Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Calling For Federal Legislation to Protect iPhone Hackers

I posted a note yesterday in Light On Light Through about George Hotz’s unlocking of the iPhone - in his case, to work with his T-Mobile card - and how it relates to the history of intellectual property, so I thought I'd spread a little of the joy around here.

But first: I'm calling for Federal legislation to protect hackers like George Hotz - people who work to free equipment that they legally purchased - from threats of and actual law suits.

Hotz's good work seems to have unlocked all sorts of legal hounds, baying about dire consequences to hackers.

A little spin through history:

Although the Romans understood authorial attribution - plagiarism comes from the Latin for kidnapped - the notion of copyright as a legally enforceable right didn’t really begin until the printing press, and the monarchs who at first controlled their printers. Copyright was literally the right that monarchs dispensed to make copies. It took until 1710 and the Statute of Anne for England to make copyright a creator’s right.

And, of course, the Industrial Revolution and the Age of Invention made both copyright and patent often into corporate things.

Even so, corporations gave and give a huge amount of information away for free - that happens every time you hear a song on the radio.

Now, Apple could try to make its iPhones unhackable. But the idea that people who own a piece of property - such as an iPhone - could be sued for using it in a way sellers did not intend is ... plain and simply immoral and absurd.

George Hotz is technically protected under the current law. But apparently that's not good enough stop attorneys et al from offering grave predictions and perhaps thinly veiled threats - see The Boys From The DMCA Are Coming, for example - so let's push right back, and get our next Congress to pass a law which makes it always legal for people to do whatever they please to anything they legally purchase.

It's not a very radical concept, really.

And years from now, people will look back and wonder at how we ever got to the point where control over what you purchase was ever debatable.

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