Why did it take an act of Congress to make it so we could legally unlock our cellphones and take them to other carriers? Because while you might own your smartphone, you don’t actually own the software that runs it — you merely license it. There are already manufacturers that use essential, proprietary software to prevent device “owners” from freely reselling certain products, and these restrictions are only going to spread as consumers use more web-connected goods. In response, some members of Congress have introduced legislation aimed at stripping these copyright-based barriers to resale.
At the core of the “You Own Devices Act” (yes, that spells YODA) introduced by Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas and co-sponsored by Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado, is the Doctrine of First Sale, which effectively gives consumers the right to do whatever the heck they want with the things they buy.
That’s why you could walk into just about any music or video store 10 years ago and sell and/or buy used CDs and DVDs, or why there is still a thriving used book market.s