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26th Annual BCLT/BTLJ Symposium: The Emergent Right to Repair
In years past, consumers didn’t think twice about taking a broken car or toaster to a local repair shop or even fixing it themselves. But with today’s software-enabled products, consumers can no longer take those options for granted. 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. The Biden Administration and a unanimous FTC recently voiced support for competition and consumer choice in repair markets. Legislation under consideration in dozens of states would facilitate consumer and third-party repair. And regulators around the world have begun to embrace 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 symposium 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? And what legislative solutions or other policy interventions are best-suited to address these questions?