Apple's been playing Lucy-and-the-football with the media industry for years now, exploiting the media's horrible Daddy Complex that has it forever searching for a tech company that will give it a sustainable future. Read the rest
Earlier this month, European right-to-repair activists sounded the alarm, warning that the model right-to-repair legislation that had been proceeding through the EU legislative process had been hijacked by lobbyists who had gutted its core protections and were poised to make repairs even harder in the EU. Read the rest
The European Union is at risk of missing a historic opportunity to bring the right to repair into legislation for the first time. Read the rest
Apple CEO Tim Cook has stated that the free market "is not working" and as a result, regulation of the tech sector is "inevitable." Read the rest
Apple has long understood that hardware products that last a long time result in falling unit sales, as customers opt to keep their old machines instead of buying the latest models; that's part of why the company led the charge that killed every single Right to Repair bill introduced last year -- less repairs leads to more "recycling," which is Applespeak for dropping used units into giant shredders without harvesting any usable parts first. Read the rest
Every year, the companies we rely on to make our computers, televisions, smartphones and other high tech marvels make it more difficult for us to repair their products. This dickery is accomplished through various methods: specialized screws that require a fancy screwdriver to remove, the creation of hardware that's designed in such a way that taking it apart to repair would do more harm than good, and through Digital Rights Management (DRM) to keep folks from futzing with their device's firmware. While right-to-repair advocates continue to fight for our right to unreservedly tinker with the stuff we own, The US Copyright Office gave them a wee taste of victory to hold them over until all of the fighting's done.
The Librarian of Congress and US Copyright Office just proposed new rules that will give consumers and independent repair experts wide latitude to legally hack embedded software on their devices in order to repair or maintain them. This exemption to copyright law will apply to smartphones, tractors, cars, smart home appliances, and many other devices.
The move is a landmark win for the “right to repair” movement; essentially, the federal government has ruled that consumers and repair professionals have the right to legally hack the firmware of “lawfully acquired” devices for the “maintenance” and “repair” of that device. Previously, it was legal to hack tractor firmware for the purposes of repair; it is now legal to hack many consumer electronics.
Thanks to this ruling, those inclined to do so will now be able to break the DRM on a device's firmware, provided they own it, for the sake of repairing it. Read the rest
Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act bans bypassing "access controls" for copyrighted works -- that is, breaking DRM. Read the rest
Companies have always tried to corral their customers into behaving in ways that maximize the companies' profits, even if that's not best for the customers: forcing you to use "official" printer ink, to buy your printers and terminals from the same company that sold you your mainframe, to get your apps from the company that sold you your phone. Read the rest
Louis Rossman is one of the highest-profile independent Apple repair technicians, famous in part for fixing devices that Apple has declared to have reached their end-of-life, diverting these devices from landfill and keeping them in the hands of the people who paid good money for them. Read the rest
Through the use of hidden cameras, consulting with private computer repair joints, and chatting with right-to-repair advocates, the Canadian Broadcast Corporation has cast a very unflattering light on Apple's Genius Bar and its pricing and repair policies. Read the rest
Surya Raghavendran started fixing phones when Apple tried to charge him $120 to fix the defective screen they'd installed in his phone; instead, he followed online instructional videos and fixed it himself. Read the rest
Farmers are the vanguard of the Right to Repair movement; accustomed as they are to fixing their own equipment (you can't wait for a repair tech when the tractor doesn't work -- as the saying goes, you have to make hay while the sun shines), they were outraged when companies like John Deere started using DRM to pick their pockets, creating tractors whose engines wouldn't recognize a new part until they paid a tech a few hundred dollars to drive out in a day or two and key an unlock code into the tractor's keyboard. Read the rest
Every three years, the US Copyright Office undertakes an odd ritual: they allow members of the public to come before their officials and ask for the right to use their own property in ways that have nothing to do with copyright law.
It's a strange-but-true feature of American life. Blame Congress. When they enacted the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in 1998, they included Section 1201, a rule that bans people from tampering with copyright controls on their devices. That means that manufacturers can use copyright controls to stop you from doing legitimate things, like taking your phone to an independent service depot; or modifying your computer so that you can save videos to use in remixes or to preserve old games. If doing these legal things requires that you first disable or remove a copyright control system, they can become illegal, even when you're using your own property in the privacy of your own home.
But every three years, the American people may go before the Copyright Office and ask for the right to do otherwise legal things with their own property, while lawyers from multinational corporations argue that this should not happen.
The latest round of these hearings took place in April, and of course, EFF was there, with some really cool petitions (as dramatized by the science fiction writers Mur Lafferty, John Scalzi, and Cory Doctorow [ahem]), along with many of our friends and allies, all making their own pleas for sanity in copyright law.