Oregon becomes the first state to ban parts pairing in right to repair law

Oregon becomes the first state to ban parts pairing in right to repair law

Oregon has passed a landmark right to repair law that allows consumers and independent repair shops to fix electronics as old as 2015. The law also prohibits manufacturers from using software to prevent repairs using third-party parts, a practice known as parts pairing.

The right to repair law, Senate Bill 1596, was passed by the Oregon House on Monday, March 4, 2024, with a vote of 42 to 13. The law requires electronics manufacturers to supply parts, tools, documentation, and software for electronics produced as far back as 2015, except for smartphones, which are covered for devices sold after July 2021.

The law also bans parts pairing, which is a technique used by some manufacturers, such as Apple, to identify parts through a unique identifier. If the device’s software does not recognize the part, it may not work at all or work with limitations. The law prevents manufacturers from using software to restrict repairs or confuse consumers about third-party repairs.

The law aims to give consumers more choice and control over their devices, and to reduce waste and save money. According to a report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, Americans would save $40 billion per year if they had the option to repair their devices instead of replacing them. The report also estimates that Americans generate 6.9 million tons of e-waste per year, which can harm the environment and human health.

The support and the opposition

The right to repair law was supported by various consumer groups, environmental organizations, and repair businesses, who argued that the law would benefit consumers, the economy, and the planet. They also said that the law would protect the consumers’ right to own and control their devices, and to access affordable and quality repairs.

The law was opposed by some industry groups, such as TechNet and the Consumer Technology Association, who claimed that the law would compromise the safety, security, and performance of the devices, and that it would expose manufacturers’ trade secrets and intellectual property. They also said that the law would create a burden for manufacturers and increase the risk of counterfeit and substandard parts.

The comparison and the future

Oregon’s right to repair law is the first in the nation to ban parts pairing, and the most comprehensive in terms of the scope and the retroactivity of the devices covered. The law goes beyond the laws passed in California, Minnesota, and New York, which also require manufacturers to provide parts and tools for electronics, but do not address parts pairing or apply to older devices.

The law is expected to set a precedent and an example for other states and countries that are considering or pursuing similar legislation. According to the Repair Association, a coalition of repair advocates, there are currently 27 states that have introduced right to repair bills in 2024. The association also said that there are efforts to pass a federal right to repair bill, as well as a European Union directive.