Friday, October 26th 2018

New Exemptions To The DMCA Allow Users To Hack And Repair Their Phones (And Their Tractors, too)

You know that iPhone you bought? Or that home appliance? Or that tractor? They're not yours. Not completely, I mean, because if something breaks, you'll have to repair them through the official repair services of the hardware maker. You can try to repair them by yourself, but you'll probably have a lot of trouble doing it or even getting an unofficial technical service to do it. Oh, and until now it even wasn't legal for you to try. Companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Samsung or John Deere have turned repair control into an art form. The DRM they impose on their products is becoming more and more complex, and there are lots of devices that are very complicated to open to try to repair.

Agencies like EFF have long been fighting for the so-called "right to repair" movement to try to fight these kinds of strategies, and these days those efforts have paid off. The Librarian of Congress and US Copyright Office have adopted "exemptions to the to the provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA") that prohibits circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works". This means that from now on, users will be able to hack the software and fix the hardware on (some of) their devices in order to repair or maintain them. The new rules apply to smartphones, "home appliances" and "home systems", but they go beyond there and will allow users to repair cars, tractors and other motorized land vehicles (no boats or planes, though) by modifying their firmware.
Kyle Wiens, founder of iFixit, explained in a blog post the importance of this decision. He knows what he's talking about, because iFixit has made it their right to repair their mission in this world: for years they have been publishing guides to repair all kinds of devices, as well as selling tools to facilitate those processes. Wiens explained how he and several other experts (Cory Doctorow or Jay 'Saurik' Freeman among them) met some time ago with officials at the Copyright Office to discuss the subject, and it seems that these conversations have had a clear effect on current legislation.

The exemptions to section 1201 of the DMCA allow for example that users will be able to jailbreak their smart speakers, unlock their phones (not only used ones, but also new ones), or try to repair a large number of home appliances and home systems, although there is one exception to this coverage: it is still illegal to try to repair consoles independently.

The victory isn't total because companies will be able to continue to make their DRM mechanisms more complex and make it more difficult for those who try to repair their devices on their own. Even so, it is undoubtedly a very important step forward in recovering that right to repair that not long ago seemed implicit in any product we bought and that was gradually disappearing from our control. Source: Bit-Tech
Add your own comment

51 Comments on New Exemptions To The DMCA Allow Users To Hack And Repair Their Phones (And Their Tractors, too)

#1
GoldenX
Finally.
Inb4 "muh capitalism" comments.
Posted on Reply
#2
GlacierNine
GoldenX, post: 3929963, member: 160319"
Finally.
Inb4 "muh capitalism" comments.
Inb4 someone says "Well that's just business" as if it's a justification.
Posted on Reply
#3
TheinsanegamerN
Good. Making repairing your own devices illegal is one of the most boneheaded things I have ever heard.

If these companies had been around and tried this in the 70s, they would have gone out of business in short order.
Posted on Reply
#4
GlacierNine
TheinsanegamerN, post: 3929986, member: 127292"
Good. Making repairing your own devices illegal is one of the most boneheaded things I have ever heard.

If these companies had been around and tried this in the 70s, they would have gone out of business in short order.
Actually, plenty of companies did try this in 70s, and they didn't go out of business.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnuson%E2%80%93Moss_Warranty_Act

This is the act that was brought in at the time.

The page doesn't clearly outline how and why it impacts this, but this article states: In April 2018, the Federal Trade Commission sent notice to six automobile, consumer electronics, and video game console manufacturers, later revealed through a Freedom of Information Act request to be Hyundai, Asus, HTC, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo,[22] stating that their warranty practices may violate the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. The FTC specifically identified that informing consumers that warranties are voided if they break a warranty sticker or seal on the unit's packaging, use third-party replacement parts, or use third-party repair services is a deceptive practice, as these terms are only valid if the manufacturer provides free warranty service or replacement parts.[23] Both Sony and Nintendo released updated warranty statements following this notice.[24]
Posted on Reply
#5
Prince Valiant
A good step forward for a change. I can't wait to hear from the companies (or their robots) about how this is bad.
Posted on Reply
#6
DeathtoGnomes
that must be powerful $$$ lobbying to have consoles excluded. Baby steps. A good step non the less.

