On December 15, the US Copyright Office issued their report to Congress on the subject of Software Enabled Consumer Products. They didn't solve any problems, were often contradictory, and punted a lot of issues. However, they were very clear on an important point to us -- that most issues currently limiting repair, reuse and tinkering are not copyright infringement, but are the result of End User License Agreements (EULA) that remove rights already granted.
The US Copyright Office has been tasked by Congress to report on how copyright law is interfering with ordinary use, repair, and maintenance of purchased equipment. They have been holding hearings (which we attended) and asked for comments due October 27.
Our comments were crafted with superb pro-bono support from IP attorney Luis Villa.
It's easy reading and worth the effort. Download the PDF here.
What does Touch Disease have to do with Right to Repair? Quite a lot, as it turns out.
Touch Disease is a problem of premature aging. It’s the result of a design decision to make the iPhone 6 and, especially, the 6 Plus more flexible.
The two phone models are simply too flexible—so over time small cracks develop in the soldered connections. The cracks deepen and separate more over time. Each crack disables more and more of the phone’s touch functionality.
Every one of these phones was “born” with Touch Disease. It’s only a matter of time before they all show symptoms and premature death. The only solution is to replace the bad chips, restore the soldered connections, and reinforce the phone’s structure. It’s possible to fix these phones and it is being done— but not by Apple.
Apple won’t make these repairs in house. They won’t provide any schematics or service documentation to independents willing to take on these repairs. They won’t subcontract repairs to techs that have already mastered these repairs. In fact, Apple won’t even acknowledge Touch Disease as an issue. The only solution Apple has for owners of afflicted phones: “Buy a New Phone” or pay $329 for a refurbed unit.
Here’s where it gets nasty for customers. Apple refurb phones aren’t fixed—they are swapped with diseased units that haven’t yet shown symptoms. But, of course, many replacements start showing symptoms quickly. In fact, some users report that their replacement units showed symptoms of Touch Disease right out of the box. No surprise class action lawsuits have been filed on behalf of users.
Here's the cool part: Only independent repair techs have been able to offer a fix because some of them can have the skills and equipment to microsolder. It was independents that discovered how widespread the issue was on their own, they came up with best practices for fixing it on their own, and they even developed some hardware tweaks to prevent the issue from reoccurring. On their own.
That's why we need independents in the repair business. Independents can innovate in different ways than the OEM. Innovations in repair are hindered, intentionally, by companies such as Apple that refuse to provide the basic schematic diagrams that would improve repair success and improve customer satisfaction. Apple goes so far as to fight against Right to Repair legislation to preserve their monopoly on repair—even when they aren’t capable of making the repair themselves.
Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) hosted a balanced discussion of Right to Repair on September 23, 2016. Kyle Wiens of iFixit and Gay Gordon-Byrne of Repair.org talked openly with AEM 's Natalie Higgins and Iowa-Nebraska Dealers Association's Will Rogers about the need and utility of Fair Repair for high-tech Agriculture.
(Click here to watch the youtube) Highlights will be posted with time stamps shortly.
At about the same time, AEM Executive Advisor Magazine, September Issue, put forward their written series of concerns about so-called Right to Repair Bills in Nebraska and elsewhere.. This piece lacks the balance of the webinar and promotes the themes that a) Right to Repair is unnecessary, b) the market for repair of heavy equipment is very different from that of cars, c) only dealerships are suitably trained and d) dealerships invest heavily in training.
Our view is that the types of detailed information necessary for repair are not consistently available, that the market for repair of electronics is converged regardless of the shape of the product, and that lack of training availability is deliberate to prevent competition. Click here to read details of our position on points raised by AEM.
The most comprehensive coverage yet about issues impacting repair from NBC Journalist Andrew Thompson.
Part 3 - Right to Repair Movement (due out Aug 30)
We hosted a cell phone repair clinic at NCSL in Chicago August 8-11 and got to meet with legislators and staffers while they watched their broken screens and batteries being replaced.
Pew Research publishes their own legislative magazine "Stateline" and picked up on our work and broadcast the status of legislation nationally.
Bloomberg BNA digs into repair monopolies for farm equipment -- all suffering the same problems of limited or blocked access to repair as cell phone owners, computer owners, and nearly everything else with a chip inside.
The best form of flattery is parody. Couldn't be happier to see Right to Repair get the attention of The Onion.
“I’m flattered that Apple thinks I might have what it takes to repair my own phone.”
Ricky Mundt GROUNDHOG DISPLACER
“I’m sick of a paternalistic government trying to save us time and money by advocating for our autonomy.”
Selina Dabney CUPCAKE CRITIC
“Just trust Apple on this one. In a few years, those garbage heaps will be thinner and sleeker than ever.”
James Jaeger FABRIC HISTORIAN
We won our first legislative victory today in Minnesota when the Environment and Energy Committee held an official hearing and unanimously approving moving our repair bill to their next step towards passage. The bill moves now to the Commerce Committee for their consideration.
Filed as S. F. 3227, the bill requires manufacturers to make reuse more practical by providing access to documentation, schematics, diagnostics, tools, firmware and service parts. These are the same requirements included in last year’s Fair Repair Bill, which never even got a hearing.
As S.F. 3227 moves to Commerce, there will be additional opportunities for improvements and amendments. Your voices are crucial. If you don’t fight for your vision of repair-friendly policy, legislators won’t fight for you. We can’t write for you—all we can do it make it easy. Write, call, or tweet your legislators and tell them you want S.F. 3227 passed.
Minnesota residents can also contact their representatives by sending an email in support of the bill here.
New rules take effect April 1, which dramatically changing how products that include lithium ion batteries will be handled for air transport. Since many of our members routinely handle equipment with batteries, this new ruling has the potential to be disruptive and costly. Learn more about the changes here.
In January, Senator Ken Haar introduced a Fair Repair Bill (LB1072), which would require manufacturers to share diagnostic software and repair information with owners and independent repair technicians. Fair Repair principles are critical in the heartlands of Nebraska—where farmers and ranchers often have little other choice for their farm equipment but expensive dealership repairs.
We’ve known about Error 53 for months and tried to alert our members about the problem. The Guardian put out a tough piece about Apple just days ago and the story has resonated worldwide. For a primer on the tech details – read the ifixit blog Whats Up with Error 53.
Apple is wrong to destroy your property even if ham-handedly trying to protect your privacy. They can offer tools and features that help you protect your privacy - but its your privacy and not theirs. The excuses don't much matter -- the principle of ownership is stake.
Check back with us shortly as we're working on evaluating all avenues to restore the option of independent repair for all users. Apple may have violated warranty law, anti-trust law, consumer protection law, and other statutes. We're on the case !
Following a successful campaign to legalize cellphone unlocking, winning key exemptions from the Copyright Office for repair, and strong support for repair-friendly state legislation, we are excited to launch The Repair Association (repair.org)—a new organization representing professional and consumer repairers.