Cue the “pass this law, we must” jokes. On Wednesday, lawmakers reintroduced the “You Own Devices Act” (YODA) to make sure that manufacturers can’t use copyright mind tricks to prevent consumers from selling or giving away the connected devices they own.
The need for YODA comes about because of the fact that we typically don’t own software. Instead, we simply license it pursuant to terms handed down by a company via the internet — that’s why many people are surprised to learn they don’t actually own the iTunes songs or Kindle books they buy, but are instead using them at the pleasure of Apple and Amazon.
While this licensing quirk often doesn’t matter for practical purposes, it does when you die and can’t pass on your books or music collection.
But more importantly, the potential scope for companies to make mischief is getting much bigger as many more devices come with software inside: cars, coffee makers…
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