The US Copyright Office has passed a limited Right to Repair rule allowing gamers to repair their own gaming consoles. The ruling only affects a certain console component, though, so owners of some models are out of luck.
What does this new Right to Repair ruling entail?
The US Copyright Office has ruled that consumers will be allowed to repair the optical drives on their machines. This means that if your optical drive starts playing up, you don't need to send it off to an authorized repair outlet anymore; you can simply perform the repair yourself, if you've got the savvy. This comes after earlier this month, Microsoft revealed that it would commit to a focus on Right to Repair, pledging to make it easier for users to get components and make repairs to their own consoles.
Unfortunately, if you've got an eye for detail, you've probably noticed a big drawback in this ruling for some console owners. Because the ruling only pertains to the optical drive component of a console, that means that if you have a console without an optical drive (like the Xbox Series S or the PS5 Digital Edition), then you're out of luck. Similarly, since the Nintendo Switch doesn't have an optical drive, you won't be able to repair that yourself either. The original exemption was suggested by iFixit and Public Knowledge, who recommended that optical drives be exempt due to "inadequate" authorized repair services, particularly in the case of legacy consoles.
Why can't you repair consoles without optical drives?
The text of the ruling itself specifically refers to an exemption "solely for the repair of optical drives". This, apparently, is to prevent modifications or repairs that would facilitate "infringing activities", including violating copyright law (i.e. piracy). The register says that including a sole exemption for optical drives balances "adverse effects" experienced by console owners with "legitimate concerns over links between console circumvention and piracy". Looks like if your storage drive is on the fritz, you'll still have to send your console in for authorized repair.
While this initial ruling might not seem like a huge victory for console self-repair, it certainly represents a relaxation of what has been a pretty tight set of restrictions up until now. It could be just a matter of time before the Copyright Office potentially allows users to repair other devices like peripherals or consoles without optical drives themselves. This could be a big win for users experiencing issues like controller drift, which is endemic among modern console controllers. Right now, you still can't self-repair anything other than your console's optical drive, but since that's a pretty important component to keep running, giving users greater control over repairs is a good first step. With the new Xbox range setting sales records, there will be more users than ever wanting to perform self-repairs. Let's hope this decision is the first of many.
Have you performed a self-repair on your console? Will you be looking into it thanks to this Right to Repair ruling? Let us know in the comments below!