Friday, October 26, 2018

A Major Win For the Right to Repair Your Own Stuff (AAPL; DE)

We've chronicled how manufacturers, most egregiously John Deere of all people, have been inserting clauses into purchase agreements that basically state, errrmmm, that you didn't actually purchase anything more than a service.
The U.S. copyright office would beg to differ with the manufacturers on one weapon they've been using.

From The Register, October 26:

Yes, Americans, you can break anti-piracy DRM if you want to repair some of your kit – US govt
Landmark victory for right-to-fix movement
The US Copyright Office has ruled that, in certain circumstances, folks can legally break a manufacturer's anti-piracy mechanisms – aka digital rights management (DRM) – if they want to repair their own gear.

The ruling, issued Thursday, states that from this Sunday onwards "the prohibition against circumvention of technological measures that effectively control access to copyrighted works shall not apply to persons who engage in noninfringing uses of certain classes of such works."

The new rules apply to smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, routers and other wireless hotspots, chatty gizmos like Amazon Alexa and Google Home, plus cars, trucks and tractors. Yes, even tractors have DRM these days.

Thus, within the next few days, they can all be repaired by anyone with the skills, and it's legal to break any DRM stopping you from doing so. Sadly the Copyright Office didn't include games consoles, aircraft, nor boats, and the copy protection systems on HDMI must remain untouched.

The ruling will be hated by manufacturers who have made it their mission to design hardware that people can't repair on their own. After all, it's so much more profitable to force people to either only use a company's own repair service – which can then charge what it likes – or buy "official" replacement parts that again cost a pretty penny, or fork out for entirely new kit.

Manufacturers were able to clap these protection mechanisms on their products under the cover of section 1201, enacted by the much-loved 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which made it illegal for people to break DRM defenses on technology they own. However, the Copyright Office, overseen by the Library of Congress, can make exceptions to section 1201 every three years....MUCH MORE

March 2018 
"The Right to Repair Battle Has Come to Silicon Valley"
You didn't thinks all those posts on John Deere and "Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc." were simply about tractors and textbooks did you? I mean, sure they were, but they were also about whether you own the stuff you buy and if the Supreme Court would uphold the First Sale Doctrine.

April 2015
John Deere Tells Patent Office That Purchasers Don't Actually Own the Machine They Paid For (DE)

May 2015
"John Deere Clarifies: It's Trying To Abuse Copyright Law To Stop You From Owning Your Own Tractor... Because It Cares About You" (DE)

November 2016
For the Next Two Years Auto Manufacturers Can't Have You Arrested...
...for trying to repair or modify the software on your own car.

March 2017
"Why American Farmers Are Hacking Their Tractors With Ukrainian Firmware" (DE)

Nov. 2017 
Logitech Once Again Shows That In The Modern Era, You Don't Really Own What You Buy