"You bought it, you own it." That principle has guided ownership rights for hundreds of years. But embedded software is muddying the definition of ownership—and getting in the way of reuse, repair, and resale efforts.

You may own the hardware, but manufacturers often claim that the software inside of your product isn't yours at all. You purchased the physical good—but you are merely licensing the software. This claim allows manufacturers to retain unprecedented control over goods—long after you bought and paid for it.

Manufacturer policies on software and firmware access have killed many used equipment markets and diminished used equipment value internationally.

“Some of the tactics employed challenge the very concept of a free market and would not be tolerated in market sectors outside of technology. Blocking the first owner’s ability to transfer equipment by limiting the second buyer’s access to recertification, software, engineering changes, parts, bug fixes and maintenance services precipitates a sharp drop in the residual value of the customer’s investment by limiting the appeal of used equipment. Buyers eventually have to pay higher prices for equipment because used equipment is perceived as too risky to buy on the secondary market.”
— ASCDI, the voice of the IT channel

These tactics amount to little more than a monopoly. The Repair Association rigorously defends the right of an owner to resell their equipment. And we are pursuing and promoting policy change through legislation at both the state and the federal level. If we can change policies, we can restore the used marketplace to full function. 

Digital First Sale Doctrine

The courts have long held up the right of the owner to resell physical goods—it's called the "first sale doctrine." The Repair Association supports ongoing efforts by Congress to establish a Digital First Sale Doctrine—including the You Own Devices Act (YODA), which would restore full ownership rights to purchasers of digital equipment.

As technology advances, more and more of the devices in your home, office, and garage contain essential software that make them run. While this gives us great improvements like air conditioners that can be switched on or off from your phone, household lamps that you can remotely control or program, and speakers that play music as you change rooms, it also opens the door to software licenses that erode how much you own these devices and how you can dispose of them. YODA ensures that these devices are yours and you can sell them when you wish.
— Congressman Blake Farenthold (TX-27)

Help us promote these and other policies that preserve equipment value.

Photo Credit: Monika Rae Photography