Just three weeks into the new year, Right to Repair laws are being proposed across the country. These laws would restore our ability to fix the things we own by making parts, manuals, and diagnostic software available to consumers and independent repair shops. The fight is being waged coast-to-coast, with small mom-and-pop shops up against some of the most profitable corporations in the history of the world.
Over the last few years, the rag-tag Right to Repair coalition has scored a number of victories: legalizing cell phone unlocking in Congress, getting the FTC to rule “warranty void if removed” stickers null and void, and convincing the US Copyright office to grant a number of repair exemptions to federal copyright law. And in 2018 alone, Right to Repair made groundbreaking headway on the state level: 19 states introduced Right to Repair legislation—a big uptick from 12 repair-friendly states in 2017.
Here’s a list of the 2019 battlegrounds so far: Hawaii
, New Hampshire
, New Jersey
, New York
, North Dakota
, West Virginia
. Several more states are in the works.
Pressure is mounting not just domestically but across the world as consumers are demanding more repairable products. The BBC recently reported that the European Commission voted in favor of a series of proposals mandating that refrigerators, TVs, and other large home appliances be designed for non-destructive disassembly, making them easier to repair instead of replace.
Right to Repair activists gathered outside the European Commission during their ecodesign votes in December.
Despite massive worldwide support, Apple, John Deere, and other major manufacturers continue to oppose Right to Repair legislation. They argue that publishing repair information threatens their intellectual property, and that providing consumers with ability to maintain their own products will be too dangerous. But Brian Engelhard, a repair shop owner in Portland, Oregon, countered this argument during a Washington state Technology Committee hearing last year: “If Apple can hire an 18 year-old kid to fix your battery, an independent store can find qualified people to do it also.”
We couldn’t agree more—and last year, we showed people over ten million people around the world how to replace their iPhone batteries themselves. Right to Repair legislation would allow millions more to maintain the devices they already own, giving consumers more options about where and how to repair their products.