The change is good for manufacturers too, even tho they dont see it.
Posted on Reply
#7
XXL_AI
there are 5 sides of this thing,
best; we can fix our stuff and companies won't tell us anything.
good; the repair guides will be available everywhere,
normal; if you open your product you'll definitely void your warranty and companies will take all necessary precautions to detect an intrusion
bad; almost all companies will take actions like apple did and they'll stop sending repair parts to shops
worst; all of the companies will glue all of the sensitive parts to the pcbs and make them impossible to repair
Posted on Reply
#8
natr0n
The day when you can overclock/jailbreak/hack/mod your tractor has come true.
Posted on Reply
#9
bbmarley
natr0n, post: 3930124, member: 102496"
The day when you can overclock/jailbreak/hack/mod your tractor has come true.
Oh the farmers have been hacking their tractors for a while now.


How long until Apple devices are classed as consoles?
Posted on Reply
#10
Easo
While improper repair can potentially be dangerous (well, duh), overall this is a win. John Deere is just amazingly bad with this.
Posted on Reply
#11
Easy Rhino
Linux Advocate
If you attempt to fix your device and you break it further is the manufacturer still on the hook to fix it? I would except legal wording to change around warrenties. There is simply no way any manufacturer can be expected to fix any device under warranty that an end user has tampered with.
Posted on Reply
#12
TheGuruStud
Easy Rhino, post: 3930205, member: 32506"
If you attempt to fix your device and you break it further is the manufacturer still on the hook to fix it? I would except legal wording to change around warrenties. There is simply no way any manufacturer can be expected to fix any device under warranty that an end user has tampered with.
That has never applied and is in every warranty. But what usually happens is that the manuf lies and claims that device was subject to damage not covered by warranty, then denies the claim.

Example: Phones, laptops, etc, have those bullshit moisture strips. EVERYONE knows that humid air alone turns them pink. So, every manuf opens it up, then denies claim based on water damage without evidence.

It's all a scam. Most warranties are completely worthless in the US. You'd have to spend thousands suing to get anything. Have you seen how bad it is on cars?
Posted on Reply
#13
lexluthermiester
Ah, this is just juicy! Apple? Do you like apples? The feds just told you where to stick it and how. How do you like them apples? Right to repair is a right, not a privilege. It's only a matter of time before a judge tells you, Tesla, John Deere and all of the other corporate tools that can't obey the laws which define our rights as owners how best you can cram your over-greedy nonsense up your backsides.
Posted on Reply
#14
eidairaman1
The Exiled Airman
I don't care about said company warranties, I do the repairs regardless.
Posted on Reply
#15
hat
Enthusiast
This is a tricky one for me (in a perfect world). Think of it from their perspective: you release a complex product, be it a phone or a tractor, with a warranty. Something goes wrong with one of them somewhere, as is bound to happen, and some shmuck goes messing with it trying to fix it on his own. You know nothing about this person. Say their tractor breaks... maybe they're an ASE master mechanic... or maybe they've never turned a wrench in their life. Maybe the newbie can't figure it out, screws something up worse and then sends it in for repair? Yeah, the thing broke on its own under warranty initially, but that was before Dave White Collar went messing with it and screwed it up worse. Maybe they broke some other part - an expensive one? Now multiply this risk by the thousands or more of other guys out there that might try to repair it themselves and potentially even break something else. Not a position I would want to be in, if I made tractors! Let alone something else that's not really user serviceable. I dropped a phone once and broke the screen. I tried to repair it myself. Well, it wasn't the actual screen itself that was broke as much as it was the digitizer part of it that sits over the screen. It sucked and was stuck on with some sticky stuff, which made it pretty much impossible to remove, considering the darn thing was shattered. That didn't go so well, and I bought another phone instead.

