Right to repair is a legal right for owners of devices and equipment to freely modify and repair products such as automobiles, electronics, and farm equipment. Right to repair may also refer to the social movement of citizens putting pressure on their governments to enact laws protecting a right to repair.

Common obstacles to repair include requirements to use only the manufacturer's maintenance services, restrictions on access to tools and components, and software barriers.

Proponents for this right point to the benefits in affordability, sustainability, and availability of critical supplies in times of crisis.


While initially driven majorly by automotive consumers protection agencies and the automotive after sales service industry, the discussion of establishing a right to repair not only for vehicles but for any kind of electronic product gained traction as consumer electronics such as smartphones and computers became universally available causing broken and used electronics to become the fastest growing waste stream.[1] Today it's estimated that more than half of the population of the western world has one or more used or broken electronic devices at home that are not introduced back into the market due to a lack of affordable repair.[2]

In addition to the consumer goods, healthcare equipment repair access made news at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, when hospitals had trouble getting maintenance for some critical high-demand medical equipment, most notably ventilators.[3][4][5]

A 2012 Massachusetts law on repairing cars, has gone nationwide and made it easier to repair automobiles in the U.S.[6]


See also: Right to property and Repairability

Right to repair refers to the concept that end users of technical, electronic or automotive devices should be allowed to freely repair these products. Some notable aspects of a product include:[7]

  1. the device should be constructed and designed in a manner that allows repairs to be made easily;
  2. end users and independent repair providers should be able to access original spare parts and necessary tools (software as well as physical tools) at fair market conditions;
  3. repairs should, by design, be possible and not be hindered by software programming; and
  4. the repairability of a device should be clearly communicated by the manufacturer.

Some goals of the right to repair are to favor repair instead of replacement, and make such repairs more affordable leading to a more sustainable economy and reduction in electronic waste.[8][6][9]

Repair-friendly design

See also: Design for the environment and Planned obsolescence

The use of glue or proprietary screws can make repairs more difficult.[8] The European Union standardized charging ports for small devices, requiring all devices to use USB-C.[10]

Accessible spare parts and tools

Parts and tools needed to make repairs, should be available to everyone, including consumers.[8]


Parts pairing is when a company does not allow parts to be swapped without a password that they provide to preferred technicians.[10] New ways to lock devices like part pairing (components of a device are serialized and can not be swapped against others) became increasingly popular among manufacturers, including digital rights management.[11] Using approved parts can increase the cost of the repair, leading many consumers to speed up their upgrade cycle to a new device.[12]

In addition to access to software updates, the ability to install 3rd-party software is also mentioned as a major goal, which would, for example, allow some devices to be adapted over time.[8]


Manuals and design schematics should be freely available and help consumers know how to repair their devices.[8][13]

Example of a law addressing different aspects of repairability
Aspect of repairability Scope Jurisdiction
Repairability scorecards France
Standardized parts USB-c European Union
Parts pairing Oregon[14]
3rd-party software allowed
Software update support
Sell spare parts
Tools needed to make repairs can be found easily
Manuals and design schematic freely available


The examples and perspective in this section deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. You may improve this section, discuss the issue on the talk page, or create a new section, as appropriate. (March 2023) (Learn how and when to remove this message)
The Phoebus cartel was one of the first notable examples of planned obsolescence to increase revenue

The strategy to continuously change products to create continuous demand for the latest generation was pursued at a large scale by General Motors executive Alfred P. Sloan.[15][16] GM overtook Ford as the biggest American automaker and planned obsolescence with annual variants of a product became widely adopted across industries in the American economy, eventually becoming adopted by Ford by 1933.[17][18]

The car industry was at the forefront of establishing the concept of certified repair: starting from the 1910s, Ford established certified dealerships and service networks to promote parts made by Ford instead of independent repair shops and often after-sales parts. Ford also pushed for standardized pricing among certified repair shops, making flat fees mandatory even for different repairs. The combination of annual updates to cars and components made it more difficult for independent repair shops to maintain a stock of parts.[19][18]

