On Monday, iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens will participate in a round table discussion with Representative Bob Goodlatte, members of the House Judiciary, and other stakeholders to discuss the future of US copyright law. The listening session is part of an ongoing effort by the House Judiciary Committee to reassess the intersection between copyright law, ownership rights, and modern technology. Copyright was initially designed to incentivize creative works, but it is increasingly creating barriers to repair. Under modern copyright law, more and more repair shops are being denied access to the manuals and schematics that they need to stay in business. As electronics move into more products, copyrighted content—in the form of software—is finding its way into everything from coffeemakers to cars. And copy protection controls are stifling economic development. Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, in particular, has prevented owners and researchers from accessing the software in their own things even for legitimate purposes—like research, innovation, and repair.
The pace of innovation has far outstripped copyright laws. Worse, copyright laws are now encroaching on the rights of owners. iFixit—as a member of the Digital Right to Repair Coalition—spoke out for our community’s right to access and modify software in front of the Copyright Office earlier this year. And—with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, USC and others—we won several key exemptions for repair just last month.
The Copyright Office’s decision is a step in the right direction. But we need to strike at the root of the problem instead of just addressing its symptoms. We need broader reform to copyright laws. iFixit looks forward to discussing better copyright provisions with Chairman Goodlatte and other stakeholders. And we will continue to push for every owner’s right to repair what they own.