I'm also doing my own brake work. Now this is something that is much more user serviceable. I need new rotors, calipers and pads. Really all that needs done is remove 3 regular ass bolts, take the old stuff off, and put the new stuff on, bleed the lines and it's a done deal... but cars are dangerous. People are driving these 3000 pound missiles on the freeway, usually in excess of 70MPH. You don't need to do any math to know that if something that weighs 3000 pounds collides with something else at 70+MPH, serious damage is gonna happen. So, when these things need to stop or slow down, they need to stop (or slow down). I'm trusting my own life and probably the lives of others the next time I get behind the wheel of that vehicle after the work is done. Now, I'm no mechanic, and I actually ordered the wrong parts initially (I tried to put rear calipers, rotors and pads on the front... oops), but with the correct parts on the way I'm confident I can get the job done. It's not really that hard... and if not, that's why you do a little test drive in an inconspicuous area and make sure your work was done right before your life and/or someone else's depends on it. Now my bucket of bolts is 16 this year, so it's obviously way out of warranty, and I'm paying far less ordering parts from a discount etailer than I would buying them in a local B&M shop, let alone paying someone else to do it. I fully believe I should have the right to repair my own shit, and so should anyone else... but the fact is a lot of people are doing this who shouldn't be, or at least don't really know what they're doing (I fall into that category myself), so when I try to fix something and break it more, should someone else foot the bill because I didn't send it in for repair under warranty?

"Warranty void if removed" stickers/barriers/etc do have their place and should be respected, in most cases. Of course, having one outside your desktop chassis so that you can't even open it up to dust the thing out is ridiculous (but you can even break things in this way, IIRC our own @Bill_Bright once said even a shop vac hose presents an ESD hazard, and I'm inclined to agree with him - I've been shocked by plastic hoses before myself, not shop vac hoses, but still, it can happen), but it's equally ridiculous when someone opens up their case, and tries to upgrade the CPU or something and it doesn't work anymore because they bent the mobo pins, and then sends in it under warranty like that. It's a double edged sword, you got scum on both sides of the fence, be it crappy customers or crappy businesses. TL;DR the Right to Repair is definitely a thing that should exist, but when/if someone screws something up it shouldn't be on the guy they bought it from to foot the bill for their mistakes.
Posted on Reply
#16
TheGuruStud
hat, post: 3930315, member: 32804"
This is a tricky one for me (in a perfect world). Think of it from their perspective: you release a complex product, be it a phone or a tractor, with a warranty. Something goes wrong with one of them somewhere, as is bound to happen, and some shmuck goes messing with it trying to fix it on his own. You know nothing about this person. Say their tractor breaks... maybe they're an ASE master mechanic... or maybe they've never turned a wrench in their life. Maybe the newbie can't figure it out, screws something up worse and then sends it in for repair? Yeah, the thing broke on its own under warranty initially, but that was before Dave White Collar went messing with it and screwed it up worse. Maybe they broke some other part - an expensive one? Now multiply this risk by the thousands or more of other guys out there that might try to repair it themselves and potentially even break something else. Not a position I would want to be in, if I made tractors! Let alone something else that's not really user serviceable. I dropped a phone once and broke the screen. I tried to repair it myself. Well, it wasn't the actual screen itself that was broke as much as it was the digitizer part of it that sits over the screen. It sucked and was stuck on with some sticky stuff, which made it pretty much impossible to remove, considering the darn thing was shattered. That didn't go so well, and I bought another phone instead.

I'm also doing my own brake work. Now this is something that is much more user serviceable. I need new rotors, calipers and pads. Really all that needs done is remove 3 regular ass bolts, take the old stuff off, and put the new stuff on, bleed the lines and it's a done deal... but cars are dangerous. People are driving these 3000 pound missiles on the freeway, usually in excess of 70MPH. You don't need to do any math to know that if something that weighs 3000 pounds collides with something else at 70+MPH, serious damage is gonna happen. So, when these things need to stop or slow down, they need to stop (or slow down). I'm trusting my own life and probably the lives of others the next time I get behind the wheel of that vehicle after the work is done. Now, I'm no mechanic, and I actually ordered the wrong parts initially (I tried to put rear calipers, rotors and pads on the front... oops), but with the correct parts on the way I'm confident I can get the job done. It's not really that hard... and if not, that's why you do a little test drive in an inconspicuous area and make sure your work was done right before your life and/or someone else's depends on it. Now my bucket of bolts is 16 this year, so it's obviously way out of warranty, and I'm paying far less ordering parts from a discount etailer than I would buying them in a local B&M shop, let alone paying someone else to do it. I fully believe I should have the right to repair my own shit, and so should anyone else... but the fact is a lot of people are doing this who shouldn't be, or at least don't really know what they're doing (I fall into that category myself), so when I try to fix something and break it more, should someone else foot the bill because I didn't send it in for repair under warranty?

