Toshiba simply doesn't want its service manuals to be distributed by third parties and it might not even want to distribute its service manuals via its own channels. My lesson is to avoid Toshiba and companies with a similar behavior – I take such behavior as a signal.
As a side note on copyright law: In some European countries at least, service manuals don't reach the level of creativity and originality required by copyright law, i.e., hosting the site in such a country could by an option. Switzerland has a certain reputation for a relatively liberal copyright law (although at the price of the world's highest copyright fees on hardware that could be used to copy content).
This strikes me as the work of an overzealous legal team more so than a symptom of a broader corporate strategy.
They see copyright infringement, they shut it down. As far as the legal team are concerned, it's that simple. That's their policy, and the protestations of someone who, in their eyes, is breaking the law and harming their business, is not going to change that.
If they conducted an audit of the policy taking into account its effects on all areas of the business, they'd probably determine it was a waste of time and money, and adopt a more laissez-faire attitude as Dell, HP, and even Apple do.
It irks me when people see corporations as these cohesive entities that only ever act with deliberate intent. In reality, if you conducted a survey of Toshiba staff, I'm sure a sizeable number of them would disagree with this policy.
How else should we see it? Corporations are an abstraction layer, they're supposed to hide their inner workings and present one face to the customers. Hell, a corporation is a (legal) person. So I don't see a reason to not treat it as an whole, abstract entity - it's the corporation's job to figure out which internal part is causing them to have a bad name.
I see it as it is; a constantly morphing organism, made up of thousands of people with conflicting interests and ideas, trying but often failing to present a cohesive image of itself to the public.
We see arguments similar to yours when the subject of the Sony rootkit fiasco comes up. "It's not Sony's fault, it was just a rogue actor in a subsidiary." Um, no. The CD says "Sony" on it. That means it's Sony's fault. They spend a lot of money on branding and advertising to make sure that no one ever forgets that.
So let's not forget it.
The way I see it, companies seek to use brands to exploit irrational consumer behavior, to increase their revenue beyond the level that would prevail in the absence of brands.
Yours appears to be the equal and opposite reaction to this; attacking brands and urging boycotts so as to decrease their revenue below this ordinary level.
I am advocating the middle way. Don't pay over the odds for a brand name, but equally don't boycott products or services just because you don't like the brand.
Basically you kind of have to take both positions. Knowledge that a company is made up of bickering idiots doesn't excuse the company from acting coherently. But ignoring that fact while trying to analyze and predict a company isn't very useful either.
Those three go to a lot of effort to be consistent, and accurate before issuing public communications.
I am reasonably certain (let's say 90%) - that Toshiba put some effort into deciding that their policy, as a whole, would be to shut down third-party distribution of their service manuals. This is not the case of an overly enthusiastic legal department. This is their company policy. Suggesting otherwise is giving them credit where it is not due.
I recently bought a phone from Cricket. A major thing that helped me make that decision was that Cricket provides pdfs of the manuals of all (most?) of their phones online, on the public shopping pages. You don't even have to be a customer. You don't have to be logged in.
What specifically is it a signal of though? What is the specific thing you feel you are protecting yourself against by noting this signal?
Here's an example of a "signal" that I just interpreted. I made an inquiry at Rackspace and the sales person was all over me for the transaction. Then I had questions about the AUP. The salesman responded with a 1 sentence answer which basically restated the AUP. I wrote back saying I already knew that and restated the questions. The salesman still hasn't (4 days later) written back. Even though the other questions were answered super promptly. Same day with gusto. (I don't expect I will hear back). But I've received several canned emails pushing me on how easy it is to setup the account and get going!
To me that is a signal. He is all over us when he might get business. But isn't able to answer a few simple questions and he hasn't even closed the sale yet. To me that is a strong reason for me at least to avoid this company. A signal.
The kit's first step is "refer to your service manual" for disassembly. Service manual? We don't have one of those. They don't offer them on Samsung's website. I can't find anywhere to get them. Why are they telling me I can do something myself when they won't give me the information to do it? I started to read blog posts about people who would have to find DIY experts online who would sell them out of date manuals for kind-of-similar dryers in an attempt to fix it. Now that seems like a safety issue.