A couple court cases have required products with repaired or refurbished components to be labeled as 'used.'[20][21]

Some manufacturers shifted towards more repairable designs. Apple, which rose quickly to become one of the largest computer manufacturers, sold the first computers with circuit board descriptions, easy-to-swap components, and clear repair instructions.[22]

Copyright with regard to computer software source code also became a front on the limitation of repairability. In the U.S., the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 prohibits repairs unless granted an exception, and has been used to block repairs as software became more common in a range of devices and appliances.[23][24]

To prevent refilling of empty ink cartridges, manufacturers had started placing microchips counting fill levels and usage, rendering refills difficult or impossible. Reselling and refurbishing products was confirmed to be legal by the Supreme Court in 2017 in Impression Prods., Inc. v. Lexmark Int'l, Inc..[25] As of 2022, complaints about the longevity and repairability of printers remains.[26]

Right to repair activists speaking at a conference

In the early 2000s, the automotive industry defeated the first proposal of a right to repair bill for the automotive sector.[27] While the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF), an organization supported by the automotive industry, established an online directory for accessing manufacturer information and tools in 2001,[28] a study conducted by the Terrance Group found that around 59% of independent repair services continued to struggle to get access to diagnostic tools and parts from manufacturers.[29][non-primary source needed] The share of electronic components in the total bill of materials for a car also rose from 5% in the 1970s to over 22% in 2000.[30] The increasing hybridization of cars brought the need of special tools that a manufacturer only shared with authorized repair services.[31]

A trend towards right to repair in automotive and other industries gained traction with more proposed laws and court decisions.[27] While initially driven by automotive consumers protection agencies and the automotive after-sales service industry, the discussion of establishing a right to repair for any kind of industrially produced device gained traction as consumer electronics such as smartphones and computers became widely used, alongside advanced computerized integration in farming equipment. The movement was also backed by climate change activists aiming to reduce e-waste.[32]

Major events concerning the "Right to Repair" movement since 2000
Year Events Notes
2012 Automotive right to repair passed in Massachusetts[33] The first automotive right to repair act in the U.S.[33]
2014 Bill passes in the US to allow for phone unlocking Forces mobile operators to unlock cell phones[34]
2015 Library of Congress ruled in favor of repair-related exemption in DMCA DMCA act copy protection circumvention exemption for repairs[35]
2021 France created repairability index First government to do so, modeled on iFixit's scorecard.[36]
2021 U.K. Right to Repair law in effect Electronic appliance manufacturers required to be able to provide consumers with spare parts for "simple and safe" repairs and to make complex parts available to repair shops.[37]
2022 New York enacts the Digital Fair Repair Act First state in the U.S. to enact a Right to Repair law covering consumer electronics
2023 Colorado enacts the Consumer Right To Repair Agricultural Equipment Act First state in the U.S. to enact a Right to Repair law covering farming equipment[38]
2023 Minnesota law passed[39] It is the first right-to-repair law to address home appliances; the Verge called it 'groundbreaking'[39]
2023 California enacts a Right to Repair Act[40] Engadget believes this bill will be the model for future federal legislation.[10]
2024 European Union adopted a set of right-to-repair rules[41] The rules are not yet finalized as they must be adopted by member states and approved by the Council.[41] They seek to incentivize repair instead of replacement for consumer devices.[42]
2024 Oregon bans parts pairing starting in 2025[14] The first law to do so according to WIRED[14]

The first successful implementation of a right to repair came when Massachusetts passed the United States' first right to repair law for the automotive sector in 2012, which required automobile manufacturers to sell the same service materials and diagnostics directly to consumers or to independent mechanics as they used to provide exclusively to their dealerships. As a result, major automobile trade organizations signed a Memorandum of Understanding in January 2014 using the Massachusetts law as the basis of their agreement for all 50 states starting in the 2018 automotive year.[33]

