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Right to Repair, Participatory Repair, Copyright Law, European Union Law


Repair manuals are an essential resource for repairing today’s modern and computerised devices. And though these manuals may contain purely utilitarian and uncopyrightable facts, they often receive copyright protection in their entirety as literary works. This protection can impede community-based efforts toward fostering a culture of participatory repair throughout the EU, including repair cafés and tool libraries. Participatory repair activities provide numerous environmental, social, and economic benefits. This article explores whether directive 2001/29/EC’s exception for “uses in connection with the repair or demonstration of equipment” at Article 5(3)(l) (the “Repair Exception”) may offer an avenue for enabling such non-profit participatory repair activities. Following an examination of the shortcomings of recent EU- wide policy measures and industry-led commitments aimed at providing access to repair information, the article looks to the Repair Exception’s origins, member state implementation, and its interpretive scope as an autonomous concept of EU law. Considering the strong public interest in participatory repair and dissemination of technical knowledge, the article calls for a robust autonomous interpretation of the Repair Exception to enable non-profit repair activities throughout the EU while accounting for and balancing the legitimate economic interests of rightsholders.


Everybody may disseminate this article by electronic means and make it available for download under the terms and conditions of the Digital Peer Publishing Licence (DPPL). A copy of the license text may be obtained at http://nbn-resolving. de/urn:nbn:de:0009-dppl-v3-en8.