The right to repair is a type of consumer protection that allows consumers to freely repair, repurpose and reuse devices that they own. These protections, where they exist, vary widely based on product type and jurisdiction.
Intellectual PropertyManufactures commonly claim that a right to repair encourages third party firms to reverse engineer parts that may violate the manufacturer's intellectual property rights. They may further argue that third party components and services interfere with their brand ecosystem and experience. Firms may lobby for laws that prevent customers from repairing devices based on these arguments.
The Complexity ArgumentIt is commonly argued that modern devices have become too complex for people to repair on their own. In many cases, this argument is flawed as swapping components can theoretically be a simple procedure. This argument also neglects the fact that repair services may emerge to manage extremely complex repair and maintenance services if competition is allowed.
Design For DisrepairDevices, vehicles and machinery may be specifically designed to be difficult to repair in order to prevent diy or third party maintenance services.
Component AuthenticationThe use of cryptographic techniques to validate that components have been issued by a manufacturer. In theory, this could potentially be an anti-competitive practice.
Component MonopolyA manufacturer that prevents others from repairing their devices may enjoy a monopoly on replacement parts. In theory, this allows the manufacturer to charge high prices and enjoy high margins as they have no competition. This can persist even if the quality of repair services is low and customer dissatisfaction is high.
Service MonopolyAn inability to repair or alter a device may help a manufacturer and their partners to maintain a monopoly for services related to the device in areas such as repair, maintenance, content, functionality and connectivity.
Authorized PartnersA manufacture may have an program for authorizing third party components, accessories, supplies, content, systems and applications. This may be designed to make a platform appear to be "open." Authorized partners may be required to pay high fees based on the monopoly position of the manufacturer in approving partners. In some cases, partners may be excluded because they represent some type of competitive threat.
Planned ObsolescencePlanned obsolescence is the design of products and services to become less useful with time such that there is need to regularly replace them. By preventing economical repairs to key parts such as batteries, obsolescence is ensured.
Warranty PracticesIt is common for vendors to try to use their warranty terms to prevent customers from repairing a device using third party services. These practices may be governed and restricted by consumer protection laws such as right to repair or warranty legislation. Where warranty repairs aren't completely free such terms may also be governed by laws related to deceptive commercial practices.
Vendor Lock-inVendor lock-in is a situation where it is difficult to discontinue using a supplier even if you are extremely dissatisfied and paying unusually high prices. Generally speaking, not being able to repair or alter a device increases vendor lock-in.
Failure DemandFailure demand is when a firm's revenue increases due to failures such as low quality. This creates perverse incentives and economic inefficiencies. For example, without the right to repair, a firm's revenue may increase when they release a product that is likely to break through increased repair service revenue or sales linked to replacements.
ReuseA lack of repair rights may have a negative impact on the environment as it prevents businesses, consumers and third parties from reusing old infrastructure, devices, vehicles, machines, components and parts.
CompetitionA right to repair may stimulate competition, lower prices and innovation. For example, a vehicle manufacturer that designs cars with inexpensive replaceable panels in areas that are prone to minor accidents such that most repairs can be completed quickly at low cost at the dealership. This may be done to fend off competition for repairs that prevent a closer relationship to the customer.
Design for RepairComplex products can be designed for easy repair based on techniques such as modular design that allows new components such as batteries or screens to easily and safely swapped. If a product is extraordinarily difficult to repair, it is possible the manufacturer intended this as a design goal.
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