Dreamstime

It's your smartphone, but you may not have the right to repair it

December 14, 2018 - 3:30 am
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By Amy E. Feldman, Judge Technology Solutions

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The U.S. Copyright Office just granted you a right that sounds like no fun at all: the right to repair. 

From telephones to tractors, many manufacturers have rules that say unless you get your product fixed by an authorized dealer, you void the warranty. 

It seems crazy that you wouldn't have the right to fix something that you bought, but under digital copyright law, you may own the hardware but the software that controls it is owned by the copyright. So even though the phone is in your pocket, you are in the pocket of the tech companies since digital copyright law says you can't circumvent copyright protection, and the company that owns the copyright can dictate how you use it and how you fix it if it malfunctions. 

But the U.S. Copyright Office and the Library of Congress passed several exemptions to the copyright law that just went into effect. 

According to FastCompany.com, in addition to repairing your own phone, you may now legally use software hacks to fix home appliances, smart home gear, and even motorized land vehicles like tractors. You can also hire a third party to make those repairs for you. 

So now if you do break it, you can fix it.