Repair Day: How "contempt of business model" cheats you out of the use of your property


Originally published at:


think about cars, auto dealers make an average of about $100 on each new car sold. their number one profit center is repairs. especially warranty repairs which are treated by the auto corporations as business expenses for tax purposes and paid out to dealers at a lucrative rate. car companies can only dream of getting rid of third party repair shops and parts suppliers the way tech companies have been able to do. that’s what is so dangerous about john deere’s attempt to monopolize repairs. if it works for them then the car companies would have a model for doing the same and reap even more profits.

of course the tech companies are going to spend like crazy to keep anything from destabilizing that system. and many other companies with a high load of spare parts and repairs are going to work alongside them for the day they might be able to do the same.


“…in the absence of a third-party repair option, this means that you have to throw away your product and buy another one from the company.”

Well, no. Customers could buy their replacement from a company that does not engage in this sort of thing. If they can’t, that’s a competition/monopoly issue, rather than a repair one.

Proprietary systems like SLR cameras and bodies might be an exception. A customer would be justifiably aggrieved if Canon wouldn’t repair their SLR (or allow it to be repaired) after dropping thousands of dollars on lenses that only work with Canon bodies. Nikon and Canon both tread very warily in terms of keeping the investment in lenses valid. (Nikon’s decades-old lens-mount is arguably now a little sub-standard as a result. Canon did an update many years ago)


Will just leave this here.


Engage in what sort of thing, exactly? Do you think people who go ahead and repair the product in spite of the company’s efforts to the contrary should be considered criminals by the state?


“…buy another one FROM THE COMPANY”. Emphasis added.

Oh hell no. I wasn’t talking about the repairers’ policies and actions. I was talking about the fact that a customer should be able to buy their next new device from a manufacturer that allowed third-party repairs. Fool me once, and all that. The statement I quoted implied that if they couldn’t get their Apple device repaired, they’d have to buy a new Apple device.

Having said that, the repairer in this story is completely missing the point with his complaint about the seizure of what are technically counterfeit parts (even if he personally does not present them as such). There is a very important point about anti-competitive practices from companies like Apple, but he’s not making it.


I too believe that the best way to solve a problem created by regulatory capture and plutocracy is to trust in the free, no, the freest, of markets to solve the problem. Surely companies that allow repairs and thus give up a guaranteed revenue source will prosper and pony up enough in bribe money to get the law repealed which makes unauthorized repairs illegal!


Why does that warrant an exception? Because it costs a lot of money? I don’t see how that’s Canon or Nikon’s problem. Seems like an antitrust or monopoly problem to me…


Is there a law that makes unauthorised repairs illegal?


that’s what the article above was about. i suggest you go back up and actually read mr. doctorow’s post.


No it isn’t. It is about whether or not there should be a “right to repair” law to make corporate-imposed restrictions on repair options illegal. That’s not the same as saying the there exists a law that makes the repairs illegal. There isn’t, the article does not claim there is, nor does it claim that anyone is proposing it.


So those Apple batteries in the recent news were not called counterfeits? And they weren’t seized?


Yes, there are a number of laws that can and are used to make repairs illegal. Both copyright law and trademark law are used to thwart “unauthorized” repairs.


The very blog post you’re responding to literally references several such laws and explains how they’re used to this effect.


My question was poorly worded. How about? “Is there a law that forces manufacturers to put such restrictions in place? Is it illegal to make and sell something where users and third-parties are able to legally repair it?”


They were counterfeit because they were branded as Apple batteries. That story is not about the right to repair, but about trademark law.


There is no law that forces manufacturers down that road? Yeah, they can use laws to thwart third-party repairs, but they don’t have to.


Nikon has incrementally modified their mount over the last couple of decades to add electronic features, incidentally cutting some of their lenses from several years ago out of the loop for operation with newer DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) bodies. They have just introduced a completely new mount for their new full-frame MILC (Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras) line that will completely replace the DSLR products over the next 5-7 years. Canon has also just introduced a new MILC body and lens mount that will also eventually replace their EF mount, which replaced their FD mount in the late '70s.


But they were branded as Apple batteries because they were…

…wait for it…

…Apple batteries.

What’s next? Gift inscriptions in books are copyright violations?


They were batteries for Apple computers, but not batteries manufactured by Apple. I take it you aren’t a fan of trademark law.