Douwe Osinga's Blog: The right to tinker

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Recently I have been trying to convince people that the European IP Enforcement directive is bad. There are a lot of things bad about it and if you google a bit, you'll find lots of things. So, find a pen or an e-mail client and write something to your European representative.

The worst thing about it is that the directive infringes on the right to tinker. I believe that if you own a thing, you should be allowed to do with it what you want and use it for whatever purpose you choose. Whether I want to play an audio CD in my computer, DVD player or microwave, should really be no concern of anybody else than me. I want to be allowed to take things I own apart, figure out how they work and put them back together and use the parts that are left over in other projects. These new laws give producers rights over products after they've sold them. It would be illegal to take things apart and find out how they work, or to alter stuff to make it work in different ways. It would also be illegal to write about these kind of projects.

Not only does this take away an important freedom and hands it tools to big companies to block the workings of a free market in a time when the free market is needed more than ever, it also is bad for society at large in that it hinders progress. Tinkering is the father of innovation and the grand dad of economic growth. Many a great business story starts with a geek wondering what would happen if he tried do to something differently.