The Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA), the Australian Mobile Communications Association (AMTA) and machine maker John Deere have once again walked back the suggestion that any right to overhaul the changes should be made in Australia.
In its response to the Productivity Committee’s draft report on the right to reform, the IGEA retracted its support for many of the recommendations made. This includes enabling the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to develop and publish estimates of the minimum expected durability of products, such as consoles and video game consoles, and requiring manufacturers to include additional required warranty text that states consumer warranty entitlements under Australia. The Consumer Code (ACL) does not require consumers to use approved repair services or replacement parts.
She was cited repeatedly in her final report [PDF] that making changes would “muddle consumers,” noting, for example, that the additional text might “make consumers mistakenly believe that their entitlements under a voluntary warranty (as opposed to warranties) do not require consumers to use authorized repair services or spare parts ( may not necessarily be correct).
As part of providing additional information to the Productivity Committee, the IGEA added that if manufacturers are required to provide additional repair information where they can bypass trusted platform modules, this would begin up the possibility of information being “weaponised” by malicious actors, in particular, no systems Licensing or certification of electronic repairers that will aid manufacturers distinguish between legitimate and illegal repairers.
“For example, these tools can be used to facilitate infringement of intellectual property rights, such as removing copyright protection on a device, or accessing confidential data, such as bypassing lock screens to copy a user’s personal information,” IGEA said.
IGEA also took the opportunity to protect video game console manufacturers, saying that it was in the “financial interest” of console makers that customers had “pleasing-performing, reliable hardware that lasts for years”.
“As we have noted, our members who manufacture the consoles have informed us that they are not aware of any evidence that current consumer safeguards for repairs are ineffective, nor any non-compliance in our sector, nor are customers experiencing difficulties in obtaining repairs,” he said.
The AMTA made similar observations, and used what they provided [PDF] In response to the draft recommendations to warn that any further regulation of the reform, other than the ACL, would be “confusing to consumers and could jeopardize consumer privacy, health and safety, as well as create cybersecurity and intellectual property rights issues”.
AMTA also noted that it supports consumers’ aptitude to repair their products, as lengthy as it is performed by an authorized third party.
“AMTA members do not forbid third-party repairers from making our repairs. We urge repair because it extends the life cycle of a consumer device,” she said.
He also argued that if existing copyright laws were amended so that repair manuals could be copied and shared, it could jeopardize the security and privacy of users, as well as decrease the life of products.
“Manufacturers want to make sure that cell phones are serviced and repaired by professionals. There may be grave health risks if cell phones are not repaired safely,” AMTA said.
“For example, there is a risk of catastrophic hurt to products due to ESD if the equipment is not repaired in an ESD-safe environment because all components and boards tolerate some ESD.
“If the repairs or the repairman are not compatible with ESD, it may severely hurt the product or shorten the life of the device. Likewise, if some components, such as batteries, are not handled carefully, there may be health risks to the repairer or customers .”
For John Deere, his biggest concern was that any proposed changes to copyright and intellectual property laws could harm investment and innovation.
“Companies are more likely to invest, and lenders to provide financing for technology and innovation when they are confident in the protection provided by powerful copyright and intellectual property regulations,” the manufacturer wrote in its statement. [PDF].
“Many of the productivity and performance gains delivered to customers and the agricultural industry are a direct result of companies willing to invest in necessary research and development and technology knowing that investment is protected.
“As an example, John Deere’s See & Spray offers revolutionary technology to decrease the costs and environmental impact of chemical use and improve productivity. This innovation would not be conceivable without protection against third-party access to trade secrets and software code.”
The Productivity Authority is scheduled to present its final report on the right to reform to the government on October 29, 2021.
More about the right to movement reform