Right to Repair
The Freedom to Repair Act Will Make All Electronic Repairs Legal
Article by: Elizabeth Chamberlain @elizzybeth
Restoring our right to repair what we own is being considered in the US House of Representatives right now. Today, Representatives Mondaire Jones of New York (D) and Victoria Spartz of Indiana (R) introduced the Freedom to Repair Act. The bill would permanently fix an important aspect of copyright law, making almost all electronic repairs legal by default.
- February 2, 2022
Copyright law shouldn’t prevent repair, but the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998 made it illegal to circumvent technological protection measures for any purpose, repair included. More and more products have technological protection measures, to the point where fixing your Xbox or Keurig has become illegal. Every three years, we fight to get the Copyright Office to grant specific repair exemptions to the DMCA. We’ve had some success, but the limited exemptions we’ve received don’t allow people to share the tools or software necessary for these repairs.
The Jones-Spartz bill would simplify all of this. It would clarify that working around digital locks when fixing things isn’t a copyright violation. Making tools and software for those repairs would become legal. All products with embedded electronics are included, with the exception of medical devices. (We’re not thrilled about this exception.)
Nathan Proctor with US PIRG weighed in, “Manufacturers have gone too far by locking repair functions. Congress never intended to outlaw repair. It’s no surprise that fixing this oversight is bipartisan. It’s common sense.”
Eschewing unnecessary lock-outs also supports technology education, too, as cybersecurity expert Tarah Wheeler pointed out at a right to repair hearing in Washington recently. When “manufacturers restrict the right to poke around in their devices,” she said, it damages the opportunity for “curious minds to explore” and makes it harder for her, as an employer, to find employees with knowledge and skill.
Momentum for Right to Repair is growing. Yesterday, Senator Tester (D) introduced a Federal agriculture equipment right to repair bill. And state bills have moved out of key committees in Washington and Massachusetts this week.
Making more devices repairable will empower recyclers and refurbishers to reduce e-waste by extending the useful life of these products.
“We shouldn’t have to beg permission from the Copyright Office every three years for the right to fix our stuff. Repair isn’t piracy and it’s not how copyrights are infringed. This bill helps make repair practical again,” said Gay Gordon-Byrne, Executive Director of Repair.org. “When passed, this reform will improve choice in repair markets, which means better service at lower costs for consumers.”
Let your congressional representatives know that you support the bipartisan Freedom to Repair Act and the legal right to repair.
A big problem for consumers is that the businesses that cause you problems are also the ones who wind up controlling all the contacts you have with them, and they like to do so in ways that make it hard for you to later prove that they told you A, B, or C when they claim to have told you X, Y, and Z.
Here's a suggested template for taking notes during and after phone calls with any business (a bank, a credit card servicer, a billing department, a mortgage lender, etc.). It's not a guarantee that you won't have problems, but it would sure help a lot if the company trying to screw you wasn't the only one with records of all your contacts.
1. On _________ (date) at about _________(time), (I called [company]/[company] called me) and I spoke with a representative of [company] who identified (him/her)self as __________________(name), ID number _____________. The number (I called/was called from) was __________________.
2. During the call, I expressed my concerns about account number _________________________ specifically concerning
a. (first concern) __________________
b. (second concern) __________________
(and so on -- as many different topics as you discuss)
3. About these concerns, ___________________ (company rep. name) told me that
a. (what they said) ___________________________
b. (what they said) ___________________________
(and so on -- as many different topics as you discuss)
4. (company rep. name) told me that :
a. (first one) I (should/must) do this: ___________________ no later than (time/date) _____________________
b. (second one) I (should/must) do this: ___________________
no later than (date) _________________________
5. I am sending you these call notes for your review and confirmation so that we may rely on them later.
Please review these notes and advise me immediately, by email to (address), with followup by US Mail to (address), if [company] believes there are any discrepancies between these notes and [company] call records.
