Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Support for right-to-repair laws slowly grows (arstechnica.com)
707 points by headalgorithm 27 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 240 comments



Here's another way Apple may be killing "right to repair":

I own a chain of independent cell phone and computer repair shops. Last year, Google unilaterally took away AdWords in our industry. The day after Thanksgiving, we woke up to find none of our ads were running.

Google claimed this was because "third-party tech support providers" were scamming customers--i.e. people were buying AdWords for virus removal and tech support queries and then trying to scam people for money.

Google also claimed an independent verification service was coming for those of us who had actual physical repair shops and weren't scamming people.

Despite Google's promises, none of this has been delivered. Our business has dropped significantly since AdWords disappeared 8 months ago. This Google action has really hurt legitimate small businesses.

I write all of this because the prevailing theory in our industry is that this is Apple's way of fighting against right to repair.

If only Apple authorized service providers are allowed to advertise on Google for repair-related keywords, Apple will have taken more teeth out of "right to repair."

It reminds me of the quote from The Matrix: "Tell me, Mr. Anderson, what good is a phone call when you are unable to speak?" If independent repair shops can't be found on Google, is that Google and Apple's way of muting third-party repair?

Right when Google ads disappeared, Amazon and Apple made a deal that meant third parties could no longer sell Apple products on Amazon: https://9to5toys.com/2018/11/09/apple-and-amazon-deal-iphone...

This is just a reminder that Apple is fighting in every way possible against right to repair.


Welp, there it is. As clear cut a case of the dangers of Google basically holding the keys to the internet for the masses as I've ever seen.

How's the ads on Facebook and Instagram doing?


Awful, honestly. The last set we ran on Facebook cost us $40 per booked appointment...not even break-even for us.

We are working on video ads for pre-roll YouTube, etc., but it takes $ for tools (like cameras) and production. On Google, we learned how to optimize our ads and we were doing really well.


Yeah, that sucks. For very occasional purchases like repair FB ads stink because so few of your potential targeted customers need a repair at any moment - you really need search ads to hit on the moment of intent. Could definitely see YT ads doing well if you target repair videos.


Sounds like phones should have cracked-glass (etc.) sensors.


Have you tried advertising on DuckDuckGo? There's not as much traffic, but it could be worth it.


How many people do you know who use DuckDuckGo? How many of them would consider a repair shop instead of doing it themselves?


FWIW, I use DDG, I’d still go to a repair shop rather than try to repair an iPhone personally.

I’m perfectly happy building a PC or messing with something that’s meant to be user-serviceable, or even replacing the stereo in my car, but when it comes to small things that are glued together I’d look at a professional. I can’t even manage to get screen protectors to go on perfectly straight in past experience...


I use DDG and would consider going to a repair shop. Used to fix them myself, but stopped around the iPhone 6 era as they became too fiddly to bother.

The last straw was when I knackered a motherboard because I mixed up two screws and severed a vital copper trace. So frustrating.


I would definitely use a shop, there isn't enough time to read/watch up on how to do it myself


About as many as I know who would consider repairing their device at all instead of buying a new one.


I also use DDG and would use a shop. I used to even repair iPhones for myself and others, but I just don’t have the tools or expertise these days.


I've heard that Bing also works well


Objectively, Facebook ads have recently gotten _a lot_ worse because they removed most of the targeting abilities. Targeting was always the competitive edge FB had.

(Whether this an overall good or bad thing I leave as an exercise to the reader.)


Wait, why? I thought the whole point of facebook being super invasive was so they could use that data for advertisers


A lot of responses along the lines of “and HOW would Apple have done this?”

Google pays Apple how much every year to remain their search engine of choice? Their corporate relationship isn’t exactly distant.


> If independent repair shops can't be found on Google, is that Google and Apple's way of muting third-party repair?

Disappearing from Adwords is not the same as disappearing from Google.


People can still find the business by searching "<businessname> repair shop" as well as possibly "repair ship <cityname>" but the issue is not being able to advertise on terms like "fix iphone 8" or "ifixit iphone".


Not to be that guy, but why do you feel you are entitled to advertise on somebody else's trademark?


He's not advertising "on sombedoy else's trademark". He's advertising a business that offer third party repair services of a product name <trademark>. You are commenting on an article titled "Support for right-to-repair laws slowly grows", so perhaps his feeling of "entitlement" is the topic of the article?


It's obviously an instance of fair use. Otherwise no indy auto repair shops could advertise, for example.

Where the problems come in is when the actual name of the business includes a third party trademark. Try calling your business "Joe's Cut-Rate Porsche Service" and you can expect a C&D order.


Yes, you'll likely get a C&D order, however that doesn't mean you'll lose. As an example, Ferrari a few years ago went after all the independent "Joe's Ferrari Service" type places in the US with C&Ds against them using Ferrari's name in their business name. Most of the shops banded together and all sent legal letters telling Ferrari to $%*# off as it was fair use. Ferrari backed off.


Good on them.

I'd probably be a bit nervous about taking my Ferrari to Joe's Ferrari Service though.


Free Market... and the fact Google allows it.


Next thing you're going to do is tell us that Apple, Google, Adobe, Intel, Intuit, Pixar, and eBay were making explicit back room deals to rig employee compensation and using the threat of patent litigation to force competition in line, resulting in the transfer of literally tens of billions of dollars of wealth transferred from employees to shareholders, considering the secondary effects of depressed wages industry wide.

Give the conspiracy theories a break.



Oh hi. I'm an independent IT person in NZ. I've lost pretty much 100% of my new leads thanks to this policy change too. What's crazy is that I have not seen a single mainstream news provider mention that this has happened. I've messaged multiple local news media, and tried to contact absolutely anyone from Google and gotten nothing.

I've never been a believer in conspiracy theories, but Google just "turned off" finding independent or small IT companies from their platform in favor of big established players with huge organic results... and nobody gives a shit.


So Google shut down ads for an entire industry because of bad actors? Are the percentages that bad to warrant it? If so, isn't that Google's claim to fame - finding the high value results?


A few years ago, Amazon shut down anyone selling Chromecast on their store. "Too much fraud" was the reason given.


They shut down Apple TVs too. No ulterior motives, I’m sure,


You might want to contact the Justice Department to contribute to their anti trust investigation against Google.


"Have you considered just phoning up the government?" has got to be the pinnacle of armchair activism.


"Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith."

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Having been directly involved contributing towards a government investigation that resulted in the conviction and incarceration of someone for white collar crime, I would disagree with your assessment. Doing something > doing nothing. You have to start somewhere, and a phone call is a fine place to start.

"Apathy is the glove into which evil slips its hand."


How did you get involved with that? Did you just phone up and offer your services?


Googled government office performing investigation, call general number, ask for someone assigned to case X. "I have documents and electronic data that might be pertinent to an ongoing investigation you have open. Where can I send them?", which led to an in person meeting.


I'd imagine it going something like this:

"Hello, I have information that would likely be useful as evidence for the antitrust lawsuit against Google."

"Thanks, but I think we have it covered" -or- "Thanks, let me take a note so we both feel good about this interaction and never actually follow up on this."


When one wonders how the status-quo came to be, they need look no further than the dismissive attitudes they wield.

When the GP said "Doing something > doing nothing", try to see the value in such a mindset, irrespective of whether or not some action was taken by person on the receiving end of the information.

If nobody voices their concerns, the people have no voice.


Do you imagine or do you have experience? My contacts with the government has been okay, not amazing but okay. Shouldn’t we try to increase communication between the government and its citizens?


Yes! We very much should, even if every interaction isn’t perfect or results in a slam dunk outcome.


Or perhaps he's European, where phoning the govt actually works


Why would Google give up all that ad revenue to help Apple?


Because Google sells phones too.

That nearly everyone in this thread has missed this fact so far is baffling.


If that's the narrative, then they didn't do it because they wanted to help Apple, they did it to help themselves (and helping Apple is simply a byproduct of that). Either way, it's a big stretch to blame Apple for Google helping themselves.


Their ad revenue must be several orders of magnitude higher than their phone sales revenue, though.


But not higher than their repair ad revenue, nor their value in their buisnes relations to apple.

But I suspect in this case it is more likely a "don't care" attitude from google to that small market.


Controlling what people do with their devices protects their revenue stream.

Like on the ads they'll see on their devices.

Hey, what big change did Google make to Chrome with regard to Adblockers recently for Enterprise users?


Yeah, I think they've practically been losing money on phones since they started. I mean they're not losing YouTube levels of money, but it's not very profitable. And anyway compared to any search ads everything else is peanuts.


You can still spend money/resources/take action to protect one's loss leader's position in the market.


Apple is attempting to do whatever it takes to monopolize the after-market.

