Canada Inches Closer To ‘Right To Repair’ Reform

from the fix-your-own-shit dept

Right to repair reform continues to have a moment here in the U.S., with four states (California, Minnesota, New York, and recently Maine) having passed state level protections. The goal: to fight repair monopolies and make it easier and more affordable to repair the technology you own, whether it’s your car, game console, cell phone, CPAP machine, or tractor.

It’s a rare example of U.S. consumer protection heading in the right direction. And Canada appears to be following suit, with right to repair legislation winding its way through the legislative process.

C-244 passed unanimously in the House of Commons in October, and is now being debated in the Canadian Senate. The bill would amend the Canadian copyright act, allowing individuals or independent repair shops to break digital locks in order to make software fixes. It remains unclear what a final federal proposal would look like, but the CBC notes that recent progress has been promising:

“In an email to CBC, the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development said the government is doing pre-consultation work and that the right to repair in Canada could consist of different measures, including at the provincial and territorial levels.”

Much like the U.S., regional Canadian territories aren’t waiting for the federal government to listen to the public and get its shit together. For example in early October the Quebec government passed Bill 29, which aims to “protect consumers from planned obsolescence and to promote the durability, repairability and maintenance of goods.”

U.S. and Canada are trying to make sure consumers have affordable access to the kinds of tools, parts, and repair documentation needed to fix their own products. Europe, in contrast, is taking an approach that’s focused more heavily on making sure companies aren’t building environmentally unsustainable products (like cellphones with the batteries glued to the motherboard).

Collectively it’s a hugely popular reform movement that shows no sign of slowing down thanks to widespread, bipartisan majority public support. Lobbyists have had some success here in the States watering down state legislation, but, as evident by recent tactical retreats by giants like Apple and Microsoft, there are growing signs companies are realizing this isn’t a fight they can win.

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Comments on “Canada Inches Closer To ‘Right To Repair’ Reform”

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5 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

It’s probably smart that the Canadian territories aren’t waiting on the federal government

Note, though, that the article doesn’t explore the legality of it. As in the U.S.A., copyright is the exclusive domain of the federal government. And unlike provinces and states, the territories aren’t sovereign at all; their legal status is more like D.C.’s or Guam’s.

I won’t be surprised to see aspects of the laws challeged on such technicalities, if the feds don’t hurry up. The laws will probably still have some effect for manufacturers located in the relevant areas, or directly selling into them. Quebec’s law (an archive.org link because the original isn’t loading for me), for example, also incorporates aspects of automotive “lemon laws” (after 3 unsuccessful repair attempts for the same thing, all buyers must be told it’s “seriously defective”) and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (prohibiting “charges on the ground that the part is not an original part from the manufacturer or that the maintenance service was not performed by the manufacturer or a merchant approved by the manufacturer”), and I doubt dealers in Quebec will be able to weasel out of those provisions.

Anonymous Coward says:

The thing that’s always made me shake my head in bafflement is that the ‘big’ companies who want monopolization don’t seem to understand that their ranks of techies and engineers all filled from below, not out of some mystical or mythical pool of already trained talent. These people got the ‘bug’ to fiddle with their purchased gear while in their teens, or even earlier, and that translated to getting an education that prepared them for work in their field of choice, not asking if you’d like fries with that.

To put it bluntly, ‘big repair monoply’ needs to understand that today’s current generation is woefully under-prepared to step into vacant seats as old-timers start retiring.

a) Gamers who modify their X-box aren’t necessarily equipped to handle microwave cell towers, for example;

b) Software and computers in cars hugely prevent the backyard mechanic from becoming any kind of mechanic at all – this greatly reduces the chances of someone interested in cars ever becoming an engineer at some car manufacturer;

c) Why should a young person go into farming if he has to spend more to purchase farming equipment, and keep it in good repair, than he’ll never make in profit, year over year? (Here I speak to John Deere wanting to force the little guys out of the picture, and sell only to fleet level big agriculture.)

Examples abound, I’m sure you can think of many more of them than I have picked out. But most of all, I’m saddened that, as noted many a time here, Wall St. has taken over the…. “zest”, if you will, of America’s desire to better itself. It’s all about the 90-day profit, and absofuckinglutely nothing else matters.

Cue Jeff Daniel’s iconic speech in the pilot episode of Newsroom: Why America is not the greatest nation in the world anymore.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

It’s all about the 90-day profit, and absofuckinglutely nothing else matters.

I disagree. It’s all about the 90-day growth, not profit. Growth is the performance metric that matters on the exchange.

Growth is about continually increasing the gap between number of employees and number of customers.

And at the end of the day, if JD exhausts the market because only Big Ag is left to sell to, and they’ve already all got contracts and refuse to increase their service payments, JD collapses and the C-level executives that made the call either retire rich or start a new company with the same practices, and “grow” by “stealing” increasing amounts of revenue from the collapsing husk of JD. Meanwhile, the farmers have to start over because there’s nobody left to support their JD hardware and software.

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