On June 3, the New York State legislature passed their version of a right to repair bill—titled the “Digital Fair Repair Act”—that would allow consumers to repair their digital electronic equipment without involving the manufacturer.
What is Assembly Bill A7006B?
Historically, some original equipment manufacturers have attempted to prohibit third parties and consumers from performing independent repairs, which has given rise to a patchwork of state laws and recently proposed federal legislation, entitled the Fair Repair Act (under H.R.4006 and S. 3830, respectively), on the matter.
The New York law, similar to the Fair Repair Act, would require original equipment manufacturers to make available to independent repair providers and owners “on fair and reasonable terms, any documentation, parts, and tools required for the diagnosis, maintenance, or repair of such digital electronic equipment and parts for such equipment.” Assemb. B. 7006B, 2022 Gen. Assemb., Reg. Sess. (N.Y. 2022).
The bill, more broad than those already passed in some other states, encompasses “any product with a value over ten dollars […] that depends for its functioning, in whole or in part, on digital electronics embedded in or attached to the product,” with some key exceptions. Id. Specifically excluded from the umbrella definition above are motor vehicles (handled by other legislation stemming from a 2013 Massachusetts repair bill), medical devices, home appliances, and agricultural/off-road equipment.
Two additional provisions of note are those concerning security measures and liability for third-party repairs. Specifically, the bill would require OEMs that manufacture equipment with electronic security locks to provide, “on fair and reasonable terms, any special documentation, tools, and parts needed to access and reset the lock function.” Id. Further, a provision in the bill specifically addresses the important question of OEM liability with these after-market repairs—stating that OEMs will not be liable for any damage or injury caused in the course of repair by an independent provider or owner. Once the bill is signed by New York Governor Kathy Hochul (as expected by repair advocates), the regulations will take effect one year from after it is made law.
The passage of New York’s Digital Fair Repair Act could have implications beyond just the boundaries of the state. If OEMs have to begin providing manuals, information, and tools to New York repair providers, it would not be very difficult for motivated individuals outside of New York State to track down those same materials. As a result, the Fair Repair Act passage could have similar consequences for the national repair market, much like those of the Massachusetts Right to Repair Act.