Gay Gordon-Byrne, Executive Director of The Repair Assn., responds to Farm Equipment Executive Editor Dave Kanicki’s latest blog: Did CFBF Sell Out Farmers on Right to Repair?

I follow all articles regarding Right to Repair with great interest — as the Executive Director of The Repair Assn. I’m also the media contact for the Association. 

I understand your concern that Right to Repair would reveal IP that belongs to someone else, which is already protected by US Copyright Law (DMCA of 1998). Right to Repair bills make no changes to federal copyright law, and as such have nothing to do with proliferation of IP including copyrights, patents and trade secrets. A bit of legal information for your understanding: 

Under the DMCA, it is specifically legal to backup and restore software for purposes of repair. See section 117.  This is the extent of the access that is required under R2R. The same access which has already been agreed by both the Auto and Commercial Vehicle industry — with no known ill effects. Many people have projected other types of software are involved, which is not the case. Right to Repair is tightly limited only to the specific firmware necessary for restoration. 

Why can’t a farmer reset a “check engine light” by herself? That’s the same action you take when your PC hangs up and has to be rebooted. You run diagnostics on your PC all the time, and the diagnostics tell you if there is a serious problem. If you want — you can buy parts and tools and fix or upgrade your own PC without harming Microsoft or Dell or Adobe. The computers within vehicles are exactly the same as those in your PC and they have the same problems and are diagnosed and repaired in the same way. 

Further, under exemptions already granted by the Copyright Office to Section 1201 — it is specifically legal for owners of land-based motor vehicles to mod the software on their purchases – provided they do not also violate EPA regulations or other laws. This is outside of R2R but many people try to conflate the two in order to stall legislation. 

By the way — you can, if you want, mod your Microsoft licenses legally to your hearts content. It would only be a violation of copyright law if you sold your mods…. 

Hope this help explain the nuances of the proposed legislation.