Hoist your wrenches into the air, folks. As of today, October 28, you can now hack, repair, and conduct security research on your own car—or tractor!—without risking jail time for copyright infringement. Exactly one year ago, the Copyright Office granted exemptions for repairing, modifying, and conducting security research on your own vehicle. And those exemptions go into effect today.
General Motors just backpedaled its position on car hacking. The carmaker recently opened a pathway for non-malicious hackers to report security vulnerabilities in GM cars, reports Wired—despite previously opposing efforts to legalize independent security research by hackers under US copyright law.
In India, cycling isn’t a pastime; it’s a necessity. On the streets of Mumbai, you’ll see hawkers and farmers alike, peddling modified transport bikes (think pallets, rope, and training wheels)—going to and from the bazaar and customers’ homes. On a recent trip to India, I witnessed a new level of ingenuity: the knife sharpener. And no, I don’t mean a foot-long whetstone.
This morning, Copyright Office decided which of your own devices are legal to investigate, modify, and hack—bringing a close to our year-long saga of legal gunslinging, negotiation, fact finding, hearings, and deliberation over US copyright law. Along with a coalition of activists, recyclers, and legal clinics, were able to overcome the objections of manufacturers and secure exemptions for repairing tractors, cars, and tablets.
As part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act review process, the Copyright Office recently asked the public to weigh in on which devices should be legal to tinker with, hack, and repair. Well, they got what they asked for. In a big way. On Friday, iFixit sent its own statements in support of reform to the Copyright Office. And with our comments, we all also sent yours. All 40,755 of them. Those comments will help the Librarian of Congress decide what you have the right to modify and repair.
Under the pretense of enforcing copyright law, manufacturers have been systematically chipping away at our ownership rights. That’s not acceptable. And iFixit isn’t just going to stand by and watch it happen. Today, we draw a line in the sand. iFixit is proud to announce the Digital Right to Repair Coalition—a united front of consumers, environmental organizations, the aftermarket, and digital rights advocacy groups. Together, we are fighting to take back control of the things we own.
Earlier this year, we told you about Keurig’s attempt to quash off-brand coffee by integrating DRM into its newest model of brewing machine. At the time, we thought that coffee barons locking their customers into name-brand coffee pods was the most boneheaded deployment of DRM we’d ever seen. Turns out, we were wrong. You know what else features DRM these days? Kitty litter. Welcome to the future, people. Now, even your cat’s crap comes with a steaming side of corporate crap.
What does it take to turn the lights on in poverty-stricken, rural communities? According to a group of researchers from IBM, the solution just might be e-waste. And they’re proving it by turning old laptop batteries into new, low-cost lights that can power homes and shops in the developing world. They are calling the project UrJar—and, sold cheaply, they hope UrJar will light up the world.
I’m in the heart of Big Sur—a massive region of mountain and forest in Central California—and it’s my first time backpacking. And I’m prepared. I have a hodgepodge of belongings including a tent, a water filter, and an extra pair of socks. But also strapped to my back are three packs of sugru. Despite my novice efforts to trim every unnecessary ounce off my pack, I brought the self-setting rubber for two reasons: A) I wanted to put some of sugru’s wilderness hacks to the test, and B) working at iFixit has taught me that when things break—which they inevitably do—it’s best to have a tool around. Here’s the tale of my 20-mile, weekend backpacking trip—and why sugru made me a backpacking boss.
Here at the iFixit offices, most of us Reddit… hard. And while the “front page of the internet” is great for aww-some animal gifs, it can be a good resource for other things, too. There are around 70 million users on Reddit every month, and they can teach you how to make, build, hack, and fix just about anything—you just have to know which subreddits to look in.
We somehow managed to miss this brilliant TED Talk by Vinay Venkatraman when it came out, but it’s a great testimony to the ingenuity of tinkerers around the world. These people can hack together vital resources out of practically anything. In places where supplies are scarce, that can make all the difference in the world. Check out the full video on our blog.
This year, the iFixit team has launched the repair pledge. Thousands across the globe have already taken the pledge. They’ve committed to foster repair education, combat throw away culture, and stand up for our right to repair. Now, if adding another resolution to your list sounds a bit daunting—that’s alright. Diving into a repair can be daunting if you don’t know where to start. So I’m going to help you out: Here’s a list of 5 easy repairs to help you keep your repair resolution.