Hold up, what’s the Right to Repair?
We believe in something simple; you should get to open, repair, modify, customize, and change the items you own. But major corporations disagree. In an ideal world that wouldn’t matter, but sadly in our world it does. And that’s why we need Right to Repair,
At the beginning,
repair was everywhere. Appliances came with schematics to help you repair them. They were built to last. It’s why that fridge or sewing machine from the 1920s still works, but the washing machine from 2006 doesn’t.
But then in 1921,
A group of light bulb manufacturers figured out they didn’t have to make a better mousetrap to make money. They just had to stop everyone else from making one. And so they formed an international cartel.
And they succeeded,
beyond their wildest dreams. For the first time in history, technology got worse over time, not better. They nickel & dimed their way to outrageous profits at the cost of everyone else. They were only stopped by the outbreak of WW2.
Leading to a discovery;
A better mousetrap made less money than a shabby one. When products failed quickly, consumers bought more products. As the lifetime of bulbs decreased, the consumption and profits increased.
It gets worse.
GE, Philips, Osram, and their co-conspirators weren’t the only ones who learned this lesson. The automobile industry did as well, starting in the ’20s and accelerating in the ’50s. They made money hand over fist.
Dissent was assimilated.
Volkswagen’s ads used to proudly proclaim “We do not believe in planned obsolescence. We don’t change the car for the sake of change.” VW is now famous for one of the largest corporate frauds in history.
And keeps getting worse
As John Deere argued in front of the United States Copyright Office, the best situation for large corporations is one where you don’t own what you buy. You merely rent it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a tractor, or an iPhone.
We can fix this
As marijuana legalization has shown, citizens can lead the way when leaders don’t. In Massachusetts, your right to repair your cars was preserved at the ballot box in 2012 and 2020. We are working to extend this to electronics, and beyond. Join us
Why does any of this matter?
A question we frequently receive is, “In a world with a crisis at every corner, why does this matter?" Our answer is simple, Right-to-Repair is a foundational issue that affects any industry using any form of technology. From medicine to the military,
If you went back in time and told Gen. Washington, that the modern army would need permission to repair their gear, he’d look at you as if you’d sprouted horns. Yet, that’s the world we live in. Defense Contractors have worked to deny the military the right to repair their equipment. Because it makes them greater profits. At the expense of our security.
Hospitals are another place where you’d imagine there wouldn’t be restrictions to repairing life-saving equipment. You would be wrong. Hospitals were unable to repair older ventilators during the pandemic, because manufacturers refused to let them do so. Killing patients while trying to nickel-and-dime the medical industry.
Farmers have been the tip of the spear for this new generation of corporate shenanigans. It seems strange to us that we would jeopardize our food security in exchange for a marginal increase of profits. But we live in a world where John Deere argues that farmers don’t own their tractors. No, they merely receive a “license” to operate it. It being the vehicle they purchased fair and square.
A world where the very concept of ownership has been eroded is a world where your dollar stretches a lot less farther. A world where conventional wisdom - such as, mend rather than buy, spend more on “quality” - quickly falls apart. If manufacturers find it easier to extract money from you by providing a worse product for a greater price, they will do so. At your expense.
When Big Business Won’t Let the Troops Repair Their Equipment
Defense contractors are denying the military the right to repair its equipment. Unless the FTC rules otherwise, the contractors do it themselves—for a fee. - The American Prospect.
The U.S. Military Has a ‘Right to Repair’ Problem
U.S. troops in the field are running up against increasingly restrictive licensing agreements signed by the Pentagon that limit their ability to service their own equipment. This presents a readiness and equipment confidence issue, which could make American forces less effective in wartime. - Popular Mechanics.
Here’s One Reason the U.S. Military Can’t Fix Its Own Equipment
Manufacturers can prevent the Department of Defense from repairing certain equipment, which puts members of the military at risk. By Capt. Ekman, a logistics officer in the United States Marine Corps. - The New York Times.
The medical right to repair: the right to save lives
COVID-19 emphasises the longstanding refusal by manufacturers to provide information for repairing medical equipment. For years, manufacturers have curtailed the ability of hospitals to independently repair and maintain medical equipment by preventing access to the necessary knowledge, software, tools, and parts. - The Lancet
Hospital technicians renew urgent call for Right to Repair medical equipment
When biomeds can’t fix broken equipment, patient care suffers. Nader Hammoud, a biomedical engineering manager and member of the California Medical Instrumentation Association, told us with certain broken equipment, “if you don’t get that device up and running in an hour or two hours, that patient will die.” - US PIRG
The ‘Right to Repair’ Movement Is Being Led by Farmers
Farmers are pushing back against legislation that prevents them from fixing their own equipment. If successful, it will be a huge victory for consumers. - The Motherboard, Vice
Farmers Fight John Deere Over Who Gets to Fix an $800,000 Tractor
The right-to-repair movement has come to the heartland, where some farmers are demanding access to the software that runs their equipment. - Bloomberg
Why American Farmers Are Hacking Their Tractors With Ukrainian Firmware
“When crunch time comes and we break down, chances are we don’t have time to wait for a dealership employee to show up and fix it,” Danny Kluthe, a hog farmer in Nebraska, told his state legislature earlier this month. “Most all the new equipment [requires] a download [to fix].” - Vice
What will you do with my money?
Thanks for reading this far. If you’d like to learn more, here are the thoughts of our team and allies.