The Biden administration recently identified private firms’ ability to block access to parts, manuals, and other tools to allow consumers and third-party repair shops from fixing their property as a barrier to growth and competition in the U.S. A few months before, the Federal Trade Commission’s 2021 report “Nixing the Fix” discussed the barriers to repair created by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). And in October 2021, as part of the Triennial Review under Section 1201 of the Copyright Act, the Copyright Office issued an expanded list of exemptions to the anti-circumvention measures of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
2021 was a year filled with progress on issues related to right-to-repair, giving the owners of devices greater control over the objects they own. But there’s still much work to be done on an issue that sits at the intersection of intellectual property, competition, and regulatory policy. What do the past year’s developments mean for the future of right-to-repair and ownership in the 21st century? Where are there areas to improve upon these developments, and what further changes should be made?
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Law Professor, Case Western Reserve
Policy Counsel, Public Knowledge
Kerry Maeve Sheehan
Independent Policy Strategist
Regulatory Policy Fellow, Niskanen Center
Kodiak Hill-Davis (moderator)
Vice President of Government Affairs, Niskanen Center