In January, 2017, there were five US states recorded as having introduced bills related to ‘Right to Repair.’ Fast forward to now and it seems in the last twelve months alone that number has more than tripled. As by all account no less than seventeen US states are now reported as having introduced bills relating to the topic, with Hawaii and Oklahoma understood to be two of the most recent. As a result, the support for Right to Repair legislation is thought to be gaining massively and starting to exert real pressure on those who oppose it.
At the heart of the issue is the balance of those looking to protect intellectual property (IP) rights and those looking for validation in product ownership. Apple is one of the companies within the smartphone and consumer electronics industries most often credited with opposing any change in the law with its reported viewpoint being the potential exposure of IP being too great, along with the suggestion that such changes could actually result in a more dangerous environment compared to the status quo – where authorized repairers are not only the preference, but usually, the requirement. As to be expected, the argument for Right to Repair sees things very differently with the suggestion that manufacturers are more keen on maintaining the current situation to further maintain a hold on the often needed, and often costly, after-sales repair market. With those for change arguing that the opening up of repairs to third-party entities would not only afford consumers the choice of who does the repair, but would also help to drive costs down for the consumer. In addition to generating more jobs for the economy overall.
Of course, a bill being introduced is not the same as a bill being passed and this is where the two sides of the argument now finds themselves with hearings expected to take place to further debate the issue over the coming weeks and months. At present, Minnesota and New Hampshire look likely to be the first to do so in 2018 with hearings reportedly planned for January 19 (tomorrow) and February 3, respectively. For a full list of the seventeen states where bills have now been introduced, as well as more information on the topic in general, head over to Repair.org.