Yesterday, the U.S. Copyright Office released a report titled "Software-Enabled Consumer Products."
The report follows a year-long process, during which
the Office studied how copyright law interacts
with software-enabled consumer products, from cars, to refrigerators,
to mobile phones, to thermostats and the like.
The report explores the various legal doctrines
that apply to this subset of software, which is increasingly
present in everyday life, including important copyright doctrines such
as fair use, merger,
scènes à faire,
first sale, and the section 117 exemptions. The report focuses on
specific issues raised in the public comments and hearings, including
how copyright law affects licensing, resale,
repair and tinkering, security research and interoperability.
Copyright Office's report found that current legal doctrines support a
wide range of legitimate uses of the embedded software in consumer
products while also recognizing the importance of
copyright protection to the creation and distribution of innovative
products. The report does not recommend legislative changes at this
The full report and executive summary are available on the Copyright Office's website at