WOW. This FOX affiliate's "Reality Check" is an amazingly good piece of local TV journalism. WELL WORTH A WATCH.
Please share the video at the link with as many people as you can. Until everyday people realize just how badly the justice system has been privatized, corrupted, and turned against us, the real people, businesses will keep getting away with using arbitration to cover up their crimes and they will continue pouring money into campaigns to lock in their unfair dispute resolution scheme, where they get to use the power of the courts against you, but not the other way around.
Popular outrage is the only antidote. We have to start defeating any candidate for federal office who won't make fixing this mess a top priority.
Today marks John Gear Law Office's fourth birthday.
I am very grateful to all the clients who have trusted me with their problems and given me the opportunity to help them find solutions. Thanks to your trust and confidence, I have been able to meet my primary practice goal: Making a modest living with a "values-based Oregon law practice" -- where "values-based" means I don't represent the folks trying to take advantage of others, my clients are the ones wronged by those who do.
It's not the easiest area of law and it's definitely not the most lucrative, but I think it's the most satisfying. As the Mrs. works towards her M. Div. and ordination as a minister, I am able to have a practice that reflects, rather than conflicts with, the values of a ministry.
"In a decision just two days ago, a federal judge appointed by George W. Bush felt compelled by U.S. Supreme Court decisions to enforce an arbitration clause even though the judge noted that
(a) the court did not believe that the plaintiffs ever believed they were signing away their right to bring a lawsuit;
(b) enforcing the clause would “undermine effective enforcement of federal antitrust laws”; and
(c) enforcing the clause after the defendant first had decided to litigate in court was “inefficient and wasteful.”
The court concluded that in this area of law, “common sense plays no role.”
Here’s a blog post about the case, with link to the decision:
This is a true poster child of arbitration abuse, really highlighting just how unfair the law has gotten under the current U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions. If people will read this decision, they may well get a sense of just how out of whack the law has gotten in this area."
Finally a story that might get people's attention to help explain how and why mandatory arbitration = abomination when used against consumers and employees
It's hard to get people to understand how they're being robbed and denied their rights when it happens without guns or violence.
But a lot of times, companies rip off customers and exploit their workers unfairly, and it's not until you try to do something about it that you find out that the company has built itself an "Accountability Shield" that does to the civil justice system what Kryptonite does to Superman -- allows the bad guys to escape the consequences of their wrongdoing, and leaves the good guys weakened or flat-out defeated.
Every story needs a hook to get and hold the reader's attention long enough for the message to be received. For a lot of guys, a story about hot young women being mistreated by their employer is a strong enough signal to get their attention, and then they can finally get the message. And, of course, young women, who are often mistreated horribly in the workplace, can understand that even the most superficially exciting jobs can really be terrible grinds -- made much worse by the arbitration clause that essentially lets the company get away with anything short of murder.
Historian shows how our "textualist" Supreme Court happily throws the Constitutional text overboard to serve corporate "citizens" and steal the 7th Amendment Right to Jury Trial from real citizens
By Paul Bland:
This post examines a recently published book by an extraordinary law professor, Imre Szalai, who has gone back through the papers of the three men who drafted and lobbied for and pushed the Federal Arbitration Act. In painstaking historical detail, reviewing all sorts of primary materials, he establishes convincingly that the FAA was never intended to (a) apply to employment contracts at all; or (b) apply to take-it-or-leave-it contracts. This book is an important development in the historical scholarship on the Act, and demonstrates conclusively that the FAA has been distorted and mis-shaped by the U.S. Supreme Court in recent decades. The Act now covers millions of people and transactions that it was never intended to address.
The advocates of forced arbitration are literally on the wrong side of history – the Court’s decisions fly in the face of what the authors and supporters of this statute had intended.
Senior Attorney, Public Justice
Of Counsel, Chavez & Gertler
On Twitter @PblandBland
A consumer-rights leader and expert sends the following comment:
John Gear Law Office -