Caroline Delbert uses Youtuber TronicsFix’s video “How Many PS4's Can I Stack? - Why We Need Right to Repair” to open up a discussion on the “right to repair,” the right for consumers or professionals outside of the company that produces a product to be able to repair the product. Many modern goods require them to be sent back to the company to be fixed, as trying to fix them otherwise may void warranties or be blocked by software locks. At the time of Delbert’s article’s publication, the FTC voted in favor of looking into the right to repair, leaving Delbert optimistic about its implementation in the United States.
1. What are the benefits of creating right-to-repair laws (economically, environmentally, or even creatively)? What might some drawbacks be?
2. Do you care about the right to repair? Would creating new laws impact the way that you fix your products?
1. Conduct research on a device that you use every day (a phone, tablet, computer, etc.) and see if that device can be repaired by a company outside of the manufacturer. If they can, list what repairs that company can make and note if these repairs void the device’s warranty.
2. Visit the SU IT department and learn about the services that they offer to students. You can also visit their page by clicking here.
Think back to the last time you broke an electronic device. It could be a phone, computer, game console, or television. What did you do with it? If you were lucky, you got it repaired, but most likely, it sits somewhere in your closet or a landfill. In some Western countries, estimates show that over fifty percent of the population owns a broken device that could be repaired. How did we get to the point where we discard electronics rather than fixing them? To understand this, you need to look at the broader discourses surrounding the "right to repair.”
For those outside the United States, the concept of a right to repair can seem absurd. In many places, the right to repair is assumed and embedded into the culture. For instance, in India, jugaad, the innovative “hacks” used to make broken machinery function, are common. Likewise, designer and architect Ernesto Oroza finds in Cuba a “culture of necessity” where participants resist bureaucratic intervention by utilizing devices in unorthodox ways. While such practices were once common in the United States, manufacturers of farm equipment, medical devices, automobiles, and electronics throughout the twentieth century have growingly restricted consumer access to diagnostic manuals and spare parts, arguing that unauthorized repair can cause harm. These restrictions have allowed producers to form repair monopolies that have eradicated small independent repair shops and cluttered landfills with fixable items.
This article, and its accompanying video of “broken” PlayStation 4s stacked on top of one another, provide a reminder of the impact these changes have had on our society by detailing the major developments in right-to-repair legislation and their importance for different communities. Do manufacturers have the right to restrict repairs? Are they telling the truth when they say that they are protecting consumers from harming themselves during repairs? Should the federal government be involved in creating a right to repair? Ponder these questions as you read through the article.
This is the video by Youtuber TronicsFix that Caroline Delbert writes about in her article. TronicsFix, like Delbert, makes a case for Right to Repair, citing it as the reason behind the video's creation.
Caroline Delbert is a writer, avid reader, and contributing editor at Pop Mech. She's also an enthusiast of just about everything. Her favorite topics include nuclear energy, cosmology, math of everyday things, and the philosophy of it all.
The SU Sustainability Office recognizes that a sustainable, vibrant and just planet begins on campus by minimizing the environmental impacts of our operations and cultivating a resilient community through our curricular and co-curricular experiences.
Check out some more information on the Right to Repair movement and how to get involved on repair.org.