The Fair Repair Act (LB67) was first introduced in 2014 to combat software rights that restricted the ability for individuals to repair equipment that runs off computer software. This has always been a right for people, although the ability to do it was virtually impossible and many would need vast knowledge on computer technology to “Hack” systems in order to conduct maintenance on equipment. Many of these systems have copy rights that restrict users from obtaining software codes making it impossible to legally conduct routine repairs. 

right to repair act

Biting The Hand That Feeds You, Literally

John Deere is one of the largest providers of agricultural farm equipment, yet after spending fortunes on equipment owners must return to manufactures for maintenance in order to keep their equipment running. Repairs and transportation of dead-lined equipment cost farmers thousands of dollars a year and consume hours of potential workdays. Manufacture warranty policies restrict consumers from performing repairs without certified maintenance licensing, although owners do reserve the right to conduct these processes, obtaining supporting software is impossible. The Fair Repair Act seeks to regulate the restriction on availability to tools need to conduct routine maintenance. Companies that sell these technology-based goods will be required by law to provide access to essential tools and software that is needed, for a minimum of 10 years.

Twenty states have already pushed for Maintenance laws that aid owners in repairable maintenance. This movement has gained the attention of big corporations that operate on software, Apple and Microsoft have been opposed to these laws as it will allow owners to conduct processes through third party IT companies, which will cause manufacturers to lose profit. Europe based countries have already passed similar laws and many Information Technology operations have allowed users to make simple repairs such as part replacements and software refurbishing legally. The current situation has made many arguments that this law will hamper cyber security allowing offensive technology intel to leak from independent user equipment. LB67 does not allow for users to illegally alter information provided from original manufactures, it solely allows the ability to conduct repairs. 

Defense Savings

U.S. military leaders are also taking a stand against warranty restrictions. Officers of the United States Marine Corps have made statements forwarding the dire need for availability to repair equipment. Maintenance Logistics Officers have complaints about the long turnaround time it takes for manufactures to repair equipment as it obstructs Performance of Marine Corps Units both deployed and stateside. Officers are thoroughly trained on the equipment they receive, and many can personally repair the items themselves, yet many cannot conduct repairs as it voids the warranty and service contracts between the U.S. government and equipment manufacturers. Passing this bill will save taxpayers millions on defense spending and aid military forces in mission success. Items such as generators, computer based heavy equipment and other assets the military utilizes will be able to have trained specialists operate on this software without the need of direct manufacturer maintenance. 

Right to Repair Act: Legislation

States such as Nebraska have seen legislation excuse the need for this bill and says that manufacturers need to reserve the right to their software as it is not needed for repair, yet anyone who owns an iPhone can tell you different. Other states have also seen adverse opinions from their government officials as major software companies have shown discomfort in the bill, implying that they will simply no longer offer the sale of their goods in the states the bill is passed. The use of these rights pursuing non-approved manufacturing operations will make warranties and guarantees nulled void. Manufacturers will also restrict the use of their equipment in other states under the Fair Repair Act, rendering owners helpless when maintenance is needed.  

Current States Pursuing Similar Bills

CA, NA, OR, WA, MT, ND, SD, MN, MO, IL, IN, GA, VA, WV, NY, VT, NH, MA, NJ, HI

By: Charlie Alvitre