We have the right to repair right now – in theory

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photo: Ben Margot (AP)

People can now repair and tinker with their own devices under copyright protection. The U.S. Copyright Office (USCO) recommendations submitted, authorized by the Librarian of Congress today to add exceptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) rules for accessing equipment and software. (This department.) The big thing is the new right of entry any Consumer software capable device (mobile phone, laptop, etc.) for diagnostic, repair and maintenance purposes.

The new exceptions are the same as Joe Biden’s mission Extend the right to repair, which was incorporated into a July executive order as a guideline to the FTC. This order, in a broader sense, was aimed at cracking down on monopolistic companies who trick consumers into paying too much for services we did not get.

The update makes sense for everyone who wants to replace a cell phone screen cheaply, as well as for students and tinkerers who want to get to know how it works. But copyright still can’t change much the fact that Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft bolted their devices down, shot them straight down to repair bills, and hoarded parts, forcing us all to just throw away an otherwise repairable device and buy a new one.

So the change doesn’t mean that manufacturers have to make it easier User to break open the back panel or provide the parts, but it gives you the right to try.

Under the DMCA, you are now also allowed to unlock your mobile phone, which means you can change the wireless service provider without buying a new device. And legitimate jailbreaking has been extended to routers and smart TVs – so you can bypass the manufacturer’s software restrictions, for example to download previously inaccessible streaming apps. (Previously approved Exceptions allowed users to jailbreak Alexa and Google Assistant.)

But the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which suggested some of the exceptions, said Engadget that it was disappointed that the jailbreaking grants did not go any further. While pleased with the fact that the right to repair covers consumer devices more broadly, she noted that non-injurious modifications are critical to “communities that are not served by the standard features of a technology”.

In addition to what the EFF would have liked, executive attorney Kit Walsch told Gizmodo that the organization had provided various examples of non-infringing changes that should be allowed, including “Improving digital camera software to add new photographers to enable artistic options and to increase your intelligence ”. Litter boxes accept third-party cleaning cartridges, customize a drone to work on a cord instead of flying, improve a device’s user interface to make it less distracting or more accessible (e.g., to color blind users), and much more . ”These mods, she said, were“ left out without much discussion ”.

IFixit, a marketplace for spare parts that also offers exceptional recommendations, pointed out the “absurd limits” of the new regulations. The exceptions must be renewed every three years. and Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit, told Gizmodo via email that USCO is still allowing the cumbersome service contracts that manufacturers can use to deny exemptions for commercial and industrial products anyway. “If the repair is not a violation, the monopoly-preserving service contracts of the manufacturers should not prevent the Office from granting an exemption.”

“Until the congress finally determines section 1201 and grants a permanent right to repair, we will be stuck with the copyright office on this ferris wheel every three years,” added Wiens.

Over on that John Deere War Front, Peasants got no further. Device operators who have paid up to $ 800,000 for devices have been fighting the company for years over the right to repair software used to operate devices. Though they technically do it have the right To make repairs, John Deere argues that copyright law prohibits users from accessing the software and does not provide them with the components to repair it.

“[Farmers] really weren’t able to fix their own equipment because [original equipment manufacturers] have refused to sell the necessary parts, tools, diagnostics, firmware and manuals, ”Gay Gordon-Byrne, Executive Director of the Repair Association, told Gizmodo via email, adding that federal or state law is applicable Repairs are really important.

“The exemption process is a tremendous waste of time for the United States Copyright Office, service providers and attorneys on all sides,” added Gordon-Byrne. “We would be much better served a law that separates actual evidence of legal violations from theoretical speculation.”

The new exemptions also include some that benefit libraries that have struggled to create free digital copies of works. Educators can rip films if they are exclusively on DVDs or Blu-rays that are no longer playable. And libraries and museums are now allowed (with strict access restrictions) to make archive copies of computer programs. In addition, some provisions have been made for people who need accessibility features so that educators can add closed captions and audio edits to video work to ensure accessibility.

But elsewhere, manufacturers can think of countless ways to prevent access to their own devices. Apple can still block third party vendorsy Repair shops by upgrading their technology so that certain functions do not work unless you use their equipment, such as Bind Face ID to his own screens. What they do and become.

10/28/2021 9:30 am: Updated to include comments from iFixit.

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