Disassembling a Thinkpad is just a matter of following simple step-by-step instructions on a PDF. Thinkpads are also very well designed, with less screws and more accessible components than most other makers.
I don't know about fewer screws though. I've disassembled quite a few laptops and I'd say Thinkpads have above average screw counts. It's part of the reason they don't come apart on their own.
The service manuals for Clevo are incredibly detailed, possibly almost as much as those Thinkpad ones. Reiterating again, the sheer joy of installing reference drivers over the course of years definitely outshines any advantages that I'd get by saving a few hundred bucks if I'd have gone with a popular laptop brand.
Generally the first thing I do with a new laptop is repave with fresh OS, etc. Weird hardware is relatively rare.
Oh, well, there was a slim chance of buying Toshiba, but now I'll just have a small mental note to purposefully avoid them.
After some considerations, I found myself couldn't be too happy without a decent command line interface, ergo I bought a 15" MacBook Pro and upgraded it to 16GB of memory. The office suite that I use once in a while is taken care by Win7 running in a VM.
I report that I am a happy man now and have no regret. Every cent spent on MBP is worth-while. This post is not meant to hard-sell Apple laptop, just sharing my own shopping experience.
Since then, with the help of tens of thousands of incredible repair technicians around the world, we have built the largest free repair manual . Because we write them ourselves, the manufacturers can't shut us down. The community has written over 6,000 manuals, and you can download and reproduce any of them to your heart's content. We even post all of our manuals on bittorrent  and the internet archive so they are guaranteed to be free forever.
Here's our Toshiba laptop service manual: http://www.ifixit.com/Device/Toshiba_Laptop
We've made progress on half a dozen laptops so far, with more on the way. Not nearly as comprehensive as what Tim had, but it's a start.
Toshiba is not an outlier here—they represent the status quo. Many manufacturers haven't gotten around to issuing these C&D letters, but it's perfectly within their right. Any site hosting manufacturer service manuals without permission is at risk of a shutdown like this at any time.
That's why what we do at iFixit is so important. The world needs to know how to fix these products. Repair is critical for the environment . Repair helps bridge the digital divide by keeping the secondhand electronics market alive.  And electronics repair represents hundreds of thousands of jobs in the United States alone.
We cannot rely on the good will of manufacturers. Yes, many of them have looked the other way and ignored sites like timix's, but that is unlikely to continue. We have three options:
* Create a free and open alternative to the manufacturer's service manuals (that's what we're doing at iFixit).
* Pressure the manufacturers to waive copyright to their manuals so that we can reproduce them. Dell, HP, and Lenovo are the best targets for this because they already provide manuals online. (I am involved in discussions with some OEMs to make this happen. The more public support we have, the more success we'll have.)
* Legislate. The auto manufacturers refused to provide independent shops with the information they needed, so they banded together and just passed Right to Repair legislation in Massachusetts last week.
It's easy to say, "shame on Toshiba" and move on with your life. But this is not unique to Toshiba. No cell phone manufacturer makes their service manuals available. In fact, outside of the heavy equipment industry (where customers demand it) and the automotive industry (where legislation requires it), it's the rare manufacturer that does not use copyright to prevent publication of their service manuals.
I wrote the Self Repair Manifesto:http://ifixit.com/Manifesto
It's time to make the voice of the consumer known. It's time for us to stand up for ourselves. We have the right to repair our things, and to the information required to do it.
We are making some progress. The forthcoming green cell phone standard, UL 110, gives manufacturers environmental points for providing open source service manuals. That gain is tenuous and could be reversed at any time, but it's a foothold.
I've dedicated my life to making this information available, and we can't do it alone. We need to band together as a community and take a stand.
We would love help. Join us over at iFixit! Or, if you want to get involved with advocacy work, email me at kyle at ifixit and I'll happily point you in the right direction.
Your site says this:
"We admit it — we have to pay the bills. Selling parts is how we do that. We want to be able to afford to write new manuals, and the noncommercial requirement allows us to do that. We frequently grant usage licenses to commercial entities, so contact us with any inquiries."
On this page:
Specifically "We admit it — we have to pay the bills."
