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Fight for your right to repair

Bart Perkins | Nov. 24, 2015
Buyers should have the right to repair equipment they purchase.

Although the Bloom has never been built commercially, its easy-disassembly design provides three benefits. First, repair costs are lowered, since it is easy to diagnose problems. Second, the Bloom’s lifetime is longer than the normal laptop, because individual components can be upgraded easily. Finally, the laptop was designed to be recycled. The all-aluminum case needs no intermediate processing. Internal components are color-coded as plastic, metal and circuitry for easy separation and recycling.

  • Push manufacturers to make equipment manuals available. Dell, Lenovo, Fairphone and other companies make their repair manuals available online. By contrast, Apple, Samsung, Toshiba and some other suppliers allow only authorized technicians to acquire repair manuals, tools and replacement parts. These manufacturers make it as difficult as possible for customers or independent repair organizations to repair their own equipment. Nikon, Toshiba and other companies have even threatened lawsuits against websites that post products manuals.

Over the last few years, a number of organizations dedicated to helping owners repair their own equipment have emerged. These organizations share product manuals, arrange information forums, and host events to share information about digital products. Examples include:

  • www.iFixit.com has repair information, tools, and parts for phones, tablets, computers, cameras and other devices.
  • www.iCracked.com is an independent repair network for Apple and Samsung phones and tablets.
  • www.Repaircafe.org shares information about events where people with technical experience network and repair each other’s devices.
  • www.Fixya.com operates a question-and-answer billboard for a wide variety of products.

The rugged individual who solves problems is part of the American ethos. Owners of malfunctioning products should not be forced to rely on lengthy manufacturer repairs, at prices so inflated that many consumers will simply buy a replacement. DIY repairs, and those done by independently owned businesses, help lengthen the life of electronically controlled products and ultimately reduce electronic waste. It is time to update the DMCA and allow product owners to select the repair mode that best meets their needs.

 

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