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OAKLAND, Calif. — DRM, or digital rights management, is typically understand as a software issue. The ability to copy and access music files or documents is tied down by software specifications, ensuring — at least in theory — that only the person who bought them and/or owns the rights can open and use them.

A report in AllThingsD recently noted that a professor in Austria figured out a way to use hardware to bypass a software limitation. Employing the Mindstorms robotics kit for Lego and an iSight camera for Mac, Peter Purgathofer set up a simple way for a machine to automatically click through a Kindle and copy what it sees. Once the data is captured, optical character recognition software then extracts the text thanks to the iSight’s high resolution and — voila — problem solved.

“It ended being a reflection on the loss of long-established rights when you buy an e-book,” said Purgathofer to AllThingsD. “You make a copy of that book, but at eye-level, so that the result is not a stack of paper, but another e-book.”

Legos have been seeing a bit of a resurgence as of late amongst makers and hackers. Last year, F.A.T. Lab created “Free Universal Construction Kit,” which allows you to connect lego with nine other popular construction toys.

F.A.T. Lab’s “Free Universal Construction Kit” brings together four different systems in this image, including Lego. (image via

Another video that made the rounds recently was a prosthetic leg made entirely of legos. Christina Stephens, producer and star of the popular Amputee OT YouTube channel, posted video of herself piecing together blocks around her leg for a snug fit. The project started as a jocular dare that she took seriously. “The joke’s on you,” she told the joker, “I went home and did it.”

And then of course there are the Lego architectural studio toys, which famously come with no manual. Obviously priced for grown-ups with disposable income, the minimalist set of clear and white blocks is like the simple minimal palette of foamcore or other modeling materials that architects use.

Now all we need is an actual tower made of Legos, and … there we have it, 113 feet and 11 stories later.

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An Xiao

Artist An Xiao (aka An Xiao Mina) photographs, films, installs, performs and tweets and has shown her work in publications and galleries internationally. Find her online at @anxiaostudio...