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posted by hubie on Monday September 18 2023, @01:40AM   Printer-friendly

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

California has become the third US state to pass a right-to-repair bill for consumer electronics. After a unanimous vote in favor, Sacramento lawmakers expect Governor Gavin Newsom to sign the bill into law.

Senate Bill 244 (SB-244) contains more consumer protections than similar laws passed in New York and Minnesota. It stipulates that for electronics costing between $50 and $100, manufacturers must provide consumers and independent repair shops with replacement parts and repair manuals for three years after the initial manufacture date. That timespan extends to seven years for devices costing over $100. Although the law goes into effect on July 1, 2024, it applies retroactively to products manufactured after July 1, 2021.

The law mainly applies to devices like phones, tablets, laptops, and other general-purpose appliances, but not alarm systems or video game consoles. Although manufacturers extracted fewer concessions in California than Minnesota or New York, a few significant ones remain.

First, the bill doesn't require companies to provide instructions for bypassing security measures, which can often prove a significant obstacle to independent repairs. John Deere is notorious for using software locks to force users to spend extra money on first-party maintenance and replacements.

Another caveat to the California bill is that independent repair vendors must disclose when they use refurbished replacement parts or originate components from third-party makers. This condition could affect how companies handle issues such as official repairs or warranties.


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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by anubi on Monday September 18 2023, @02:10AM (1 child)

    by anubi (2828) on Monday September 18 2023, @02:10AM (#1325112) Journal

    What happened to equality?

    Should be the same as patent or copyright ,IMHO.

    The purpose of Patent and Copyright was to offer creators a government protected monopoly, not a noose. This whole planned obsolescence thing sure makes waste reduction acts look foolish.

    --
    "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
    • (Score: 2) by Opportunist on Monday September 18 2023, @09:08AM

      by Opportunist (5545) on Monday September 18 2023, @09:08AM (#1325151)

      This right there.

      If I'm not allowed to create my own spare parts, the least I would expect is that they are made available by whoever keeps me from offering them. It's one thing to use patents to protect investment, that's what they were designed for and that's what they're supposed to do. But it's another thing to abuse them to ensure people have to throw away their still (mostly) working equipment due to a consumable eventually breaking or wearing out (as is to be expected from parts that are wear parts).

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Rich on Monday September 18 2023, @02:20AM (10 children)

    by Rich (945) on Monday September 18 2023, @02:20AM (#1325113) Journal

    Louis Rossman made a YT video reporting this, in which he was baffled, wondering where they hid the trap. The commenters joined in on that, especially with Apple endorsing the bill.

    My line of thought is that Apple has run the numbers and figured out that they don't have to lose a lot if they only supply at module level (like full logic boards) with prices yielding a margin close to selling a new device. They would have to lose much more if the general population figures out that all their computing needs of office, web, and video is more than well served with an RK3588 (or some equivalent). If that leads to consumers thinking they shouldn't spend more that $250 for a new machine, it would be really bad for the market cap. But with the new legislation any competitor at that level would be hit with those supply chain expenses, too - which means they'd have to factor them in and make cheap competing products disproportionately more expensive.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Monday September 18 2023, @02:37AM (4 children)

      by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Monday September 18 2023, @02:37AM (#1325115)

      the general population figures out that all their computing needs of office, web, and video is more than well served with an RK3588 (or some equivalent). If that leads to consumers thinking they shouldn't spend more that $250 for a new machine

      People don't spend x% more on Apple products because the product is x% better. Owning an Apple product is a status symbol. If it wasn't, Apple cellphones would be buried by similarly-priced high-quality Android devices.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by helel on Monday September 18 2023, @03:42AM (2 children)

        by helel (2949) on Monday September 18 2023, @03:42AM (#1325119)

        People don't spend x% more on apple products because the product is x% better. Owning an apple product is about security updates for 4 to 8 years [wikipedia.org] instead of 1 to 3 years. If it wasn't apple cellphones would be buried by similarly-priced high-quality android devices.

        • (Score: 2) by VLM on Monday September 18 2023, @04:17PM (1 child)

          by VLM (445) on Monday September 18 2023, @04:17PM (#1325197)

          Owning an apple product is about security updates for 4 to 8 years

          Perhaps that will be the "hidden trap" they couldn't find. Its not like Apple would complain about selling more phones and now they can blame "right to repair" for no longer shipping updates. It doesn't have to be true or make sense it just has to be propaganda-compatible, and the bootlicking press will repeat it or not get advertising bucks.

