Uninformed Legislators Shoot Down Right To Repair Legislation In Colorado

from the try,-try-again dept

As we’ve noted a few times, 2021 is seeing record interest in new right to repair laws. Driven by grass roots activism, such laws are being pushed in more than fourteen states. Most variations not only protect your right to repair hardware you own, they open the door to more independent repair shops, and fewer corporate giants attempting to monopolize repair (Apple, John Deere, Microsoft, Sony, many more).

Unsurprisingly, said companies are engaged in a lot of theatrics to undermine such efforts, including false claims that such laws will create a boom in sexual predators, raise prices, or turn otherwise peaceful American towns and cities into diabolical meccas for hackers. This coordinated assault on such laws has been effective in states like Colorado, where the state legislature recently shot down one such legislative effort, even after hearing testimony about how repair restrictions are harming health care providers during COVID by hamstringing access to essential repair technology and documentation or replacement parts:

“The Colorado House Business Affairs & Labor committee met to consider the law on March 25. Twelve legislators voted to indefinitely postpone considering the bill. Only one voted for it. ?I still have a lot of questions. I still have a lot of concerns,? Rep. Monica Duran (D) said at the end of the committee hearing. She voted no on the bill.”

But these befuddled lawmakers apparently couldn’t be bothered to actually ask any questions during testimony showcasing the very real harm repair monopolies are causing across countless sectors. And like many issues in tech, this isn’t really a partisan debate; in fact the right to repair movement truly took off when John Deere tractor owners began to get angry about the company’s draconian DRM and repair policies. Policies that often force rural farm owners to pay thousands of extra dollars and travel sometimes hundreds of additional miles just to even diagnose problems with their tractors.

Even after folks clearly testified about the scope of the harm repair monopolies cause to agriculture, health care, and other sectors, and after folks clearly illustrated the environmental impact of a wasteful culture routinely incentivized to avoid repair and buy new, the lawmakers made oodles of comments suggesting they’d bought into corporate narratives on the subject:

“In their own comments, the legislators repeated lines Apple and other companies often use to defend their repair monopolies. Shannon Bird (D), for example, said that manufacturers have the right to dictate how a customer uses its product. She stressed that Apple can sell licenses to whatever it wants. ?Apple Music is different than purchasing a CD,? she said. “I have a hard time believing that we would call it Apple having a monopoly on its own product.?

Many of the legislators on the committee conflated the repair market with the phone market itself. Others said that a right-to-repair bill would increase the cost of phones for everyone.

That’s false and… embarrassing. Fortunately for right to repair activists, the harder companies fight against these efforts, the more support they’re seeing from the public. And there’s certainly going to be no shortage of new evidence of harms when it comes to draconian DRM, ham-fisted restrictions on repair tools and technology, environmental waste, and soaring consumer repair costs. So while Colorado legislators were too uninformed this go-round, it’s a subject that’s not going away anytime soon. Perhaps next time lawmakers can spend more than thirty seconds trying to understand the subject.

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Companies: apple

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Comments on “Uninformed Legislators Shoot Down Right To Repair Legislation In Colorado”

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33 Comments
This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Shannon Bird (D), for example, said that manufacturers have the right to dictate how a customer uses its product.

Does she not know the meaning o serfdom, somebody else controls the necessities for living, or does she just not care if everybody becomes serfs to the rich?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Wow.

It’s not Apple’s products, it’s the customers’ products.

Try to install an app that Apple doesn’t approve of. Or an OS, a replacement for a broken fingerprint sensor, a home button, or anything else for that matter.

Apple owns Apple products. You the consumer just lease Apple products for a one time fee under a permanent data collection and resell agreement.

Samuel Abram (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Wow.

Try to install…an OS…that Apple doesn’t approve of

Until Apple foolishly switched from Intel to ARM, I could boot Windows and Linux on my Mac.

Or…a replacement for a broken fingerprint sensor, a home button, or anything else for that matter.

Oh wait, you were talking about iOS devices, because I could plug in USB devices to do all that on my Mac.

Apple owns Apple products. You the consumer just lease Apple products for a one time fee under a permanent data collection and resell agreement.

Macintosh Computers are still general purpose computers for now…I mean, I still am able to install apps on Big Sur (a.k.a. OS 11) without the approval of Apple, but oh fuck, it’s because I had an intel Mac! Goddammit, the day I feared has come about…Tim Cook has completely ruined Apple…

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Wow.

