California is poised to become the third state to enact a right to repair law aimed at making it easier for independent repair shops and consumers to repair electronic devices. This might sound well and good—until you think about what it actually means for IP owners. While repair advocates may not care about, or even acknowledge, the IP side of the equation, the not-so-hidden truth of the right to repair movement is that it expands repair opportunities for consumers by taking away the rights of copyright and patent owners. Indeed, the foundational premise of the repair movement is that there is something inherently wrong when an IP owner exercises its right to exclude and imposes a repair restriction. Of course, this lopsided view elevates access over incentives, and it ignores how IP law itself promotes the public good by rewarding creators and innovators for their individual efforts. But, more importantly, it’s not up to the states to second-guess Congress’s judgment.
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