Right to Repair Under Siege?

Due to concerns about the COVID-19, this event has been postponed.

In years past, you wouldn’t think twice about taking your car or toaster to a repair shop or even fixing it yourself. But with today’s software-enabled products, including our cars and toasters, we can no longer take for granted the right to repair them ourselves or to take them to the local repair shop of our choosing. In response to legal and technological restrictions, a growing movement advocating a right to repair has emerged, despite pushback from some quarters.

The right to repair is at the center of a key policy debate. Legislation under consideration in 20 states would facilitate consumer and third party repair. The New York Times editorial board has endorsed the right to repair. The FTC is studying the question. And leading presidential candidates have embraced the repair agenda. But manufacturers and device makers remain skeptical of an unfettered right to repair, citing concerns over intellectual property rights, reliability, security, and lost revenue.

This conference will consider the complex, overlapping set of policy questions at the center of the repair debate. How do restrictions on repair, or their elimination, affect competition? How might policymakers resolve potential tensions between the right to repair and the intellectual property rights of device makers? Would the consumer benefits of open repair markets outweigh their risks? What are the environmental implications of the right to repair? And are legislative solutions well-suited to address these questions?



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