Re:Create Joins Right-to-Repair, Copyright Appeal for COVID-19 TRIPS Waiver

On September 27, Re:Create joined a number of organizations in urging President Biden to include copyright in the WTO TRIPS waiver for COVID-19. The waiver should not be limited to patents for vaccines; copyright applies to the algorithms in mRNA vaccines and the software in medical equipment.

Re:Create previously praised the Biden-Harris Administration when Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced U.S. support for the temporary waiver for COVID-19 vaccines’ intellectual property protections.

The joint letter this week was signed by over a dozen organizations, including iFixit, the American Library Association and the Wikimedia Foundation. The groups urge Ambassador Tai and members of the Administration to work to ensure the waiver language applies to all intellectual property rights, not just patents. Examples of how copyright limitations and exceptions are needed to prevent, treat and contain COVID-19 include:

  • The right-to-repair ventilators that run on copyrighted software
  • Copyrighted computational algorithms make mRNA vaccines
  • Text and data mining of scientific publications to aid vaccine research
  • Virtual and digital access to libraries and other educational materials

A waiver that encompasses right-to-repair would be in line with President Biden’s July executive order directing the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to draft new right-to-repair rules to expand the ability for consumers and researchers to repair their own products and devices. 

“The Administration has displayed great leadership by announcing support for a TRIPS waiver and attempting to fashion an approach agreeable to all parties. As it continues these efforts, it should resist the temptation to narrow the scope of the waiver to exclude copyrights and other rights,” concludes the letter.