Every tinkerer is an accidental environmentalist. Every fixer is waging an unwitting war against waste. Even if you repair just because you’d like to save money, even if you fix just because you enjoy it—when you fix something, you’re engaged in a small act that has much larger ecological significance. So says the President and CEO of outdoor clothing company Patagonia.
Fairphone wanted to make their second, in-house designed phone the most ethical, repairable phone on the European market. They even asked us for design feedback to get the Fairphone 2 up to a 10/10 for repair. Spoiler alert: they nailed it! Their phone doesn’t just top our repairability scale, it also has all the trappings of a modern smartphone: large touchscreen display, standardized ports, expandable storage, and a lighter, slim design.
Good news, everyone! The Federal Communications Commission just clarified that it has no intention of locking down your devices. The announcement comes after the FCC proposed new rules for routers (and other devices that emit radio frequencies) earlier this year. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking met with significant resistance from actual users of said devices.
On Monday, iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens will participate in a round table discussion with Representative Bob Goodlatte, Members of the House Judiciary, and other stakeholders to discuss the future of US copyright law. The listening session is part of an ongoing effort by the House Judiciary Committee to reassess the intersection between copyright law, ownership rights, and modern technology.
This morning, Copyright Office decided which of your own devices are legal to investigate, modify, and hack—bringing a close to our year-long saga of legal gunslinging, negotiation, fact finding, hearings, and deliberation over US copyright law. Along with a coalition of activists, recyclers, and legal clinics, were able to overcome the objections of manufacturers and secure exemptions for repairing tractors, cars, and tablets.
No fixer is an island. So why not meet up and repair together—with a little “professional” guidance? That’s the idea behind the “Repair Café” movement. In those “cafés,” owners of broken devices get the help they need to fix their devices from experienced repairers. What began as the idea of Dutch journalist and blogger Martine Postma in 2009 has led to the establishment of more than 800 Repair Cafés around the world today.
According to a new EPA report, Americans increased their overall production of municipal waste in 2013 to 254 million tons of waste—or 4.4 pounds per person per day. But e-waste was one of the few categories where recycling rates increased significantly—by ten percentage points in just one year. So, good job everyone: fewer electronics are winding up in the trash heaps. But we’re not done yet. Recycling is just one piece of the larger moving puzzle that is sustainable resource management.
It’s official: John Deere and General Motors want to eviscerate the notion of ownership. Sure, we pay for their vehicles. But we don’t own them. In a particularly spectacular display of corporate delusion, John Deere told the Copyright Office that farmers don’t own their tractors. Because computer code snakes through the DNA of modern tractors, farmers receive “an implied license for the life of the vehicle to operate the vehicle.” It’s John Deere’s tractor, folks. You’re just driving it.
As part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act review process, the Copyright Office recently asked the public to weigh in on which devices should be legal to tinker with, hack, and repair. Well, they got what they asked for. In a big way. On Friday, iFixit sent its own statements in support of reform to the Copyright Office. And with our comments, we all also sent yours. All 40,755 of them. Those comments will help the Librarian of Congress decide what you have the right to modify and repair.
I squatted down in the dirt and took stock of my inadequate tools. Over my left shoulder a massive John Deere tractor loomed. I came here to fix that tractor. So far, things weren’t going as planned. One hour later, I hopped back out of the cab of the tractor. Defeated. I was unable to breach the wall of proprietary defenses that protected the tECU like a fortress. I couldn’t even connect to the computer. Because John Deere says I can’t.
Under the pretense of enforcing copyright law, manufacturers have been systematically chipping away at our ownership rights. That’s not acceptable. And iFixit isn’t just going to stand by and watch it happen. Today, we draw a line in the sand. iFixit is proud to announce the Digital Right to Repair Coalition—a united front of consumers, environmental organizations, the aftermarket, and digital rights advocacy groups. Together, we are fighting to take back control of the things we own.