Last week, Congressman Blake Farenthold (R-TX) introduced legislation that would protect the first sale doctrine for electronic devices and the software on those devices. The legislation, titled You Own Devices Act (YODA), simply states that if you want to sell, lease, or give away your device, the software that enables it to work is transferred along with it, and that any right you have to security and bug fixing of that software is transferred as well.
“We like to buy things off eBay, sell stuff at yard sales, lend to our friends, and contribute to community donation drives. I believe – and the Supreme Court has agreed – that once we buy a physical thing, we can dispose of it how we wish,” said Congressman Farenthold. “These days, nearly every electronic product we buy includes software essential to its operation. Some manufacturers have started to include essential software as an impediment to selling, leasing, or even giving away devices we own. As we move closer to the Internet of Things, where more and more of our household items include software and are connected to the Internet, it is critical that we don’t allow this software which otherwise enhances our experience to fundamentally alter the concept of ownership.”
Last week on eBay Radio, Tod Cohen, eBay Inc.’s Vice President of Global Government Relations, spoke about the importance of protecting owners’ rights and the Owners’ Rights Initiative. In recent years, there have been attempts to restrict the ability of individuals to resell items that they have legitimately purchased. However, due to the efforts of groups like the Owners’ Rights Initiative and companies like eBay, the Supreme Court came out with a ruling in 2013 protected the very important first sale doctrine. “This case is incredibly important for people to be able to resell the items that they purchase wherever they purchase around the world,” said Cohen. “It makes sure that we can take advantage of the global Internet and not be limited to only buying and selling items around our own home.”