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How Copyright Law Stifles Your Right to Tinker with Tech

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Protected by DMCA

Credit: Digital Millennium Copyright Act Services Ltd.

I'm not an intellectual property lawyer. I'm a repairman and I run an online community called iFixit that teaches other people how fix things, too. Copyright law should have almost nothing to do with my life. But it does, thanks to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Just like movies and music, software is copyrightable. Software is in almost every modern product we make. If a company wants to stop a curious owner from meddling with the code, reverse-engineering the programming, or making any modifications to the system, then they can just slap a digital lock on the product. Break that digital lock — for any reason, even if you just want to back up or repair something you own — and you're a cybercriminal.

Repair is not crime. No one should have to ask the Copyright Office for permission to fix their stuff.  

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