The idea behind right to repair legislation is to force manufacturers to make available documentation and parts so that customers or third party repair persons can fix their devices. For example, if a chip fails on your laptop's motherboard, you could have that chip replaced, without needing to purchase a new motherboard and pay for an expensive repair.
While the bill is said to cover all "digital electronic products", exemptions have been carved out for home appliances, motor vehicles, medical devices, and off-road equipment. Additionally, Hochul has made major changes to make it less effective.
● First, Hochul eliminated the requirement for OEMs to provide passwords, security codes, or materials needed to override security features.
● Second, Hochul eliminated the requirement for OEMs to provide individual parts on the basis of "safety". Rather, they can provide "assemblies".
● Third, Hochul eliminated right to repair requirements for business-to-business or business-to-government products.
● Fourth, Hochul eliminated right to repair requirements for any products sold before July 1, 2023.
For many, these amendments defeat the purpose of the bill. By claiming that there's a higher "safety" risk to replacing a chip versus an entire logic board, an OEM would not be required to supply the chip to customers or repair shops.
In her MEMORANDUM approving the bill, Hochul says the legislature agreed to the changes, likely to avoid a veto.
The legislation as drafted included technical issues that could put safety and security at risk, as well as heighten the risk of injury from physical repair projects, and I am pleased to have reached an agreement with the legislature to address these issues. This agreement eliminates the bill's original requirement calling for original equipment manufacturers to provide to the public any passwords, security codes or materials to override security features, and allows for original equipment manufacturers may provide assemblies of parts rather than individual components when the risk of improper installation heightens the risk of injury. We have also agreed to clarify that original equipment manufacturers, who either contract with authorized third-party repair shops or who themselves offer repair services, are required to provide parts, tools and documents at reasonable costs to device owners and independent repair shops to facilitate repair, and that digital products that are the subject of business-to-business or business-to-government sales and that otherwise are not offered for sale by retailers, are exempt. Finally, we have agreed to changes to ensure original equipment manufacturers will not be required to license any intellectual property, and that this new law's requirements will apply to digital electronic equipment that is both manufactured for the first time as well as sold or used in New York for the first time on or after July 1, 2023.
In a video posted to YouTube, Rossman declares that as a result of these changes, "Nothing is going to happen, nothing is going to change. This bill in my opinion is complete and utter garbage. It was a waste of all of our time..."
While the Digital Fair Repair Act didn't accomplish what it set out for, we're hopeful that other states will pass stronger legislation that closes the gaps carved out by Governor Hochul.
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