Since metal detecting started in Austria in 1970, the National Heritage Agency (BDA) has focussed too much on prohibiting metal detecting. The strategy chosen, increasingly restrictive legislation, has turned out to be a failure. Rather than improving the protection of archaeological heritage from ‚unauthorised‘ metal detecting, the ‚hobby‘ has grown steadily. Yet, the changes to the law have made protecting archaeology more difficult and are restricting civil liberties, quite possibly making the law itself illegal. Five decades on, Austrian archaeology isn‘t better off, but considerably worse, and it is mainly our attempts to prevent metal detecting that are to blame.