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"Right to modify" not the same as "right to repair"

In the recently completed legislative session, a bill was introduced that was dubbed "right to repair" legislation. In fact, the result of the bill would have been much more damaging to manufacturers and consumers (like farmers, road builders, construction contractors, even governments).


The bill, HB 2369, sponsored by Rep. Barry Hovis, would have required manufacturers to provide access to their source code used in software of the items they produce, such as tractors, road graters, loaders, and other farm and construction equipment. The source code could then be used by the owner of the machinery to modify the equipment to run at higher RPM's, produce more horsepower, etc.


The problems are numerous.


First, no company that must spend millions on research and development of new software and new products should have to provide the result of that investment to other companies at a nominal cost.


Second, reverse engineering by companies that do not observe intellectual property laws in countries such as China would be expected.


Third, future consumers of modified products would be unaware of the fact the modification had taken place. Dealers taking the equipment on trade would also not be able to tell if the product had been modified and misused, not to mention the unsuspecting second purchaser of the item. In this way, the process that is asked for in the bill is akin to rolling back the odometer on a vehicle. Rolling back odometers is illegal for a reason.


At least we had legislators like Rep. Warren Love, a member of the Committee that received the bill, standing up for farmers and other equipment purchasers during the recently completed legislative session (see Rep. Love's opinion here). Unfortunately, Rep. Love is term limited and will not be returning to the Capitol in the next legislative session.


We will continue to work hard to stop any similar legislation that would hurt manufacturers and consumers in future sessions.

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