"I mean none of use should even need a warranty"

They are vital on new purchases. Without them, manufacturers have an incentive to cut corners in order to have products fail more quickly and generate more purchases. With a warranty, they know that they have to have the product reasonably last the term of that warranty.

"If you can repair yourself, you can do it on the cheap"

If you have a warranty, the manufacturer should be doing it for free, and you can even get the retailer to replace the product in many cases (here in Europe, anyway).

Extended warranties are a scam, but they’re needed on new purchases unless you like being ripped off even more than you are now.

Samuel Abram (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Wow.

Both are possible, but not without voiding the warranty. Are you saying that Apple should be forced to repair devices under warranty that have broken the terms of that warranty?

It’s not just a voided warranty, it’s a violation of the DMCA 512. I’ll let [Cory Doctorow explain it] (https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1320006620839989248.html):

the real ticking time-bomb in the DMCA is Section 1201, the "anti-circumvention" rule, which makes it a felony (punishing by a 5-year prison sentence and a $500k fine) to help people tamper with "access controls" that restrict copyrighted works. This rule means that if a company designs its products so that you have to remove DRM to use them in legal ways, those uses become felonies. DMCA 1201 is how Apple and John Deere make it a felony for anyone except them to fix their products. They just design their devices so that after the repair is complete, you need an unlock code to get the system to recognize new parts. Bypassing the unlock code defeats an "access control" and is thus a literal crime.

So DMCA 1201 (or rather, the Corporations that benefit therefrom) is why we can’t have nice things.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Wow.

She stressed that Apple can sell licenses to whatever it wants. “Apple Music is different than purchasing a CD,” she said.

Who the hell ever suggested they should be able to "repair Apple Music". No shit it isn’t a CD. If it were, you’d have every right to attempt to repair a scratch.

We’re talking about hardware here, fuckwit, not a service.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Why no follow up question

“I still have a lot of questions. I still have a lot of concerns,” Rep. Monica Duran (D) said at the end of the committee hearing. She voted no on the bill."

What questions/concern does she have. Maybe someone that is not the mfr can answer these.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Shannon Bird (D), for example, said that manufacturers have the right to dictate how a customer uses its product.

Wow. I sure hope she got paid well for that kind of loyalty. (To her corporate donors, obviously, not to the voters she "represents.")

Anonymous Coward says:

Others said that a right-to-repair bill would increase the cost of phones for everyone. That’s false and… embarrassing.

What’s this opinion based on? It seems plausible to me. There are so few smartphone manufacturers that they could probably get away with increasing the cost just out of spite. But, if they have to provide parts and documentation (e.g. to third-party repair shops), that adds actual costs in advance of corresponding income. I can’t imagine it would be more than a few cents per phone, but an increase is an increase and these "others" didn’t mention any specific magnitude. Nor did they say it would increase spending on phones; only the cost of phones, which would of course be incurred less frequently if they were repairable.

R.H. (profile) says:

Re: Re:

There’s nothing preventing the manufacturers from charging enough for parts to make up for any potential losses from having to make them available. Also, this is simply in the cases where the manufacturer makes all the parts themselves.

For example, Apple uses outsourced parts in many of their MacBooks, and in certain cases, they use contracts to block those companies from selling those same components to repair shops. This causes those shops to have to harvest these components from other dead machines in order to repair these MacBooks. If there was a right-to-repair law, Apple wouldn’t have to pay a cent more for these components given the size of their orders but, independent repair shops would be able to actually order them too.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

There’s nothing preventing the manufacturers from charging enough for parts to make up for any potential losses from having to make them available.

Setting up (or opening up) the repair-part supply-chain will be an upfront cost that won’t be recouped until later. It’s not a big problem for a cash-rich company like Apple to borrow from future (massive) profits, of course, but they’re not going to say that. If you read their statements carefully, you can see they’re vague enough to be technically true while making people think of something much worse than is likely to happen.

Hint: if someone is predicting that prices will go up, and they’re not saying by how much, it’s probably not by much. If Apple thought it would cost another hundred dollars per phone, they’d sure as hell be reporting the number when trying to sway public opinion.

