(Roughly) Daily

“If You Can’t Fix It, You Don’t Own It”*…

A just-issued report by the US Federal Trade Commission confirms that anti-repair actions by large companies are hurting small businesses, undermining your ownership rights, and hurting the planet. Of course, these are the very problems that we’ve been fighting for the past fifteen years—but it’s validating to see US government confirmation of the market imbalance.

The unanimous report, nearly two years in the making, follows public hearings and testimony from the FTC’s “Nixing the Fix” workshop in July 2019, and a demand from Congress in 2020 to report back. iFixit and other repair advocates told the Commission then how manufacturers design products that frustrate repair and force owners to use the manufacturers’ branded repair services, hurting consumers and stifling competition. Manufacturers claimed the market was working fine, and that opening up repair access would undermine the safety and security of their products. Today’s report is a rebuke to their arguments.

The FTC’s long-awaited report provides a thorough analysis of broad market failures, and recommendations for government action to address those failures. Some major findings included in the report:

– Warranties are being routinely voided, in violation of the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act. “The Commission takes these allegations seriously and will continue to address illegal practices in the marketplace.”

– “[T]he burden of repair restrictions may fall more heavily on communities of color and lower-income communities.”

– “The pandemic has exacerbated the effects of repair restrictions on consumers.”

The report summarizes the problems that consumers are facing from a variety of monopoly strategies. “Many manufacturers restrict independent repair and repair by consumers through:

– Product designs that complicate or prevent repair;

– Unavailability of parts and repair information;

– Designs that make independent repairs less safe;

– Policies or statements that steer consumers to manufacturer repair networks;

– Application of patent rights and enforcement of trademarks;

– Disparagement of non-OEM parts and independent repair;

– Software locks and firmware updates; or

– End User License Agreements.”

A rebuke of Apple, John Deere, and other manufacturers whose practices frustrate repair by “owners”: “FTC Report Finds Manufacturers’ Repair Restrictions Unwarranted.” Via @kwiens and @stewartbrand

ifixit.com

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As we resist rentiers, we might recall that it was on this date in 1893 that the U.S. Supreme court unanimously ruled that a tomato is a vegetable. In reaching their decision in Nix v. Hedden, a dispute over the appropriate duties to be levied pursuant to the Tarriff Act of 1883, the justices found that the “ordinary” understanding of a tomato as a vegetable should take precedence over the scientific fact that it is a fruit.

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

May 10, 2021 at 1:01 am

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