Tech-savvy recipients of an Xbox 360 this season might want to take it apart and solder in a few modification chips, maybe even convert the gaming console into a PC, if past tinkering with the original Xbox is any indication. And consumers with new mobile phones might be looking for someone clever to give them a way to transfer all their contacts from their old phone.

Reverse engineering hardware is a time-honored tradition, made famous in the early days of the semiconductor industry. This coming year, however, there could be more efforts to restrict this practice — a shift that would affect both hackers and general consumers, who might want the freedom to, say, switch between different mp3 players and digital video recorders for their TVs.

The article differentiates between the several reasons why — for reverse engineering. I wish lawmakers wouldn’t be so quick and automatic about turning folks into lawbreakers.



  1. Laura says:

    Reverse engineering of the PC BIOS made “IBM compatables” possible.

    The PC industry would be far different today had engineers been prevented from creating BIOS’s that would run software written for IBM PC’s.

  2. Steve Newlin says:

    This is getting egregious. I remember a few years ago when someone got one of the early segways and tried to sell it on ebay. Segway and ebay pulled the sale, claiming that the vehicle contained intellectual property owned by Segway that could not be transferred. Shockingly there was no outrage.

    Corporations want it both ways. They want us to buy stuff but they don’t want us to really own it.

  3. Chris S. says:

    My opinion is that once I paid for it, and I obtain ownership of it, I can do whatever I want with it, whether it be mod it, paint it, or make a doorstop out of it. I can even re-sell this item. If I cannot use my product in any way I want, I have not purchased it, I have rented it. The public has become smart enough to tinker, so now companies use lawyers to restrict us instead of the “Hi-tech buffer” that existed for years.

  4. gquaglia says:

    Again I blame this on big software makers such as M$ for starting this trend. It seems you pay good money these days for products, but don’t really own them. CDs, DVDs, software and now electronics. I also blame the industry paid shills in congress that are passing these laws and making criminals out of normal fokes.

  5. GregAllen says:

    We radio “scanners” have had this problem for mroe than a decade. Our radios come with certain frequencies blocked so, of course, that’s the first hack we want to make!

    It’s in our nature to listen to everything possible but that has been criminalized… even in our own homes with our own private property.

    We have complained about this for years but we weren’t taken seriously because we are such a niche (and, yes, oddball) group. But I guarantee you… more of this is to come.


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