I find intellectual property policy to be an interesting space–the divisions aren’t necessarily along party lines. For example, the amazingly-named Your Own Devices Act (YODA) was introduced by Representatives Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.).
The bill, previously introduced in 2014, states, in part:
…if a computer program enables any part of a machine or other product to operate, the owner of the machine or other product is entitled to transfer an authorized copy of the computer program, or the right to obtain such copy, when the owner sells, leases, or otherwise transfers the machine or other product to another person. The right to transfer provided under this subsection may not be waived by any agreement.
What does this mean? Normally, when someone buys a gadget (like a smartphone) or a car, they are purchasing the hardware. But, they don’t own the software that runs that device. Rather, they get a license to use the software with the device. A particularly uncool company (coughJohnDeerecoughcough) might try to claim that, since the software is what makes the machine run, the consumer doesn’t actually own the machine–they just have a license to use it for the life of the device.
This bill seeks to prevent that sort of shenanigans from happening. So, Congress, let’s bring bipartisan balance to the law and make this thing happen.