The Repair Association is fighting the manufacturing industry for your “right to repair everything.”

Today, with big corporations dominating the manufacturing industry, it is typically difficult for consumers to find specific parts to fix any kind of technology. The Repair Association is an organization hoping to help make the parts accessible to everyone.

With groups like iFixit, Fixer’s Collective, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the association is asking manufacturers to sell tech parts along with instructions on how to fix the product without professional help needed.

“A free, independent market for repair and reuse is more efficient, more competitive, and better for consumers,” the association writes on its website. “Repair helps create local jobs, and repair and reuse benefits the environment by reducing end-of-life electron products.”

Apart from the demands for the manufacturing industry, the association also aims to amend the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to address the growth of a self-taught consumer base.

Not only does iFixit sells repair parts, but the company also provides online guides for individuals seeking to fix their appliances independently. But due to Section 1201 of the DMCA’s “anti-circumvention” provision, people are not allowed to tamper with technology that has copyrighted software.

“Under U.S. copyright law, you’re not allowed to modify protected software or look at it—even for the purpose of repair,” Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit says. “Manufacturers are using other parts of copyright law to restrict outside access to service manuals, schematics, and repair instructions. They are developing an unfair monopoly over the aftermarket of their goods.”

As unjust as it is, the monopoly is defended by lawyers and lobbyists, says Wiens. The Repair Association is needed to represent repairmen, women, local business, to fight for their right to repair.

“We aren’t just fighting for your right to repair smartphones and computers—we are fighting for your right to repair everything,” Wiens says.

Article via Good, 4 February 2016
Photo: Mobile Butchery by Meena Kadri [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]

Due to confusion about the definition of an application programming interface, or API for short, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has ruled that they are are subject to copyright. The confusion surrounds the distinction between software and APIs. While the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, also known as the CAFC, appears to have made the ruling based on the idea that software and APIs are the same, it is clear that there are many differences between the two. According to Pam Samuelson, a highly respected authority on copyright law, “The design of many program structures, including APIs, is inherently functional and aimed at achieving technical goals of efficiency.” Basically, saying an API is the same as software is akin to thinking “a dictionary is the same as a novel that uses those words”, as explained in an article by Techdirt concerning the CAFC’s ruling. Therefore, APIs aren’t copyrightable just because software is.

If APIs are more similar to “processes, procedures, systems, and methods”  than software as Samuelson says in her paper “Three Fundamental Flaws in CAFC’s Oracle v. Google Decision”, does the CAFC ruling make sense? In accordance with section 102 of the Copyright Act, which states, “In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system…regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work”, APIs should not be copyrightable. However, due to more confusion concerning the purpose and function of APIs, the Supreme Court has refused to hear the case. Therefore, as of now, the ruling made by the CAFC will remain in place.

Article via Techdirt, August 18, 2015

Photo: Free Stock: Copyright sign 3D render via MusesTouch – digiArt & design [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Court awards first-ever damages for false copyright infringement takedown notice (Steptoe, 12 March 2015) – The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, in Automattic Inc. v. Nick Steiner , has awarded total damages of $25,084 to a blogger and the operator of blogging platform for “lost work and time” spent responding to a fraudulent takedown notice for copyright infringement. This appears to be the first time a court has awarded such damages under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, given the difficulty of demonstrating that such false claims are knowingly made.


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Germany’s top publisher bows to Google in news licensing row (Re/Code, 5 Nov 2014) – Germany’s biggest news publisher, Axel Springer, has scrapped a bid to block Google from running snippets of articles from its newspapers, saying that the experiment had caused traffic to its sites to plunge. Springer said a two-week-old experiment to restrict access by Google to its news headlines had caused Web traffic to its publications to plunge, leading it to row back and let Google once again showcase Springer news stories in its search results. Chief Executive Mathias Doepfner said on Wednesday that his company would have “shot ourselves out of the market” if it had continued with its demands for the U.S. firm to pay licensing fees. Springer, which publishes Europe’s top-selling daily newspaper, Bild, said Google’s grip over online audiences was too great to resist, a double-edged compliment meant to ram home the publisher’s criticism of what it calls Google’s monopoly powers. Publishers in countries from Germany and France to Spain have pushed to pass new national copyright laws that force Google and other web aggregators to pay licensing fees – dubbed the Google Tax – when it publishes snippets of their news articles. Under German legislation that came into effect last year, publishers can prohibit search engines and similar services from using their news articles beyond headlines. Last week, Spain’s upper house passed a similar law giving publishers an “inalienable” right to levy such licensing fees on Google.


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Google settles with photographers over book scanning lawsuit (TNW, 5 Sept 2014) – Google has announced a settlement with a coalition of photographers over use of their work in its Google Books scanning project. The photographers first filed suit against Google in 2010. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but all parties are said to be “pleased” with the agreement, which includes funding for the PLUS Coalition for better image licensing. Google Books has caused a world of legal trouble for the company. In 2012, Google settled an extended disagreement with book publishers over the project. Last year, it emerged victorious over the Authors Guild, which filed an appeal earlier this year.


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Disney decides to ‘Let It Go’ when it comes to copyright infringement (InsideCounsel, 23 May 2014) – If you have kids – or a pair of ears, I suppose – you have likely heard the infectious song “Let It Go” from the mega-hit movie “Frozen.” The animated movie, based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale “The Snow Queen,” has won Academy Awards, raked in hundreds of billions of dollars worldwide, and sent toes-a-tappin’ with an Oscar-winning song. These days, though, whenever something in popular culture is well known, it becomes fuel for the content creation fire. People from all over the world have taken copyrighted content from “Frozen,” like the hit song, and posted images and videos that infringe on Disney’s intellectual property. On YouTube, one can find versions of “Let It Go” that are sing-alongs, mashups, covers and parodies. Some of these videos have racked up millions of pageviews. So, why isn’t the Mouse House apoplectic over the clear infringement of its intellectual property ? There was a time when Disney’s leadership viewed YouTube as an opportunity for fans to engage in mass piracy. Disney’s own efforts to establish an online presence have been lukewarm until recently. In March of this year, it purchased Maker Studios, a company that produces YouTube videos, tapping into amateur creators to provide content. This acceptance of the popularity of fan-created content as a way to expand the brand and engage fans does not mean that Disney’s position on copyright infringement has softened completely. The company has fought to extend the copyright of its most iconic creation, Mickey Mouse, lobbying Congress to extend the copyright protection period another 20 years.

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Image courtesy of Miles.