After Dumb Lobbying Delays And Ample Watering Down, NY Passes Landmark ‘Right To Repair’ Bill

from the fix-your-own-shit dept

New York State has finally passed a landmark “right to repair” bill proving American consumers some additional protection from repair monopolies. After some annoying delays created by lobbyists, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul signed the legislation on December 29.

The legislation gives New York consumers the right to fix their electronic devices themselves or have them repaired by an independent repair shop, instead of being forced to only obtain repairs through costly manufacturer repair programs. Groups like Consumer Reports were thrilled:

Marta Tellado, president and CEO of Consumer Reports, said, “This landmark law will save New Yorkers money, provide them with more convenient repair options, and cut down on waste. When your device is broken, you should have more options than a high-priced service or the landfill. The Digital Fair Repair Act will ensure that New York consumers have the choice to fix their own electronic products or have them fixed by a servicer they choose, including those independent of the manufacturer.

The final version of the bill enjoyed rare bipartisan support, passing the state assembly 147–2 and the senate 59–4. To make this happen, the bill doesn’t include vehicles, home appliances, farm equipment or medical devices — all sectors rife with obnoxious attempts to monopolize repair via DRM or by making diagnostics either expensive or impossible.

The final version of the bill stalled on Hochul’s desk as lobbyists attempted to weaken it further. With some success; according to Gothamist reporter Jon Campbell, the final bill strips away language requiring that manufacturers provide consumers, all “passwords, security codes, or materials to override security features,” as well as some additional intellectual property protections demanded by industry.

There are also some additional restrictions that force consumers to buy entire “repair assemblages” instead of being able to buy just the independent parts they need, which advocates say further undermines the law (imagine being forced to buy an entire computer motherboard when just a single component is broken):


It’s still a meaningful win, especially given the massive, well-funded, cross-industry opposition to the bill. Right to repair coalitions put it this way:

Repair supporters are justifiably upset that the law signed bears little resemblance to our original. The governor never made a statement of her intent, but it’s clear now that she never wanted the bill to include more than cell phones and laptops purchased at big box stores. At the same time, we know that lobbyists had her ear – and TechNet in particular has clearly had the most influence. But it still moves the ball forward so we’ll take our fight to the next level elsewhere.

So it’s nowhere near the landmark bill it professes to be, but it’s still a step forward. While it’s been a fairly dark decade for U.S. consumer rights, the “right to repair” movement’s shift from niche to mainstream continues to be one of the more promising trends in recent memory.

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Comments on “After Dumb Lobbying Delays And Ample Watering Down, NY Passes Landmark ‘Right To Repair’ Bill”

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14 Comments
Dan (profile) says:

Not really a step forward

According to Louis Rossmann it isn’t a step forward. According to him, (I’m paraphrasing here) somebody snuck in a line that manufacturers only need to provide assemblies, not parts. This is exactly what they do now, and a practice this bill was to eliminate. In his opinion, the bill is useless. I tend to agree with this particular expert. The argument can be made that “this opens the door to other bills”. The powers that be will likely neuter those also.

Anonymous Coward says:

A boxed and shrink-wrapped new phone can also be perfecly described as being an “assembly of parts”.

Denying ANY repair at all and just forcing the sale of a new device as an “assembly of parts” just became completely legal, thus will have the opposite effect of the originally intended purpose of the bill.

Apple (and other manufacturers) will no longer provide any post-warranty repair at all, will just provide “assemblies” which are actually fully boxed devices.

This bill by Gov. Hochul will also cause a lot more of e-waste by accelerating the trashing of defective equipment.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

product SKUs after the new law:

  • “original phone” = boxed and shrink-wrapped new phone with charger and printed leaflets/brochure included
  • “assembly of parts” = boxed and shrink-wrapped new phone, but without charger and without any accessories or even a printed manual/brochure.

q.e.d. that is now a very quick repair according to Governor Hochul, isn’t it?

/s

Luke says:

Re: Re:

… No, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act does not say that.

A warranty may be voided for unauthorized-repairs as long as the formal warranty text clearly states that restriction.

Most warranties have some specific restrictions that legally void the warranty, such as buyer misuse of the product or failure to follow manufacturer’s directions for use/care of the product.

new NY law might conflict with that Federal law; if so, Federal law takes precedence.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

though it depends a lot on the context

quotes from: https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/16/700.10

16 CFR § 700.10 – Prohibited tying.

RULES, REGULATIONS, STATEMENTS AND INTERPRETATIONS UNDER THE MAGNUSON-MOSS WARRANTY ACT PART 700 – INTERPRETATIONS OF MAGNUSON-MOSS WARRANTY ACT § 700.10 Prohibited tying.

(a) Section 102(c), 15 U.S.C. 2302(c), prohibits tying arrangements that condition coverage under a written warranty on the consumer’s use of an article or service identified by brand, trade, or corporate name unless that article or service is provided without charge to the consumer.

(b) Under a limited warranty that provides only for replacement of defective parts and no portion of labor charges, section 102(c), 15 U.S.C. 2302(c), prohibits a condition that the consumer use only service (labor) identified by the warrantor to install the replacement parts.
A warrantor or his designated representative may not provide parts under the warranty in a manner which impedes or precludes the choice by the consumer of the person or business to perform necessary labor to install such parts.

(c) No warrantor may condition the continued validity of a warranty on the use of only authorized repair service and/or authorized replacement parts for non-warranty service and maintenance (other than an article of service provided without charge under the warranty or unless the warrantor has obtained a waiver pursuant to section 102(c) of the Act, 15 U.S.C. 2302(c)).

For example, provisions such as, “This warranty is void if service is performed by anyone other than an authorized `ABC’ dealer and all replacement parts must be genuine `ABC’ parts,” and the like, are prohibited where the service or parts are not covered by the warranty.

These provisions violate the Act in two ways. First, they violate the section 102(c), 15 U.S.C. 2302(c), ban against tying arrangements. Second, such provisions are deceptive under section 110 of the Act, 15 U.S.C. 2310, because a warrantor cannot, as a matter of law, avoid liability under a written warranty where a defect is unrelated to the use by a consumer of “unauthorized” articles or service.

In addition, warranty language that implies to a consumer acting reasonably in the circumstances that warranty coverage requires the consumer’s purchase of an article or service identified by brand, trade or corporate name is similarly deceptive. For example, a provision in the warranty such as, “use only an authorized `ABC’ dealer” or “use only `ABC’ replacement parts,” is prohibited where the service or parts are not provided free of charge pursuant to the warranty.

This does not preclude a warrantor from expressly excluding liability for defects or damage caused by “unauthorized” articles or service; nor does it preclude the warrantor from denying liability where the warrantor can demonstrate that the defect or damage was so caused.
[42 FR 36114, July 13, 1977, as amended at 80 FR 42721, July 20, 2015]

q.e.d.

Anonymous Coward says:

Its called a trapazoid economy

Circle economies are for literate people.

Now next time you hear them whine about climate change, tell them its just the trapazoid strategy.. And they’re the zoid. Instead of a cool acronym, a trapezoid is actually what a jaw dropping from a repair estimate looks like.

Its supposed to be waste anyways. And its actually pronounced right to rep air! GoooooooOOOOOO air!!! You are so good air!!!!! Right to rep air…… You’re doing it wrong.

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