"Warranty void if removed" stickers/barriers/etc do have their place and should be respected, in most cases. Of course, having one outside your desktop chassis so that you can't even open it up to dust the thing out is ridiculous (but you can even break things in this way, IIRC our own @Bill_Bright once said even a shop vac hose presents an ESD hazard, and I'm inclined to agree with him - I've been shocked by plastic hoses before myself, not shop vac hoses, but still, it can happen), but it's equally ridiculous when someone opens up their case, and tries to upgrade the CPU or something and it doesn't work anymore because they bent the mobo pins, and then sends in it under warranty like that. It's a double edged sword, you got scum on both sides of the fence, be it crappy customers or crappy businesses. TL;DR the Right to Repair is definitely a thing that should exist, but when/if someone screws something up it shouldn't be on the guy they bought it from to foot the bill for their mistakes.
I don't know why anyone is bringing warranties into this. John Deere was forcing people to buy THEIR parts and have it repaired by THEM. So when those pieces of shit break all the time AFTER the warranty runs out, then you're SOL, b/c they're jacking oem parts cost, labor is insane, and the dealers suck at repairs. Have fun paying multiple for the part, multiple for the labor and you'll be back paying it all, again, after they fail to fix it the first time.

If you mean that people are fixing them while under warranty, then that's b/c the warranty is a joke. Even if a tractor drives, it only going to do about 25 mph. If it's large, then it's even more dangerous or impossible to drive it to the dealer. If it's completely shot or can't be driven on the road, then good luck loading up a large one. It'll be cheaper to fix it yourself... Those losers aren't going to come repair like a real company would, b/c they know they're all garbage. That's pretty much all you need to know about a warranty on expensive products. If they will not field service it, then it's shit.
Posted on Reply
#17
hat
Enthusiast
TheGuruStud, post: 3930317, member: 42692"
I don't know why anyone is bringing warranties into this. John Deere was forcing people to buy THEIR parts and have it repaired by THEM. So when those pieces of shit break all the time AFTER the warranty runs out, then you're SOL, b/c they're jacking oem parts cost, labor is insane, and the dealers suck at repairs. Have fun paying multiple for the part, multiple for the labor and you'll be back paying it all, again, after they fail to fix it the first time.
I seem to remember hearing something about that a while back... yeah, fuck that. Double fuck that, even.
Posted on Reply
#18
TheGuruStud
hat, post: 3930320, member: 32804"
I seem to remember hearing something about that a while back... yeah, fuck that. Double fuck that, even.
Service/parts is profitable. Build junk that's very difficult to fix, let it fall apart, lock people into your scam of parts/repair, and profit!

John Deere isn't making a dime off our 1970s tractors. They just don't break and you can repair with whatever when they do. Bad corporate murrica (not that the US invented it, but they sure started the big capitalist exploitation and exported it) business model that they wanted to rectify.
Posted on Reply
#19
hat
Enthusiast
TheGuruStud, post: 3930323, member: 42692"
Service/parts is profitable. Build junk that's very difficult to fix, let it fall apart, lock people into your scam of parts/repair, and profit!
Yeah, I agree with you there. Scammy indeed...
Posted on Reply
#20
Flyordie
TheGuruStud, post: 3930317, member: 42692"
I don't know why anyone is bringing warranties into this. John Deere was forcing people to buy THEIR parts and have it repaired by THEM. So when those pieces of shit break all the time AFTER the warranty runs out, then you're SOL, b/c they're jacking oem parts cost, labor is insane, and the dealers suck at repairs. Have fun paying multiple for the part, multiple for the labor and you'll be back paying it all, again, after they fail to fix it the first time.

