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Op Ed

Wired.com - Forget the Cellphone Fight — We Should Be Allowed to Unlock Everything We Own. Thanks Ant.
It hasn’t always been that way. Copyright laws were originally designed to protect creativity and promote innovation. But now, they are doing exactly the opposite: They’re being used to keep independent shops from fixing new cars. They’re making it almost impossible for farmers to maintain their equipment. And, as we’ve seen in the past few weeks, they’re preventing regular people from unlocking their own cellphones.

This isn’t an issue that only affects the digerati; farmers are bearing the brunt as well. Kerry Adams, a family farmer in Santa Maria, California, recently bought two transplanter machines for north of $100,000 apiece. They broke down soon afterward, and he had to fly a factory technician out to fix them.

Because manufacturers have copyrighted the service manuals, local mechanics can’t fix modern equipment. And today’s equipment — packed with sensors and electronics — is too complex to repair without them. That’s a problem for farmers, who can’t afford to pay the dealer’s high maintenance fees for fickle equipment.

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