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The US Government Wants To Permanently Legalize the Right To Repair (vice.com) 153

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: In one of the biggest wins for the right to repair movement yet, the U.S. Copyright Office suggested Thursday that the U.S. government should take actions to make it legal to repair anything you own, forever -- even if it requires hacking into the product's software. Manufacturers -- including John Deere, Ford, various printer companies, and a host of consumer electronics companies -- have argued that it should be illegal to bypass the software locks that they put into their products, claiming that such circumvention violated copyright law. Thursday, the U.S. Copyright Office said it's tired of having to deal with the same issues every three years; it should be legal to repair the things you buy -- everything you buy -- forever. "The growing demand for relief under section 1201 has coincided with a general understanding that bona fide repair and maintenance activities are typically non infringing," the report stated. "Repair activities are often protected from infringement claims by multiple copyright law provisions." "The Office recommends against limiting an exemption to specific technologies or devices, such as motor vehicles, as any statutory language would likely be soon outpaced by technology," it continued.
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The US Government Wants To Permanently Legalize the Right To Repair

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 22, 2017 @08:46PM (#54671951)
    The Republican congress and the POTUS have way too many connections to big business to allow such a thing to happen. Expect the U.S. Copyright Office to be set straight as soon as tomorrow on this job killing philosophy.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yep. The headline is wrong. Saying 'the government wants' kind of implies there is a substantial portion of elected representatives who wish to pass a law. This is one part of the government suggesting something that has a snowball's chance in hell of getting passed under the current administration. Keep in mind, these are the same assholes who already sold us out for, in some cases, as little as a few thousand dollars. [theverge.com]

      • by Sique ( 173459 )
        Actually, the Government is not the Legislative. So this implication is not a given. The Government is all the organisations, institutions and persons (including the President), which actually execute the Law, hence the name "Executive power". Quite often the Government really wants a law to be passed, but in this case has to go to the Legislative and propose said law. But it's not up to the Government to pass it. In this case, it was a branch of the Government, the Copyright Office, which proposed legislat
        • Actually, the Government is not the Legislative. So this implication is not a given. The Government is all the organisations, institutions and persons (including the President), which actually execute the Law, hence the name "Executive power". Quite often the Government really wants a law to be passed, but in this case has to go to the Legislative and propose said law. But it's not up to the Government to pass it. In this case, it was a branch of the Government, the Copyright Office, which proposed legislation, thus the title is exactly describing the situation.

          Mod parent up.

    • by Distortions ( 321282 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {snoitrotsid}> on Thursday June 22, 2017 @10:00PM (#54672279) Homepage

      ...All the repair shops that could pop up would be a lot of good paying jobs.

      • I really don't think this administration or congress care much about any job paying less than seven figures, probably closer to 8 or 9. If you can't afford to purchase legislation, why should they care?

      • by houghi ( 78078 )

        Politics logic: That is 1 job for each store. Only 1 job. While the company that gave me 1.000.000 tells me they would have to fire 100 people. I just save 99 jobs.

      • Probably should clarify... When Big Business, POTUS, etc, are talking about "Jobs", they actually mean "more profits for the rich".

        Having a bunch of mom and pop shops popping up will do nothing but drive money back in the direction of the plebes, not to the elite where it rightfully belongs.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 22, 2017 @10:36PM (#54672499)

      Obama had the leader of Google into the White House about once a week through his entire 8 years. The Obama admin was completely in bed with Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, etc and Obama was elected and the re-elected using a mind-blowing tidal wave of corporate cash. Hillary tried to get elected using an even bigger pile of corporate cash than Trump.

      Honesty Test:

      Name just ONE high tech company that might be affected by this policy that gave more money to the Republicans and/or Trump than to Democrats and/or Obama/Hillary.

      [crickets]

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I don't think this really affects Google, Amazon or Facebook, though I'm sure Apple would be against it.

        It is more companies like Lexmark, John Deere, Ford (though they've already been cut out with right to repair autos), etc.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Name just ONE high tech company that might be affected by this policy that gave more money to the Republicans and/or Trump than to Democrats and/or Obama/Hillary.

