Three states considering "right to repair" laws that would decriminalize fixing your stuff


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/01/23/three-states-considering-rig.html


#2

I’m fixing my tractor right now.


#3

My iPad 2 is pretty much a doorstop. Is that not what Apple intended once they worked in the planned obsolescence?


#4

It worked for gay rights, it’s working(?) for marijuana use, perhaps this is the path for ownership rights as well.


#5

How would the companies even find out if customers got their stuff fixed at home or third party, that’s pretty annoying

This reminds me of how GMO seed companies take back seed that wasn’t used

Very (large) company friendly legislation


#6

I don’t think that these are likely to stand up in court if challenged, since copyright IS one of the constitutionally enumerated federal powers.


#7

There are lively discussions online about repair and modification methods. We have a decent amount of John Deere equipment, and of course we do our own repairs and mods. It would be pretty hard to figure some of the stuff out without online group effort. My uncle got into some difficulty when he was buying JD parts for what was obviously an unauthorized mod.


#8

I hope not too much difficulty


#9

No, several of the distributors refused to sell him parts. He found other sources.


#10

Sounds like a hassle, had he sent it to JD for modifications would they have charged him ? I asusme they would

At least he found the parts he needed, that’s good


#11

I’m envisioning a future where people have their smart tvs propped up on cinder blocks in the yard…


#12

This came up in Massachusetts in 2012 and passed very easily.


#13

It was a matter of him having an older, but expensive piece of equipment. JD sells a newer, better, and much more expensive machine. The parts to upgrade the older one to the newer one(or slightly better than the newer one, because the old one was made stronger) cost way less than trading in old for new. The parts are supposed to be used to repair the new version. They do not want anyone upgrading from old to new. It is not a simple upgrade, but my uncle is a lead engineer at Oak Ridge Lab.
We have been sort of at war with big green for for a long time. Some of their parts are way overpriced and under performing. Some of their software and other built-in features limit the functionality of the equipment. With the replacement parts, often the bit that fails is a tiny part of a large assembly that they want to sell you. And they have gone to some effort to keep you from just replacing the failed bit, including engineering it so that removing the failed bit is destructive to the larger assembly.
The software issues are often solved by finding a way to make sure that the sensors feeding data to the hub are replaced with something that always gives the hub a signal that makes it happy. Most of the time that is something like a range of voltage or resistance, or an open or closed circuit. Other people are clever enough to figure out how to reset counters, like is often done with printer cartridges.


#14

That’s amazing, yeah i have heard that some things are built to break

Just with computer software, i had a friend jump from Windows XP to 7 (maybe it was Vista), and it made all his home computers run drastically slow, they eventually had to trade them in


#15

We definitely need to see more of this!


#16

There are plenty of ways to determine this. There can be a whitelist for replacement parts and if your device phones home with an unrecognized part ID or serial number, you get blacklisted. The Xbox 360 was notorious for this when people would attempt to replace their DVD drives.


#17

Thing is, a John Deere tractor will hopefully not be making DDoS attacks and doing port scans against the thresher and combine harvester, whereas your friend’s obsolete insecurable machines would very likely have gotten drafted into a botnet and may have become a vector for trojans or other varieties of malware or viruses.

If you want reasonable security in a low-power obsolete device, you need to use some linux distro or other. Ubuntu is still pretty good.


#18

Oh okay. Yeah i do recall him saying one of them got infected, he had to take it to a shop but yeah at that point it was just too late


#19

No, but they might band together to attack you:


#20

Very few things are “built to break” in the literal sense. Not that “nobody would actually do that”, but it is just that it is actually kind of hard. Nobody is going to spend extra engineering resources to deliberately design failure, especially since that would likely increase the DOA / failure within warranty which costs the manufacturer money. For the most part the only things that are “designed” to fail are things that have natural/unavoidable wear degredation – lithium batteries, incandescent lamps, car tires. There the design is a constraint optimization between expected lifetime, cost to manufacture, and weight/size/efficiency. So cell phone battery makers probably could make batteries that lasted years, but it would cost more to produce, and (more importantly) have less starting capacity for the same size. So they are designed around a “target lifetime”, and I wish they would make slightly thicker phones that last longer, but this isn’t exactly what people think when they say “designed to break”.

Of course plenty of stuff is just “designed down to a price” – as cheap as can be. They will use the thinnest gauge material, and the fewest components possible while still working and meeting the appropriate safety and efficiency regulations. Again, I would say that is not the same thing as designed to break, and you can usually pay more to get a higher quality piece of gear.

On the other hand, most consumer gear is absolutely not designed to be repairable. Or rather, repairability has nearly zero design weight, so any other factors will win. This is frustrating, but makes obvious sense: the manufacturer is never going to make money on repair. Their only incentive is to keep warranty costs down, but if they can reduce design or manufacturing costs, and the only cost is that they do more replacement than repair under warranty, that is almost always going to win, especially since repair labor is so expensive.

DRM is certainly a part of the equation (like laptops that won’t boot with a 3rd party network card or harddrive), but for consumer electronics there are a lot bigger issues driving the lack of repairability.

The situation is much worse for capital equipment for industry (and agricultural use, see John Deere). There, the equipment is so expensive that it is designed (somewhat) with repair in mind, but DRM or restrictive licensing agreements are much more the norm. Also, the software is usually much worse, meaning that there would be a lot more value to end users being able to modify it.