If you are not yet familiar with The Critical Medical Infrastructure Right-to-Repair Act of 2020, “Right to Repair” for short, here’s some quick background. The bill was introduced on August 6th by Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Rep. Yvette Clark of New York in response to concerns that repairs and maintenance on medical equipment were being hampered by restrictive contracts and copyright laws during the COVID-19 crisis.
A statement from Senator Wyden’s website describes the bill’s specifics, saying that, for at least the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, it would:
- Protect equipment owners, lessees, and servicers from liability under federal copyright law for creating an incidental copy of service materials or for breaking a digital lock during the course of equipment repair in response to COVID-19;
- Allow equipment owners or lessees to fabricate patented parts on a non-commercial basis and as needed for repair or maintenance in response to COVID-19;
- Invalidate provisions in equipment contracts to the extent that they prohibit or restrict the repair or maintenance of critical medical infrastructure in response to COVID-19;
- Require manufacturers to provide, on fair and reasonable terms, access to information and tools used to diagnose problems and service, maintain, or repair equipment; and
- Require the Federal Trade Commission to evaluate the bill’s impact and effectiveness on innovation and competition in the critical medical infrastructure market.
The bill has garnered praise and support from rural healthcare systems, independent engineering groups, and many civil interest groups but, unsurprisingly, has come under fire from OEMs and their partner lobbying groups.