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Bill C-244: Right to Repair in Canada

Canadian Bill C-244 is an act written to amend the national Copyright Act. It expands the definitions and guidelines for intellectual property in tech products. Canadian producers and consumers benefit from this bill, as it opens the door for more robust product life cycles, bolstering the active use and end-of-life infrastructure. For this reason, C-244 has become known as Canada’s Right to Repair bill.

Right to Repair

What is Right to Repair?

Right to Repair is a movement that asserts consumers should be allowed to fix the products they own. Technology is constantly changing and expanding, which is a fact that holds for every industry. Innovations and new solutions can become fiercely guarded trade secrets. Consumers can sometimes find themselves locked out of their purchases. Very tight safeguards can prevent users performing even simple maintenance or repairs on things they have paid for.

Consequently, the Right to Repair movement states that a consumer that buys something, owns something, and has the right to do what they want with it. Following this logic, it is reasonable that the product owner may need to fix the product after using it, and they should be free to do so. This aspect is a freedom that the movement holds central.

Right to Repair bill

Governments, lawmakers, and industry leaders are in a position to affect this freedom. Conditions that benefit Right to Repair include:

  • broad availability of tools and replacement parts
  • local availability of repair service providers
  • high repairability of the product
  • avoiding planned obsolescence
  • minimal safeguards on intellectual property
  • lawmakers familiar with the industry and market

Bill C-244 facilitates these conditions, and it has become known as Canada’s “Right to Repair” bill. While the text of the act is short, the changes are specific and directed at encouraging a greener Canada. It joins similar green legislation that exists in the national body of law, as well as other Right to Repair laws worldwide.

Bill C-244 and the Electronics Industry

The title of C-244 indicates changes that affect diagnosis, maintenance, and repairs. Lawmakers have accomplished these changes by amending the Canadian Copyright Act. Re-interpreting the existing legislation in this way is an efficient avenue for achieving lasting results. Indeed, personal electronics technology can sometimes shift faster than industry players can keep up in the global marketplace. Unfortunately, smaller companies are often more vulnerable than larger companies.

This constant flux means that creating accessible aftermarket repair can be a nightmare of bureaucracy. Bill C-244 interrupts this cycle by addressing the problem directly in the legislation.

The highlights of Bill C-244 include:

• extending technical definitions to include computer programs under the Copyright Act,
• adding a section that allows for diagnosis, maintenance, and repairs of technology, including computer programs under the new definition,
• encouraging the role of repair service providers while clarifying the boundaries that constitute copyright infringement of technology.

right-to-repair ecodesign

Consequently, interested parties are affected by the act in different ways. Depending on an entity’s role in the market or industry, C-244 introduces new considerations:
• the bill encourages aftermarket repair by individuals and service providers. Firms have the ability to capitalize by providing more OEM parts and components to the market.
• increasing repair streams for electronics can shift some end-of-life burden away from disposal and recycling. This option allows consumers and producers to rebalance their e-waste flows more evenly.
• while there is no provision that specifies repairability, brands and companies will need to relax their hold on any proprietary technologies. C-244 opens up hardware and software intellectual property to third parties, and companies must be comfortable in this mindset.

Global Right to Repair Legislation

right-to-repair canada

Canada’s Bill C-244 is not alone. Worldwide, it joins other countries enacting similar laws.

Some exceptions apply, like under the United State Code of Federal Regulations. This exception applies to food farmers and their ability to fix and modify software on modern tractors. This landmark ruling alleviated the burdens of an overwhelmed repair service sector and drastically reduced the incidence of piracy and homebrew software solutions. It also saw leading producers forge a memorandum of understanding with farmers, ushering in a new age of market collaboration.

In Europe, the UK Consumer Rights Act has allowed for a product owner’s right to repair since 2015. India has also experimented with Right to Repair frameworks, aiming to implement the practice at a national scope. This strategy impacts millions of local market players and has significant global implications.

Right-to-repair has generally gained traction in industrialized countries that trade in global markets. This situation comes with unique consumer demands that can be hard to address otherwise. Indeed, some modern companies are founded on Right to Repair tenets, operating with open user access as a central mandate. Right to Repair has earned its place in the new digital paradigm, since it addresses our shared global concerns regarding resource use and digital e-waste.

Are you ready to integrate the tenets of right-to-repair into your ecodesign plan, fight against planned obsolescence, or product life cycle? Reach out to us and let our team help make the transition seamless.

Contact Enviropass for a free consultation.