Google is not. Search "pixel3 repair" or "iphoneX repair" on google and in both cases, you might get a couple of official apple or google hits at the top as you'd expect, and then scores of hits for iFixit and independent repair shops including maps.

I absolutely believe GP got nailed by adwords, but it doesn't seem like the search itself is being warped to pretend like there's no options.


Google sells an estimated 1 million phones a year - Google’d revenue from phones is a rounding error.


> Google unilaterally took away AdWords in our industry.

It's one thing when a government regulates a market, yet another when a company does it ...


So Apple is killing the right go repair because of Google’s well known lack of customer service?


Google screws you over and you blame Apple. How does that work?


She explained that in these two lines:

> I write all of this because the prevailing theory in our industry is that this is Apple's way of fighting against right to repair.

> If only Apple authorized service providers are allowed to advertise on Google for repair-related keywords, Apple will have taken more teeth out of "right to repair."


Well, there is the important connection between how Apple was able to get Google to implement a ban on advertising. That was glossed over. I don't think it's impossible, but it's not such an easy leap as to not need any explanation.


That doesn't explain how it's Apple's fault. Google is unlikely to restrict advertising just because it's in Apple's interests.

If Google didn't have a reason to do so in its own self-interest, Apple would have to use a threat or a bribe to get Google to reduce its own advertising revenue in this way. The comment provides no evidence of that.


You trust google more than I do. I'm sure there was a tit for tat exchange or back room deal if it went down. It wouldn't be the first time for these companies.


I don't trust Google in the sense I think you're implying. I have no trouble believing Google would do something unethical that it believed it would profit from and get away with. That includes back room deals.

But the original comment didn't offer any evidence of one. I'd like to know if there is any beyond it being a plausible explanation.


Apple in the past has made back door deals to not hire the employees of other companies, I believe Google was one of them. Wouldn't surprise me if this was the case here.


To me it smacks of constructional reasoning, in the sense of fabricated a justification to support a pre-conceived narrative. As a prompt to investigation or a search for evidence, ok, fine, but on its own it’s just a conspiracy theory.


It's a hypothesis. It's also Google's call, and Google is the one they're paying for ads.

It's really seems like a stretch without any evidence or more detailed reasoned argument. I mean, why would Google support Apple in doing this?


Apple and Amazon recently came to similar terms on search inside of Amazon- they cut out 3rd party non-Apple approved resellers from selling on their platform, so there is pretty direct precedent for Apple pushing for similar agreements:

https://www.theverge.com/2019/5/21/18624846/amazon-marketpla...


He explained that in these two lines:

(slight correction, it's "she explained")


Google locked you out of advertising and that's Apple's fault? I'm not sure you've really got a good grasp of the situation.


"Providing open access to the technical specifications of consumer electronics would enable criminals to “more easily circumvent security protections, harming not only the product owner but also everyone who shares their network,” and "On the other end, John Deere argues that access to the company’s proprietary software could be used to bypass emissions controls or safety measures"

Of course they're doing it all for our own safety. It makes me mad when people bring up security through obscurity as a reason for locking down devices. It's such a blatant lie.


Yeah, it's absolutely infuriating, especially when you know how most businesses tend to ignore any and all security measures not forced by law, or widespread customer revolt.

One of the worst arguments imo is that argument about emission control circumvention. It's so disingenuous it makes me almost sick. Sure, protecting the environment is critically important - at least in my opinion - but it's certainly not this supposed mass of people circumventing emission controls that are the real criminals when it comes to environmental damage. Businesses seems to proudly, and continually, carry that torch by themselves. As long as not laws or widespread public outcry makes it impossible for them to make business, environmental damage is a absolutely ignored by all but a very few.


> "On the other end, John Deere argues that access to the company’s proprietary software could be used to bypass emissions controls or safety measures"

They do have a point on emission controls, though. Pretty much every person I know that owns a diesel car has either ripped out or plans to rip out the particulate filter. Doesn't matter that it's illegal, doesn't matter that it hurts everyone around. People just don't care.

I'm all for the right to inspect and mod electronics, hardware and software alike, but we also need alternative ways to stop socially irresponsible people.


Do you only know car enthusiasts? Most regular people probably don't even know diesels have an extra particulate filter, yet care enough to actively modify their car to circumvent it; it's hard enough convincing them that their oil needs to be changed more than once a decade. There's no point beyond regular vehicle inspections to go after the 0.01% of the population that are car enthusiasts willing to modify their vehicle and bribe their way past inspections


No, I know regular people - some of which don't know the first thing about car internals, except the concept that if you have a diesel, there are people who will remove some component from it that will lower your total cost of ownership. Two weeks ago, I had a rideshare driver brag to me about how he knows a guy who knows a guy who could do this for him.

I have no first clue how these people get around yearly inspections; I've assumed that particulate filters must not be covered by inspections, though it wouldn't surprise me at all if it turned out people bribe their way through. While the overall levels of corruption in Poland aren't high, the levels of respect for car safety regulations and traffic rules seem pretty low in this country.


Ah Poland, I thought you were talking about the US where a lot of the population is absolutely useless in terms of car mechanics; but yeah on the car forums I frequent tossing the mechanic a Benjamin is the usual tactic to have a tuned car in places that have inspections like California.

I guess it's a symptom of the only people willing to be learn to be a car mechanic and do inspections being part of the same group which generally see emission/safety regulations as being overburdening


> Most regular people probably don't even know diesels have an extra particulate filter

I doubt that. Vehicles with a DPF have an indicator of when they're going through a regen cycle.


a single polluting car emits as much NOx etc as 10s of thousands of compliant cars.

So it doesn't require a lot of people circumventing emissions to cause damage to the environment.


Source?

The information I read[0] says that a non compliant car emits about as much NOx as 4 complaint cars. I would be shocked if your figure was anywhere remotely close to true.

[0] http://www.air-quality.org.uk/26.php


You mean like emission testing?

What happens in 15 years when that particulate filter wears out and nobody can fix it but the rest of the car is fine?


> You mean like emission testing?

Would be great.

> What happens in 15 years when that particulate filter wears out and nobody can fix it but the rest of the car is fine?

If it weren't so easy to get away with not having that filter, then what would happen is a secondary market that sells replacement filters for old cars, just like it happens for every other car part.


> Would be great.

In my state any vehicle under 25 years old must go in for emission testing every few years or the tabs can't be renewed.

> If it weren't so easy to get away with not having that filter, then what would happen is a secondary market that sells replacement filters for old cars, just like it happens for every other car part.

Assuming owners have a right to repair of course.


Many states have gotten away from tailpipe sniffer inspections (more expensive and less convenient) and gone to visual and car ECU inspections (hook up the scanner, if there are no emission related codes and the car reports “ready”, you’re good).


> visual and car ECU inspections

The rideshare driver I mentioned elsewhere in this thread[0] also told me that he knows people who tune engine firmware for diesels, and that they do disable error codes related to their tuning and the missing filter - and that it's important to be aware of this when getting the car repaired for unrelated issues, because the tuning hacks may mask problems in diagnostics and confuse the repair people.

--

[0] - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20235002


That definitely happens. My prior car was ECU modded by the prior owner to eliminate EGR which was a maintenance hog on the turbo diesels. Many aftermarket ECU flash programs can be undone if diagnostics are required.


And you're spending most of your money fixing all the expensive computers and sensors in your car instead of cleaning dirty fuel injectors and the like.


Maybe, though the total amount I've spent in the last decade across two daily drivers on sensors/computers was $12 for a knock sensor, $9 for a can of MAP sensor cleaner, and $78 for an O2 sensor, so it's far from prohibitive and that computerization of fuel and ignition makes the cars much more efficient, powerful, and easier to start as compared to the carbureted or pure mechanically injected predecessors.


Replacement parts aren't an issue for motor vehicles. In 2013 when I was still driving a 1995 GMC 1500 I could still easily source replacement parts for it, including replacement headlight trim rings, replacement fuel injectors, replacement fuel pumps, replacement throttle bodies, etc. etc.. So that's not an argument that holds any water whatsoever with me.

Worst case in 15 years there will be a few shops around the country who specialize in rebuilding/remanufacturing the part and will sell you a remanufactured part for a set price plus a refundable core fee. This was the case for my throttle body, and for the fuel pressure regulator there were rebuild kits available from Napa.

I'd like to see a class-action lawsuit against the people who rip them out as they're personally making it harder to breathe where I live. Your right to do whatever you want ends at my nose.


This is true of old John Deere equipment too. The point is manufacturers (like John Deere, or Apple) are trying to make this kind of repair impossible.

I'm not advocating for people breaking emission laws. I'm saying you don't prevent that by revoking the right to repair.


> Replacement parts aren't an issue for motor vehicles.

