Imagine you buy a cake mix and then don’t follow the recipe on the box. You could risk ‘sub-optimal results’ – but that is it.
How different would our world be if you were also facing jail time?
What if not following the manufacturer’s instruction – even just to add chocolate chips to the mix – meant that you could be arrested and criminally charged?
Well, that is actually quite similar to what used to happen to people who used their electronic devices in slightly different ways than what the manufacturer said they should. For various reasons, the manufacturers of electronic devices argued that even though a person has purchased and 100% owns an electronic device, they are not allowed to add the ‘chocolate chips’ (like, say, Linux) to ‘the cake mix’ in a process so persecuted, it has been dubbed ‘jailbreaking’.
Why are the manufacturers opposed to this? It really just boils down to a loss of control over their customer, making it harder for the companies to spy on their customers to obtain loads of data they could monetize…
Luckily, consumer (we really should say ‘citizen’) groups have won this battle: jailbreaking smartphones became OK through an exemption in the DMCA.
A temporary exemption.
Which is about to run out…
‘Three years ago, the Copyright Office agreed to create an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act so that folks could jailbreak their smartphones. But that exemption is about to expire. We need you to renew that exemption and expand it to cover jailbreaking gadgets with similar computation potential. These are all siblings to the PC, yet unlocking their potential as versatile and powerful computers is burdened with legal murkiness.’
You can sign the petition here.
Unless, of course, you don’t think people should be allowed to add chocolate chips to their cake mix…