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'Right-to-repair' advocates claim major victory in new smartphone copyright exemption

From left are the iPhone XS, iPhone XR, and the iPhone XS Max. (Richard Drew / AP) The Librarian of…

From left are the iPhone XS, iPhone XR, and the iPhone XS Max. (Richard Drew / AP)

The Librarian of Congress and the U.S. Copyright Office has granted American consumers and gadget repair shops greater freedom to fix their smartphones and other popular electronics in what ” right-to-repair” advocates are calling a major victory.

In a new ruling that will take effect Sunday, the Librarian of Congress has carved out exemptions that allow people to legally circumvent digital “locks” on devices they own, such as voice assistants, tablets, smartphones and vehicles, to repair them. Motherboard earlier reported on the ruling.

Device manufactures use digital protection measures to safeguard their intellectual property. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 made it unlawful to circumvent technological measures used to prevent the piracy of copyrighted books, movies, video games and computer software.

The digital locks are intended to prevent the theft of intellectual property and to keep consumers

But consumer advocates contend that the prohibition against tinkering robs consumers of the right to fix their broken property and exposes users and repair professionals. to the risk of violating copyright law simply by changing the software inside the devices that the users own.

The New Exemption “establishes that you have a legal right to repair something that you own and that does not infringe upon the copyright protection afforded to the manufacturer, “said Nathan Proctor, the director of the campaign for the right to repair , at the public interest group U.S. PIRG.

The exemptions allow customers to unlock their smartphones and get around restrictions built into other mainstream devices, including smart home assistants, said Kyle Wiens, founder of iFixit. In een blogbericht waarin de belangrijkste vrijheden zijn verleend door de heerschappij, worden de derde partijen reparatiebedrijven nu wettelijk toegelaten om een ​​smartphone op een eigen rekening te houden, die hij zei “enorm belangrijk” voor de aftermarket economy.

Proctor zei Den rulning er et skridt fremad i grappling med problemet om unrepairable electronics, som bidrager til enorme mængder af affald. Men han la til at rett-til-reparationsforespørgere vil ha mere robuste værktøjer til at hjælpe forbrugerne. Consumer advocates have pushed for legislation to compel device manufacturers to share instructional manuals and diagnostic tools to help consumers and repair experts fix devices.

“It’s encouraging to know we have a legally protected right to fix the stuff we buy,” but much Proctor said.

The Librarian of Congress and the Copyright Office did not grant exceptions for video game console repairs, according to Weins, and while “motorized land vehicles” were included in the exemptions, boats and airplanes were not.

The Copyright Office holds a regulatory process every three years to review potential exemptions to the rules against circumventing digital access controls.

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