Tell that to my Isuzu VehiCROSS!

Had mine in the shop to wait 6 months to find a -used- intake manifold...sigh.


"but we also need alternative ways to stop socially irresponsible people"

How about regular car inspections? And if you say they don't work because of bribery, then that is a different problem, which can be solved by inspections of car inspections and fines that do hurt.

But I suppose the real problem is that many people does not really believe, that it is really a problem, so no political support then to stop this behavior.


Irresponsible people like, for example, those who deliberately installed defeat devices?

Manufacturers don't trust users, but ask users to completely trust them. This is what we're asked to do post diesel emissions scandal.


> Irresponsible people like, for example, those who deliberately installed defeat devices?

Yes, them too!

> Manufacturers don't trust users, but ask users to completely trust them.

It's less that manufacturers don't trust users, and more that they could be held legally responsible for users' behavior here.


Deere could make the emission control system separate from everything else instead of tightly integrated to help make that harder but that method would not increase service revenue.


I wonder if it could be possible to "film" the particulate emissions somehow, so cameras on highways with an extra setup could identify the offenders?


Would love to see that happening. Wonder what tech satellites use to identify atmospheric composition from orbit, and whether it couldn't be used in traffic cams?


I suspect those satellites use Raman spectroscopy, but particulates in our context arent molecules, so I think it would be hard to apply?


Well, particulates are still molecules. There should be a measurable difference.


But you have to be careful about criminals. They’re always criming.

I think there are many reasons for not supporting repair - some better some worse - but this is still the most stupid one.


I’ve never had these problems on my thinkpad running Linux. Why does my phone have to mitigate them?


Sounds like the same argument made against open source.


> It's such a blatant lie.

yes and no. Most today's CE devices lose 3/4 of their utility when disconnected from their shared medium. People running such mediums usually require some sort of certification from the participant devices, and in case the device has been modified, a re-certification after modifications is usually required.

Even replacing a couple of diodes by a looking-close-on-paper analogue might harm performance for neighboring participants in the communication. I let you imagine what one could do with arbitrary firmware images on a fully unlocked device.

I'd be curious to see what solutions to that the infrastructure people work out when these laws are eventually adopted.


Firstly, one wouldn't have to use the "close on paper" if spare parts, or real specs, were actually available.

Secondly, as analog electronics, where the non-compliance argument might matter, are generally built of devices with 5-20% tolerances. Close enough is usually close enough, if you can get the right specs to start with.

Thirdly, the parts of modern communication networks that can actually be affected by component choice is a miniscule part, of the complete systems. Sincr almost no modern communication device is built with more than a few discreet devices around a special RF chip, you really can only repair it with the same chip, and trivially replaceable components.

I can go on. Yes, there are certifications, sometimes they are important and necessary, but usually they are there for business reasons. To create lock-in, or otherwise increase revenue, or to avoid blame by making it look like you care.

I have yet to see an industry certification which has not clearly put in place for a business reason.

For non-industry certifications, there would be no difference in who does the repair, re-certification would be necessary, and society aldready handles this in areas where it's actually needed for safety reasons.


> I can go on.

I'll skip that too. I have a counter argument literally for every your affirmation. Big part of modern CE devices do not fit into your description (or at least, we clearly have in mind very different ones). The more expensive a device, the more complex it generally is, and the higher is the motivation to repair it. I don't think we need the law only to repair car fobs and wireless door keys.

> I have yet to see an industry certification which has not clearly put in place for a business reason.

Since when business reasons became intrinsically bad? Aren't we on HN?


>> I have yet to see an industry certification which has not clearly put in place for a business reason.

> Since when business reasons became intrinsically bad?

The way I read it, it's a shorthand for "has nothing to do with a fair trade of value in exchange for money".

> Aren't we on HN?

HN is not a place frequented by wolves of Wall Street.


> HN is not a place frequented by wolves of Wall Street.

Errr... I hope they manifest themselves right away ;-)


If you design a system where remote users are impacted by other remote users' malicious actions, you've just created a bad system. "Criminals" can still do anything they want to the firmware of a JD, it's just illegal. Nothing actually stops them. But if JD designed a system that prevented local modification from affecting others, then they wouldn't have this problem.


Absolutely agree! Also in that world, all engineers would be smart, given all the necessary information, all equipped with all expensive measurement tools, and be given enough time to do good work (and motivated to do that). After coming back home at 5pm, they would grab the same expensive measurement equipment and start hacking on their devices, putting in the same high quality and knowledge and high conscience.

Illegal? Criminal? Mind you, a noob replacing a diode without knowing better, like I said.


> let you imagine what one could do with arbitrary firmware images on a fully unlocked device.

You could .. avoid paying the manufacturer's fees for re-enabling features that the firmware has disabled? You could refill your ink cartridges?

Bad actors at this layer seem to be quite rare. And the whole reason everyone uses the unlicensed bands is the freedom to transmit (and expectation of recieving) arbitrary signals.


> Bad actors at this layer seem to be quite rare.

I think our experience is rather limited for the moment to tell (ok, barring refilled cartridges ;-), since bad acting is inhibited by existing mechanisms. (Even with cartridges -- what if your new yellow ink breaks that hidden watermarking that certain people have come to rely on?)

Compliant device receives an accepted designator (certificate), non-compliant device is not expected to have it. This model can easily be broken, unless it is being taken care of somehow in the new model.

Unlicensed bands are a tiny part of the entire aired RF spectrum -- and we didn't even start speaking of devices sharing a wired RF medium.


> John Deere argues that access to the company’s proprietary software could be used to bypass emissions controls or safety measures.

On an analog car, I can physically remove emissions control devices. I can short circuit the seat belt warning. I can pull a fuse and disable the (not quite analog) antilock brakes. I can fail to change the tires when they have an unsafe amount of tread. I'm less familiar with farm equipment, but I'm sure there are many parallel modifications possible for analog farm equipment.

The courts and the public would not consider the manufacturer responsible in any of the above scenarios. It doesn't follow that it would be any different for users modifying digital systems.


So John Deere sells upgrade packages for its equipment. If you need more torque, towing capacity, etc, you pay for the upgrade. It likely pushes you a new tune and raises the boost. They definitely don't want some local tuner shop being able to handle this for you which explains their reasoning ($$).

I've seen the price list once recently but I can't recall how I found it and it's evading me right now. The upgrades were basically several thousand to tens of thousands. Wish I could find where I saw this, searching gets me nothing.


The government should not be enforcing John Deere's attempt to increase sales by crippling half of the products that roll off the line artificially. This is bad for society.


But, continuing the analogue analogy, the local shop should be able to compete!

The OEM can claim (perhaps rightly, more knowledge of the whole system) to be better at it, or simply offer it without voiding warranty.


Ah its a similar issue with Deere equipment, however they can just make the tool not function if a full systems check doesn't return with Deere approved values.


> they can just make the tool not function if a full systems check doesn't return with Deere approved values

That is the problem.


It’s coming for cars too.


Preventing repair? It's possible, although it's worth noting that auto makers used to do more to prevent repair, but were forced to back down by a 2012 Massachusetts automotive right-to-repair law.

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/02/automobiles/carmakers-to-...

via https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/06/opinion/sunday/right-to-r...

via OP


This all shows what an absolute disaster the DMCA was; how poorly thought out it was, how unconsidered the consequences were, and how badly our legislators failed us... to give Hollywood a little extra cash. We should be outraged.

It all started as "hey, these damn kids are stealing our musics". So they made a law with "broad bipartisan support" to punish those evil evil people that were sharing their CDs with other people. But then other people realized, "hey, we can use this to make money." Now it's copyright infringement to repair your tractor. They keep the DMCA alive by carving out tiny exemptions every few years... but never addressing the core of the law. We should not accept random tweaks and amendments to this toxic law.

I think it's time to move to a post-DMCA world. It was illegal to pirate stuff before the DMCA. Just go prosecute that if you think it's a policing priority. We don't need a special law, as it clearly makes possible too much abuse. Don't like someone? DMCA their website. Want extra money for your tractor? Make repairing it "circumventing a content protection system." This is actively harmful to society, and the special interest group that is Hollywood just doesn't matter enough for it to be a good compromise. Get the DMCA out of here.


The DMCA is what exempts ISPs and content platforms from direct liability for the copyright violations of their users. Without the DMCA, it's doubtful the Internet could have grown the way it did, and almost certain we would not have user-generated content platforms like Youtube, Instagram, heck, even HN. They all would have been sued out of existence as soon as copyrighted stuff was posted by their users.

The anti-circumvention provisions, to which you're referring, have caused all sorts of problems. But the bill was passed as a whole, and those provisions were part of what was traded off for the copyright safe harbor provisions. You have to look at the whole bill to see the balance that was struck.

