US Copyright Office grants right to repair video game consoles as long as only the optical...

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,529   +1,061
Staff member
Bottom line: This week, the US Copyright Office adopted a new rule acknowledging the Right to Repair (R2R) movement. The regulation creates an exemption in the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) that allows consumers to repair devices they own. However, it severely limits what users can fix on video game consoles.

The US Copyright Office says that consumers shall now be allowed to repair software-controlled devices as long as they do not modify their original specifications. That is to say, if you legally purchased a product, you are allowed to repair it without sending it off to the manufacturer as long as your repair does not include a modification that circumvents copyright protections.

"Computer programs that are contained in and control the functioning of a lawfully acquired device that is primarily designed for use by consumers, when circumvention is a necessary step to allow the diagnosis, maintenance, or repair of such a device, and is not accomplished for the purpose of gaining access to other copyrighted works."

The provision is worded in a way that makes it broad enough to cover any modification but clearly is pointed toward those that allow bootlegging or piracy on the device. However, the language of the ruling specifically limits repairs to video game consoles to just the optical drive.

"The "repair" of a device is the restoring of the device to the state of working in accordance with its original specifications and any changes to those specifications authorized for that device. For video game consoles, "repair" is limited to repair or replacement of a console's optical drive and requires restoring any technological protection measures that were circumvented or disabled."

So, in essence, your Nintendo Switch, PS5 digital, and Xbox Series S are off-limits to repair since they don't have optical drives. Furthermore, other common repairs like storage or screen malfunctions can only be performed by the OEM or an authorized third-party repair shop regardless of whether the console has an optical drive or not.

Despite the limitations, the ruling is a significant step toward R2R reform. The DMCA, particularly Section 1201, has largely been abused by manufacturers to limit consumers' ability to fix owned devices themselves or choose competitive repair shops. Proponents like consumer advocate Public Knowledge claim companies hide behind 1201 only to enrich their first-party repair services.

"The Copyright Office's recommendations to allow consumers to repair software-enabled consumer devices and to repair the optical drive on their video game consoles is a victory for consumers, Public Knowledge, and right-to-repair advocates," Public Knowledge's Policy Counsel Kathleen Burke said on Wednesday. "Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act has often been used as a legal battering ram to prevent consumers from repairing devices they own and has significantly limited the independent repair services available to consumers."

Burke notes that more needs to be done, especially regarding Section 1201. However, that is all for now, as the Copyright Office only reviews DMCA exemption requests triannually.

Permalink to story.

 

Sausagemeat

Posts: 1,597   +1,422
Surely console manufacturers want people to only buy one device once. They lose money on every unit sold, if a user has to buy a replacement console then that’s probably money they might have spent on games instead.
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 5,335   +4,981
Surely console manufacturers want people to only buy one device once. They lose money on every unit sold, if a user has to buy a replacement console then that’s probably money they might have spent on games instead.
They don't want you to buy a new console - just to only get it repaired by them. What would cost a "normal repair shop" $5-10 gets charged as a $100 procedure from Nintendo/Sony/MS...

And I don't think they're actually selling their consoles at a loss any more either... that was years ago..

 

Austinturner

Posts: 351   +452
What about change the PSU or fan. This DMCA is completely against customers and pro companies. Everybody can swap those, they just want get more money and that repair monopoly
But those weren’t blocked by DMCA because software isn’t touched at all? I thought this applied to anything that requires interaction with the software.

I assume the optical drive is linked to the copy protection software.
 

kiwigraeme

Posts: 1,125   +823
This is a double edge sword - It the States - what kind if warranty do you get 1 year?
In NZ and many other countries right to be fixed is dependant on expected life - so whiteware may be 7-10 years - a 50c lucky toy only straightaways if complete failure to even work once.
So if Sony says only they can fix it - their must be a higher onus to be more reliable and longer life expectancy.
You normally get say 24 month warranty or something promised - after that you have to argue your case . But a simple $30 small claims lodgement will see it fixed in 5 years .
TBF many people won't try , so those persistent ones - easier to fix/replace .
Companies have to be careful with claims - claiming some degree of water proof - then saying tough luck you had it in a steamy bathroom won't work for them - even in fine print - If adverts were big bold claims - with no mention of bathrooms
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 2,216   +4,268
Maybe in 15 years by the time everything is streamed up and down through the internet and like 1% of people even use the console hard drives they'll "let us" change those.

I think the better option is class action lawsuit to force them to both allow and facilitate repairing everything: PSU, fans, mobo, APU, all of the damned things.
 

Hardware Geek

Posts: 446   +528
Maybe in 15 years by the time everything is streamed up and down through the internet and like 1% of people even use the console hard drives they'll "let us" change those.

I think the better option is class action lawsuit to force them to both allow and facilitate repairing everything: PSU, fans, mobo, APU, all of the damned things.
That would be way too consumer friendly to ever pass. The dammed lobbyists would make sure of that.
 

RudyBob

Posts: 620   +582
"Right to Repair" Should not be any question about this. If you think politicians aren't in pockets just look to this
 

toxicfiend

Posts: 53   +17
Consoles are for children, if your old enough to repair yourself you should be using a PC.
Really well I started in 1975 playing Pong on console at 18yo played on many more since and have a series x and pc not all the people I know play on both its one or the other and depends how I feel at the time. So why are consoles just for kids just curious?
 

ron baer

Posts: 46   +13
Nice so after 3 years of a broken xbox drive I can now fix it without it yelling the drive was changed....or will it be a apple where it warns you every time you use it
 

ZedRM

Posts: 1,067   +748
Dear US Copyright Office;

You folks are failing to grasp a concept, that of property ownership. Once we, the people, purchase a device it becomes our property to do with as WE see fit. If we want to repair when it breaks or modify it, or the software that runs in it, to suit our personal needs, that is our RIGHT protected by the Sixth Amendment of the United States Bill of Rights. Copyright and patent law, including but not limited to the DMCA, is at all times superseded by and subject to the Sixth Amendment. Your failure to recognize those rights does not invalidate them, nor does it make them unenforceable.

You would do well to remember that you are a taxpayer funded public entity that exists to serve We The People first and foremost. Remember your place, your station and that you serve We The People, not the other way around. Get your silly selves in order and put the corporations & businesses of this nation and the world in their proper place by informing them they must at all times respect our rights FIRST.

Regards,
The Citizens of the United States of America.