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The right to repair

June 26, 2017

US Copyright Office wants Congress to pass legislation so that customers have the right to repair products bought from companies who prevent consumers from doing this.

Thehill.com reported that the US Copyright Office wrote in a report: “The Office recommends against limiting an exemption to specific technologies or devices, such as motor vehicles, as any statutory language would likely be soon outpaced by technology.

“The Office believes these matters are better addressed through laws or regulations outside of the Copyright Act.” However, there were no “specific recommendations” put forward for a written law at this time.

Over recent years companies like printer manufacturers and automobile companies state that is illegal for customers to “bypass locks” placed on their products and this stops third parties from repairing or servicing them. In the farming community in Nebraska farmers have been using illegal Ukrainian software to override their John Deere tractors systems so that they can repair them on their own.

Due to some exemptions granted by the Copyright Office on Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyrights Act, renewable every three years industry by industry, there is now a makeshift set of exemptions for some technology but not for others.

Public comments related to repairs relayed to the Office have gone from 750 comments 2000-2012 to 40,000 in 2015.

The US Copyright Office argued in its report that companies have been using section 1201 perversely to the purpose of “provision” and stated that: “Virtually all agree that section 1201 was not intended to facilitate manufacturers’ use of [software locks] to facilitate product tying or to achieve a lock?in effect under which consumers are effectively limited to repair services offered by the manufacturer.”

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