Companies like Apple, John Deere, and AT&T have lobbied against Right to Repair bills, and created a number of "strange bedfellows" from high tech and agricultural sectors on both sides of the issue, according to Time.[43] The tech industry has lobbied in opposition through groups like TechNet,[44] the Entertainment Software Alliance ("ESA").[45] The Association of Equipment Manufacturers ("AEM") and their dealership counterparts the Equipment Dealers Association's 2018 Statement of Principles became the subject of media backlash when in January 2021 the promised means to make complete repairs had not been visibly available.[46]

In late 2017, users of older iPhone models discovered evidence that recent updates to the phone's operating system, iOS, were throttling the phone's performance. This led to accusations that Apple sabotaged the performance of older iPhones to compel customers to buy new models more frequently.[47][48] Apple disputed this assumed intention, stating instead that the goal of the software was to prevent overtaxing older lithium-ion batteries, which have degraded over time, to avoid unexpected shutdowns of the phone.[49] Furthermore, Apple allowed users to disable the feature in an iOS update but advised against it.[50] Additionally, Apple allowed users of affected iPhones to obtain service to replace batteries in their phones for a reduced cost of service (US$29 compared to US$79) for the next six months.[51] However, the "right to repair" movement argued that the best outcome would be Apple allowing consumers to purchase third-party batteries and possess the instructions to replace it at a lower cost.[52]

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, stating that their warranty practices may violate the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.[53]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.[54] Both Sony and Nintendo released updated warranty statements following this notice.[55]

In April 2018, US Public Interest Research Group issued a statement defending Eric Lundgren over his sentencing for creating the ‘restore disks’ to extend the life of computers.[56][additional citation(s) needed]

In 2018, the exemption for making software modifications to "land-based motor vehicles" was expanded to allow equipment owners to engage the services of third parties to assist with making changes. These changes were endorsed by the American Farm Bureau Federation.[57][58][59] In its 2021 recommendations, the Library of Congress further extend the exemption, with favorable right-to-repair considerations for automobiles, boats, agricultural vehicles, and medical equipment, as well as modifying prior rules related to other consumer goods.[60]

Senator Elizabeth Warren, as part of her campaign for president, laid out plans for legislation related to agriculture in March 2019, stated her intent to introduce legislation to affirm the right to repair farm equipment, potentially expanding this to other electronic devices.[61][additional citation(s) needed]

In August 2019, Apple announced a program where independent repair shops may have the ability to buy official replacement parts for Apple products. Several operators became Authorized under their "IRP" program but many smaller repair operators avoided the option due to legally onerous burdens.[62][additional citation(s) needed]

In the 2010s the trend of making one's repairs to devices spread from the east into the Western Europe.[63] In July 2017, the European Parliament approved recommendations that member states should pass laws that give consumers the right to repair their electronics, as part of a larger update to its previous Ecodesign Directive from 2009 which called for manufacturers to produce more energy-efficient and cleaner consumer devices. The ability to repair devices is seen by these recommendations as a means to reduce waste to the environment.[64] With these recommendations, work began on establishing the legal Directive for the EU to support the recommendations, and from which member states would then pass laws to meet the Directive. One of the first areas of focus was consumer appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines. Some were assembled using adhesives instead of mechanical fasteners which made it impossible for consumers or repair technicians from making non-destructive repairs. The right-to-repair facets of appliances were a point of contention and lobbying between European consumer groups and appliance manufacturers.[63] Ultimately, the EU passed legislation in October 2019 that required manufacturers of appliances to be able to supply replacement parts to professional repairmen for ten years from manufacture. The legislation did not address other facets related to right-to-repair, and activists noted that this still limited the consumer's ability to perform their own repairs.[65]

The EU also has directives toward a circular economy which are aimed toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other excessive wastes through recycling and other programs. A 2020 "Circular Economy Action Plan" draft included the electronics right to repair for EU citizens to allow device owners to replace only malfunctioning parts rather than replace the entire device, reducing electronics waste. The Action Plan included additional standardization that would aid toward rights to repair, such as common power ports on mobile devices.[66]

