California Becomes 20th State To Push 'Right to Repair' Legislation

from the monopolized-repair dept

A few years back, frustration at John Deere's draconian tractor DRM culminated in a grassroots tech movement. The company's crackdown on "unauthorized repairs" turned countless ordinary citizens into technology policy activists, after DRM and the company's EULA prohibited the lion-share of repair or modification of tractors customers thought they owned. These restrictions only worked to drive up costs for owners, who faced either paying significantly more money for "authorized" repair, or toying around with pirated firmware just to ensure the products they owned actually worked.

The John Deere fiasco resulted in the push for a new "right to repair" law in Nebraska that not only proposed protecting the consumers' right to repair their own tech, but protected independent, third-party repair shops from efforts by many major companies to monopolize repair (Apple and game console vendors like Sony and Microsoft usually come first to mind). This push then quickly spread to multiple other states, driven by a groundswell of consumer annoyance.

Last week, California became the twentieth state in the country to support such a law. It's the second year in a row the legislation has been proposed, with the folks at iFixit explaining that this latest version eyes simply updating the state's existing lemon law:

Last year’s bill was proposed to California law at large, while this year’s bill is an amendment to California’s effective Lemon Law, a.k.a. the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act. Unique to the state of California, this law requires companies to provide a repair option. It’s been effective at making sure that you can get your six-year-old MacBook Pro fixed by Apple in California—a service that Apple refuses to perform across the border in Arizona. But manufacturers found a loophole in the law allowing them to monopolize repair rather than providing parts to the repair provider of the consumer’s choice. This bill closes that loophole.

Granted the reason no bill has actually been passed yet is thanks to the extensive lobbying done by companies including Verizon, Microsoft, Apple, and Sony, who obviously don't want smaller independent shops (or smart consumers) eroding their repair revenues. More often than not, these companies have tried to scare folks away from such legislation by insisting it will create all manner of new and diabolical privacy and security problems. Apple in particular notoriously warned that the law in Nebraska would somehow make the state a "mecca for hackers."

The efforts proceed all the same. Of the 20 state laws proposed, Minnesota's effort (which has now passed through two state committees) has managed to proceed the furthest. For its part, iFixit notes that the legislation doesn't just aid consumer rights, it can help rein in waste made worse by companies like Apple which impose counterproductive restrictions on re-use and recycling:

"Consumers should have the right to choose their repair provider. Increasing independent repair options will encourage people to fix the electronics and appliances they already own, rather than toss their broken belongings and buy new ones. Independent and self-repair also help people save money, create local jobs, and prevent e-waste—which is now the fastest growing waste stream in the world."

And while numerous giants are working hand-in-hand to scuttle such legislation, it seems like 2019 is likely to see the first such bill finally passed, with many more clearly waiting in the wings as consumers grow increasingly annoyed by high costs and arbitrary restrictions.

Filed Under: california, right to repair


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  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 20 Mar 2019 @ 12:13pm

    Nice! But 20 out of 50 isn't anywhere near enough; let's keep adding states to that number!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Gary (profile), 20 Mar 2019 @ 1:12pm

    But why??

    And why do we need laws like this? Because repairs are being stymied under Copyright laws.
    DCMA is what stands between us and our property.

    That is what copyright is for, right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 21 Mar 2019 @ 3:15am

      Re: But why??

      It's a feature not a bug. The point of the DMCA's rules surrounding DRM is to allow others to control your product after you "bought" it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2019 @ 1:58pm

    Same stupid reason printers time out the cartridges even before they get empty and won't work. The claim is to protect the printer, but it's just to make you spend more money faster. The price of cartridges has gotten so it's cheaper to throw the printer away and buy a new one since that cost is less than new cartridges. So much for Green Policies at tech companies.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2019 @ 2:04pm

      Re:

      The latest thing is to sell you a printer full of ink, and make you pay extra to "unlock" the full amount. Kind of like Telsa's cars, which can receive an over-the-air "battery upgrade".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Gary (profile), 20 Mar 2019 @ 10:00pm

      Re:

      Ink? That isn't ink you are buying. That is a hardware module with code containing encrypted and copyrighted information. It also has a small amount of ink.
      DCMA extended copyright to ink carts and garage door openers.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2019 @ 6:55am

        Re: Re:

        iirc, the garage door thing was resolved in a manner that allows one to make, sell, purchase replacement openers.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Jak Crow (profile), 21 Mar 2019 @ 3:30pm

      Re:

      I don't know what printers you've been using, but the Canon MFPs I've used for years let me run carts nearly dry.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 20 Mar 2019 @ 2:15pm

    But what about ICE?

