The John Deere company tried to use copyright law to make it illegal for farmers to repair their tractors. Fortunately, a lawsuit pushed by iFixit recently resulted in a victory for farmers against this immoral behaviour.
“That Apple and other electronics manufacturers don’t sell repair parts to consumers or write service manuals for them isn’t just annoying, it’s an environmental disaster,” (Kyle Wiens) says. “Recent shifts to proprietary screws, the ever-present threat of legal action under a trainwreck of a copyright law, and an antagonistic relationship with third-party repair shops shows that the anti-repair culture at major manufacturers isn’t based on negligence or naiveté, it’s malicious.”
Apple began using oddball screw heads (pentalobe) to make it difficult, if not impossible, for their customers to open and repair their own iOS devices.
“We decided as a result of our research in the developing world that what the world needed was an open source repair manual for everything,” (Kyle Wiens) said. “There’s two ways of doing that—you get the manufacturers to open source their documents, or you write a new one. We have not given up on the first one, but we have focused our efforts on the second.”
Small victories give hope that progress will be made in this area, but the manufacturers still seem more intent on locking their customers out. Fortunately, we have people like Kyle Wiens and organizations like iFixit watching out for us.