posted by Thom Holwerda on Wed 14th Oct 2009 13:21 UTC
IconSo, we have Apple who is paranoid about people installing legally purchased copies of its operating system on non-Apple labelled machines. Just when you thought it couldn't get any more ridiculous than that, we have a hardware company trying to prevent people from installing operating systems on its hardware. Wait, what?

We're talking about Texas Instruments, makers of, among other things, very popular powerful scientific calculators. Some of these calculators perform a special signature check to prevent people from installing other operating systems. However, clever engineers have reverse engineered the signing keys, allowing them to install custom operating systems and unlock additional functionality.

As an aside, does anybody else see the hidden epic fail here? Signing keys and such to prevent mathematicians from exercising their rights?

In any case, TI is not amused, and has sent out legal threats to websites and users to remove any discussion about and links to these keys. As you probably guessed by now, just like Apple, TI is hiding behind the DMCA, claiming it forbids reverse engineering. Luckily for us, this is not true. The DMCA explicitly allows "to create interoperable custom software like the programs the hobbyists are using", the EFF writes.

Yes, three of the people who received the legal threats from TI are now represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "This is not about copyright infringement. This is about running your own software on your own device - a calculator you legally bought," said EFF Civil Liberties Director Jennifer Granick, "Yet TI still issued empty legal threats in an attempt to shut down discussion of this legitimate tinkering. Hobbyists are taking their own tools and making them better, in the best tradition of American innovation." The EFF has warned TI not to pursue the legal threats

Since we can understand any websites taking down the links to the keys out of a fear of getting sued, we will link to the keys. You can find them on WikiLeaks. TI is yet another company trying to take away consumer rights just for the sake of their own profits - just like so many other soft and hardware companies. This madness needs to stop.

This does make me wonder what would happen if Apple and TI joined forces. Quite possibly, the universe would implode.

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