If you’re a certain type of technology geek, you may be upset that it’s probably illegal for you to unlock your $500 smartphone.
But according to Wired, that same law has much more far-reaching effects in an economy increasingly dependent on digitized products. Farmer Kerry Adams, for example, was forced to abandon more than $200,000 worth of machinery — the kind of equipment that you could once have fixed locally in any rural town—because the manufacturers had copyrighted the service manuals.
Manufacturers have systematically used copyright in this manner over the past 20 years to limit our access to information. Technology has moved too fast for copyright laws to keep pace, so corporations have been exploiting the lag to create information monopolies at our expense and for their profit.
That’s right: technicians all over the country are increasingly being barred by copyright legislation from fixing all kinds of cars, phones, and industrial machinery without the manufacturer’s permission.
It’s not supposed to be this way. Even if you don’t care about unlocking your smartphone, spare a moment for the sake of your local independent mechanic and see what you can do about it.