I'm not saying in any way this contradicts anything you are saying in particular. You do have to pay the bills. And Toshiba also has to pay the bills as well, even as a billion dollar company.
Is it my understanding that the OP could use your materials since they aren't "commercial"? And if so, what if they sold advertising and used your materials? Where do you draw the line (serious question and not trying to be snarky)?
Tim is absolutely welcome to publish every single iFixit manual on his site. Heck, I'll give him an archive file if he wants.
Bottom-line: We want the manuals to get used. Whatever we can do to help people fix things, we'll get behind. That's why we do the bittorrent download of all our manuals. (Speaking of which, it's a bit out of date. I'll see if we can get updated ISOs pushed out in a few weeks.) We handle sites that run advertising pretty generously—we're happy to share if they're adding value (usually by translating the manuals).
By the way—the license only applies to distribution, not use. Hundreds of thousands of techs use iFixit manuals to sell their repair services and make a living. Many of them do pretty darn well for themselves. They are all awesome.
All of our manuals are available via our JSON API, by the way: http://www.ifixit.com/api/
Toshiba pays its bills by selling computers, or perhaps by selling preinstallation of mostly-useless trials of software and services on those computers. It does not pay its bills by selling service manuals, and probably wouldn't lose a measurable amount of money by making such manuals freely available.
Behavior like this, on the other hand might cost them a bit. It offends the sort of people other people ask for advice on new technology purchases. Offending me doesn't cost you a sale; it costs you ten sales. Offending this blogger probably cost them thousands of sales worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, though they'll never be able to measure it.
Why do you think that is? Is it to make sure there are certified repair people who provide a predictable level of service and reduce competition for them? That seems pretty weak as a justification for putting any effort in to enforcement, but I don't have a very good understanding of the collective mind of a large corporation.
I was even able to reconfigure my old video projector to throw HD video, although the dealer who sold it to me told me it was impossible. The factory service manual had instructions :-)
Out of the box it was a so so machine, but every steps aside from the base install was an additional risk of loosing some functionality.
That's not what I would consider careful engineering nor reliable software, and I don't think they see any upside to people looking close at their hardware and risking bricking it while trying to service it.
I'm not a Windows guy, so I wiped it and installed Arch Linux. Everything 'just worked' (other than the fingerprint reader which required additional firmware), and I'm thoroughly satisfied with it. I still use it daily and have had no problems at all.
I just wish that hardware companies would stick to hardware.
[…] I have personally never been injured or visibly endangered by working on any kind of computer system, much less a consumer notebook computer. I have also never heard of anybody else being injured by working on one.
They do have a point here though; everyone's seen those laptop batteries on fire. That shouldn't stop someone who knows what he's doing from being able to fix things, but having some incompetent "I'm going to save a couple of bucks and do it myself" DIY:er muck about is probably going to lead to disaster sooner or later.
P.S. As a specific example, combine this with the original all-in-one-box Macs' shitty power supplies (and co-located video tuning controls, now that I think of it), and you had a not too uncommon reason for people to go poking around the CRT.
At any rate, at least for some models, you can just flash a hacked BIOS with those restrictions removed.
IBM (Now Lenovo) Whitelist Wireless cards to ensure that the device will always conform to the FCC approval that the device was evaluated for.
To be fair, if you buy a Lenovo/IBM Laptop (I've had four in the past twelve years) and ensure that the Wireless card you get it with is the top-spec model at the time, you should never have an issue. My current Laptop, an X200, has an Intel 5300 which is still one of the best wireless adapters I've ever used :)
Does the regulation require that steps be taken to make it difficult for the end-user to modify the device in to a non-certified configuration? If not, I find this answer inadequate.
The whitelist affects other components as well, such as displays. It seems a little nannyish.
Of course, I consider it a problem when I put in hardware I want to use and the computer thinks it knows better. I have a hacked BIOS on my T61/T60p hybrid for exactly that reason.
Your conclusion doesn't follow soundly from the available facts here.
I don't know how to take your statement. They don't purposefully make products harder to repair for the sake of it, or just to annoy people, or for some grand strategy of "they'll buy more of it if they can't repair it", they make products harder to repair as a compromise for other features: weight, external dimensions, battery life, appearance, reliability, robustness. So in a sense it's purposeful, but as an unavoidable consequence. You may not need one or more of those features and favor repairability, but others than you may.
