For the past decade, states have considered “right to repair” legislation targeted at different types of machinery. Over the years, these proposals have grown increasingly broad in scope. First, it was automobiles, then heavy trucks, and then consumer electronics. Recently, the special interest group representing third party repair providers, coders, refurbished product sellers, consumers, and others with an interest in accessing back-end code has turned its sights on heavy off-highway equipment.
While the Repair Association’s PR efforts are focused on tractors, the group’s model legislation covers everything that has a microprocessor, including construction and other heavy off-highway equipment.
Proponents of Right to Repair have advocated for overly broad laws that would allow for unfettered access to the software that governs on-board technology on equipment. Giving access to the source code would not only undermine manufacturers’ innovation and intellectual property, it would, more alarmingly, risk allowing modifications that may not meet safety and emissions requirements for equipment. Modifications also create unknown liability issues for the individuals modifying the code, dealers who subsequently take in modified equipment in for resale, and subsequent owners of a modified unit. The right to repair one’s equipment does not extend to an unlawful right to modify its software.
A diverse coalition representing the technology industry, security groups, medical equipment and home appliance manufacturers, intellectual property protection groups, and the insurance industry is fighting these legislative proposals in state capitals, but farm equipment manufacturers have gone a step further and created a market-based solution that meets the maintenance and repair needs of the farmer.
Agriculture equipment manufacturers and dealers are announcing a new commitment to make a comprehensive suite of service and diagnostic information for tractors and combines available by 2021. We invite readers to learn more about these commonsense solutions by visiting www.R2RSolutions.org. They are a reasonable response intended to meet the needs of our end users and make so-called “Right to Repair” legislation unnecessary. Legislators agree – in 2018, none of the 19 Right to Repair bills passed.
The Association of Equipment Manufacturers knows the construction industry is different: contractors commonly rent their equipment, construction sites are temporary, and repair and maintenance protocols are different. However, the impact on dealers and contractors is the same. That is why dealers from John Deere, CAT, and Case, for example, have already engaged in the battle in states across the country. In New York, the General Contractors Association joined in opposing Right to Repair legislation due to the same concerns about equipment modification. The construction industry is potentially impacted by these proposals, and it is important that the industry be aligned and work together to oppose this effort.