If you mean that people are fixing them while under warranty, then that's b/c the warranty is a joke. Even if a tractor drives, it only going to do about 25 mph. If it's large, then it's even more dangerous or impossible to drive it to the dealer. If it's completely shot or can't be driven on the road, then good luck loading up a large one. It'll be cheaper to fix it yourself... Those losers aren't going to come repair like a real company would, b/c they know they're all garbage. That's pretty much all you need to know about a warranty on expensive products. If they will not field service it, then it's shit.
If only I could tell you what Case/IH is getting ready to do. :-)

Been working on their project for 2 years now and omg..

Imagine, being a farmer and being able to plug your tablet in to the tractor/combine etc.. and be told whats wrong with it? Told what part(s) is(are) likely needed AND THE BEST PART- FREE ACCESS to the pages of the FSM that the dealerships have access too which pertain to the repair!

Now if only there was some machinery company that did that...?
Posted on Reply
#21
TheGuruStud
Flyordie, post: 3930333, member: 61056"
If only I could tell you what Case/IH is getting ready to do. :)

Been working on their project for 2 years now and omg..

Imagine, being a farmer and being able to plug your tablet in to the tractor/combine etc.. and be told whats wrong with it? Told what part(s) is(are) likely needed AND THE BEST PART- FREE ACCESS to the pages of the FSM that the dealerships have access too which pertain to the repair!

Now if only there was some machinery company that did that...?
Considering even car manuf sue you for uploading FSM, it seems highly unlikely that anyone would make it free.
Posted on Reply
#22
Flyordie
TheGuruStud, post: 3930334, member: 42692"
Considering even car manuf sue you for uploading FSM, it seems highly unlikely that anyone would make it free.
CaseIH won't. Not for the starting model years for which the new program covers. :)

You see.. they see farmers as a threat to their business model so they are planning on making the first move. They want to give the farmers a carrot so they don't go after the steak. Give them the ability to repair and troubleshoot their own equipment, but still keep a leash on the parts side.
Posted on Reply
#23
Vayra86
DeathtoGnomes, post: 3930076, member: 151150"
that must be powerful $$$ lobbying to have consoles excluded. Baby steps. A good step non the less.

The change is good for manufacturers too, even tho they dont see it.
Not so sure, I think consoles are simply not relevant enough to be honest, and there is a content DRM issue lurking in the shadows - we all know the revamped consoles that played illegal discs and we also know hacked AppleTVs that could scour the web for content and play it. The only function, or at least primary function of a console is to play protected content. Gotta keep those walled gardens, or the whole business model of a console (forced exclusivity) is ready to die.

All the more reason to stay far away from them and game on PC... :)

Regardless, great step 'forward'... if you can say that. Its not like anyone was stopping us, there is no way to enforce this. The big positive is that services like iFixit can now also focus on the software side of things, it creates a whole new dynamic in terms of support as well, and 'hacked' firmwares will have to somehow be allowed to exist in a network/service. We might see some very interesting discussions when that is happening.
Posted on Reply
#24
cdawall
where the hell are my stars
GoldenX, post: 3929963, member: 160319"
Finally.
Inb4 "muh capitalism" comments.
Which part would fall under capitalism? The initial act of government control in creating the DMCA would be a hack against it, unless this is a hint at the free market should prevent companies from existing that do this, but they couldn't do this if there were not anti-capitalist laws already in place. :roll:
Posted on Reply
#25
GoldenX
cdawall, post: 3930506, member: 28601"
Which part would fall under capitalism? The initial act of government control in creating the DMCA would be a hack against it, unless this is a hint at the free market should prevent companies from existing that do this, but they couldn't do this if there were not anti-capitalist laws already in place. :roll:
You sure you want to start a political discussion?
Anyway, I meant a comment like "Apple knows what's best for the user, duuuh".
Posted on Reply
Add your own comment