    But without repair shops to shut down what will California-based ICE agents do now?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bobvious, 20 Mar 2019 @ 3:47pm

    You mean THIS Micro$oft? This Appl€?

    The ones that could provide search results on their OWN search engines?
    The ones that people would use if they actually WANTED to?

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-21/eu-fines-google-nearly-one-and-a-half-billion-for-antitru st/10923000

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 20 Mar 2019 @ 3:50pm

      Re: You mean THIS Micro$oft? This Appl€?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2019 @ 5:24pm

      Re: You mean THIS Micro$oft? This Appl€?

      The ones that could provide search results on their OWN search engines?
      The ones that people would use if they actually WANTED to?

      And what the fuck all does this have to do with the right to repair?

      Go spew your bullshit somewhere else!!!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2019 @ 6:26pm

        Re: Re: You mean THIS Micro$oft? This Appl€?

        Companies attacking Google in Europe for "monopoly":

        Microsoft
        Apple

        Companies that provide alternative internet search options:

        Microsoft
        Apple

        Companies monopolizing repair in the US:

        Microsoft
        Apple

        Pots calling kettles black:

        Microsoft
        Apple

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Thad (profile), 21 Mar 2019 @ 8:18am

          Re: Re: Re: You mean THIS Micro$oft? This Appl€?

          Sorry, the question was "And what the fuck all does this have to do with the right to repair?"

          ...and I'm pretty sure Apple doesn't have a search engine that competes with Google.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 21 Mar 2019 @ 8:36am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: You mean THIS Micro$oft? This Appl€?

            They don't, but since when did facts matter to these guys when they can roll a conspiracy theory?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Thad (profile), 21 Mar 2019 @ 8:48am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: You mean THIS Micro$oft? This Appl€?

              Their ranting is so incoherent I'm not even sure if it's a conspiracy theory. It could be Whataboutism, changing the subject, accidentally posting in the wrong tab, or good old-fashioned non sequiturs. Or just the comedown from a paint chip high.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Bobvious, 21 Mar 2019 @ 3:43pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: You mean THIS Micro$oft? This Appl€?

            "Companies MONOPOLIZING REPAIR in the US:

            Microsoft
            Apple"

            (emphasis mine)

            "Companies attacking Google in Europe for "monopoly":

            Microsoft
            Apple"

            I think Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2019 @ 6:26pm was addressing the "monopoly" and "right to repair" that was queried by Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2019 @ 5:24pm.

            Both Mi¢®o$o£t and Appl€ provide PLATFORMS upon which users can initiate alternative internet searches if they wish, using engines other than Google.

            Ultimately it is the height of hypocrisy for those two to cry "Google monopoly", when they set the bar in the first place.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Thad (profile), 22 Mar 2019 @ 9:47am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: You mean THIS Micro$oft? This Appl€?

              Whataboutism, then. Thanks for clearing that up.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Bobvious, 23 Mar 2019 @ 5:10am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: You mean THIS Micro$oft? This Appl€

                "Whataboutism (also known as whataboutery) is a variant of the tu quoque logical fallacy that attempts to discredit an opponent's position by charging them with hypocrisy without directly refuting or disproving their argument,[1][2][3] which in the United States is particularly associated with Soviet and Russian propaganda."

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whataboutism

                "Google's foe, the Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace, said regulators should stay vigilant. "Competitors have withered or died. It's time for the EU and governments around the world to step in and address the underlying wrong," its chairman, Michael Weber, said in a statement."

                https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-21/eu-fines-google-nearly-one-and-a-half-billio n-for-antitrust/10923000

                "The Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace or ICOMP is a lobbying organisation and based in London with a membership including various publishing and software companies. It exists to lobby legislators to take measures to increase competition in online advertising, to regulate the collection of information about online users and protect the rights of authors and publishers.[1]
                ....
                The Daily Telegraph has described ICOMP as "a organisation whose sole purpose appears to be to attack Google".[3] The Register[6] published an article following the submission of a complaint by Foundem to the European Commission suggesting that an attempt on behalf of Google was to focus on Microsoft’s membership of ICOMP to “deflect attention from its antitrust issues”[7] ICOMP legal counsel David Wood submitted a response to these media criticisms, accusing Google of making "seriously misleading statements" about ICOMP, and of "Shooting the messenger to avoid having to deal with unpalatable messages".[8]

