European Parliament seminar underlines urgency of considering copyright in right to repair reform

Any comprehensive approach to delivering a right to repair needs to address the barriers created by the current state of copyright and related rights law, heard MEPs and others attending a Green Tech Talk at the European Parliament on 30 June.

Organised by the Greens-ALE group, the session focused on different aspects of the right to repair. These covered the environmental impact of technology, the shift to a circular economy, as well as areas for reform, including product liability and copyright.

Copyright and related rights – in particular software rights – and how they can be enforced has a significant impact on the possibility for consumers, including libraries and their users, not just to return devices to original working order, but also to tinker, modify, or improve them.

In addition to provisions that can affect the right to access repair information or copy or modify software, there is a lack of protection against override of repair rights by contract, and strong protection for digital locks which can lock out amateur and professional repairers.

These are all issues on which the Knowledge Rights 21 Programme is active, as part of its efforts to ensure the rights of libraries and their users, underlining the imbalance in copyright law as it stands.

The Programme has been bringing this reality to the attention of lawmakers and stakeholders in Brussels for the past months, working with academic expertise in the area, in order to ensure that copyright is not left out of any future reform.

Through supporting the inclusion of copyright in the agenda, and participation in the event, it was possible to explore the range of issues requiring attention, in the presence of a number of influential MEPs in key committees.

As highlighted in the closing session, copyright and related rights represent a significant dimension of the overall right to repair picture, and merit a much more extensive place in discussions around what should feature in the upcoming legislative package on the topic.

Keep an eye on our pages to see more about how repair rights could be better upheld in copyright law.

Photo by Christian Lue on Unsplash