 People owning Apple products already buy new Apple products even if (and dare I say precisely because) their current device is not broken and has not fallen apart in the meantime. My current machine is a mid-'09 MBP and is going strong, and I bought it after a '07 15" MBP that I sold (for a good price precisely because it looked like new by any measure) to go more mobile and even more robust (this unibody really is strong). Both of them proved easily upgradeable, the newer one even more than the old one. I suspect Thinkpad owners could tell similar stories, whereas I have only horror stories to share about the five other PC laptops I owned before during the three years before I went Apple (FWIW IBM/Lenovo was on my shopping list along with Apple, and I had to choose one)
It's obvious that most of Apple's decisions that make their devices less repairable come with aesthetic and practical gains, but the use of uncommon screws is not in that category. The most favorable explanation I can think of is that it was intended to signal to a certain class of users who were used to being able to partially disassemble laptops to make certain kinds of repairs and upgrades that it was no longer practical to do so.
I only partly agree on that one either. Torx is easy to manufacture at big sizes but its thin-winged star shape is brittle and harder to produce at smaller sizes. Comparatively, pentalobe screws are trivial to machine. Also, it's quite easy with a little tooling to create your own pentalobe (some Torx actually just work) or tri-wing screwdriver, and I bet Apple had no doubt someone would come up with a manufactured one in a very short timespan. That was exactly the case with Torx some years ago, then TorxSec then TorxPlus.
> it was intended to signal to a certain class of users who were used to being able to partially disassemble laptops to make certain kinds of repairs and upgrades that it was no longer practical to do so.
The class of users that routinely open devices to upgrade them knows to use appropriate tooling, and that if different, they will be available shortly for a ridiculously low price. If anything, it signals Joe Random that he's not to open this with the point of a knife (especially near a LiPo battery).
From iFixIt, re MBA 11" :
> Once you manage to take off the bottom cover, all the parts are pretty easily replaceable. (i.e for a laptop that's RAM and mass storage, plus soldered CPU, but I did not hear about someone swapping CPUs in any laptop lately)
They rated it 4 because the parts are non-standard, and because of pentalobe on the case. They even laud some design choices specifically for repairability like the heat sink.
Again iFixIt, from the MBP r15" display teardown, regarding hinge+cable assembly:
> Don't think that the guys (and gals) who designed this machine are just out to get you. Routing the cables through the hinge is a way to save space and weight in the laptop.
If you want a real point of concern, the strongly glued batteries over the trackpad cable thing is absolutely bewildering (while the whole device is supposed to last forever, batteries are not, so how are Geniuses supposed to fix those?) and really does not fit in the picture. I loathe glue.
I'll have to take your word for that, because I don't know enough about screw and driver manufacturing to comment. Tri-wing looks less likely to have any advantage other than discouraging disassembly.
I'm sure Apple knew this wouldn't stop anybody very determined from working on a Mac, but it still causes a problem for someone like me. I don't fix hardware professionally, but I'm the person my friends usually come to when they have issues. I don't have a pentalobe or tri-wing screwdriver; I'd have to order them, and I would, but it would be a significant inconvenience.
It's the attitude that bothers me. It feels as if Apple is trying to retain control over the device after the customer buys it. I'm your Joe Random, and I'm offended.
I did not hear about someone swapping CPUs in any laptop lately
The Thinkpad T530, to give an example still uses a ZIF socket. CPU replacement is on page 93 of the Hardware Maintenance Manual, which Lenovo makes freely available on its website. This should be a shining example to all.
To be clear I didn't mean that non-soldered CPU, ZIF equipped laptops don't exist anymore, but that people actually upgrading/fixing their CPU is by and large an extremely rare occurrence, while RAM and mass storage are much, much more prone to upgrade/fixing. I would personally not consider a soldered CPU a problem, especially given that most of the time if anything goes wrong in such areas, it's a blown capacitor or a bad plug assembly/soldering on the motherboard that gives in.
I'm sad to see on OP's site that ASUS is not cooperative either, as I currently have one.
Even crappy OEM vendors have their manuals online, why would I go for Toshiba?