The dark side of IT product ownership and how YODA is here to save us all
When it comes to owning IT hardware, many can never fathom the idea that their own property may have legal restrictions on how it can be sold, leased, or even given away—after all, what part of “what’s mine is mine” does the government not understand?
But, in this case, there are legal restrictions—or at least there are until the United States Congress passes the You Own Devices Act (YODA) this coming year. This is a Bill before the House, a Bill that seeks to uphold consumers’ rights to resell their owned products and associated software, and that ensures OEMs no longer own part of the devices consumers have paid for and supposedly fully own.
So what, you may ask, is the underlying issue? Here’s an example: Imagine owning a laptop—one that has the usual suspects including an operating system with programs that accompany the OS. Then imagine being told that you cannot sell, lease, or even give your laptop away because the “rights” assigned to the contents of that laptop aren’t your rights to give. Or, let’s go even bigger than that. You are the proud owner of a Tesla, you do your part for the environment, you help reduce your carbon footprint, and so on. Now a new Tesla has just been released and you want to upgrade; however, you find out that you aren’t allowed to sell your old Tesla until Elon Musk gives you permission to do so. I will wager a guess that no one would be happy with such a situation.
To give some historical perspective, on September 18, 2014, Blake Farenthold (R-TX), a member of the United States House of Representatives, announced YODA, a Bill for consumers’ rights to resell their owned products, as well as the essential software that allows the computer to operate. The bill is now set to be reintroduced this year.
Farenthold stated, “As we move closer to the Internet of Things (IoT), 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. That is why I introduced the You Own Devices Act—or YODA. YODA would simply state 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.”
Plainly put, this is a Bill that combats the nonsense notion that the OEM still owns part of the device you’ve paid for, and can dictate how you dispose of YOUR possession.
However, like any good rebellion (okay, one Star Wars pun), there is a new hope. To ensure that all IT owners maintain their rights of ownership, I urge you to contact members of Congress to emphasize the tremendous importance of YODA. Additionally, you can also tweet U.S. Representative Farenthold @Farenthold (hashtags #youowndevicesact, #yodabill, #resellrights) in support of his Bill.
Organizations & Associations that support YODA:
United Network Equipment Dealer Association (UNEDA): www.uneda.com
Legal Reference Materials:
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act: www.copyright.gov/legislation/dmca.pdf