"Electronics manufacturers are taking legal action against users
in the United States who communicate how to unlock or
“hack” hardware devices. However, manufacturers’
use of their hired legal guns to crack down on hacking, which they
say infringes on their intellectual property ownership rights, is a
point of debate.
"Users, mostly hobbyists, who reconfigure or reverse engineer
electronic devices and communicate to others how to do that
maintain that their hacks are an art and pose no harm in and of
itself. Electronics vendors, or original equipment manufacturers
(OEMs), claim that such knowledge can be used to illegally
distribute software, steal internet service from internet service
providers, or to commit other illicit acts. OEMs also seek to
better control the designs and uses of their devices, especially
those that are “locked-down,” such as video consoles,
video players, set-top boxes, and smart phones, unlike the more
open PC model, which facilitates media file distribution between
users (IPW, Copyright Policy, 28 May 2009).
"Consumer rights and other groups also maintain that users are
free to communicate so-called hardware “hacks” under
free speech and other laws in the United States. However, policy
groups and analysts say clamping down on the unintentional use of
hardware protects OEMs’ intellectual property rights and
helps consumers in the long run."