Our Right to Repair and The Need for Profit Over Innovation

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In our last blog, we discussed why the right to repair is important for you as a consumer and the shift away from repair. In short, the right to repair is quintessential to the ownership of a product. Without it, we will no longer be able to extend the life of products we purchased and will continue to pay more for repairs and new products.

That’s why we need to push our legislators to continue to fight for our right to repair, despite contradictory messages and deceptive practices.

Right to Repair Legislation

The legislative movement advocating for the right to repair has gained ground in the last few years. Several states have introduced or passed some level of legislation to protect your right to repair, and Congress is looking into how to protect our rights. But the fight is far from over.

Manufacturers, companies, and legislators challenging these legislative bills claim that the right to repair attacks proprietary information. However, in 2016, it was deemed that customization, repair, or resale of a product did not infringe on copyrights. That aside, no one is asking manufacturers to release proprietary or patented information. All advocates are asking for are access to the tools, information, and parts so that consumers can extend the life of devices they paid for.

Despite all of this, manufacturers continue to use License Agreements and contracts to deceptively get around this and remove your right to repair.

Calls To Save the Planet Contradict Our Inability to Repair

Many of the same manufacturers and legislators against the right to repair are the same manufacturers and legislators who advocate for a cleaner planet.

The irony is, taking away our right to repair means that more products are being manufactured to replace broken or unusable machinery. As fossil fuels are used to make most products, more emissions are being poured into the atmosphere. At the same time, the old products end up in landfills, causing even more waste to pile up.

The ability to repair older and out-of-date products would lead to a resurgence in secondary markets and reduce the need for raw materials and overall consumption.

Innovation Rises with Our Right to Repair

Before manufacturers and companies stripped people of their right to repair, there was a massive surge of innovation. Why? Because when people can examine the product they own, they can understand how it works, leading to fresh, new ideas and products. In other words, taking away our right to repair eliminates competition, which then eliminates innovation.

It’s All About Profit

Many electronic goods (phones, laptops, and computers), appliances, large equipment, and vehicles are being manufactured with shrinking lifespans.

There are several reasons for this:

  • Proprietary Elements: Many manufacturers use things such as proprietary screw heads to force consumers to have their products repaired by the manufacturer.
  • Pairing: To keep you from replacing parts with off-market accessories, manufacturers pair replaceable pieces to the motherboard.
  • Planned Obsolescence: Manufacturers use software that eventually no longer works with older models, forcing you to purchase a new item.
  • Cheaper Parts: To make it appear as if you are saving money, manufacturers use cheaper parts that do not last as long. Cheaper products equals lower quality equals a shorter lifespan, all of which forces you to buy new products more often.

Each of these tactics make it harder and harder to repair your product on your own or at your local repair shops. And they do it for nothing more than to expand their profits.

What Can I Do to Help?

If we lose our right to repair, there will come a day when small, local repair shops will become extinct due to a lack of access to the parts and tools needed to compete. This will artificially drive costs up, not only on repairs, but on the new units as well.

First and foremost, shop local as much as you can and check your local repair shops for help before buying a new product or reaching out to the manufacturer for repairs. Make sure to investigate all repair options before deciding on where to get your product repaired or if it’s time to buy new. And of course, if your state currently has a right to repair bill under discussion, call your representative to show your support.

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