All that said, I fully support the right to repair movement.


I wonder if one could start a business where you buy used John Deere tractors, entirely reflash the software, and re-sell at the unlocked price. Presumably once the your own firmware works, the marginal profit would be great, and first-sale doctrine would prevent them from having legal cause. Can't be circumventing a system that you've already removed wholesale.


I recently discovered Louis Rossman's Youtube channel and it planted a virus in my head to make me want to try much harder to repair things.

Recently my water bottle leaked on my $2000 Thinkpad and fried the LAN card. Ubuntu started complaining that it couldn't find the Wireless adapter to find wifi networks. I think a couple years ago, I'd have just thrown in the towel right away and bought a new computer. Instead I did some research and found a $20 replacement card on Amazon. It took me 15 minutes to fix my laptop. I felt a great sense of pride afterwards for avoiding a great amount of environmental and financial waste.

Same thing with my $200 coffee grinder. It stopped grinding beans properly. I did some research and found the usual cause was a thin plastic piece inside the grinder would crack and become loose. After 5 years of ownership I had previously considered just buying a new one because "well it's pretty old". But instead I found the small plastic part on Baratza's website and successfully repaired my grinder. It cost me $8 and 20 minutes of my time.

I think I'm becoming a repair extremist and will probably start to annoy people by insisting on taking this route whenever possible. It seems like American culture cares very little about repairing/mending things. It seems like people expect everything to break and use it as a cue to buy a new one. It's really sad, especially because I think we were intentionally trained to think that way.


For non-electronics, I bought a huge umbrella online once. It was missing a thin metal rod that helped form a hinge in the umbrella. I told the company this, they sent me a new one and told me to throw the old one away.

Because throwing it away would be ridiculously wasteful, instead I went to Home Depot, bought a steel rod of appropriate diameter for $3, cut off a piece and used that.

So I got 2 umbrellas for the price of one.


>Recently my water bottle leaked on my $2000 Thinkpad and fried the LAN card. ... Instead I did some research and found a $20 replacement card on Amazon. It took me 15 minutes to fix my laptop. I felt a great sense of pride afterwards for avoiding a great amount of environmental and financial waste.

Laptop parts are commonly available on Ebay for very cheap. Laptops are generally very serviceable (especially Thinkpads, Latitudes, and other business-class ones; MS Surfaces are not however) and it's not that hard, with a small screwdriver, to take them apart and replace various circuit boards. Considering how much a new laptop costs, and how cheap something like a miniPCIe WiFi card is, it's absolutely worth it to repair.

Another important thing is that many mass-produced things fail in the same way, so you can frequently Google for your product and failure mode, and find someone talking about what the problem was and how they fixed it. YouTube is an excellent source for repair videos for many things; frequently companies selling repair parts (such as for appliances) will make these videos themselves, to help boost sales and as free advertising (which they actually get paid a little for if lots of people watch the video).


Usually things like coffee grinders or electric stand mixers that have a motor and a gearbox include a plastic piece that is intended to fail first precisely so they are easily and cheaply repaired. They honestly should advertise it on the box, but that'd cut into their repair business.


In some cases, this is attributed to bad design or bad materials choice; and maybe in some cases, it's done to make you purchase a new model.

But in many cases, such breakable parts are put in place for a reason. They are called "mechanical fuses" - also known by a few other names:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacrificial_part

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shear_pin

They are designed to break if the machine comes under too much stress that could break more expensive parts of the machine if the "fuse" wasn't included. Instead, that part breaks, making it cheap and easy to replace.

Indeed, if you ever find a Kitchen Aid stand mixer in the trash, it likely got there because a gear in the gearbox is designed for this reason; they are cheap and easy to replace for anyone with a modest amount of mechanical ability, and those mixers aren't inexpensive new.


Yea, if you can get Kitchenaid to sell it to you. They absolutely refuse to sell me, as a consumer, the grease they use to lubricate the gear head. Even after arguing for half an hour with customer service.


Grease isn't something that Kitchenaid makes. You should be able to easily buy appropriate grease anywhere for dirt-cheap. For small appliances with plastic gears, it's most likely some kind of white lithium grease. A little research online should tell you what kind of grease is appropriate for that application, and then it should be easy to get some inexpensively, perhaps even at your local auto parts store in a tiny single-use packet for $1.


They do sell a food-grade grease, but not to me. Looking at the existing grease in the gearhead, it looks similar to axle grease. Researching food-grade grease on Amazon shows many reviews raising this problem, but no definitive solutions. It's not lithium grease.


Why would you need a "food grade" grease? You're not eating the grease; it's supposed to be contained inside the mechanism. If it's leaking out into the food, that sounds like a pretty horrible design and a product you shouldn't use under any circumstances. Maybe I'm just not understanding this product at all.

Is it golden brown, or an off-white?


It is golden brown.

My mixer is 50 years old. Over the years, I've pulled the head apart a couple of times when it starts to squeak, and it's obvious there is a very gradual loss of grease - I've re-spread it into the gears.

There is no seal on the shaft that holds the beater.

Kitchenaid is made by Hobart, and they are the lead manufacturer in this market. The design is fine and very rugged.

I don't want use any grease that has traces of heavy metals or, e.g., moly disulfide. There is such a thing as food grade grease for use in mixers, candy machines, etc., but I just haven't yet laid my hands on any.


Wow, TIL.


Having my HP printer just failed because of something was wrong on the printer head (and replacing the printer head alone costs more than the printer, and is a easy job as it was made to be easily replaced), I'm always mad that a part costs equal or more than the whole thing.

Any kind of "locked-in" to repair anything should always be against the law: no one should be allowed to charge more for a part than it charges for the whole. And I think that only "right-to-repair" can make things correct and reduce those disposable electronics.


> no one should be allowed to charge more for a part than it charges for the whole

I think that's a dangerous route to follow. I completely agree with right to repair legislation, but I can also imagine a situation where a company makes ten thousand of something and sells it in a year through a retailer, and then keeps replacement parts available for a long time. Warehousing, inventory, service and delivery costs could easily make parts cost more than the original item.

I once went to a lecture given by someone from Boeing. He said that when they use an obscure electronic part in their aircraft, and it reaches End of Life, they buy all the stock they can get hold of, store it in a very secure location, and charge a lot for it. The real value of this part is way larger than the original manufacturing costs would imply. It doesn't cost as much as a plane, but if your plane cannot fly without it, then it's pretty darn close.


> Warehousing, inventory, service and delivery costs could easily make parts cost more than the original item.

Leave delivery costs out for a second; all that you're really arguing for is that instead of warehousing/inventorying old parts, it should be much easier to order individual parts on-demand from local boutique fabrication suppliers. Sure, that costs more per-part than the original (which benefited from the cost reduction of mass production), but as much as the whole? My gut is pretty doubtful on that.


> (...) when they use an obscure electronic part (...) it reaches End of Life, they buy all the stock (...) and charge a lot for it.

But in this case there were other suppliers and they buy all those parts to be exclusive sellers, and for a thing (a plane) that is expected to have a long life.

And still it's much more easy on the client than having a propertary chip with planned obsolescence (print 2,000 pages, or be cycled on-off 200 times, or wait 497 days, or be moved to another table 7 times, whatever happens first) and then fail without any trace on where was the wrongdoing of the costumer.

And then have no third-party suppliers. And then charge 80% of the equipament for just one part that was made to be replaceable.

I'm not talking for how long should HP, in my case, should store replacement parts, and I know that it implies some costs.

What I consider the giant problem is that we complain that the environment is getting polluted but companies are allowed to sell things that will last just some choosen time. That we buy something but we don't own it since nobody knows when or why it will fail. I'm ok with a plastic breaking, with a chip releasing the magic smoke.

I'm mad with a chip stop working for unknown reasons because it was designed to. I'm mad that I (or anybody else) can't fix it because programing it to fail after x pages is even copyrighted and the pokerfaced company says it is to protect me from hackers, from printing bad-looking pages, from spitting some ink in my desk...

When I pay for something I'm giving my money so that the company uses it as they wish. But in return I'm just getting that I don't own, that I can't use as I want, and even is against the law if I try, because I'll be breaking some IP if I make my own chip.

Anyone following the future of Java and how using the same method/signature/name for functions/API calling (whatever the name it takes) knows how it affects us, and can imagine how this can extends to the same reasoning when one company began claiming that "I have rights on the specific sequence of voltages that are applied to each pins of this print head, so anyone else can't make the same thing".


> I'm mad with a chip stop working for unknown reasons because it was designed to.

