Congress reintroduces YODA, a bipartisan bill that protects your right to treat devices as your property

The You Own Devices Act (YODA) was first introduced by Reps Blake Farenthold (R-TX) and Jared "Happy Mutant" Polis (D-CO) in 2014: it's a bill that limits the enforceability of abusive EULA terms, preserving your right to sell, lease, donate, and access security fixes on devices you buy, even when they have copyrighted software within them.

The issue is that copyrighted works are typically licensed, not sold, to their users, and the license agreement has been a source of enormous mischief, allowing corporations to convert the sale of goods into a limited license, placing restrictions on your customary property rights with non-negotiated "agreements."

Polis and Farenthold have reintroduced their bill, and I'm glad to see it. It's an important step in the right direction, with lots more work to do, like reforming Section 1201 of the DMCA, which allows manufacturers to take away the same rights using DRM, because it bans removing DRM even for legal purposes. So manufacturers can simply design their products so that treating them as your property (say, by getting them independently repaired, installing apps from the store of your choosing, or using third-party ink cartridges and other consumables) requires breaking the DRM. Since breaking the DRM is illegal, then so is treating your stuff as though you owned it.

Making sure that you can sell and transfer your old devices isn't just good for you – it's good for everyone else as well. Resale markets for consumer products help improve access to affordable technology and provide a valuable resource for innovators [PDF].

We're pleased to see some members of Congress tackling this issue, and there's still a long way to go to make sure that outdated and unconstitutional copyright laws, like Section 1201, don't keep you from controlling your own media and devices.

YODA, the Bill That Would Let You Own (and Sell) Your Devices, Is Re-Introduced in Congress
[Kerry Sheehan/EFF]