We own a large number of electronic devices. Remember the last time any of your devices needed repair.
- Were you able to take it to a local shop of your choice and get it repaired at a reasonable price?
- Or were you forced to take it to a shop owned or authorized by the device’s manufacturer?
- If it was the latter case, were you forced to pay a high amount of money for the repair?
- Did the company have a monopoly on the supply of the parts? Were you forced to accept their prices?
Here’s where Right to Repair comes in.
What is Right to Repair?
We should be able to use our devices, modify them and repair them however we see fit, either ourselves, or at any shop of our choice. We should not be forced to go to some ‘authorized’ shop, where they control the prices.
Many companies have exploited their power and their monopolies and forced the consumers to pay hefty prices for repairs. One of the ways they do this is by withholding information related to the repair process, product manuals, schematics, etc.
The Light Bulb Conspiracy
One very important thing that we should know about this whole issue is The Light bulb Conspiracy. An organization called the Phoebus Cartel was formed in 1925 and it conspired to decrease the lifespan of light bulbs so that people buy more bulbs from them. If you have any doubts about such practices, look into history of this organization. It’s all documented. Read more about it here: Phoebus Cartel – Wikipedia
Organizations Fighting For This Right
There are organizations today that are fighting for our rights in this regard:
I came to know about this movement quite recently, through Louis Rossman’s YouTube channel. He is a strong advocate for this movement.
You can watch this video by Louis that explains the basics of the movement: ‘What is Right to Repair? An introduction for curious people’.
You can also check out this article by NY Times: What You Should Know About Right to Repair
This issue mentioned in this post doesn’t just affect electronic devices, but a lot of other devices and machinery like medical and farming equipment. Hospitals were unable to repair their ventilators during the pandemic, because the manufacturers didn’t allow them to do it. This led to the death of patients.
A similar concept in the software world is software freedom. According to the Free Software Foundation, ‘Free’ software respects your rights to use the software for any purpose, modify it, and share it. Free software also allows the users to view the its source code, so that they can see exactly what is happening behind the scenes or their own devices and that nothing spooky is going on.
Some people use the word ‘Open-Source software’, but there are some differences between this term and ‘free software’.
How You Can Support
So, coming back to Right to Repair, if you truly care about your rights as a consumer, there are many ways in which you can support this movement.
- Create awareness about this issue among your peers
- Support the movement through legislation
- Donate money to organizations
- Add info to the Repair Wiki.