I understand that you're angry about your HP printer not working, I also agree that the 'protection' measures in printers are ridiculous, especially on ink cartridges. I also agree that planned obsolescence is terrible for the environment, as are business models like those for inkjet printers, where the device is given away for nothing just so they can sell you overpriced ink refills.

I was just pointing out that sometimes it makes sense for replacement parts to be really expensive, even more than the original product, and that enforcing a law that would prohibit such practices would be counterproductive, not to mention that it would be very hard to implement in practice.

For one, how do you even calculate the real value? If you'd have a device that is intended to last a long time (as we would all like), say 20 years you can't just take the amount of dollars you paid originally. You'd have to take into account inflation, changing plant and labour costs etc. This would quickly get messy, and, IMO, would not produce much final benefit.

Having said that, I think we're on the same page, I would also love to criminalise making products that are designed to fail after a certain amount of time.

But this is also super hard to legislate. For example, how do you tell malicious intent from bad design? If my car becomes uneconomical to repair after 100,000 miles because the chassis starts to rust, how do you know whether the manufacturer designed it that way to sell me a new one quicker, or because they made a mistake?

It's easy to tell when they specifically program a microcontroller to stop working after a certain date, and I think that such obviously bad practices should be outlawed. But as a design engineer, I can tell you that it's super easy to design things to fail in much subtler ways, so that it looks like it's a simple mistake. Especially since making your design last longer usually involves adding features like strain relievers on cords etc. This costs money, and you can easily pretend that you're "saving costs for the end consumer".

I think that, after the most basic right to repair legislation is in place, "soft" practices, like encouraging people to buy stuff from companies that have real warranty programs, and which advertise their "built to last" business models would be much more effective than trying to legislate away every aspect of repair.

I love how some outdoor equipment companies (Osprey, MSR, Cumulus) handle this. They sell really expensive stuff, but with excellent after-sales support, and openly encourage people to send products in for repair. Of course this would be very hard to implement in a "tech" environment, where the USP is usually "newer, faster, better". Although, as Bunnie Huang said, with the slow-down of Moore's law, we may slowly be reaching the point of a "heirloom" laptop. I'd love to see that one day.


>we may slowly be reaching the point of a "heirloom" laptop. I'd love to see that one day

Not if the screen's glued in and the battery's not removable.


I don't think it is dangerous. If manufacturers were required to sell parts at price loser than the whole they would have to adapt. Worst case, they can disassemble whole products back to spare parts!


>no one should be allowed to charge more for a part than it charges for the whole

I love right to repair policy as much as the next man, but I don't entirely agree with this statement. Certainly from my experience in the aerospace industry where some of the hardware is 20+ years old, the company might not have produced the product for the past decade and have none of the machines/molds/designs to make the part any longer, and it's a niche item so there are no spares. In that instance, we could well be looking at paying them upwards of £20k for something like a lighting bracket which we initially bought for £500, because we're effectively paying them to buy/build the machinery, redesigned the product, and replicate said part without any of the economies of scale they had initially - and it needs to be done because otherwise instead of a £20k bracket you're looking at a full multi-million pound redesign for something as minor as an obsolete part.

You can't expect people to pay stupid money to pay for spares, but likewise you can't expect businesses to keep equipment to manufacture products from decades ago for when the spares run dry, or expect them to have the gift of foresight to predict how many spares they'll need years down the line.


Ok, but even in your example your thinking in spending $20k for a $500 piece for being able to use something that costs much more than $20k.

Perhaps I should made it clear in the original reply: what I expect is to own the thing I buy. And owning it means that I should be able to do whatever I want with it, including fix it using third-party suppliers.

Of course, if we think of extremes, I think that SpaceX will charge much more for providing me a replacement noozle than it actually costs, but in this case we will be talking about rocket science.


Poor example then, but I have worked with aircraft where we've paid hundreds for a bolt, which is more than the price of the thing we're fixing, just so we don't have to go through the pain of replacing the whole unit - even though it would be cheaper. Again, I don't think when it comes to spares we should expect a company to continue to support a legacy product indefinitely. I don't expect Apple to continue producing parts for the Apple 2 just in case someone sends theirs back for repairs.

I'm not disagreeing with you as to your second comment, but that's not how I read your first comment at all. Something as sweeping "no one should be allowed to charge more for a part than it charges for the whole" has so many issues with it that putting it into practice would be beyond detrimental for manufacturers.


I understand you, and when I wrote the first post I was thinking on regular things, things that are (more or less) used by everybody on a regular basis. I understand that many exceptions are possible, many niche markets, many specific situations.

I'm just complaining that while we have many discussion on where to dump electronic garbage, how to protect landfills from heavy metals, how to avoid so many mili- micro- nano- plastic fragments from being ingested with tap water... we also consider that programmed obsolescense is just business pratice. Not being able to repair something is ok to protect business, prevent terrorists and protect children. And in the end it's even consumer fault, because we could buy things that aren't disposable. And when we spend $300 on a printer, instead of $50, everybody assumption is that at first you bought the cheaper option. And that even $300 is the cheaper, you should have spent $500.

Then everybody complains that someone else should do something concious about environment, and everybody forgets that "everybody should do something" is exactly why governments exists, are elected and legislate. Because government shouldn't be more than "everybody".


You got a dirt cheap printer because you're paying with supplies. Printer heads are the normal price.


> You got a dirt cheap printer because you're paying with supplies.

Give me one good reason why this particular business model - base subsidized by consumables - shouldn't be straight up banned. I can't think of any.


Freedom of choice on consumers and suppliers. Why should supermarkets be able to offer discounted products, sometimes below their cost, as loss-leaders to get people into the store? Why should airlines be allowed to give away free flights via frequent flier programs?

If Gillette wants to sell me a $5 razor handle for $2 because it can only use $1 blades from them, why should that be barred as an offer on their part that I accept?


Because it causes massive unsustainable externalities when that business model is applied by many firms across the economy as a whole?

The only reason that manufacturers can get away with planned obsolescence is because they don't have to pay any disposal fees to recycle/remanufacture their equipment. If they took a hit to their bottom line every time a consumer threw out their product, I'm willing to be they'd design products to be a lot more durable and repairable.


... how much do you think device disposal actually costs?


Depends on what you mean by "disposal". I'm talking about a system where no part of the device ends up in a landfill, much like what we have with car batteries today.


ex·ter·nal·i·ty

noun

a side effect or consequence of an industrial or commercial activity that affects other parties without this being reflected in the cost of the goods or services involved

(emphasis added)

https://www.google.com/search?q=define+externality


Oh wow, thanks. They must not have covered that topic in all of the Economics classes I took in college. Thank goodness you were here to regurgitate the definition of such a basic concept to me on this fateful day. I will be forever grateful.


I was clarifying. Interesting that you clearly read this and the other reply yet you don't have a substantive response.


Because it’s silly. The cost of disposing of or recycling a cell phone is negligible compared to its margins. What are the margins on an iPhone?


Are iPhones an example of planned obsolescence? I think of iPhones as much more durable than cheap Android phones. Don't you think those would be less cheap if it weren't "free" to toss them in 2 years?


I thought that's what all the Apple-haters say online. They claim that iPhones are the epitome of planned obsolescense.


Because I print like ten pages a year, and I'd rather not have to drop half a grand or more on a printer like in the old days just for that.


If you print ten pages a year, I'd rather you go to a print shop instead of being yet another person whose inkjet printer will end up in a landfill in a year.


Or buy a laser printer, they don't seem to mind sitting on a shelf for years.


I have a cheap laser printer that will probably last me years.

Also, what's the carbon footprint of driving to Kinkos ten times a year vs a printer?


Laser printers aren't subsidized in this way AFAIK; the subthread here is about the inkjet printer business.


Honestly, what's the diff re: sustainability? There's not a huge difference in how long either type lasts at that price point afaik.


By extension, are you proposing a ban on water filters and filter cartridges? Keurigs and their cartridges? Or are you just concerned with printers, or base things that you consider fragile and wasteful? Where would you draw the line?

I don't think I've ever had one of my consumer printers break (and I use third-party ink so I'm not even subsidizing them in the end), so the extremity of this argument is surprising. It would be nice if there were aggregate stats on the fragility/lifetime of consumer printers, and maybe all consumer electronics in general.


> By extension, are you proposing a ban on water filters and filter cartridges?

Not necessarily. But filters are cheap pieces of plastics, whereas the whole magic is in the cartridges, so the pricing structure seems OK.

> Keurigs and their cartridges?

Definitely. Keurig deserves to be dissolved for DRMing coffee and for being an ecological disaster.

> I don't think I've ever had one of my consumer printers break (and I use third-party ink so I'm not even subsidizing them in the end), so the extremity of this argument is surprising.

