Thing is, though, as a tool, it should assist the user in helping them do what they want,
Yup. Do what the *end users want*.
The tool should *not work against them*.
Not do what *the makers decided to do*.
It should do what the end users want, even if the end user want to do something weird.
I should not be served a DCMA because I use a hammer as a paper weight instead of using it for nailing.
If I want to pry appart two pieces stuck together, I can use a screw driver. I won't be required to buy an extra "pro business deluxe" license to acquire a small chisel because screw drivers are only for screws even if they have the exact shape I need.
Re-purposing something to be used as something else that wasn't thought by the maker is a normal think.
Also tools and object don't work against you. When you open a condom package, no secret database will record which person had sexual activities together. When I put a book into my shelf I more or less expect to find it back with the same content (baring from accident involving cats pushing everything or 3-years-old with a crayon in the hand), I don't expect its content to have been remotely sanitized to please the powers to be.
After all, if a tool doesn't help you, it's pointless.
Same for tools which work against you instead of helping you.
Same for tools which you are forbiden to use in a certain way.
Just imagine a world were "your license doesn't cover that use, you're breaching end-user-license-agreement by doing that and we will revoke the tool" was applied to real object like WD-40 and Duck-tape ?
A car helps transport people - but drivers don't have to be mechanics to use them.
On the other hand, I you happen to be a mechanic you can tweak the car. Even if you're not, your are still allowed to open the hood and do a quick trouble shooting for things within your capabilities if you want. You don't need, but that doesn't mean you're forbidden by law to even think about doing it.
You can even add after market part and other modification to a car (as long as some ciritcal part pass enough safety-certifications as not putting people in danger. Just like an after market power supply won't immediately provoke a fire the instant you try to use it with your computer).
Or at least that was until recently, until software started appearing in the mix. Now you have weird stuff, like onboard computer which can only be serviced by a licensed technician using special connection to access the car over a proprietary and secret connector+protocol, or car which only accept MANUFACTURER-licensed after market parts because the electronics only speak a proprietary protocol.
Yup. It's your car, but even if you wanted it, you couldn't do what you want with it (Even if the thing you want won't kill anybody).
Compare that on a farm where an old borken tractor's motor could be repurposed to power something else.
Likewise a computer is useful for many things - entertainment, communications, assistance, information delivery, etc. But you have to realize that users don't care how it works - they don't want to know because that's not reason why the computer is so useful.
I don't care how a piano work. I just play it. I call a specialist to tune it, repair it, etc.
BUT I would be really pissed off if I got sued the moment I open it's hood just to look at the hammers.
Or advanced research - things like software defined radios (these people don't care how computers work - they write their DSP algorithms and have them "magically" work - they don't care about OS updates or kernels or whatever).
You realise that you exactly brought up one of the reasons to keep thing openable? advanced research? Even if radio is heavily regulated (to avoid one accidentally fucking up another transmission), you can still do research and even program your damn SDR if you want? You're not limited to just using the few available radio gizmo at the store. You can hack stuff (As long you follow the local regulations and don't fuck up every single other radio gizmo around you).
would you like to have your car on the stand then have the mechanic say it's going to take days because he accidentally hosed the diagnostics machine playing around with the new Linux kernel?
Or because microsoft fucked up an update and/or a virus speard using some 0-day exploit and has hosed the diagnostic computer (remember that it needs to be only for the DRM on the proprietary protocol to work)
The target of opensource is not to force everyone using computers to necessarily be a mechanic.
The main targets of opensource is to give the freedom to any end-user to:
- study the content
- hackit if they want
And that's important if you want to see if a tool necessarily does what it says it does, and doesn't do anything either by malicious intentions (back door planted) or negligence (exploitable bug). If it's open, someone with the necessary skill will end up finding it one day, even if you personally don't have the skills.
It's also important to letting you do whatever you want. You may want to only use it as recommended. But some other user would like to re-purpose the tool for other needs I wouldn't like artificial problems to that.
Take the iPods/iPhones/iPads as exemple. Even if Apple did lock their software. There are artists who still find a way to incorporate them into their artwork. There are tons of other uses beyond what initially Apple had planned for them. Luckily for now, only the software is locked, but you can find new uses which don't require a change of software.
Opensource proponents simply would like this kind of liberties to also be allowed at the software level.
With enough such deviations, new idea and new possibility emerge. A hackable device is a specially kind of "Distributed R&D" opened to the whole users' crowd.
You can see what kick starter, 3D printing, etc. have managed to bring from outside the big enterprise world.
What they bring to the physical world, opensource brings to the software world.
Yes, nobody wants to *NEED* to recompile a Linux kernel just to get their smart TV to start up and show movie.
On the other hand, some *might WANT* to be able to, just because they need it for a hobby project. They should not be arbitrarily prevented from (with no technical reason).
Currently, IP rights (patents, copyrights, etc.) are saddly abused in that direction (preventing uncontrolled use) rather than in their original intent (protecting and helping invention/creation).