Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Yvette D. Clark have introduced right to repair legislation in the Senate and the House that would make it easier for hospitals to fix medical equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the first time that right to repair legislation has ever been introduced at the federal level and is a historic step for the movement, which seeks to break manufacturer monopolies on servicing of electronics of all types.
The Critical Medical Infrastructure Right-to-Repair Act of 2020 would allow trained repair technicians to more easily access information and tools required to complete maintenance and repair of critical medical infrastructure in preparation for and as part of a response to the current COVID-19 crisis.
“There is no excuse for leaving hospitals and patients stranded without necessary equipment during the most widespread pandemic to hit the U.S. in 100 years,” Wyden said. “It is just common sense to say that qualified technicians should be allowed to make emergency repairs or do preventative maintenance, and not have their hands tied by overly restrictive contracts and copyright laws, until this crisis is over.”
“As America grapples with this lethal pandemic, we are also experiencing unprecedented shortages of medical equipment,” Rep. Clarke said. “This narrowly-tailored, common-sense, and time-limited bill will ensure critical medical items like ventilators do not go to waste due to maintenance restrictions that have no nexus to safety. During this health crisis, we must do everything in our power to expand access to life-saving devices.”
Specifically, the bill 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.