Pirate Party Australia supports a Right to Repair

Pirate Party Australia recently made a submission to the Productivity Commission’s “Right to Repair” inquiry.[1] While giving the Productivity Commission credit for their approach, we worry it will end up an ineffective PR exercise, given the Government’s record and existing treaties and legislation obstacles to the “Right to Repair”.

Abuse of Intellectual Property is rightly increasing in prominence. “Repair Cafes” and other initiatives are opening up throughout Australia. The fact the Government is showing an interest is a positive, in its way. Nevertheless, the treaties the Government is a signatory to, such as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement 2011 and laws such as the Copyright Act 1968 are opposed to the recognition of a right-to-repair. Sadly, the inquiry may end up as lip service, while the Productivity Commission has made a genuine attempt to engage with the issues. In addition, in the past both parties in Government have been very selective in implementing Productivity Commission recommendations – and we wouldn’t be surprised to see it again.

We suspect the Government will continue to allow big business to abuse its position and make little substantial progress on the “Right to Repair”.

The “Right to Repair” has both “Rights” and “Economic” foundations. While intellectual property “rights” have been much abused, nevertheless, assuming they are granted, they should only prohibit people selling products around the licensed product. After purchase, consumers should have the right to modify and repair what they have purchased as a matter of personal rights.

We certainly recognise the good that has been achieved through private industry innovation. Nevertheless, businesses will covet their assets to extend economic life beyond the socially beneficial lifetime.

As we outline in our submission, the abuse of copyright is also an important part of the overall picture.

Pirate Party Australia will continue to hold the Government accountable on this issue, and continue to advocate for the rights of the consumer, something that has long become lost in the intellectual property debate with corporate interests having steamrollered the development of intellectual property law – both locally and internationally.

[1] Submission 74 to the Inquiry: https://www.pc.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/272458/sub074-repair.pdf