        I have no idea why you said "high tech". This is about Deere & Co, which gave almost 3x as much to Republicans [opensecrets.org]. So, get real about "honest" if you mean that.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 23, 2017 @12:22AM (#54673151)

      Considering the fact that Obama was trying to ram TPP through, trying to blame this on the Republicans and Trump is ridiculous.

      First of all, realize that the TPP is NOT about free trade. It's about intellectual property control and a variety of other topics. "Free trade" is a generic cover for the whole thing. The real motivators are things that would be balked at if they were negotiated separately.

      For details as to what TPP really IS about, well, here's a very short summary:

      The TPP and Intellectual Property [thehill.com]

      And the EFF's position on it:

      EFF on TPP [eff.org]
      EFF and the Copyright Trap [eff.org]

      I'm not going to go into a lot of research for that particular question since this has already been hashed out a million times before.

      However, as for the Democrat portion... well, first off, Obama spearheaded TPP and intended to try to get it rammed through towards the end of his term.

      Obama and the TPP [thehill.com]

      Hillary in fact praised it as the "gold standard" while it was in development (in secret, I might add, to the point where Congressmen had to go to a secure room to look at the drafts and could not keep their notes on it with them):

      Hillary on the Gold Standard [youtube.com]

      TPP Secrecy (note the caption on the picture) [npr.org]

      Now she did try to back off on this and flip-flopped, although this might well have been a pose for the campaign:

      Hillary and TPP [politico.com]

      But the fact is that the Democrats did not officially oppose it.

      Rejecting formal TPP opposition [thenation.com]

      Some would say that the fact that Hillary is particularly likely to lie about this to get elected, even among politicians. But people specifically close to her indicated that, if she was elected, she'd flip-flop on it pretty rapidly.

      Terry McAuliffe's view on TPP flipping [politico.com]

      Additionally, while people seem to very much enjoy shitting on the Republicans for draconian copyright laws, fact is that the Democrats are just as bad, and in some cases, worse:

      Congressional support for SOPA and PIPA [wikipedia.org]

      This raises doubts as to what parts of TPP would be "renegotiated," if that had happened, which was one option that seemed to be spoken of for a Hillary presidency. Suffice it to say that it is likely that the IP law portions would not receive renegotiation that would be considered consumer-friendly.

      Stereotypical "Republicans are evil 'cuz Republicans" and "Trump is evil 'cuz Trump" is not going to fly here, unless you're also willing to jump on board the "Democrats are evil 'cuz Democrats" train. Fact of the matter is, both sides are bought and paid for by the technology and content generation industries. This was the sentiment when SOPA was defeated by massive Internet backlash:

      Backlash after massive SOPA protests [pcworld.com]

      And Democrats were certainly benefiting from Hollywood donations which "encouraged" them to support SOPA:

      So in short, both sides are filthy here. You can blame one side or the other for the majority of the problem a

    • by Bite The Pillow ( 3087109 ) on Friday June 23, 2017 @12:22AM (#54673153)

      Potus has no dog in this fight, given his business model. He will sign anything that gets him a photo op, as long as democrats are either livid or apathetic. And right to repair is a very pro small business, pro small government concept. You can spin it as added regulation, or removing teeth from patent or other IP laws.

      Your knee jerk reaction is a small minded goon talking, and your positive moderation indicates likewise simplistic thinking.

    • The Republican congress and the POTUS have way too many connections to big business to allow such a thing to happen.

      If this goes through it will end up being so heavily amended that it will make the situation worse rather than better. Regardless of which party's in charge.

    • All I am interested in is a Linux based firmware upgrade for my Prius.

    • Yeah, maybe. But the language here is great, and to the point.
    • The statutory duopoly Congress and POTUS have way too many connections to big business to allow such a thing to happen.

      FTFY.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Patents have gone amok.

