Fight to Repair Daily: Wednesday September 14, 2022

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Each Monday, Wednesday and Friday, The Fight to Repair Daily brings you news from the front lines of the global fight for the right to repair. Here are some things you can do to support our work:

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Listen: Fixit Clinic Founder Peter Mui talks about the future of repair

🎧 You can listen to our podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and iHeartRadio.

Thirteen years ago Peter Mui held the first ever “Fixit Clinic” – driven by his motivation to change our disposable culture and to empower people to fix the things they own. The Fixit Clinic model, built on the idea that if people have access to tools and guidance then they can fix their things, has spawned a global following which seeks to make repair more accessible to everyone.

Paul and Jack chat with Peter about the economic privelege associated with repair, how school districts that purchased Chromebooks during the pandemic are likely in trouble, and envision a future where the things we own are produced in our local communities.

💡 Want to get involved with Fixit Clinic? You can join their Discord server as a participant looking to fix something or an observer.

Judge Allows McFlurry Machine Repair Lawsuit to Proceed

Kytch invented a device that allows McDonald’s franchise owners to do basic repairs on the machines and get them running again. Taylor (the company that makes the McFlurry machine) didn’t like that and, according to a lawsuit filed by Kytch, started telling its franchise partners that Kytch devices could cause “serious human injury.” 

In July 2021, Kytch filed a restraining order against Taylor claiming that the company had stolen Kytch’s trade secrets. Taylor had begun selling a device similar to Kytch’s and Kytch has alleged that Taylor stole one of their devices and reverse-engineered it. Taylor pushed back on these allegations and the lawsuit, filing what’s called a demurrer, a formalized objection to Kytch’s request for a restraining order. 

In a court document filed on August 26, 2022, a judge allowed Kytch’s restraining order to proceed. In its original filing, Kytch alleged 10 different claims against Taylor, including that it had falsely advertised its product and engaged in unfair competition. The judge agreed with Kytch on seven of these points.

“The court will sustain Taylor’s demurrer as to the second (tortious interference), sixth (intentional interference with business expectancy), and seventh (negligent interference with business expectancy) causes of action,” the filing said. “The court rejects Taylor’s other arguments and will overrule its demurrer on those grounds.” (VICE)

India’s e-repair market could be worth $20 billion

To capture a $20 billion business opportunity amid rising demand for refurbished gadgets, India will need to formalize the domestic market for third-party repair and refurbishment of electronic items.

Ajai Chowdhry, founder of tech services firm HCL and chairman of the Electronic Products Innovation Consortium (EPIC) Foundation, said there is a growing market for electronics refurbishing and repair services.

“Just the refurbishment market for smartphones is estimated to be worth $10 billion per year,” he said, adding that put together, the electronics repair market could account for $20 billion. (Live Mint)

Watch: Hearing on Right to Repair Laws

The House Small Business subcommittee convenes a hearing to examine how “Right to Repair” laws impact businesses and entrepreneurs. (CSPAN)

Massachusetts AG, alliance at odds over next steps in court case on revised ‘right to repair’ law

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and the Alliance for Automotive Innovation are at odds over the next steps in an ongoing lawsuit concerning updates to the state’s “right to repair” law.

In court documents filed Friday, Healey said the parties “have not agreed on a joint proposal” regarding those issues and also disagree on the scheduling order for future deadlines. According to the filing, Healey specifically wants two of the alliance’s members — FCA U.S., now Stellantis, and General Motors — to “identify steps taken, funds spent and personnel involved in researching and developing methods of compliance” with certain sections of the law.

In its filing, the alliance argues the attorney general’s interpretation of the revised law’s terms and provisions “largely reiterates the attorney general’s litigation positions at trial, avoids interpreting certain provisions of the Data Access Law entirely, and in many places fails to provide any meaningful, practical interpretation.” (Auto News)

Anti-Hacking Copyright Law (DMCA) Scrutinized in Free Speech Challenge

Matthew Green, a computer security researcher at Johns Hopkins University, and Andrew Huang, an electrical engineer and hacker, sued the Justice Department and the US Copyright Office in 2016. They argued that the circumvention ban, contained in Section 1201 of the DMCA, is an unconstitutional restriction on free speech.

Green claimed that he could face legal liability for writing and publishing a book about security flaws in computer software that includes hacking code. Huang and his company AlphaMax LLC want to create software that allows users to edit HD video, but requires circumventing certain encryption for HDMI signals.

“What are you allowed to do under fair use and what are you allowed to do in terms of circumvention under Section 1201?” said Blake Reid, a technology law professor at the University of Colorado. “And that’s why this case is so critical. It would solve all these problems out to the bounds of fair use, and give people a whole bunch more certainty.” (Bloomberg Law)

The EU Commission’s plan for sustainable design of smartphones & tablets is out! Is it enough?

On 31 August, the Commission finally published its long-awaited draft ecodesign and energy labelling requirements for phones and tablets.

The most significant measure proposed by the EU Commission will be making batteries and displays for smartphones end-user replaceable with commercially available tools and for all devices. However, an exemption to this requirement exists when manufacturers respect certain battery endurance and water resistance features, meaning that consumers will have to choose between repairability and reliability. Furthermore, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) will be obliged to provide information on battery minimum endurance, maintenance and management, including impacts on battery life of different use factors.

However, key issues considerably limiting the impact of the proposed act are not addressed. In short, the overall climate ambition of the measures is inconsistent with European climate targets and manufacturers will still be able to put barriers to repairs and to limit the life of their devices to sell new ones to EU citizens. The implementation of the current draft act would contribute to a reduction of 33% of emission by 2030, while our objective is a reduction of 55% by 2030. Manufacturers will still retain the upper hand on independent repairers as well as end-users and will continue to hinder repairs via software tricks and by restricting access to repair information and spare parts. (Right to Repair Europe)

Power in the Periphery: Waste Conflict and Resistance in Periurban Kerala

One Indian village’s fight against a city waste processing plant in 2011–2012 illustrates the perils of rapid urbanization, increasing consumption, the diminishing carrying capacities of cities, and growing mounds of garbage.

In early 2016, the Thiruvananthapuram Municipal Corporation (TMC) issued a resolution to formally abandon the closed-down centralized biodegradable waste management facility in the Village of Vilappilsala. This decision was the culmination of over five years of efforts in the form of litigation and mass protest on the part of village residents. The waste management facility, locally called “the plant,” was located 14 kilometers (9 miles) northeast of the city of Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala’s capital city, one of the most populous states in India. From 2000 onwards, it was the only waste management and processing facility for the city.

With rapidly growing urban populations, waste management has become one of the most crucial aspects of urban governance in the Global South; many city plans dedicate separate sections to waste management. Although there have been different policy directives, in line with international standards, the dominant model in practice has been disposal via landfill, owing to a variety of factors ranging from a lack of source segregation to dismal, or non-existent, infrastructure. However, as resource-strained cities grapple with growing mounds of garbage, it is vital that cities attend to where this waste is managed in addition to how it is managed. With the carrying capacities of many Indian cities breached, planners have turned to “managing” their waste in nearby rural areas, often out of the city’s administrative boundaries, yet close enough for accessibility. It is evident that this strategy is not adequate from the growing waves of these outskirts refusing to accept the city’s refuse. Following this trend of periurban pushback, Vilappilsala residents successfully forced the closure of Thiruvananthapuram’s waste processing plant and achieved a fundamental restructuring of how Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) is handled in the state of Kerala. The village’s pushback not only highlights the tensions between various levels of governance structures, but also signals the need for a deeper examination of urban planning and urbanization. (metropolitics)

New guidance published to boost electricals repair and reuse

Reuse Network published an up-to-date “comprehensive” official guidance on Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) repair and reuse, as part of a project funded by Ecosurety.

The guidance, named Fit for Reuse, will support reuse operators to meet required standards to run compliantly. The non-profit membership body dedicated to reuse charities says the guidance will help tackle the growing mountain of old or unused electricals being recycled or disposed of and, through Reuse Network, provide more high-quality, safe, repaired electrical goods to people that need them.

The guidance includes photos, tips, and revamped check sheets. Reuse Network says the downloadable and shareable information represents a “significant step” forward in professionalising the sector, cementing best practices, and placing product safety at the heart of reuse and repair activity. (Circular Online)

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