I had consumer inkjets break on me as often as they run out of ink. And for everyone I know, even in my family, the result was always the same: if basic maintenance like cleaning and re-cleaning heads and banging a bit with a fist didn't work, the printer went to trash and a new one was bought.

To be clear, I'm not against consumables in general. I'm against selling a product way below costs, hoping to recoup the subsidy through inflated pricing of consumables. I feel it's an unfair practice and that it promotes wastefulness and negative ecological externalities.


I guess what I'm getting at is that it seems difficult to draw the line about what kind of business model you're trying to ban. How would you legislate the difference between water filters and inkjet printers? Even though yes, most of the nontrivial stuff is in the filters themselves, I would think the filter jug is subsidized in some form by the filter, no matter how small the amount.

Another example: Sony sold the PS3 at a loss and recouped the cost through games [1].

If you're concerned about the ecological cost, I think it's better to ban items based on ecological cost (when considering durability and whether it's consumed once or repeatedly) directly. There's no sense in banning certain good printers if they're actually durable. Even your concern with Keurig is not really caused by their base item, but the consumable, right? I think that's the current trend we're following with plastic bags and straws anyway.

[1] https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2006/11/8239/


It's cheaper for most people.


Not in the long run, and not if you account for externalities dumped on society in form of trash, which follow naturally when price-sensitive customers try to game this business model.


That's strange. Judging from what I know about Canon and HP printers, the cheapest models often use integrated cartridges and print heads, both replaced when the ink runs out, while more expensive models have them separated and only replace cartridges. I guess the cost of print heads can vary wildly depending on quality, from pennies to more than what the printers themselves are sold for.


And that's why there are anti-dumping laws. And I assure you it wasn't the cheap version of the printer....


For those who are having trouble finding reasons why farmers care about right to repair, its not just the tractors themselves but the PTO accessories in most cases.

For example, many PTO links on newer John Deer or Ferguson tractors contain a set of over torque sensors designed to shut off ot disconnect to prevent stallout and engine damage. if you repaired a spreader or a mower assembly from a John Deere, it needs to have all the original sensors on it to operate from the cab, and those sensors need to all return normal "john deere" values/codes for the implement. if not, you need to pay John Deere for another farm implement.

Farmers want the right to upgrade the firmware in-cab or make exceptions to allow repaired equipment.


You should have this basic right to repair. If you are unable to repair it and even break it further, it will cost you more for the company to repair it. This right should have the right to have the repair company to connect it and scan it, for a nominal fee, and tell you what is broken and what they would charge. You can then decide. With the complexity of modern devices, you may have to go to another company with similar data assessent equipment to cary out the repair. Modern circuit boards are a sea of small surface mounted parts on both sides...


Forcing a company to have a diagnostic tool or team to identify a problem you might not have them fix is silly IMO. So is forcing their hand on creating a repairable product.

I don't expect Microsoft to be able to easily identify obscure hardware issues with a design like my Surface Book 2. I do expect them to create a hardware product that doesn't break easily. Supplying the specs is a big benefit in my purchase decision. But not something I think should be required since it will undoubtedly give competitors more of an edge in their own development.

The onus is on me to purchase a product that matches my needs.


This. I totally want to buy repairable products, and do when I can, but I don't wish to force other consumers to pay extra to cover the expenses of a feature I want.


By that logic cars shouldn't have to abide by crash safety regulations. If you want a safe car, buy a Volvo. Everyone else can drive deathtraps that burst into flames if they're so much as dented.


Safety is important. Forcing a design of a product to your objectively high standards is not.


Saying safety is important or repairablity is important are both subjective value judgements. I see zero reason why your estimation of the value of a safe car should force me to subsidize that safety when I buy a car, any more than me valuing a repairable design should force you to subsidize the extra documentation.


Your selected example has a negative externality of being deadly to bystanders if driven on a public roadway, and a more measured man might make some stipulation about such a vehicle only being driven on private land, but this is fundamentally how I feel. If I want to die in a flaming wreck, or if I want to accept a chance of dying in a flaming wreck in exchange for a discount on material goods, I don't want well-meaning bureaucrats to gavel about telling me I can't do it because they know what's best for me. We all make tradeoffs and take chances in life, and you wouldn't like me telling you which tradeoffs and chances to take, so why should you get to tell me which tradeoffs and chances to take? An appeal to numbers (democracy -- that thing that got Hitler elected) won't get very far at changing my mind, nor will an appeal to the ideal social contract conceived of by an entity whose intelligence approaches the hypothetical limit (for more than one reason, but most simply because I generally accept the orthogonality thesis).


> Your selected example has a negative externality

So does planned obsolescence.

> If I want to die in a flaming wreck, or if I want to accept a chance of dying in a flaming wreck in exchange for a discount on material goods, I don't want well-meaning bureaucrats to gavel about telling me I can't do it because they know what's best for me.

The well-meaning bureaucrats aren't out there to take away your freedom. They're there for all the other people - people who aren't anywhere close to being perfectly rational market players engaging in fully voluntary exchange of goods. History teaches us that if the market can get away with unsafe goods, not only it will, but those goods will become the only thing available to people without lots of discretionary income (i.e. most of the population). The only way to prevent this is by not allowing the market to even go there.

> We all make tradeoffs and take chances in life, and you wouldn't like me telling you which tradeoffs and chances to take, so why should you get to tell me which tradeoffs and chances to take?

Again, you're technically in control of which side of a tradeoff you pick, but you aren't in control of how the sides balance out. It's easy for the market to price the tradeoff in such a way that most people are forced to take the option that's harmful to them, or society at large. I might not like you telling me which tradeoffs to take, but I would appreciate if you were able to take some of the things forced on me and turn them around, or at least back into real tradeoffs.


>The well-meaning bureaucrats aren't out there to take away your freedom. They're there for all the other people - people who aren't anywhere close to being perfectly rational market players engaging in fully voluntary exchange of goods.

I never claimed to be a perfectly rational market player engaging in a fully voluntary exchange of goods. Any human claiming to be fully rational lacks a healthy amount of introspection, and we're almost all faced with the prospect of starving if we don't partake in the exchange of goods. I want choice despite these shortcomings, and I don't have any desire to deprive others of choice if they're less rational or more desperate during their decision making processes.

>History teaches us that if the market can get away with unsafe goods, not only it will, but those goods will become the only thing available to people without lots of discretionary income (i.e. most of the population).

If those goods are banned, the alternatives will cost more. Who am I to tell somebody who can't afford a car with airbags that they shouldn't have the option to buy a car without airbags? You rightly point out the wretched state of the world with dispossessed masses of people, but then you deny those dispossessed masses the ability to make their own decisions about what to do with those few possessions they do have.

Edit:

> I might not like you telling me which tradeoffs to take, but I would appreciate if you were able to take some of the things forced on me and turn them around, or at least back into real tradeoffs.

Cost saving quality cuts are a real tradeoff -- they make goods and services available to those who would otherwise not be able to afford them.


> If those goods are banned, the alternatives will cost more.

That does not necessarily follow. They may very well cost the same or slightly more. Even in competitive markets, the assumption that price of a product is very close to the minimum possible costs of manufacturing does not hold. Real markets are nowhere near that efficient. There's lots of wiggle room in prices.

My overall point here is that removing some options isn't about taking away people's freedom to choose; it's about preventing the market from offering a rigged choice in the first place.


Isn't not being able to replace / recycle the batteries in products a negative externality?


Without mounting an argument that others have to buy such products due to market forces, no, because the issue only affects the consumer and not those around them. A lack of security updates and no way to roll your own is more in the ballpark, since your IoT-whatever could be borged into a botnet and used to cause further damage, but even that seems like a reach compared to the danger of an exploding automobile.


forcing their hand on creating a repairable product.

I don't believe any of the proposals mentioned by the OP nor the comment you're replying to are suggesting this.

Supplying the specs is a big benefit in my purchase decision. But not something I think should be required since it will undoubtedly give competitors more of an edge in their own development.

Competition is what I value about markets. Preventing anti-competitive behavior is a big thing I value about regulation. These seem like reasons for, not against, right-to-repair.


> Forcing a company to have a diagnostic tool or team to identify a problem you might not have them fix is silly IMO.

As a counter point, OBD-2 works and everyone can use it.


As a counter to that point - unless you're willing to spend mega-$$$ on a high-end scan tool, you won't be able to read all of the OBD-2 codes.

Even with such a scan tool - there may still be certain codes that are "manufacturer only" readable.


The more I learn about this the more disappointed I am. In my own experience the standard codes have always been enough to show me what needed fixing. I'm not a mechanic though so my range of experience with it isn't that large.


