OP-ED: The Right to Repair needs to extend to software, too – and trade deals could be in the way

The Right to Repair needs to extend to software, too – and trade deals could be in the way

Colorado Rep. Brianna Titone sits in the wheel of a teactor on display before Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed legislation that forces manufacturers to provide the necessary manuals, tools, parts and even software to farmers so they can fix their own machines Tuesday, April 25, 2023, during a ceremony outside the State Capitol in downtown Denver. Colorado is the first state to put the right-to-repair law into effect while at least 10 other states are considering similar measures. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)David Zalubowski/The Associated Press

By Anthony Rosborough, Daniel Rangel 

Anthony Rosborough is a doctoral researcher in law at the European University Institute and has been recently appointed as associate professor of law and computer science at Dalhousie University. Daniel Rangel is research director at the Rethink Trade program of the American Economic Liberties Project.

The Right to Repair has become a prominent issue of law and policy in Canada over the past few years. The movement calls for greater access to parts, tools and information to enable individuals and independent businesses to repair products and devices, ranging from smartphones to medical devices to cars.

Right to Repair advocates point to manufacturers’ planned obsolescence tactics, or deliberately making repair difficult using special tools, parts or scant repair information and instructions. The Right to Repair pushes back, seeking to extend product lifespan and reduce ecologically harmful resource extraction and manufacturing practices.


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