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Tech by VICE

Nikon Will No Longer Authorize Anyone to Repair Its Cameras

Nikon is making it harder to repair its cameras, 'the canary in the coal mine' for the right-to-repair movement.

by Matthew Gault
Dec 10 2019, 3:43pm

Image: Getty Images

According to iFixit, Camera maker Nikon is ending its authorized repair program in early 2020. Nikon’s cameras cost upwards of $1,500, so when they break, users want to fix them as easily and conveniently as possible. But Nikon has told the more than a dozen repair shops across the United States that it won’t renew their agreements after March 31, 2020. Soon, if a customer wants their camera repaired officially, they’ll have to ship it to one of Nikon’s two American repair facilities and wait.

Nikon explained the change in a letter to repair stores that was obtained by iFixit. “The climate in which we do business has evolved, and Nikon Inc. must do the same,” Nikon said in the letter, explaining it would “change the manner in which we make product service available to our end user customers.”

The change has been a long time coming. In 2012, Nikon stopped selling replacement parts to third party repair stores.

“The technology underlying today’s cameras is more complex than it has ever been, and in view of the specialization of technology as well as the specialized tools that are now necessary to perform repairs on the complex equipment, Nikon Inc. has decided that it will no longer make repairs parts available for purchase by repair facilities that have not been authorized by Nikon Inc. to perform camera repairs,” Nikon said at the time.

Stores either had to sign on to become an authorized dealer, stop repairing Nikon cameras, or source replacement parts through third parties. Only the stores Nikon had authorized to make repairs could purchase official parts. According to iFixit, only 15 such stores remain in the United States, and soon they won’t be able to purchase parts at all. “Cameras are the canary in the coal mine,” Nathan Proctor—the head of USPIRG’s Right to Repair Campaign—told Motherboard in an email.

“What is happening to camera repair shows why our work on Right to Repair is so urgent. When the manufacturer can dictate the terms of repair, they can block competition, reduce options, while increasing consumer wait times and costs,” Proctor said. “Right now, it's happening to camera repair, but it will happen to device after device unless we stand up.”

Many electronic manufacturers don’t want people to repair their own stuff. Apple recently told Congress that people would hurt themselves if they repaired their own stuff. Proctor, iFixit, and a collection of independent repair stores and businesses are fighting for right-to-repair in state legislatures across the country. Democratic Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have both called for national right-to-repair laws.

Nikon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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