Entertainment Software Association opposes technology property rights

Michael Geist reported that Canadian copyright scholar Howard Knopf squares off against Stevan Mitchell of the Entertainment Software Association on Buisiness News Network’s show SqueezePlay. I sent the following as a letter to the show.

Stevan Mitchell of the Entertainment Software Association needs to be honest about what the hardware he held up in the show actually does. The way he held it up we are all supposed to think it is a bad thing that should be illegal, or that it only has illegal purposes.

Many game consoles are digitally locked such that they can only play games authorized by the console manufacturer. This concept is familiar to people who use cell phones locked so they only work with a specific cell phone carrier. Having a device locked this way makes sense in situations when people are renting the devices, as it allows the actual owner to retain control over the device even if someone other than the owner is in possession of the device. This scenario does not make sense at all when we have purchased the hardware, and are still not easily able to or allowed to remove these foreign locks.

We would never allow our other property to have foreign locks on them where the owner does not have the key, so why should information technology treated differently?

The device that Mr. Mitchell was holding up is often called a “mod chip”, and the purpose of the device is to remove the manufacturers lock. While I agree that there is something wrong with removing locks from something you do not own, such as when you are renting hardware, there is nothing wrong with removing foreign locks from things you own. I believe it should be illegal for hardware manufactures to refuse to remove the locks for us, and tools which allow us to unlock our own hardware should be clearly legal.

Mr. Mitchell tries to suggest that it is the companies that he represents that are having their property rights violated by these tools they wish to make illegal, when in fact the most common use of these tools is to protect the property rights of hardware owners.

I host a petition to parliament to protect our Information Technology Property Rights, and strongly oppose special interest groups like the ESA who are actively lobbying against property rights.

Petition to protect Information Technology property rights

Russell McOrmond

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