernie Sanders making it a main talking point during his tour of Iowa.

    “Are you ready for something truly insane?” the veteran politician’s account tweeted on Sunday, “Farmers aren’t allowed to repair their own tractors without paying an authorized John Deere repair agent.”

    The tweet links to a clip of a recent Sanders rally during which he told the crowd to cheers: “Unbelievably, farmers are unable to even repair their own tractors, and tractors cost what – at least $150,000 – people are spending $150,000 for a piece of machinery. You know what I think? The person who buys that machinery has a right to fix the damn piece of machinery.”

    Typically, efforts to secure folks a right to repair their own stuff without falling foul of manufacturers’ T&Cs have focused on electronic goods, like smartphones and laptops – particular Apple devices. However, the issue is seen as a vote winner in rural America because mega-manufacturer John Deere has used its dominance in the tractor market to require farmers to take their machinery to an authorized repair shop if they want to make any kind of modifications.

    Reply
  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    WE ARE TENANTS ON OUR OWN DEVICES
    https://www.wired.com/story/right-to-repair-tenants-on-our-own-devices/

    shift that has only become more pronounced since then: our wholesale tilt toward becoming a tenant society.

    Even the biggest traditional retailer could hardly dream of reaching into people’s houses and taking back what it had sold them.

    Today, we may think we own things because we paid for them and brought them home, but as long as they run software or have digital connectivity, the sellers continue to have control over the product. We are renters of our own objects, there by the grace of the true owner.

    Of course, “smart,” connected machines do come with plenty of upsides.

    Connectivity and embedded intelligence are being used by large corporations to increase their profits and to exercise as much control as they can get away with.

    Reply
  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Bill Hanvey / New York Times:
    By not giving consumers control over performance and maintenance data collected by their cars, manufacturers can limit where cars are repaired and serviced

    Your Car Knows When You Gain Weight
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/20/opinion/car-repair-data-privacy.html

    Vehicles collect a lot of unusual data. But who owns it?

    Reply
  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Apple Is Locking iPhone Batteries to Discourage Repair
    https://www.ifixit.com/News/apple-is-locking-batteries-to-iphones-now

    By activating a dormant software lock on their newest iPhones, Apple is effectively announcing a drastic new policy: only Apple batteries can go in iPhones, and only they can install them.

    Reply

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