On behalf of the iFixit community, I came to ask for permission to circumvent digital locks in order to fix our stuff. Fortunately, I wasn’t alone. Along with Robert and Matt representing Repair.org, I was joined by Cynthia Replogle, iFixit’s rockstar lawyer. And Cory Doctorow, Kit Walsh, and Mitch Stoltz from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, as well as Jay ‘Saurik’ Freeman of Cydia iPhone jailbreaking fame. We also had help from Jef Pearlman and his team of students from Stanford’s IP law clinic. Our allies were met with opposition from a variety of moneyed and acronymed interests – the MPAA, RIAA, and the Auto Alliance, to name a few.
Over three full days in LA, we were grilled by the Copyright Office. They wanted details on how cell phone baseband processors work, how automotive telematics systems are different from OBD II diagnostics, why you can’t simply swap in a new Blu-ray drive into an Xbox, and so forth. It was exhausting – for us and for them. But they had done their homework, and asked intelligent questions on a startling variety of topics.
The ruling is out, and thanks to the hard work of these individuals, American consumers have a few more rights regarding repair than they did before. Excellent work, and let’s hope this sets a positive precedent.
I would love it if this includes service manuals.
We’ve had and lost the ability to jailbreak phones before. The problem here is that these exceptions are ONLY good for three years, and if someone doesn’t do the hard work to defend these AGAIN in three years, they automatically go away.
The Copyright office also turned down exceptions for modern consoles (XBOne, PS4, Switch), boats, and planes. So those are all still illegal to repair yourself. They also turned down the request to bypass HDCP on TVs under certain conditions.
…and wasn’t before. A lot of work, of hours and good will on the big and the small.
Let’s celebrate, and smile.
Even if transient the path, as politics use to be, as decency use to be, has shown us the possibilities.