Legislation Would Finally Give Small Businesses and Consumers the Right to Repair their own products like cell phones and computers

Congressman Joe Morelle introduced legislation to guarantee consumers and small businesses a right to repair their own products by requiring manufacturers to make diagnostic repair information, parts, and tools readily available.

“For too long, large corporations have hindered the progress of small business owners and everyday Americans by preventing them from the right to repair their own equipment,” said Congressman Joe Morelle. “It’s long past time to level the playing field, which is why I’m so proud to introduce the Fair Repair Act and put the power back in the hands of consumers. This common-sense legislation will help make technology repairs more accessible and affordable for items from cell phones to laptops to farm equipment, finally giving individuals the autonomy they deserve.”

Joe Morelle has been a champion for the imaging supplies industry and a long-time friend of the International Imaging Technology Council. “I’m thrilled to see Joe take up our cause yet again,” said Tricia Judge, Executive Director of the International Imaging Technology Council. “We will fight for this bill alongside him.”

Currently, many electronics manufacturers require that repairs, or parts to complete a repair, be made by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) itself or through one of their authorized vendors, making the process costly and burdensome for consumers. COVID-19 further magnified the need for consumers and small businesses to be self-reliant and have the ability to repair their own equipment when large retailers have to shutter.

The Fair Repair Act will require OEMs to make diagnostic and repair information, parts, and tools available to third-party repairers and owners in a timely manner and on fair and reasonable terms, helping consumers and repair shops to avoid unnecessary and costly delays while also reducing waste. This bill allows for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to penalize those who violate these provisions through civil penalties including payment of damages, reformation of contracts, and refund of money or property. It also empowers the FTC to promulgate any rules or regulations necessary to carry out these enforcement duties. The Fair Repair Act authorizes state attorneys general to enforce the bill’s provisions as well.

What Leading Advocacy Organizations are Saying About the Fair Repair Act:

Gay Gordon-Byrne, Executive Director of Repair.org, said: “Every year I’ve worked on Right to Repair, it’s gotten bigger, as more and more people want to see independent repair protected. From just a few states, to 27 states so far this year. We’ve seen progress in the E.U. and Australia, and now Congress is taking it up. Rep. Joe Morelle has been a champion for much of that journey, sponsoring legislation while in the Statehouse in Albany starting in 2015. Everywhere you go, people just want to be able to choose for themselves how to fix their stuff. You’d think manufacturers would wise up.”

Maureen Mahoney, Senior Policy Analyst, Consumer Reports, said: “If you own it, you should be able to fix it. We’re pleased that Congressman Morelle is taking the lead on legislation to ensure that consumers can fix their own electronic products, or have them repaired by the servicer of their choice. We support this important bill which will guarantee consumers the right to repair, which will help increase competition, reduce waste, and lower prices for repair.”

Kit Walsh, Senior Staff Attorney and Assistant Director, Electronic Frontier Foundation, said: “This important bill will help Americans keep our technology in good repair and will help small repair businesses compete on fair terms with device manufacturers. Ultimately that means higher-quality device repair for lower prices, less environmental waste, and a safer Internet of Things. The bill is also significant because it recognizes that device owners have rights, that you are allowed to understand and fix your devices even if the manufacturer would rather they were the only one.”

“Consumers should not have to throw away broken devices or overspend on pricey ‘official’ repair channels,” said John Bergmayer, Legal Director at Public Knowledge. “The Fair Repair Act recognizes that consumers have a right to repair the devices they own, and that practical and legal obstacles should not stand in the way. Ensuring that people can repair devices and use independent repair shops doesn’t just save them money; it has significant environmental benefits as well, reducing e-waste and carbon use. We commend Rep. Morelle for leading on this issue.”