What just happened? States across the US have passed increasingly ambitious right-to-repair (R2R) laws since late last year. California has historically been a trendsetter on the R2R front, despite not being able to get a law over the finish line. The state's latest legislation finally passed, showing that R2R advocates have gained some traction as manufacturers loosen their grip on parts and repair manuals.
California has become the third US state to pass a right-to-repair bill for consumer electronics. After a unanimous vote in favor, Sacramento lawmakers expect Governor Gavin Newsom to sign the bill into law.
Senate Bill 244 (SB-244) contains more consumer protections than similar laws passed in New York and Minnesota. It stipulates that for electronics costing between $50 and $100, manufacturers must provide consumers and independent repair shops with replacement parts and repair manuals for three years after the initial manufacture date. That timespan extends to seven years for devices costing over $100. Although the law goes into effect on July 1, 2024, it applies retroactively to products manufactured after July 1, 2021.
The law mainly applies to devices like phones, tablets, laptops, and other general-purpose appliances, but not alarm systems or video game consoles. Although manufacturers extracted fewer concessions in California than Minnesota or New York, a few significant ones remain.