This is not so easy. The Surface Books are made with a number of snap together modules, via fine cable runs and multi-pin connectors. Each part is made with care and subjected to detailed tests, that include a term of power-on burn in for the major parts with infra-red smart vision that looks for any hot spots (that might lead to failure). Then they are assembled with in progress tests at some points until the final productis made and it is tested after they add the SSD with all the operating system installed. There are assorted areas partitioned on the SSD that might hold an OS recovery partition, as well as other software provided by others as choice ware (since so many people like this so called bloatware not installed). Then it will be placed on a burn-in rack at a higher temperatrure than room temp and some sort of test program will be run on a recurrent basis. Those that pass are packed and shipped, those that fail are analyzed for faults and any faulty part replaced and it is re-tested. A lemon with recurrent faults will probably be gutted to find the part with an enduring fault. Once in the field, it is rare for part level test and repair to be done. Those boards are marked as scrap with dye?? and sold in the scrap boards auction in schenzen. Buyers buy these boards and perform some analysis of them, or simply remove certain high value parts and sell them to other repris shops. Often many parts are tossed because these parts lack detailed information on them abd are not worth salvage. There are board maps online, so higher value parts like inductors, crystals, GPS etc have known locations and are removed and segregated for sale to hobby shops etc.

https://hackernoon.com/the-gladiator-pit-of-hardware-startup...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leFuF-zoVzA&feature=youtu.be...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUQzAhOVj70


Forcing a company to have a diagnostic tool or team to identify a problem you might not have them fix is silly IMO. So is forcing their hand on creating a repairable product.

That's not as self-evident as you imply. We force manufacturers' hands in so many other ways. We force automobile manufacturers to abide by crash safety and emissions regulations. Electronics manufacturers have to abide by lead-free solder rules and FCC regulations to ensure that their products don't cause harmful interference. I don't think that forcing repairability is as much of a stretch as you think.

At the very least, we should ban EULA provisions that restrict the user from reverse-engineering the product.


Comparing safety regulations to enforced development guidelines? Do you not see the distinction of why the latter is ok?


I think the main thing that Apple here is trying to avoid is an iPhone catching on fire due to a 3rd party battery installed by a Mall Kisok repair shop guy who was hired a week ago. They know that the nuance will get lost and the story will become - iPhones catch on fire.


Ford car tire was replaced by a Walmart employee hired a week ago. The car could have a blowout and crash. The story will become - Fords have blowouts and crash. Tires should only be replaced with factory original tires by Ford authorized service centers, right?


The main thing any of these companies is trying to avoid is loss of control. Control over the ecosystem, control over profit.


And control over users and their behavior.


Samsung sold exploding batteries, no third party repair needed.


No, it is just one of the arguments they are making off to support their monopolistic power. Just like that underclocking-on-old-battery trick. They are not making some special batteries, their chargers don't provide "magical 5V which is different than my 5V". They have some quality standards but they are not unique in this, li-ion is an industry standard.


I do not believe this, what damage did Apple(or other company) brand get because you can change the battery in the laptops?


Apple has been dinged repeatedly when people use bad third-party chargers that destabilize the batteries. Why do you think it would be any different for the batteries.


Even supposing this were true, the right solution to Apple being hurt by misinformation is not restricting device owners' control over their own devices. The right solution is for the public to get better information about what faults iPhones do and don't have, and the quality of service by repair vendors.

(And I do very much doubt this is true. What makes you think so? Can you show a correlation between news reports about bad third-party chargers that destabilize the battery and stock price drops or something?)


Was that on a newspaper ? Because if some random guy posted an image on reddit it does not count. There are legitimate issues with genuine batteries and still Apple does not have a repitation of bad batteries , they have a reputation for the keyboards after months of denials and fanboys accusing users of using the keyboard wrong.


Why is that scenario Apple’s problem?


Some customers would assume that since a place did repair the phone that Apple approves of them doing so, therefor putting liability on Apple.

Any such harm coming from that phone would be first applied to Apple and Apple would have to expend money to prove otherwise.

I have no problem with allow customers to select the shop they want for out of warranty work but I am fully in the camp of manufacturers being able to provide an obvious means for shops to have certification to repair a device in warranty.

As to the idea of "Right to Repair". I work in the automotive industry and the company I work for lives by this, however by no means is it realistic that having the information, tools, and parts, would guarantee a good result for all those who undertake the work. Plus people do have an unrealistic idea of which parts would ever be replaceable. Batteries sure, but individual chips would be not be.


>Some customers would assume that since a place did repair the phone that Apple approves of them doing so, therefor putting liability on Apple.

This whole argument is that Apple should not be able to "approve" anyone from doing anything they want with the phone that they supposedly paid for and own.

>Plus people do have an unrealistic idea of which parts would ever be replaceable. Batteries sure, but individual chips would be not be.

There was a video I saw about a guy putting together his own iphone from parts in China. They can replace individual chips. But not with the DMCA.


Or to put a more sinister way, it could be entirely prevented by Apple with full hardware signing. It could mean that having an iPhone in your hand means it's completely legitimate, increasing actual and perceived quality and resale value.


“Full hardware signing” is easier said than done.


Because people only read headlines


It hurts Apple brand


And? If you sell a product, you don't own it anymore. The owner owns it and should be able to do whatever they want with it.

If someone is selling exploding batteries that fit an iphone, it's up to the government to shut them down for being unsafe, or the burn victims to sue the exploding battery repair shops.

Despite their marketing, Apple is not the only company in the world that is capable of making a non-exploding battery.

The FUD about iphones being some magical object carried down on the wings of angels and suddenly becoming unclean and flammable because a third-party battery was inserted is ridiculous.

Laptops have had replaceable batteries for decades without the sky falling down - until the Apple reality-distortion field was successfully engaged to disable people's rational thinking.


I’m generally pro-right to repair bills but I’m not clear how far they can reasonably go - should companies that make phones or whatever with custom cpus (Apple, Samsung, etc with completely custom chips or custom configurations - arm licensees etc) be required to sell those chips freely?

I’m not trying to be unreasonable: being able to replace a broken screen without replacing the entire device is reasonable, but there must Shirley* be a line across which repair is unreasonable.

* :D


You don't need to require OEMs sell their parts. They just need to be unencumbered by IP and other restrictions, i.e. customs. Then the parts will become available on the secondary market as companies disassemble dead devices and resell them.


So Apple should be required to license their cpu design to other companies?


Apple has used US Customs to seize parts intended for repairs, including parts from donor boards. Apple sued (and last I knew was trying to appeal) a Norway repair shop for repairing iPhones using "counterfeit" components. iirc, some parts, including the display, must match appropriately or the OS won't boot as a form of parts validation, effectively preventing display swaps when repairing.

I don't think the previous comment was licensing the design. Apple has been very aggressive with donor parts and data recovery.


I’d be interested in knowing where those parts came from - do they come from Apple facilities (because apple does refurbish devices) or do they come entirely from third party recyclers?

I’ve seen plenty of articles about parts coming directly from factories, rather than from torn down devices.

What is the actual ratio of stolen vs recovered by non-Apple facilities ?

I’m sure Apple would claim 100% stolen and rtr orgs would say 100% recovered. Note that Apple pays (in the form of a discount) for returned devices so if a refurbisher is selling parts they’ve claimed aren’t recoverable they are selling stolen goods (reason for destroying irrecoverable devices is to reduce/remove incentive for this type of theft)


How does third parties disassembling and reselling parts equate to licensing a cpu design?


A most of the time the third parties are sourcing from recovered parts, they’re dealing in parts stolen from factories.

But you are right - if they did gets the parts from a different device they should be allowed to reuse them freely.


> A most of the time the third parties are sourcing from recovered parts, they’re dealing in parts stolen from factories.

Wonder if there's any data on that. Given the extent to which China recycles electronics (some of which I've seen myself), it wouldn't surprise me if China-sourced replacement components were actually recovered from discarded devices.


Apple also has refurbishment programs that tear down and rebuild devices, I suspect some of those refurb parts are reported to Apple as being destroyed but then sold.


Indeed, however, there are certain "no brain" borders we can cross right away. For instance, it should not be illegal to repair your device. But ouch, we have already made ourselves an enemy of huge parts of several big industries.

The world is a bit crazy sometimes.


I think the barrier should be drawn at not trying to prevent the boards being re-sold; fabricating an entirely new one from scratch may be infeasible, but they will turn up on the secondary market.


In many scenarios, simply having the company not sue you if you did get your hands on a CPU replacent is an improvemt.


Except if the company doesn’t sell those cpus separately, in which case you know you’re buying stolen goods.


Well, they could be scavenged from existing devices that were already sitting around destined for trash.


So if I take a CPU and remove it from the motherboard than resell it separately it would be stolen if the CPU was only sold bundled with a board by the manufacturer?