  • Awesome! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 )
    I can hardly wait to buy all of the new parts to restore my 1925 Atwater Kent Tube Radio.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      No one has said spare parts need to be made available forever

      • No one has said spare parts need to be made available forever

        Fucking liberals are preventing me from fixing my Atwater Kent! We need those aprea parts and we need them now!

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      your tube radio is likely to have parts available that can be used and it likely has the schematic inside it to fix it.

      now if a resistor on the charge circuit on your apple board goes bad you're much more screwed over since there is no schematic available and apple is actively trying all it can to hide what is broken with it and is trying to make it so that if it has an unauthorized fix it will brick itself. ..and also trying to make it illegal to break the encryption on the parts drm, to have a stranglehol

      • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Friday June 23, 2017 @09:59AM (#54675121)

        now if a resistor on the charge circuit on your apple board goes bad you're much more screwed over since there is no schematic available and apple is actively trying all it can to hide what is broken with it and is trying to make it so that if it has an unauthorized fix it will brick itself.

        Well fortunately, Android phones are all fixable, and have been since the first phone.

        It is a question of what you want. And the solution is illustrated by my silly example of the Atwater Kent.

        The Atwater Kent uses seriously large components, and if hard pressed, I can make a lot of them - there are even some intrepid makers who are producing vacuum tubes in their shops.

        But there is a big catch in there. The Atwater Kent is pretty big. A large part of that is because of those big replaceable parts.

        So if we are to make that iPhone or Android smartphone repairable, we're going to have to do something about the construction. Not all that many folks are equipped with SMT repair setups, and even though I have the microscope and super tiny soldering devices, the component size and density in a phone makes the job so daunting I would only attempt it if my life depended on it.

        Next up is troubleshooting. If we are going to find and repair these things at the component level, it will take time. Which is charged out. We are decades into the concept of swapping out whole assemblies because it's less expensive than the repair process. So now we have one board in a phone and many other modern devices.

        So with making the modern smartphone at best the size of the old bag phones, and the extremely limited number of people who are going to repair individual components at the SMT level, yeah, I'd just as soon get a new phone.

        • Oh please, have you tried repairing a modern smartphone? A lot of things in them are quite repairable, if you can get it open. Opening my Galaxy S5 (and previous S4) was easy because the back popped right off, so getting to the internals was pretty simple with a jeweler's screwdriver and my fingernail. There's tons of repair parts available on Ebay for these phones for dirt-cheap prices. Did the USB jack get messed up? No problem, you can get a new board with that for a few dollars and pop it in. Came

    • More seriously, this is meaningless for any consumer electronics that depend on software without an unlockable bootloader. The major requirement that I'd love to see is that vendors must release a tool to unlock bootloaders and documentation for all hardware once they stop providing security updates. Any iPhone older than an iPhone 5 is now effectively useless - you can't safely use it connected to a network and you can't install a third-party OS on it. My partner has a Nokia Lumina 1020 from 2013, which
      • I used to write bootloaders for various OS's and hardware. Once you have access to this, you own the system. What will this do to security?
        • You can still require the OS to be signed, just provide a mechanism to sign it for a device that you own, once it's no longer receiving security updates. As part of the unlocking process, you install a new signing key generated for that user.
    • by sudon't ( 580652 )

      I can hardly wait to buy all of the new parts to restore my 1925 Atwater Kent Tube Radio.

      Luckily, they’re all easily available. That’s the beauty of tube equipment. My 1962 McIntosh preamp is still going strong, but I can’t imagine any electronics made recently will still work in fifty years. Or ten.
      This whole notion that you don’t own the stuff you buy needs to die.

  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Thursday June 22, 2017 @09:28PM (#54672097)

    Let's not get ahead of ourselves, only part of the US government wants this. The part that makes the laws only wants to change this if they are getting an incentive to do so. If it doesn't promote their ability for reelection or directly impact them then congress really isn't interested. That's the harsh reality of the current state of our legislature.

