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Do I own it, or what?

Dear Australian judiciary,

If I were to buy a cement mixer, I could turn it into an artwork. I could modify it to act as a washing machine, if I wanted.

If I were to buy a car, I could take the engine and refit it to run on a variety of fuels, extend the body, make it a four-wheel drive, or modify it to drive a small mill. I understand that any of these modifications might prevent it getting a roadworthy certificate, and thus prevent me driving it on the road.

If I were to buy a horse, I could ride it, use it to pull a wagon, use it to power simple machinery, or I could humanely kill it and eat it.

I can take my kitchen chair and turn it into firewood or construction materials or sculpture.

I can turn my toaster into a gadget for drying paint on small projects, or for curing glue or silicone sealant.

At no time does the manufacturer or the person or organization who sold it to me get any say in what I do with the thing once I bought it. Because I bought it, right?

But apparently what I cannot do is modify my game console to run the legal software of my choice.

I can’t adjust it to run software of my own devising, or software written by a friend or an acquaintance. I can’t change it to run a lawful operating system of my choosing. I cannot, in fact, harness its power and capabilities in any way whatsoever, other than the ways in which the manufacturer approves of.

Not because it isn’t technically possible to do so, but because you have said that the manufacturer’s rights to my lawfully purchased and owned property are more important than my own rights to it.

I’m not really sure how that makes sense. I’m allowed to turn it into a device that toasts bread (or is that not okay now?), but I’m not allowed to do anything to it which might allow it to run my own software, instead of someone else’s.

I’m only allowed to use my property in accordance with the wishes of someone I’ve never met or spoken to, and who may change their minds and the rules at any time.

I’m not quite sure how this makes sense. Do I own it, or what?



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