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Right To Repair What Does It Mean To YOU?

Recently there was a post by Jacques Gordon at Vehicle Service Pros where he asked a simple question as it relates to the recently passed 'Right To Repair' bill in the Mass legislature. His article and question was simply 'What Will Change'.

I read the comments of some of the posters and was disturbed by their lack of compassion and attacks on their fellow professional. Please understand that this has been the norm attitude and practice fostered for many decades by the powers that be in the automotive repair industry. Then I felt sorrow for them. I realized that they are really complaining about what they have been required to do and the burdens placed on them, their families, their employees, and even their customers.

YES, they should complain, but they should focus their comments where it will do the most good. Either at the federal or state legislatures or at the auto manufacturers themselves.

They really are trying to make the best of a bad situation, but they simply do not have the time to investigate, read, and understand the direction the industry is going. I am as guilty of this as anyone else is, however now I am no longer "putting out fires" of the daily mechanic grind and can hold my head up and see where things are headed.

The 'Right To Repair' is a terrible way to refer to this legislation as it does not adequately express the spirit of the law or idea. The idea of this is to give access to the aftermarket service industry, and car manufacturer customers to the manufacturers service manuals and tools. This type legislation should not be required as the car manufacturers should see that allowing their service manuals at very reduced or no cost into the aftermarket service industry only strengthens their brand, quality, support, customer base and SALES.

In the United States there is a 'cooperation of sorts' that allows this access, but it is extremely pricey and for most smaller shops that try to service too large a segment of the brands they can not afford to have the original factory service manuals. They are forced to purchase service manual subscriptions from companies like AllData (Autozone) or Mitchell On Demand (Snap On). Even these subscriptions are costly and these fees are passed on to the customer either in the form of higher prices or simply an add on data charge on the invoice.

In the European Union there is legislation that requires the manufacturers to make their service manuals available to anyone that wants them. This means that if you or your mechanic needs to know how to properly service these cars, the information is readily available without copyright restrictions. Now this does not include proprietary or secret corporate information which is only right.

If you as a car owner see this is of extreme importance to you and your financial future as well as your safety future, get involved and demand that car manufacturers release their service manuals in the United States just like the European Union or it will cost you more to repair that future car!

Ford Motor Company under the leadership of Alan Mulally has been consolidating all its geographic specific models into a global model standard. The stated purpose has been cost cutting, but there may be some great side effects for everyone. Yes, I know that they are not the first as Mercedes and some others have done this for a long time. However, with Ford doing this two very important points need to be considered. First their cars are built with a focus on the 'middle class' as a pricing point and more importantly if Ford follows the law in the European Union anyone wanting or needing their service manuals can now obtain a set from a distributor in the European Union for all markets.

With this more freely available repair data, mechanics globally will be able to repair their vehicles correctly the first time and at reduced costs to the customer. The side benefit of this will be more mechanics will like their products, tell their customers when asked which in turn will increase Ford's car sales.

Updated Information:

It is interesting to note that ALL the American car makers operating in the European Union, which operate there under the EU laws, have never released their service manuals like their European based counterparts. In other words they have been side stepping a very important law of the EU for years.

Quite honestly, they are not the only ones flaunting the laws of the EU, so is Toyota. However, Toyata goes a step further than the American car makers, Toyota hunts down anyone hosting electronic copies of their hard copy repair manuals and forces them to take them down. Even those hosted in the EU.

Why should the American car makers and Toyota be allowed to continue bypassing the laws of the EU?

In addition to this, companies such as Alldata and Mitchell on Demand, use the service manual information provided freely and openly under EU laws and repackage it and sell it (subscription). They also add a copyright on this repackaged information.

How is that legal and in compliance with IP laws?

I draw your attention to GNU copyright or copyleft as it is known, which grants free use of a GNU produced item, but the original product copyrights of the author are usually required to be kept intact.

So, who is the real thief, Alldata and Mitchell on Demand, or the reverse engineers of their products?

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