                As of late 2016, Microsoft no longer financially supports ICOMP. `After Microsoft withdrew its financial support, some voting members also left ICOMP. One such member, Foundem, left due to alleged internal disputes about shifting the sole purpose of ICOMP away from Google's alleged anti-competitive practices. The details of the events leading to Foundem's claims of ICOMP working against a free internet are unknown, but ICOMP has acknowledged that the organisation is "aligning [its] focus to evolving interests of [its] membership." [9] "

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Initiative_for_a_Competitive_Online_Marketplace

                "Almon Brown Strowger (February 11, 1839 – May 26, 1902) was an American inventor who gave his name to the Strowger switch, an electromechanical telephone exchange technology that his invention and patent inspired.
                .....
                Anecdotally, Strowger's undertaking business was losing clients to a competitor whose telephone-operator wife was redirecting everyone who called for Strowger.[1] Motivated to remove the intermediary operator, he invented the first automatic telephone exchange in 1889"

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almon_Strowger

                Almon Strowger didn't run whinging to the regulators about the effect his competitor was having on his business. He came up with an ALTERNATIVE, and he INNOVATED. As has been stated elsewhere about legacy business dinosaurs "If you can't innovate, litigate"

                https://www.forbes.com/sites/ericsavitz/2012/07/02/if-you-cant-innovate-litigate/

                htt ps://thenextweb.com/insider/2012/04/20/losing-market-share-litigate-dont-innovate/

                https://www.virgi n.com/disruptors/if-you-cant-innovate-litigate-are-entrepreneurs-being-prevented-innovating

                and so on.

                But rather than focus on their OWN ability to provide ALTERNATIVE search results, these same companies that are fighting YOUR right to repair, are attacking Google through proxies.

                So NO. NOT Whataboutism. Merely pointing out that those same companies are also stifling alternatives elsewhere.

                Out_of_Lube and Jhon Smith will no doubt be happy to stifle your right to repair. TD is often accused of being an echo chamber, but clearly not all of us agree on everything all the time.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Madd the Sane (profile), 20 Mar 2019 @ 8:34pm

    Interesting…

    Hmm… California is the home of Apple. Apple has been very bad at making their computers repairable. *grabs popcorn*

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    sangongoaitroi19 (profile), 20 Mar 2019 @ 9:17pm

    worth pondering

    Oh..Really!? That's mean California will be better in the future. Waiting...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2019 @ 2:20am

    out_of_the_blue and Richard Bennett pissing their pants in 3, 2, 1...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2019 @ 4:10am

    as right as it is, this 'right to repair' isn't the law that needs changing or introducing, as the case may be. what is needed is that when you buy something, you ACTUALLY FUCKING WELL OWN IT! the judge who first decided that this isn't the case needs stringing up by the nuts, covering in honey and lowering on to an ants nest! i mean, come on! what a friggin dick head! i wonder what he got for arriving at that ruling??

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2019 @ 4:58am

      Re:

      So we need a certain outcome, and what we get is a major step in the right direction, and therefore because the judge didn't go further on a case that wasn't actually about anything further, he was horrendously wrong and needs to be punished severely?

      Does not compute! And even if you're right, you're still wrong. Judges going far beyond the bounds of what a case is about is how we end up with legal abominations such as the Citizens United ruling.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2019 @ 7:49pm

    Run(s like a) [from the] Deere

    John Deere's DRM foolishness has worked wonders to promote the competing Mahindra and Kubota brands.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    stine, 22 Mar 2019 @ 10:29am

    so what.

    I think the 'right to repair' crowd are conflating two different things. OEM (original equipment manufacturer) and AM (after market) parts. I'm all for allowing 3rd pary repair shops to purchase use AM parts to repair iPhones. I'm also for Apple being able to prevent OEM's from selling OEM parts in the AM market. I'm also 100% behind Apple in its decision to only repair OEM-only hardware. So, if you have your power connector replaced with an AM connector, Apple shoud be within its rights to tell you to take it to the 3rd party repair shop for everything else.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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