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Thursday June 22, 2017 @09:29PM (#54672107) Journal

    If you really drill down into the story and the linked documents, you will find that the official statement from the USPTO that wants to permanently legalize the right to repair was prepared by the previous head of the patent office Michelle K. Lee (Obama appointee) and signed by Karyn Temple Claggett (Obama appointee) who became acting head of USPTO after Lee resigned on June 6.

    Trump hasn't appointed anyone to head the copyright office yet, since he's too busy being awesome to do any actual presidenting, and he hasn't gotten a list of possible candidates from the Russian ambassador yet. But if his executive actions so far are any indication, you can bet there won't be any Obama-era "right to repair" left in the USPTO when he's done, since his entire raison d'être seems to be making sure to reverse anything done by the black guy before him. Even if only superficially.

    • by eddeye ( 85134 )

      If you really drill down into the story and the linked documents, you will find that the official statement from the USPTO that wants to permanently legalize the right to repair was prepared by the previous head of the patent office Michelle K. Lee (Obama appointee) and signed by Karyn Temple Claggett (Obama appointee) who became acting head of USPTO after Lee resigned on June 6.

      You are confused. USPTO and CO (Copyright Office) are separate entities. USPTO is executive branch, CO is legislative branch (i

  • by Trax3001BBS ( 2368736 ) on Thursday June 22, 2017 @09:46PM (#54672197) Homepage Journal

    I've posted one post to https://www.ifixit.com/ [ifixit.com] and every month I get 30+ thanks for it (all one e-mail).

    It was how to get an Acer Switcher (tablet attached to keyboard) to work. You take off the bottom and disconnect the connection to the battery, reconnect and good to go.

  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Thursday June 22, 2017 @09:48PM (#54672215) Homepage

    Trump will kill this, but only if someone tells him about it. It's not something that he cares about, and it hasn't been heavily politicized, so it is not likely for one of his aids to mention it.

      If we stay quiet, he probably will not be aware of this happening until after the agency passes it's rules.

  • So, where do you draw the line?

    Widget X comes with a free network service where all Widget X users can do certain things. The service is included in the price of Widget X.

    I have the "right to repair" Widget X, so I "repair" my Widget X one part at a time, Ship of Theseus style, until no original component is left. All the original components now put back together to form the original Widget X.

    Now I have 2 Widget X, an extra one for the cost of materials only, should the extra one enjoy the free network se

    • by WolfgangVL ( 3494585 ) on Thursday June 22, 2017 @11:36PM (#54672927)

      The line has been clearly drawn since the first caveman traded his rock for a sharpened stick.

      "If you trade for MY sharpened stick, you can harden it at my big fire for free, for the life of your stick."

      If you wanna bundle value added services on your sharpened stick, and trade for my two rocks instead of just my one, just remember, you don't control my stick anymore, it's MINE. If I can come up with a way to take advantage of your value added stick services for the 2 smaller sticks I made by "hacking" my stick, well, you should have thought out your value added plans a little more than you did.

      You don't get to tell me what I can and cannot do with my stick(s) unless you give me back my rocks, and if I'm happier with my sticks than I was with my rocks? Tough shit for you. You also don't get to control what fire I choose to use to harden my sticks, or who can re-sharpen them. Even if I've used your fire a few times before.

      If you slot your stick for just the perfect rock, I'm still allowed to put my own rock on the top, even if your rock is just the best rock out there for sticks. You don't have to sell me your rocks, but you absolutely do not get to dictate what rocks I choose to use.

      Cavemen figured this shit out a long time ago.

    • Right to repair clearly does not include right to access services without paying. If there's no DRM, there's no way to enforce it. If there is, you can break DRM to fix it, but not to access unpaid service.

      And no, a thing you built yourself is not "broken" just because it can't access a service for free. Not even the original that you shipped of theseused into not working intentionally.

      Go back to the drawing board and read a lot more before being ignorant on the internet again.

    • Simple. There is some part that deals with the networking. And only one such part will be acknowledged by the other end of your network as being "yours". If you need to replace that part, you have to inform the other end of your contract that this is now the part that should be allowed on their network and immediately the other one ceases to work.

      That was easy. Try a more difficult one.

