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You may now legally fix your gadgets by hacking their software

You may now legally fix your gadgets by hacking their software
[Photo: Tyler Lastovich/Pexels]

As of Sunday, fixing your own phone is now legal even when it involves hacking the software protection measures on board.

That’s one of several new exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that the U.S. Copyright Office and Librarian of Congress granted this week. The law generally prohibits people from circumventing copyright protection measures in digital media and software, but every three years citizens can petition the government to consider exceptions to the rules.

This time around, groups like iFixit and the Electronic Frontier Foundation successfully pushed for sweeping changes. In addition to repairing your own phone, you may now legally use software hacks to fix home appliances, smart home gear, and motorized land vehicles such as tractors. You can also hire a third party to make those repairs on your behalf and can unlock new phones instead of just used ones.

As iFixit’s Kyle Wiens notes, repair advocates didn’t get everything they wanted–hacking game console software, for instance, still isn’t allowed–and Congress would have to get involved to legalize the sale of circumvention tools. Still, Wiens says the new ruling “a huge step” toward giving people control over the products they’ve paid for.

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