Right-to-Repair Activists Take on McDonald's, Petition for Legal Access to Infamously Unreliable Ice Cream Machines

A coalition of right-to-repair activists is petitioning the U.S. government for the legal right to hack and repair McDonald’s notoriously unreliable ice cream machines.

404 Media reports that a group spearheaded by iFixit and the nonprofit organization Public Knowledge has taken the fight for repair rights in a delicious new direction — fast-food ice cream machines. The coalition has formally petitioned the Librarian of Congress, seeking permission to hack into McDonald’s McFlurry machines for the purpose of repair. “This is a request to expand the repair exemption for consumer electronic devices to include commercial industrial equipment such as automated building management systems and industrial equipment,” the petition states.

McDonald's ice cream cones

McDonald’s ice cream cones (anthcheung/Pixabay)

The group took the time to dissect a Taylor ice cream machine, the brand used in McDonald’s restaurants around the country, to understand why these machines are so prone to malfunction. The teardown revealed that the machines often overheat and give error codes that are “nonsensical, counterintuitive, and seemingly random,” making them difficult to repair.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) currently restricts unauthorized access to software, including the software that runs these ice cream machines. Taylor, the manufacturer, holds exclusive service contracts with McDonald’s franchises, effectively monopolizing the repair market for these machines.

The petition aims to secure a DMCA exemption that would allow McDonald’s franchises and third-party repair professionals to legally work on these machines. “Commercial ice cream machines, such as the Taylor manufactured ice cream machines used by McDonald’s, frequently fall into disrepair when its daily pasteurization cycle fails. Circumventing the digital lock on the software would enable owners and repair professionals to diagnose and perform the necessary repairs to get these devices back up and running,” the petition elaborates.

The petition comes at a time when Taylor is embroiled in a lawsuit with a company that created a device capable of reading and interpreting the machine’s error codes. Breitbart News previously reported on the company’s lawsuit against McDonald’s, which attempts to prevent franchisees from using the device.

The startup firm Kytch, which invented a device to fix McDonald’s infamously broken and glitchy ice cream machines, has sued the fast-food giant for $900 million.  Fighting back against the chain’s attacks on their product, a Kytch cofounder said: They’ve tarnished our name. They scared off our customers and ruined our business. They were anti-competitive. They lied about a product that they said would be released.”

Breitbart News will continue to reporet on the right-to-repair movement.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan


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