What do you actually own when you buy a device?

By | December 8, 2011
Legalizing jailbreaking would be an important move to ensure technological progress and prevent anti-competitive practices – and not just because specific industries are stifling innovation in their attempts to hold on to older business models.
Let me pose the question in a rather blunt way: What do you think you are buying when you buy a new computer? If you bought a computer bundled with Windows, do you expect that you have the right to install Linux on it if you were so inclined? Do you expect that you have the right to open up the casing and clean the inner workings if you were so inclined? Do you expect that you have the right to throw it out of the window if you were so inclined? Of course, you might lose guarantee protection by doing any of the above, but would you expect that "owning the computer" allows you to do any of these sorts of things?

My opinion is yes – and the same applies to any other electronic device that I purchase, regardless of whether it's a computer, a smartphone, an automated coffee machine, or a really fancy light bulb. And "jailbreaking" happens to be nothing else than unlocking a piece of hardware from the OEM software that it was delivered with, so that you can put something else on it. If installing Internet Explorer bundled with Windows is considered anti-competitive (against other major web browsers) – as is the case here, keeping a bundled operating system is, at least in my opinion, equally anti-competitive.

And there's a business growing up in the shadows around it. It isn't just Apple and the DCMA: Microsoft has filed a patent in the last year on technology that allows them to lock down the boot sector such that the user can't freely modify it – e.g., so that you can't install a second operating system (or replace their OEM version). Already, this vertical business is starting to boom: iPhone and iPad users go to the Apple App Store to shop. Android users go to the Android App Store. One supplier from the bottom up.

That's the real question for the future: When you buy a device, are you accepting the entire stack and forced 'everything from one hand' philosophy, or do you want the choice and option of being able to select different suppliers for each part of the stack (Hardware, OS, Software, etc)? And if you are willing to have everything from one hand, to what extent do you trust that supplier to not abuse their position in market dominance such that they continue to serve you in an innovative and friendly manner?
/via +Mosafer M

EFF Pleads to Make Jailbreaking Legal For all Devices
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has asked the US Copyright Office to make legal the jailbreaking of all consumer electronic devices, including

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