          So, sure, soon you can buy a $800 LCD to fix a $500 phone that's five years old, however that ability will be marketed as the reason why security updates "had to" stop at three years so you "had to" buy another full price phone two years ago so you don't need the $800 LCD after all, but Apple will make more money so its all good.

          • (Score: 4, Insightful) by helel on Tuesday September 19 2023, @01:36AM

            by helel (2949) on Tuesday September 19 2023, @01:36AM (#1325225)

            My read on it is actually the opposite. Most android manufactures don't support their phones at all after shipping them while apple supports them longer than the period required by this law. That means this law has little financial impact on them - The biggest expenses with compliance is just keeping a stock of the parts needed which apple is already doing. Their competition however, from the 50$ Walmart specials to the most expensive android feature phones, will now face a steep new expense to comply.

            It's regulation that only hurts their opponents. Part of apples brand is quality phones that last a long time. They can sell those repair parts they need to keep in stock. Nobodies purchasing a cheep android burner phone intending to repair it if it breaks. All the parts they're forced to stock for it are pure waste, driving up their costs.

            It's actually a good example of the tradeoff of regulation, imo. On the one hand customers very much should have the right to repair their electronics. On the other hand putting up this kind of barrier disproportionately hurts the smallest players in the market.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Tork on Monday September 18 2023, @08:15PM

        by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Monday September 18 2023, @08:15PM (#1325209)

        Owning an Apple product is a status symbol.

        It's 2023 and we're still pretending like Apple has some supernatural ability to hold on to it's customers as if Google hasn't been rotting for years.

        --
        🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by darkfeline on Monday September 18 2023, @07:11AM (3 children)

      by darkfeline (1030) on Monday September 18 2023, @07:11AM (#1325132) Homepage

      Isn't the trap the same as all regulation? It makes it harder for smaller companies to enter the market. Imagine you wanted to start a company to sell FOSS friendly laptops; you now have a much higher hurdle to overcome.

      --
      Join the SDF Public Access UNIX System today!
      • (Score: 2) by Opportunist on Monday September 18 2023, @09:14AM (2 children)

        by Opportunist (5545) on Monday September 18 2023, @09:14AM (#1325153)

        How does a right to repair raise the bar for selling FOSS friendly laptops?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 18 2023, @10:25AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 18 2023, @10:25AM (#1325159)
          For how many years can FOSS hardware manufacturers really commit to keeping parts available?

          They might have less control over their suppliers than Apple has and lower profit margins.
        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Rich on Monday September 18 2023, @11:22AM

          by Rich (945) on Monday September 18 2023, @11:22AM (#1325166) Journal

          Quick look on System 76s site and a general search gives the impression that they don't even have mainboards on regular offer. Everything that can be plugged in and is a standard component (about everything Apple has soldered in) is available, but for stuff that goes beyond that, it looks dire. They get complete machines from Compal, but it doesn't look like they have a proper process in place that allows them to (easily) source single components for those. It looks like they want to change that and have an ongoing development for own kit, but that's a significant effort (and cost) over badge-engineering the OEM boxes.

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by Opportunist on Monday September 18 2023, @09:12AM

      by Opportunist (5545) on Monday September 18 2023, @09:12AM (#1325152)

      The core of the "right to repair" is that the pieces have to be repairable, not that they have to be home repairable. It's quite a-ok to make repairing them so expensive that getting the equipment for just one repair is prohibitively expensive because you need specialized tools and parts, which means that it will eventually mean only shops can provide the repairs at all.

      Now add that Apple will certainly provide "training" (at a price, of course) and only if you had that training, i.e. if you're a licensed shop, they will honor any warranty claims.

      In a nutshell, most people will still only go for licensed Apple stores, which is pretty much what Apple wants, not to mention that Apple users are generally pretty protective of their gear. They don't mind paying a little Apple tax with their repairs if it means that their treasured systems will continue to work properly.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Mojibake Tengu on Monday September 18 2023, @02:43AM (3 children)

    by Mojibake Tengu (8598) on Monday September 18 2023, @02:43AM (#1325116) Journal

    It would be more practical for their society if California introduce Right-To-Food first before Right-To-Repair anything so the people downtown would not continue to raid groceries to avoid family famine.

    https://www.hoover.org/research/why-shoplifting-now-de-facto-legal-california [hoover.org]
    https://www.newsweek.com/store-retail-violence-robbery-theft-stealing-california-1804565 [newsweek.com]
    https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/smallbusiness/california-s-shoplifter-protection-act/ar-AA1gpw7T [msn.com]

    Meanwhile, it's probably much easier to just shoplift a new phone, tablet or laptop than to repair the old one.

