On December 15, the US Copyright Office issued their report to Congress on the subject of Software Enabled Consumer Products. They didn't solve any problems, were often contradictory, and punted a lot of issues. However, they were very clear on an important point to us -- that most issues currently limiting repair, reuse and tinkering are not copyright infringement, but are the result of End User License Agreements (EULA) that remove rights already granted.
In this study, its clear that equipment owners tinkering with embedded software aren't violating copyright law. Its also fully legal to modify, customize, or enhance embedded software for ones use. It may even be legal to share that information with others -- provided certain conditions are met. The study is an excellent guide to consumer legal rights to tinker very broadly with their purchases.
The USCO has vindicated our fight for better contract law in states, and provided a road map on how to fight manufacturers that use contortions of copyright law to create repair monopolies.
There will be more legal commentary on this as the new year unfolds. Jonathan Band, one of the lawyers engaged directly in the hearings has posted the first of many salvos.