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All Hail Our Benevolent Corporate Overlords

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After reading Electronics Manufacturers Use US Legal System to Thwart Hardware 'Hacks' I was all set to type a fiery response, but Linux Today readers beat me to it. In a nutshell, the tech industry is accelerating its attacks on our rights to do what we want with our own property.


The article is full of revealing quotes from industry apologists, who all display an astonishing un-awareness of how asinine they sound. It was hard picking a winner, but I give the prize to Leander Kahney, author and editor, who says this is why Apple is so bent on micromanaging what its customers do with their own property:





"Apple is selling directly to consumers, who aren't the best guardians of their own self-interest. The open PC model works for knowledgeable users who know what they are doing and how to protect themselves, but not so for 15-year-old fashionistas and techno-phobic geriatrics," Kahney said. "A measure of lockdown is exactly why Apple is successful - it hides complexity while ensuring a certain level of reliability and stability. The vast majority of Apple's customers are utterly unconcerned - they could give two hoots that they can't hack their devices."



Isn't that special. The nice people at Apple are making sure that dumb kids and senile old people, and all the rest of us don't hurt ourselves, because we're too stupid to make our own decisions. Last time I was in Home Depot I saw high-powered welding machines, bandsaws, nailguns, great big heavy pieces of lumber, bottles of sulfuric acid and muriatic acid, pesticides, and many other scary dangerous products that anyone could buy. That's right, anyone could walk in off the street and purchase literal truckloads of lethal implements and chemicals. It's a good thing none of the titans of tech own the hardware stores.



Linux Today reader Jimmy the Geek notes:



"Once something has been sold to you, you own it 100%. You are allowed totake it apart, eat it, shoot it, burn it, use it as a flower planter, and because we live in a free country you can communicate anything you find out about that item with anyone you care to do so.



"Anyone that attempts to stop you from free expression and attempts to steal ownership of what you purchased is the one in the wrong.



"It amazes me the assault on ownership that everything seems to be facing in my lifetime. "



phred14 says:




"> Once something has been sold to you, you own it 100%.



" Hence the thrust to strengthen and empower the concept of Intellectual Property. That's because IP is *NEVER* sold to the end user - it's only ever licensed. The public, the Law, and the courts are most familiar with IP in the form of patents and copyrights, and in those locations there is clear precedent for the idea of licensing and restrictions upon sale. For books and music it has always been "do not copy" with the doctrine of first sale governing the ownership, use, and transfer of the physical medium. Patents have always had the strongest protection, but were generally removed from the customer and applied more to manufacturing.



"I would suggest that software is the camel that got its nose into the tent, and has blown up to cause our current problems. Software became the first end-user "product" that was readily - and bitwise-perfect - divorced from its physical medium, and therefore the first product where licensing directly to the end user became important...


"The enlargement of the role of IP is an attempt to circumvent this trend, by "enhancing" the post-sale profit. They draw on established concepts of patents and copyrights, because those are already well respected in the courts AND the Constitution. But they're taking them into odd realms, like using the DMCA to lock-in replacement ink purchases.



"They're extending IP into new realms, and IMHO erosion of doctrine of first sale isn't just a side-effect, it's under direct attack."



Well said, and I agree. It's hard to view these sorts of tactics as anything other than contempt for customers, and a shortsighted disregard for the impact on the law, and the kind of society we live in. In other words, who cares about the mess, who cares about the collateral damage, they got theirs and that's good enough. Just like strip-mining and clear-cutting forests, except the damage is not so readily apparent. Especially when people keep happily paying for the privilege of being abused.

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