Apple's war on repair continues: Amazon now bans refurb Apple products from third parties

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

US Copyright Office: locking hardware with DRM is no longer cool

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.

From Motherboard:

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

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

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

US Customs is seizing refurbished Apple batteries and calling them "counterfeits"

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

Apple investigated by CBC News over Genius Bar repair policies and pricing

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

New Macbooks and Imacs will brick themselves if they think they're being repaired by an independent technician

Last year, Apple outraged independent technicians when they updated the Iphone design to prevent third party repair, adding a "feature" that allowed handsets to detect when their screens had been swapped (even when they'd been swapped for an original, Apple-manufactured screen) and refuse to function until they got an official Apple unlock code. Read the rest

A 17-year-old is leading Michigan's Right to Repair movement

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

California farm lobby's sellout to John Deere will cost its members their right to repair

As I wrote last week, the California Farm Bureau (which lobbies for the state's farmers) struck a deal to gut the state's Right to Repair legislation, a move that will cost farmers their right to fix their own tractors and other heavy equipment. Read the rest

California Farm Bureau sells out farmers, hands John Deere a monopoly over tractor repair

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

EU resolution aims to comprehensively limit "planned obsolescence"

The European Parliament has passed a resolution calling on the European Commission (the EU's civil service) to craft rules that will severely limit planned obsolescence in electronics by forcing manufacturers to design products to facilitate repair by third parties, extend first-part warranties, warrant and support software, label products with an estimate of their overall life-expectancy, and publicly track and disclose how long products last in the field before breaking down. Read the rest

Meet the people who went to the US Copyright Office to demand your right to repair, remix and preserve!

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.

We commemorated the occasion with a collection of short video conversations between me and our pals. Read the rest

John Scalzi wrote a science fiction story about the DMCA to help EFF's Right to Repair campaign

Every three years, the US Copyright Office asks America about the problems with Section 1201 of the DMCA, which bans breaking DRM even for legal reasons, and America gets to answer with requests for exemptions to this rule. Read the rest

A who's-who of tech manufacturers sent scaremongering letters to the Illinois legislature to kill Right to Repair

Illinois is one of 18 states where Right to Repair legislation has been introduced -- rules that would force manufacturers to end the practice of undermining the independent repair sector with hidden service documents, unavailable parts, and DRM. Read the rest

FTC orders manufacturers to cut it out with the unenforceable "Warranty Void if Removed" stickers

Since the passage of the 1975 Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, "Warranty Void if Removed" stickers and other policies that put restrictions on third party repairs have been unenforceable in America, but that doesn't stop companies from putting deceptive tamper-evident stickers on their equipment in an effort to trick or intimidate their customers into going to a manufacturer-authorized service depot. Read the rest

Ifixit flunks Apple's new educational Ipad as nearly un-repairable

Apple's education-centric new Ipad is meant to be used in rambunctious classrooms where drops and other abuse will be commonplace; it is also meant to compete with relatively easy-to-service Pixelbooks that school district IT departments can fix themselves or get repaired by a wide variety of independent, local service depots whose community-based technicians do repairs onsite and also keep local tax dollars circulating in the community. Read the rest

Vendor lock-in, DRM, and crappy EULAs are turning America's independent farmers into tenant farmers

"Precision agriculture" is to farmers as Facebook is to publishers: farmers who want to compete can't afford to boycott the precision ag platforms fielded by the likes of John Deere, but once they're locked into the platforms' walled gardens, they are prisoners, and the platforms start to squeeze them for a bigger and bigger share of their profits. Read the rest

Lobbyists release push-poll in an effort to tank Right to Repair bills and control independent security research

The Security Innovation Center is a lobbying group backed by CompTIA, CTIA, TechNet and the Consumer Technology Association for the express purpose of fighting laws that would legalize repairing your own property, or choosing to have it repaired by third parties. Read the rest

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