Kristian Stout on Right to Repair

Bloomberg Law – ICLE Director of Innovation Policy Kristian Stout was quoted by Bloomberg Law in a story about right-to-repair provisions in President Joe Biden’s executive order. The full story is available here.

But Kristian Stout, director of innovation policy for the International Center for Law and Economics, said right to repair is a copyright issue, not an antitrust issue.

Stout said there are valid arguments that copyright law overreaches, but that’s a copyright question. Pushing the FTC to address it as an antitrust problem signals that enforcing copyright may be seen as anti-competitive, and companies’ products are built upon their ability to control access to their software, he said.

“You might see a ripple effect with how these firms offer their services,” such as either making their goods less secure or less user-friendly to avoid antitrust scrutiny, Stout said. He said a better approach would be for repair advocates to ask Congress to make changes in copyright law instead of antitrust law.

…Stout said that while Biden’s recommendations didn’t push any specific action, their vagueness left the door open for problematic interpretation.

“They’re throwing IP protection into a very complicated and chaotic mix at the moment,” Stout said. He said he would prefer the Copyright Office, a legislative branch agency, set the table for legislation.