Pending U.S. legislation could force manufacturers to make repair parts and information available at fair prices
Manufacturers don’t want you to fix that broken microwave or air conditioner; they want you to buy a new one. Some even send cease-and-desist letters to people who post repair information online.
In December 2016, the U.S. Copyright Office concluded a yearlong study [PDF] on copyright law, repair, and embedded software that solidly confirms that repair is legal under copyright law. The same study argues that federal copyright law can’t be used as an excuse to prevent repair.
But that hasn’t stopped some manufacturers from continuing to try.
So how can people in the United States preserve their right to repair electronics? The answer is now apparent: through right-to-repair legislation enacted at the state level.
The right to repair electronics isn’t just about repair or even about technology—it’s about ownership. You bought the thing, and therefore you own it—and not just part of it but all of it. And that means you should be able to fix it or get it fixed by whomever you choose. The terms of ownership shouldn’t change just because the product has a chip in it.