      • by khchung ( 462899 )

        So now you no longer have the "right to repair" that special part. Special part breaks, you lose the network service.

        Just watch and wait for that "special part" get integrated into a big lump that became 90% of Widget X, you now only have the "right to repair" the case, if that much.

        Next up, all new widgets now come with critical functions requiring the network service to work. Enjoy your "right to repair" the case.

        • Ok, maybe I didn't write it clearly enough: Your contract is tied to this part. Replace the part, tell your carrier that your new part has this or that serial number, MAC address or whatever way it is identified and the old part ceases to work with your contract while the new part is what your contract is tied to now.

          And yes, we will very likely not be able to replace capacitors and resistors but instead get to replace modules. Because even I, who happens to have the equipment to do it, don't really like re

    • by Sloppy ( 14984 )

      Widget X comes with a free network service

      TANSTAAFL. It's shady offer, like a buffet or unmetered internet. I'm not saying it's necessarily bad but everyone needs to be looking at stuff like that as shady and exceptional. I'm not sure I care much which side government policy favors, in the conflict that such a deal will inevitably create.

      Yes, I'm actually bothering to reply to a question with "I don't care." Wait! This doesn't necessarily make me an asshole. (I was an assole long before I replied, ha ha.) M

  • We're talking about the US government here. The same government whose very reason to exist is to screw the population over and enable corporations to increase their profits infinitely.

    timeo danaos et dona ferentes.

  • This is rapidly becoming a non-issue for the maker/repairer types. Most things are repairable, what they are not are easily repairable. The only relief we need from the government is to roll back excessive copyright and patent protections so the public can develop their own methods for repairing things without corporations coming in and shutting it down. After that its just a matter of NEVER buying a smart phone again that can't be opened and parts replaced, if that is what you want.

    I would pay for a s

    • Your hands wouldn't be cold if it was a Note 7....

      • Maybe, but the Galaxy S5 is from a different era, before Samsung went down the tubes with un-openable crap starting with the S6. The S5 was the last really good Galaxy phone, and it doesn't look like there's anything coming along to replace it.

        • I had the S4 all the way into the back end of the S7 era due to reasoning like yours. The charging port finally broke, so I was forced to upgrade. Despite the glued in S7 battery, I went with it. And you know what? It's a damn good phone. Fast charge gives me hours of use after being plugged in for 15 minutes. Wireless charging is super convenient. The power management tools are fantastic, and they can stretch the battery life many times it's base amount.

          I get more use out of one charge than I got

          • I'm holding out for a few more battery swaps. ($10 a pop every 6-10 months). I'm waiting for something actually noticeably better than my S5. The S6/7 aren't that much better and the S8 is just silly over priced atm. Maybe the S9 or S10 will get me to part with some money.
            • I never had an S5, so I have no idea how much better than the S4 they are. I can say that the S7 is remarkably better than the S4. My wife's S4 is on its last legs now, and when I have to use it for something, I'm amazed at how shitty it is. It's definitely lighter, but that's the only redeeming feature compared to the S7. Battery is less than half the S7, camera is shit in comparison, screen is shit in comparison, charging time is 2-3x as long on a smaller battery, it's slower, laggier, and crashes more of

      • I don't want my hands to be on fire....
  • The biggest push for this is in the flyover states. Farmers are raising a major fuss over not being able to repair their own equipment. The software doesn't allow them to replace anything without the vendor showing up and telling the software it's all OK.

    Unfortunately this is in the flyover states. Since they're not deep pockets and/or high profile they don't get the same level of attention. People don't think about farms - food comes from the grocery store.

    As much as I hate lobbyists I hope they can hire s

    • Funny that it's the conservatives in the flyover states whining about this. Aren't they the ones that vote for the "free market", pro-deregulation Republicans? And they're whining for a "Big Government (tm)" law to regulate these companies so they can repair their junk?

      I don't have much sympathy. They should stop buying John Deere junk if they don't like being treated this way.

  • I have a weird feeling the Trump team of corporate rubber stamps will try to stop this.

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