DOJ, FTC Comments Show Support for Right to Repair

March 18, 2024

The U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission have submitted comments to the U.S. Copyright Office to support exemptions that ultimately support Right to Repair efforts.

The Copyright Office is considering whether to recommend that the Librarian of Congress renew or possibly expand exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s “prohibition against the circumvention of technology protection measures that control access to copyrighted content.”

In the world of automotive repair, that copyrighted content would relate to the telematics data from a consumer’s vehicle. MEMA Aftermarket Suppliers wants consumers to have access to their telematics data and have the ability to share it with third-party repairers (including independent tire dealers.) MEMA has proposed an exemption that would apply to the diagnostic and telematics data from automobiles, boats and commercial and agricultural vehicles.

The DOJ and FTC agreed that the added exemption related to these vehicles “would give vehicle owners and lessees greater options when it comes to maintaining and repairing their vehicles.”

The agencies also said giving the vehicle owners access to that data to share with their chosen repairer would not increase cybersecurity risks. “The Nixing the Fix Report record contains no empirical evidence to suggest that independent repair shops are more likely than authorized repair shops to compromise or misuse customer data.

“Moreover, the proposed exemption would simply empower owners by providing them access to their own vehicle operational data. It would not prevent a manufacturer from impositing a reasonable authentication measure that prevents access to the data by someone other than the owner or the owner’s authorized representative.”

MEMA Aftermarket Suppliers President and CEO Paul McCarthy said the DOJ and FTC’s comments suggest the group has a strong argument in seeking the exemption.

“Their conclusion supports our point that consumers will benefit from having more repair options and that they can utilize these options in a cybersecure way. This goal should guide our policymaking efforts.”