(VitalNews.org) – Colorado has become the first U.S. state to give residents the explicit legal right to repair their own machinery and devices, despite the efforts of manufacturers to force consumers to pay them for repairs.
Colorado’s new law will force equipment manufacturers to give customers the software, tools, and processes necessary to repair their own appliances.
“Right to repair” laws have come about because equipment manufacturers have increasingly hobbled the ability of owners to repair their own equipment and devices. As nearly every piece of equipment – from phones to large farming equipment – is now run by digital computers, manufacturers have been able to write software that owners cannot get past. Some companies even go so far as to use proprietary hardware designs so users cannot even take their devices apart without a special screwdriver.
Some manufacturers have also refused to honor their quality warranties if customers attempt to repair the device on their own without paying the maker to do it.
This has become most pressing for farmers. Farmers with equipment – from small tractors to large combines – have complained that when they break down, they’re unable or not allowed by the company to repair them on their own. Instead, they have to wait for days for a company-authorized servicer to show up, losing money every day their equipment is out of commission. And they have to pay whatever rates the company decides on.
Digital miniaturization has brought consumers greater capabilities in appliances and equipment, but it has also brought costly complications. Durable equipment such as washing machines or tractors can have mechanics in perfect working order, but if the control chip goes down, the machine simply will not work. It is impossible to fix many modern machines without expensive computerized equipment and training.
10 other states are considering right-to-repair laws, including Vermont, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, Missouri, and Texas.
The issue has bipartisan support, at least in Colorado. Though the bill was co-sponsored by a Republican, Democrats pushed the bill most forcefully through the statehouse.
Predictably, manufacturers are unhappy, claiming that giving owners the ability to repair their own devices may mean customers breaking other laws, like increasing horsepower or bypassing pollution controls.
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