YODA Back, It Is: Law To Let You Actually Own Your Devices Even When Copyright Gets In The Way

from the a-good-start dept

Last year, we wrote about Rep. Blake Farenthold introducing a small, but important piece of copyright legislation, the You Own Devices Act (YODA), which just says that if you buy some piece of computerized equipment, you can sell it with any included software, without having to get permission from the software provider. As we noted, the reality is that this is just making it clear that the first sale doctrine applies to computer equipment too -- which shouldn't need a new law, but some tech companies (especially in the networking space) feel otherwise.

Farenthold has now reintroduced YODA, this time with Rep. Jared Polis as a sponsor as well (giving the bill that necessary "bi-partisan" shine). It's unfortunate that these kinds of bills are even necessary, but such is the state of copyright laws today, that they often mean the devices you buy, you don't even really own.

Also, kudos to Farenthold for playing on the YODA name in his tweet announcing the new version of the bill:

Filed Under: blake farenthold, copyright, devices, dmca, first sale, jared polis, ownership, software, yoda

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  1. icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 13 Feb 2015 @ 7:33am


    Think beyond games. Decades from now a wealthy man will have a surgically implanted device that cleans his bloodstream and supplies all the drugs, hormones and whatnot needed to greatly prolong his life.

    He will be murdered for this device, by someone who couldn't otherwise afford it.

    This legislation means that police won't be able to pile on charges related to the unauthorized transfer of the firmware. Why does Mike Masnick hate copyright?

    More seriously though, suppose the device has parameters custom-tailored for the rich guy - burned into the firmware to prevent hacking. If transferring altered firmware is illegal, when the rich guy finally dies, the device couldn't be donated - and the parameters altered for - a new and less wealthy user.

    With wearable health monitoring tech already in use, this is rapidly leaving the realm of science fiction.

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