Medical providers face countless challenges in responding to the COVID pandemic, and copyright shouldn’t have to be one of them. Hundreds of volunteers came together to create the Medical Device Repair Database posted to the repair information website iFixit, providing medical practitioners and technicians an easy-to-use, annotated, and indexed resource to help them keep devices in good repair. The database includes documentation for mission-critical devices relevant to the COVID pandemic and has been widely praised as a tool for caregivers and those supporting them.
Despite this, Steris Corporation contacted iFixit to demand that their products’ documentation be taken down on copyright grounds. As the name suggests, Steris makes sterilization-related devices used to prevent contamination and the spread of disease. Unlike disease, though, the spread of repair information enhances public health and Steris should leave it alone.
Fortunately, the law is on iFixit’s side. As we explained in our letter back to Steris, iFixit is protected by the safe harbor of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act when it hosts user-provided content, and the Medical Device Repair Database is making fair use of the repair materials hosted there.
Medical care and the maintenance of medical devices are too important to let overreaching copyright claims get in the way. We at EFF are proud to be able to support iFixit and we hope that the device manufacturers will let the repair community continue to do its vital work instead of wasting everyone’s time with unfounded legal threats.