Anonymous Coward says:

what amount was paid to these morons in the way of ‘under the table’ campaign contributions then? there can be no other reason to stop people who buy something from being able to repair it when it goes wrong other that the law makers being paid ridiculous sums of money to prevent it from happening and, just as in the caseof the entertainment industries, ensure that no one can do anything with what they have bought and ensure the industries concerned retain the monopolies thay have established and certainly have no wish to give up!

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

there can be no other reason to stop people who buy something from being able to repair it when it goes wrong other that the law makers being paid ridiculous sums of money to prevent it from happening

The amount of money it takes to sway even a US Senator is surprisingly low, and these are state representatives. A few thousand would probably be plenty. This assumes that there hasn’t been a widespread economy of illegal bribes going on for decades. I figure someone would have reported on that by now.

John85851 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

"widespread economy of illegal bribes going on for decades. I figure someone would have reported on that by now."

If the economy of illegal bribes has been going on for decades, then they’ve probably gotten so good at it that no one has reported on it.
I’m sure it’s nothing like the old days where a lobbyist gives a stack of $100 bills to a senator while a reporter snaps a photo.
Instead, the company gives the senator’s son some free toys and maybe gives the daughter an internship with the company. Nope, no "bribe" here since there’s no money changing hands.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

If the economy of illegal bribes has been going on for decades, then they’ve probably gotten so good at it that no one has reported on it.

Except that there were many people who would have been very interested in reporting on it that whole time. They would have had to be so good at it from the word go that it’s gone completely undetected all these years. Given how easily things leak in Washington, I don’t find that believable.

Instead, the company gives the senator’s son some free toys and maybe gives the daughter an internship with the company.

I am sure that happens, probably a lot. I doubt it is the norm where most lawmakers are regularly accepting such bribes. I sure hope it isn’t. It is also not the millions of dollars under the table that many people imagine happens on the regular to corrupt legislators.

That One Guy (profile) says:

'You're just giving me words, they're giving me money, so...'

That even after testimony about the harms of companies being able to prevent repairs they still just parroted the corporate talking points would seem to suggest that they’d already made their decisions and the thing was just a sham to go through the motions before killing the bill, which leads me to wonder if they are just that gullible or if they were bought out beforehand because it’s most certainly one of those.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Upstream (profile) says:

Re: 'You're just giving me words, they're giving me money, so...

This is another case where the "Hanlon’s Razor" benefit of the doubt should not apply.

Given the evidence:

A) . . . even after hearing testimony about how repair restrictions are harming health care providers during COVID by hamstringing access to essential repair technology and documentation or replacement parts

B) Even after folks clearly testified about the scope of the harm repair monopolies cause to agriculture, health care, and other sectors, and after folks clearly illustrated the environmental impact of a wasteful culture routinely incentivized to avoid repair and buy new, the lawmakers made oodles of comments suggesting they’d bought into corporate narratives on the subject:

and

C) In their own comments, the legislators repeated lines Apple and other companies often use to defend their repair monopolies.

It is perfectly reasonable to conclude that the legislators were bought out beforehand. It would be completely unreasonable to come to any other conclusion.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

"“Apple Music is different than purchasing a CD,” she said. "I have a hard time believing that we would call it Apple having a monopoly on its own product."

That’s correct, and also utterly irrelevant and a completely different issue to you having the right to repair the hardware you bought.

Monopolyp says:

Re: Re:

Actually, she is wrong, Apple does have a monopoly on their products, that’s what trademark, copyright and (design) patents are about.

Those are explicit monopolies of the given thing, i.e. no one else is allowed to use said thing without the o.k. from Apple.
Like only Apple can sell computers with the name Apple, so Apple has a monopoly on Apple computers.

Despite what many people seem to think, monopolies aren’t illegal, only the abuse is.

And that would be the question here, is the blocking off 3rd party parts an abuse of that monopoly?

Anonymous Coward says:

Unusually, a car analogy works nicely here… The manufacturers tried to go down the proprietary route but were slapped for being anti-competitive – the OBD protocol was born.

Would these same lawmakers be ok with forcing every independent repair shop to close and with mandating that all car repair/servicing has to be carried out at an official garage at highly inflated rates?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Uninformed?

I’m more inclined to think they’re pretending to be stupid for money.

Yep. All the more reason why these bastards should be removed from office.

It won’t happen though. The US is a thoroughly corrupt country. There is no redemption for it beyond utter collapse, and even then, they’d still find someway to swindle and cheat each other over whatever remnants were left.

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