Do you ever really own a computerized device?

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DINGMAN S., Do you ever really own a computerized device?, The Globe and Mail, 26.04.2015

Type Article
Topics Property, Security, Technology


Interview to Cory Doctorow about John Deere's case.

"John Deere’s insistence that you have “licensed” your tractor and can’t really own it neatly demonstrates that anti-circumvention rules are actually anti-property rules."

"How do copyright rules like this affect traditional definitions of ownership? In this world, “property” becomes the exclusive purview of manufacturers. You don’t get to own your computerized devices: You are only and forevermore a tenant of them, and the manufacturers are the landlords and they get to decide how you use the goods they deign to allow you to pay for. It used to be that if you bought something and figured out how to get extra value out of it – using an old blender to mix paint; fixing your own car; or ripping your CDs and loading the music in an MP3 player instead of buying it again – that extra value was yours to keep. (...) If your dishwasher can detect and reject “unauthorized” dishes in it, it can refuse to run its load. It’s the inkjet printer model, metastasized into the Internet of Things where everything we own – cars, houses, hearing aids, phones – is just a computer with a fancy case."

"Those things are going to look like chump change next to, for example, the dictator of Belarus using a Stingray [a device that pretends to be an innocuous cell tower but is used to capture user data from any cellphone that it connects to] to figure out who shows up at a protest and then using everyone’s Nest thermostats to turn off their heat that night in the middle of January and basically freeze out anyone who dares challenge their authority."