    (Not crazy sources, only classy mainstream, you see...)

    --
    Rust programming language offends both my Intelligence and my Spirit.
    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday September 18 2023, @03:13AM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday September 18 2023, @03:13AM (#1325118) Journal

      Why is shoplifting so rampant? Because state law holds that stealing merchandise worth $950 or less is just a misdemeanor, which means that law enforcement probably won’t bother to investigate, and if they do, prosecutors will let it go.

      Lawmakers in California are hoping to push through controversial legislation that would ban retail staff from stopping thieves stealing from their stores.

      Just another brick in the wall for California. I hope you were intending sarcasm.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by darkfeline on Monday September 18 2023, @07:21AM (1 child)

      by darkfeline (1030) on Monday September 18 2023, @07:21AM (#1325135) Homepage

      You aren't being serious, are you? It's hard to tell nowadays. The vast majority of robberies (shoplifting doesn't seem like the right term when people are filling bags openly) are of luxury and/or easily resellable goods, to fund drug addictions or as part of organized crime (simply to make a profit).

      --
      Join the SDF Public Access UNIX System today!
      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by pTamok on Monday September 18 2023, @07:39AM

        by pTamok (3042) on Monday September 18 2023, @07:39AM (#1325138)

        Some family of mine visited a developed major city in the USA recently (I'm deliberately not saying where). They were astonished at how much ordinary stuff (presumably, easy to resell) was kept behind lock-and-key in ordinary shops. The social problems in that part of the USA, compared to where my family members live (a what is known as a 'high trust society') were just so large as to be difficult to believe.
        The U.S.A. is a great place to be rich. Where those members of my family live is more concerned about people below the median on the income scale having a reasonable life. And it showed.

  • (Score: 2) by Username on Monday September 18 2023, @08:55AM (1 child)

    by Username (4557) on Monday September 18 2023, @08:55AM (#1325145)

    Nobody is going to pay someone $250 to fix something that is $100.

    They're just making it difficult to make cheap stuff in the US.

    • (Score: 2) by looorg on Monday September 18 2023, @10:52AM

      by looorg (578) on Monday September 18 2023, @10:52AM (#1325163)

      Lets not rule that out. There are things people pay to repair that might or won't be on a value level worth it. They might say have to repair the phone (or device) to be able to retrieve data from it etc. Cause nobody backups, they all say they do and then they do it a few times but it's not automated or they don't check if the automated backups work or kicked off and then when shit breaks down they have no recent working backup.

      But sure if the new product is that cheap someone probably under normal circumstances will pay a similar or equal amount to fix the old one. Unless they have to. Which might also be part of the Apple calculation, price their spare parts close to the new so they are in compliance. But they don't have to include the repair costs since they won't be doing the repairs. Nobody will be able to make a viable repair business then if the part plus work becomes close or over the new device price. But that isn't their problem. Sure they have to supply parts to some basement nerds with their own soldering stations that fix their own devices. But that isn't much of a business threat.

      Also repairing smart phones is fiddling like heck. SMD soldering when they packed it in like that sucks hard. So there are things they could do to make the repair experience even worse.

  • (Score: 2) by DadaDoofy on Monday September 18 2023, @02:05PM

    by DadaDoofy (23827) on Monday September 18 2023, @02:05PM (#1325183)

    "the bill doesn't require companies to provide instructions for bypassing security measures"

    Can you imagine the stupidity required to include something like this? California legislators are completely loony tunes, but at least saner minds prevailed.

    "independent repair vendors must disclose when they use refurbished replacement parts or originate components from third-party makers"

    Also a good thing. People should be able to make informed choices.

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 18 2023, @04:48PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 18 2023, @04:48PM (#1325198)

    Refusal to support hardware/software must result in forfeiture of all patent/copyright privileges. There, problem solved

  • (Score: 2) by dwilson98052 on Wednesday September 20 2023, @08:04PM

    by dwilson98052 (17613) on Wednesday September 20 2023, @08:04PM (#1325427)

    ...this will be completely unenforceable.

    California only has the power to enforce what happens within it's own borders, and even then that power is limited... they don't exactly have the ability to enforce this with companies in other states or countries. Sure, they can issue fines and orders, but your average Chinese online retailer will just giggle and tell California to fuck the fucking fuck off... and plenty of companies in the US outside of California will sue the shit out of California if they try to enforce these rules on them.

    Funny how something that sounds like a win actually doesn't account for diddly squat.

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