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, where medical equipment became critical for many hospitals, iFixit and a team of volunteers worked to publish and make accessible the largest known collection of manuals and service guides for medical equipment, using information crowdsourced from hospitals, medical institutions and sites like Frank's Hospital Workshop. iFixit had found, like with consumer electronics, some of the more expensive medical equipment had used means to make non-routine servicing difficult for end-users and requiring authorized repair processes.[67][68]

2020 Massachusetts Question 1 passed to update the previous measure on automobile repair to include electronic vehicle data.[69] Before it could come into effect, in June 2023, the federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration instructed manufacturers to ignore the 2020 Massachusetts law, asserting it was preempted by federal law because opening telematics to other organizations could make cars more vulnerable to computer hackers. (Both claims are disputed by Massachusetts in the lawsuit.)[70]

In May of 2021, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a report "Nixing the Fix" to Congress that outlined issues around corporations' policies that limit repairs on consumer goods that it considered in violation of trade laws, and outlined steps that could be done to better enforce this. This included self-regulation by the industries involved, as well as expansion of existing laws such as the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act or new laws to give the FTC better enforcement to protect consumers from overzealous repair restrictions.[71]

In July of 2021, the Biden administration issued an executive order to the FTC[72] and the Department of Agriculture[73] to widely improve access to repair for both consumers and farmers. The executive order to the FTC included instructions to craft rules to prevent manufacturers from preventing repairs performed by owners or independent repair shops.[74][75]About two weeks later, the FTC made a unanimous vote to enforce the right to repair as policy and will look to take action against companies that limit the type of repair work that can be done at independent repair shops.[76]

Apple announced in November 2021 that it would be allowing consumers to order parts and make repairs on Apple products, initially with iPhone 12 and 13 devices but eventually rolling out to include Mac computers.[77][additional citation(s) needed] Reception to the program has been mixed, with Right to Repair advocate Louis Rossmann seeing the program as a step in the right direction, but criticized the omission of certain parts, and the need to input a serial number before ordering parts.[78][additional citation(s) needed]

In 2021, France created a repairability scoring system that took inspiration from iFixit's scorecard. France expressed its intent to merge it into a 'Durability index' that also considers how long items are expected to last.[36]

In 2022, Apple started enabling customers to repair batteries and screens.[79] Additionally, Apple has prevented companies from repairing or refurbishing Apple's products without their permission. These action have irritated consumers who believe Apple is against the right to repair.[80]

In 2022, Framework Computer, Adafruit, Raspberry Pi, among other computer systems, started sharing 3D-printable models for replacement parts.[81]

On December 28, 2022, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law the Digital Fair Repair Act, nearly seven months after it had passed the state senate. The law established the right of consumers and independent repairers to get manuals, diagrams, and original parts from manufacturers, although The Verge, Engadget, and Ars Technica noted that the bill was made less vigorous by way of last-minute changes that provided exceptions to original equipment manufacturers. It will apply to electronic devices sold in the state in 2023.[82][83][84]

John Deere announced in January 2023 that it was signing a memorandum of understanding with the American Farm Bureau Federation agreeing that American farmers had the right to repair their own equipment or have it serviced at independent repair shops in the United States. Consumers and independent repair centers would still be bound against divulging certain trade secrets, and cannot tamper or override emission control settings, but are otherwise free to repair as they see fit.[85]

In 2023, three business professors cautioned that right-to-repair laws by themselves, could have unintended consequences including incentivizing companies to create cheaper products that are lower-cost and less repairable or durable, or raise the initial sale price of the item.[86][87]

On May 24, 2023, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed the broadest right-to-repair law yet, which was included as part of a state appropriations bill. Minnesota's law will apply to devices sold in the state on or after July 1, 2021, and manufacturers of such devices must provide service manuals for them at no cost to residents of the state. The law will take effect on July 1, 2024.[39]

On October 10, 2023, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 244 (SB-244), the Right to Repair Act, with enforcement beginning July 1, 2024.[88][89]

See also


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