Honestly every time I hear somebody throw out a hypothetical example of “is this [RTR Requirement] too far” my reaction is immediately “wow that sounds like a fantastic idea”


If they are still creating those chips, yes, why not?


Because the companies make enough chips for the devices they are building, they aren’t making extra.


Someone has to define what a "part" is. If a transistor in your CPU is broken, then is the "part" the transistor, the CPU, the board+CPU, or the entire phone?


Bernie Sanders has been swinging hard on this issue the last 4 years.

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/8xzqmp/bernie-sanders-cal...


I would like, just for once, that a company comes out and straight up says: “We choose how to make our products, you choose whether you want to buy it.” That’s everything there is to it. Don’t use any other arguments like “We do it to protect you.”


That works fine on a consumer level. Most products have competitors. But B2B customers have far less leeway. John Deere is a great example: they have (virtually) a monopoly on the farming business. As a result, farmers cannot purchase a competitors tractors / equipment. They either don't exist or require too many compromises, which ultimately impact profits.

In the case of modern farming, "not buying John Deere" is the equivalent of going out of business.


I think the comment you're replying to is expressing frustration with disingenuous PR, not endorsing a market structure.


PSA: Please support candidates and legislators who support right to repair laws at both state and federal levels! Call your representatives!

https://repair.org/stand-up


I am generally in favor of being able to repair things, but this is complicated and I have yet to see a good discussion (let alone legislative proposal) that takes into account all of the nuance I see as necessary:

1. There has definitely been abuse of cryptographic locking by parties such as John Deer. I feel that places where such locking is used only to prevent third-party repairs it should be illegal.

2. I feel that manufacturers should have ways of showing that third-party repairs have been done, and so enable them to make reasonable denials of warranty claims when those repairs are the cause of damage (no idea how to codify that into law).

3. There are cases, such as the touch-id sensor on Apple's iPhone that are legitimate cases of cryptographic locking. Absent that there is no way for Apple to defend against hardware-based attacks without this locking, and they need to have some way of trusting technicians (and the hardware involved) who make replacements. There is a complicated conversation to be had here (an no-one seems to be having it).

4. Devices that are built to be repaired are in the general best-interests of everyone at large (e.g.: environmental issues), but the forces of capitalism are generally against reuse. So we clearly need some system to rebalance the scales a bit, but how to do this without killing progress seems difficult (e.g.: the system-on-a-chip makes most of the guts of a cell phone one piece, and that is the direction of better devices).

(edited for better spacing)


>4. Devices that are built to be repaired are in the general best-interests of everyone at large (e.g.: environmental issues), but the forces of capitalism are generally against reuse. So we clearly need some system to rebalance the scales a bit, but how to do this without killing progress seems difficult (e.g.: the system-on-a-chip makes most of the guts of a cell phone one piece, and that is the direction of better devices).

I don't see how it's a difficult concept that not everything needs to be repairable at the molecular level. Is a phone "less repairable" because it uses a CPU instead of discrete logic chips? Is some 1971-vintage arcade game "less repairable" because it uses discrete logic chips instead of resistors and transistors? Is some electronic item from the 60s "less repairable" because it uses resistors and transistors instead of resistors and diodes?

It's pretty simple: if a part is easily available in a factory for assembly into a final device, that's probably a repair part. For a modern smartphone, that would be the motherboard, not the CPU. (It is possible to replace cellphone CPUs however, but it's a very difficult operation requiring special equipment and training.)

For legal issues, however, I think it's pretty simple: if the manufacturer is able to repair it, then anyone should be able to offer that same service, if they can acquire the tools. No one should be held back by laws that only benefit the manufacturer.

>1. There has definitely been abuse of cryptographic locking by parties such as John Deer. I feel that places where such locking is used only to prevent third-party repairs it should be illegal.

This is much trickier than the SoC issue, but I agree with you: if the only purpose of something is to prevent 3rd-party repairs or replacement parts (as with printer ink/toner), then it should be illegal.


I love everything about your discussion.

1. 100% agree

2. I've thought a little bit about this. I think it would be fine if the warranty can't be voided if the consumer can show in court that there's a preponderance of evidence that the issue they're having is unrelated to the third-party repair. This might mean in practice warranties hard to enforce if you've gone in for third-party repair, but I feel like usually it's old devices that you're fixing with third-parties anyway. It's also possible there's a perverse incentive to make components very sensitive to the case being opened or something, but it seems unlikely that that's possible without making the device fragile overall in situations where it would still be covered by warranty, which would cost the manufacturer money and also make the device less popular in the first place.

Another thing I was thinking, either instead of or supplemental to such a policy, is to require manufacturers of a certain size to have an open certification program that third-party repair shops can participate in, and to honor warrantees if repair has only been done by certified shops. This could be abused if the manufacturer makes the certification program really really shitty so no one does it, and if repairs by the manufacturer themselves is a huge revenue stream then that would almost certainly what would happen; but someone like Apple makes most their money selling new devices (I assume), so why risk the fines from regulators and the bad PR? And so while Apple won't have much incentive to make it easy to get certified, the fact that they have to honor warrantees of devices repaired by certified shops means they'll at least be incentivized to teach the certified shops not to break the devices.

3. I'm skeptical of the importance of this. The security should be in the entropy of my fingerprint, not the right fingerprint scanner being used, no? Like how locking down which keyboard are allowed to be connected to your laptop is not important to securing the password lock?

Spyware on the touch ID sensor is worrisome, but no more than spyware on any of the other input sensors, and is there really anything the manufacturer can do, technically rather than legally, about someone who physical accesses to your device and then hands it back to you to put your fingerprint and password back into?

4. This seems to me like a lack of information problem and an incentives structure problem. In theory, if everyone had total information and knew which of the alternatives lasted the longest and therefore had the lowest total-cost-of-owernship, and some kind of financial engineering let them buy the product on lease or something so the upfront cost could be competitive with the cheaper, shorter-lived alternatives, then everyone would do that, right?

The main theoretical problem here is designing the "lease" to incentivize the consumer to take good care of the product, without being predatory; if we had that, we wouldn't even need total information because it could be viable for the vendor to provide the product on lease or something with a low upfront cost.

Obviously there's a lot of other practical problems like, people who buy new smartphones usually don't want it to last 10 years, they want the latest and greatest cutting edge device; but that seems like it could maybe be solved by saying, you pay $200 now and give us the phone back in 2 years; if you don't give it back then, in 2 years we charge you another $400 (or something?); and then reselling the refurbished phone?

There's also the fact that lots of people who buy iPhones specifically like it in part for the status symbol, so they're not looking for the lowest upfront cost. But the idea that the right pricing structure should theoretically let a company that makes a long-lasting, repairable device with a low total-cost-of-ownership be competitive seems like it should be possible, no?


I think that for 3 the problem isn't having a spyware fingerprint sensor that steals your fingerprint but rather having a fake fingerprint reader that always reports a match which would let you break into any iPhone.


I know someone else said this, but why would the sensor be verifying anything at all? It should just be reading the pattern of the fingerprint, and feeding that to the CPU where it's verified in software.

Does your keyboard store all your passwords and let your OS know your login was valid? Of course not. The keyboard just tells the OS which keys you pressed.


Seems silly to me if that's the way it works. Why not have a "dumb" reader and verify the fingerprint on the main CPU?

You're just adding complexity with having to have a secure channel between the reader and the CPU.


It blows my mind that we have to grow support for this!


I hate that Deere is singularly picked on, here. Other vehicle manufacturers have followed in John Deere's footsteps with this, and no one cites those manufacturers' actions; only John Deere.

I guess it's because they were first?


Do you have any actual examples showing how Deere's competitors are as bad? No, "other vehicle manufacturers" don't count; this whole thing started because farmers couldn't get their machinery working and harvest crops on time, so Mercedes or BMW doing something similar is irrelevant since they don't make farm equipment.


People like farmers, and John Deere is the closest to having a monopoly in their industry.


Hammering down the nail that sticks out sends the strongest message to the rest.


John Deere was hit pretty hard immediately, and continues to be; it doesn't seem to have been a factor preventing other manufacturers who decided to follow in Deere's footsteps on this matter.

Nails can't receive messages from hammers, neither literally nor figuratively, apparently.


Does it violate the terms of use of the phone? iPhone, for example. If the terms make it clear you can't fix it outside their approved shops then there is no "right to repair". It's part of the contract you get into when buying the phone.

I can't seem to find the terms of the iPhone anywhere.


If you tried and couldn’t find the terms that preclude that, isn’t it reasonable to conclude that those terms are not being effectively communicated as part of the sale (regardless of whether those terms do or do not exist)?


EULAs are not legal documents, they are used to cover their asses but it is not effective at that.




Registration is open for Startup School 2019. Classes start July 22nd.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: