IGEA has made a submission to the Productivity Commission to support its inquiry into issues related to right to repair.
The primary purpose of our submission is to provide the Commission with information about the video game console ecosystem, how repairs are undertaken, and the unique circumstances of our industry.
In our submission we have responded to each of the Information Requests included in the Commission’s Issues Paper. The key points from our submission include:
- Console manufacturers are committed to providing their customers with access to remedies for goods that require repair, and we are not aware of any deficiencies in the Australian Consumer Law that prevent consumers from accessing such remedies. In particular, the games sector is already focused on making sure players own robust and problem-free consoles, including by providing repair/replacement services to their customers that are offered at or near cost by all three console makers. The purpose of these services is to ensure that if any consoles do require repair or replacement, these repaired or replaced devices are reliable and safe to use.
- We believe that it is appropriate for manufacturer’s warranties to be able to be limited or voided if unauthorised modifications or repairs are carried out, with such terms necessary to protect the integrity of consoles, the safety of console owners, and the manufacturer’s commercial rights. In particular, few sectors face as many persistent and severe challenges to IP as video games, and a broad right to repair would hinder the ability of console manufacturers to fight piracy and IP theft. Unfortunately, there has historically been – and likely remains – a correlation between IP infringement and some parts of the independent electronics repair sector.
- ‘Planned product obsolescence’ is not relevant to video games and does not provide a rationale for right to repair in our sector. Similarly, due to the lengthy life-cycle, durability-centred design, multi-purpose use, long-term resale value, and ease of environmentally-friendly disposal of consoles, there are no environmental reasons in our sector for a right to repair policy either.
- Nevertheless, there remains an independent and freely-operating repair market that co-exists with console manufacturers, and neither IGEA nor the manufacturers are aware of any concerns that have been raised by third-party repairers, publicly or privately, about competition issues.
The Commission must take an evidence-driven approach in its inquiry, including on the risks of right to repair, and if it concludes that the Government should consider a right, this right should not be broad but narrow and focused on areas of legitimate and proven concern. If needed, we welcome further discussion with the Commission about any issues that it identifies during its consultation, and how Government can work with industry to address them.
More information on the inquiry can be found here: https://www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/current/repair.