As we secure the internet of things, we are inadvertently locking out fixers and tinkerers. New protection measures interact in an unfortunate way with section 1201 of the US Copyright Act, which makes it illegal to ‘circumvent’ locks put on products by the manufacturer without permission. It shifts control of our products from us, the owners, to the original makers of the equipment. This law has been a significant contributor to the steady erosion of ownership rights.
In response, right to repair advocates are working to pass legislation to reopen our hardware, and are seeking structural changes to copyright law in cooperation with EFF and Consumer's Union. Join us for a technical discussion of where we're at, why we have to jailbreak refrigerators to fix them, and a hope for a tinkerable future.
Kyle Wiens is the CEO of iFixit, the free repair manual. He’s dedicated his career as a software engineer to defeating the second law of thermodynamics, a battle fought in the courtroom as often as in the workshop. The Right to Repair campaign has, so far, successfully legalized cell phone unlocking and tractor repair.