Lawmakers in Iowa, Missouri, and North Carolina recently introduced Right to Repair legislation—bringing the total number of states considering repair-friendly laws this year up to 11. That’s pretty impressive for an issue that rose to prominence almost exclusively through the grassroots efforts of netizens and tinkerers.
If you’ve read Lance Ulanoff’s new Mashable article about Right to Repair, you know one thing for sure: Ulanoff thinks you’re too stupid to fix your own phone. Ulanoff argues that ordinary people (and third-party shops) shouldn’t be allowed to attempt consumer electronics repair. He thinks it’s possibly dangerous, and definitely too difficult to be practical. “Right-to-Repair? What a ridiculous thing to say,” Ulanoff scoffs. The only ridiculous thing here is Ulanoff’s argument.
The dominos keep tumbling. Last week, two more states—Illinois and Tennessee—introduced Right to Repair legislation, bringing the total number of states considering pro-repair laws this year to eight (up from three last year). But don’t break out the victory dance; it’s gonna be a bumpy ride from bill to law. According to Motherboard, Apple is gearing up to oppose the legislation in at least one state.
2017 could be a very good year for repair. More US states than ever are proposing Right to Repair legislation this year. So far, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Nebraska, Kansas, and Wyoming have all introduced versions of the pro-repair bill in their legislatures—and more states could follow suit. If passed, the laws would make it easier for consumers and independently-owned repair shops to fix far more products.
Over 3 million men and women work in America’s repair and maintenance industry. Maybe I don’t have a lot of faith in politics, but I think those 3 million people have more tangible impact on our lives than the squabbling politicians in Washington. And yet, a copyright law written by Washington insiders nearly two decades ago is threatening the livelihoods of those 3 million people.
Hoist your wrenches into the air, folks. As of today, October 28, you can now hack, repair, and conduct security research on your own car—or tractor!—without risking jail time for copyright infringement. Exactly one year ago, the Copyright Office granted exemptions for repairing, modifying, and conducting security research on your own vehicle. And those exemptions go into effect today.
The Swedish government is considering legislation that would give tax breaks to people who repair stuff instead of throwing it away. According to The Guardian, the proposal—which is scheduled to be introduced in parliament today—reduces the VAT rate (a consumption tax) on the repair of shoes, clothes, and bikes from 25% to 12%. The government is also considering a measure that would partially defray the cost of repairing appliances, like refrigerators, washing machines, and ovens.