The New York State Assembly approved a law today that will allow consumers and independent repair shops to access parts, tools, information, and software from manufacturers who sell “digital electronic items” in New York as of mid-2023.
While the governor’s final signature is still pending, supporters do not anticipate a legal challenge.
But what does it mean for electronics repair in New York?
New Yorkers, Come Get Your Fix!
On June 1, the Fair Repair bill was approved 49–14 by the New York State Senate. Today, the Assembly passed it 145-1 under the leadership of Rep. Pat Fahy.
This is big news for independent electronics repair in New York because they may now compete with manufacturers and fight the consolidation of the repair market that manufacturers have brought about by limiting access to tools and parts. In a recent survey conducted in California, 59% of independent repair businesses said they could have to close if Right to Repair is not passed.
The passage of this bill means that repairs will be more accessible to those who wish to do them themselves at a lower cost than everyone else. Even if you’re terrified at the notion of disassembling your laptop or cell phone repair (Don’t be! Confidence in your ability to succeed is warranted. Yes, we can be of assistance.
Now that consumers have more options, manufacturers can no longer force customers to utilize M.A.S.S. It’s not uncommon for customers to find that independent repair shops can perform maintenance the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) said was impossible.
The vast majority of items that use electronics repair in New York are included in this bill; however, there are a few exceptions. Motor cars are already covered by a nationwide Right to Repair agreement between automakers and the aftermarket; thus, this doesn’t apply to them.
Neither do appliances, medical gadgets, public safety communications equipment like police radios, agricultural machinery, or off-road vehicles. We anticipate that these fields will be the subject of upcoming legislation.
Software & Documentation Can Change The Landscape
A lot more than just New Yorkers stand to gain from this law. In response to a rule passed in France mandating that products be labeled as repairable, numerous companies have begun making their repair manuals available online for free. Since it’s more difficult to establish a website that’s only accessible from within a single state than it is to make documentation and software available to everyone simply, we’re hoping that many manufacturers will respond to this rule by making those items public.
The bill’s software maintenance and repair provisions are welcome, and we hope they’ll apply outside New York. Some manufacturers utilize software locks to permanently attach components to a device’s motherboard or serial number, although New York law allows mechanisms to reset such locks.
The ultimate responsibility is on manufacturers to develop means of providing reset tools for component pairings that the general public can use. That’s great news for the repair sector, and it’s also good for refurbishment: Many recyclers seek out working components in old electronics repair in New York, but this is hard when the components are still attached to the motherboard.
There is no justification for limiting this law’s documentation and software requirements to New Yorkers only. In both circumstances, producers face difficulties due to a lack of the necessary supporting infrastructure. When that’s in place, we think businesses will recognize the value in offering these services nationwide, not only to New Yorkers.
We still have a long way to go until we have legally secured a Right to Repair everything, everywhere. We still have home appliances, farm machinery, and medical equipment on our wish list, and several other states are already drafting bills of their own.
This legislation ends corporate actors’ monopoly on the repair market by encouraging competition within the industry by requiring digital electronics repair in New York to grant access to critical information and parts needed by independent, local repair shops to accomplish repairs on most products. At the same time, we’d aid in the reduction of the 655,000 tons of dangerous e-waste routinely dumped in New York State each year.
We owe gratitude to Senator Neil Breslin, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and the many other repair supporters who labored to see the Digital Fair Repair Act become law this session.
Thanks for your efforts on behalf of the Right to Repair to those who have been fighting with us. Without everyone’s help, this wouldn’t have been possible. Join us in joy for a minute! There’s always more damage to repair, so we’ll all be back at the bench shortly.
Although this rule only applies to one state, it will help customers outside New York. Manufacturers will eventually post their service manuals online for everyone to read as they are required to make them available. The documents must be accessible to everyone since a website cannot be restricted to a certain state. Regardless of the number of states enacting Right to Repair laws, Fix and Go NY Inc. is optimistic that manufacturers will make these guides widely available.