Le Chimiste by Philippe Le Bas

After the vote: Do we now have a meaningful right to repair?

Earlier today, the European Parliament voted in favour of the Directive on common rules promoting the repair of goods. With this Directive, the EU aims to increase the level of consumer and environmental protection by encouraging consumers to repair defective products instead of replacing them. To that end, the proposal takes a number of important steps which include prohibiting contractual and technological practices that prevent the repair of goods and facilitating the access of professional repairers to technical documentation and spare parts. Unfortunately, the Directive fails to address one of the key obstructions to repairs, especially in modern products: Copyright restrictions.

As we have highlighted in a previous blog post, copyright claims are already being used to fully prevent any third-party repair attempts. Failing to address this issue in the Directive creates a serious backdoor for bad-faith actors who are free to continue to prevent repairs under the guise of copyright.

Shortly after the adoption of the Parliament’s proposal at committee level, the file’s rapporteur René Repasi admitted in a video-message that intellectual property rights are still an unresolved issue in the context of the right to repair. He reiterated that sentiment during yesterday’s plenary debate. While it is encouraging to see this level of awareness, it remains to be seen whether this will be addressed during the next mandate.

As it stands, it seems that European consumers have to continue to wait for a rigid, reliable and meaningful right to repair.

Etching of a printer's press by Abraham Bosse.
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