Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 30th Jan 2018 23:36 UTC
Legal

Third party phone repair shops say that phone makers like Apple and game console makers like Sony and Microsoft have effectively monopolized repair, using their size and power to drive smaller companies out of business.

Verizon and Apple have worked in union to thwart such bills in several states, but traditionally don't like to publicly talk about their lobbying on this front. They now have another state to worry about, with Washington State considering their own right to repair bill, created in the wake of outrage over Apple's decision to throttle the performance of older phones to (Apple insists) protect device integrity in the wake of failing battery performance.

I've said it a million times by now, but I see no reason why computers should be treated any different than cars: PC and phone makers should be forced to publicise the necessary information to allow third-party repair shops to repair their devices, all without voiding warranty.

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Comment by ahferroin7
by ahferroin7 on Wed 31st Jan 2018 13:34 UTC
ahferroin7
Member since:
2015-10-30

While I'm not advocating the stance that Apple and a lot of other electronics manufacturers take, I think I can understand part of the reasoning behind it.

Cars are traditionally, and still primarily, mechanical devices. It's usually trivial to reverse engineer a mechanical device (see for example all the functionally identical derivatives of the Colt AR15 rifle (which itself was a clone of the original ArmaLite design)). On top of that, the general internal design of a car is essentially in the public domain at this point.

Electronics in comparison are not trivial to reverse-engineer at present unless they're trivially simple examples, but releasing all the required documentation to allow for third-party repairs instantly makes it exponentially easier to reverse-engineer the device, which is internally almost certainly not public-domain in terms of design (pretty much everybody uses about the same design for a phone, just with the parts arranged differently, but that's not the same as being in the public domain).

Given this, automakers have no real intellectual property to protect other than the design of the body, and possibly the engine control module, but even if they did it wouldn't matter because they wouldn't be able to have things be repairable at all and prevent end users from accessing them. In contrast, electronics manufacturers have a lot of intellectual property to protect, and they feel that it's better to protect it by trying to hide it than to take the proper legal routes for preventing infringement.

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