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John Deere and General Motors says you don't own their products you purchased!

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John Deere and General Motors says you don't own their products you purchased!

Old 05-05-15, 07:22 PM
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John Deere and General Motors says you don't own their products you purchased!

http://www.wired.com/2015/04/dmca-ownership-john-deere/

It’s official: John Deere and General Motors want to eviscerate the notion of ownership. Sure, we pay for their vehicles. But we don’t own them. Not according to their corporate lawyers, anyway.

In a particularly spectacular display of corporate delusion, John Deere—the world’s largest agricultural machinery maker —told the Copyright Office that farmers don’t own their tractors. Because computer code snakes through the DNA of modern tractors, farmers receive “an implied license for the life of the vehicle to operate the vehicle.”

It’s John Deere’s tractor, folks. You’re just driving it.

Several manufacturers recently submitted similar comments to the Copyright Office under an inquiry into the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. DMCA is a vast 1998 copyright law that (among other things) governs the blurry line between software and hardware. The Copyright Office, after reading the comments and holding a hearing, will decide in July which high-tech devices we can modify, hack, and repair—and decide whether John Deere’s twisted vision of ownership will become a reality.

Over the last two decades, manufacturers have used the DMCA to argue that consumers do not own the software underpinning the products they buy—things like smartphones, computers, coffeemakers, cars, and, yes, even tractors. So, Old MacDonald has a tractor, but he owns a massive barn ornament, because the manufacturer holds the rights to the programming that makes it run.

(This is an important issue for farmers: a neighbor, Kerry Adams, hasn’t been able to fix an expensive transplanter because he doesn’t have access to the diagnostic software he needs. He’s not alone: many farmers are opting for older, computer-free equipment.)

In recent years, some companies have even leveraged the DMCA to stop owners from modifying the programming on those products. This means you can’t strip DRM off smart kitty litter boxes, install custom software on your iPad, or alter the calibration on a tractor’s engine. Not without potentially running afoul of the DMCA.

What does any of that have to do with copyright? Owners, tinkerers, and homebrew “hackers” must copy programming so they can modify it. Product makers don’t like people messing with their stuff, so some manufacturers place digital locks over software. Breaking the lock, making the copy, and changing something could be construed as a violation of copyright law.


And that’s how manufacturers turn tinkerers into “pirates”—even if said “pirates” aren’t circulating illegal copies of anything. Makes sense, right? Yeah, not to me either.

It makes sense to John Deere: The company argues that allowing people to alter the software—even for the purpose of repair—would “make it possible for pirates, third-party developers, and less innovative competitors to free-ride off the creativity, unique expression and ingenuity of vehicle software.” The pièce de résistance in John Deere’s argument: permitting owners to root around in a tractor’s programming might lead to pirating music through a vehicle’s entertainment system. Because copyright-marauding farmers are very busy and need to multitask by simultaneously copying Taylor Swift’s 1989 and harvesting corn? (I’m guessing, because John Deere’s lawyers never explained why anyone would pirate music on a tractor, only that it could happen.)

John Deere may be out of touch, but it’s not alone. Other corporations, including trade groups representing nearly every major automaker, made the same case to the Copyright Office again and again. It’s worth noting Tesla Motors didn’t join automakers in this argument, even though its cars rely heavily on proprietary software.

General Motors told the Copyright Office that proponents of copyright reform mistakenly “conflate ownership of a vehicle with ownership of the underlying computer software in a vehicle.” But I’d bet most Americans make the same conflation—and Joe Sixpack might be surprised to learn GM owns a giant chunk of the Chevy sitting in his driveway.

Other automakers pointed out that owners who make unsanctioned modifications could alter their vehicles in bad ways. They could tweak them to go faster. Or change engine parameters to run afoul of emissions regulations.

They’re right. That could happen. But those activities are (1) already illegal, and (2) have nothing to do with copyright. If you’re going too fast, a cop should stop you—copyright law shouldn’t. If you’re dodging emissions regulations, you should pay EPA fines—not DMCA fines. And the specter of someone doing something illegal shouldn’t justify shutting down all the reasonable and legal modifications people can make to the things they paid for.

GM went so far as to argue locking people out helps innovation. That’s like saying locking up books will inspire kids to be innovative writers, because they won’t be tempted to copy passages from a Hemingway novel. Meanwhile, outside of Bizarroland, actual technology experts—including the Electronic Frontier Foundation—have consistently labeled the DMCA an innovation killer. They insist that, rather than stopping content pirates, language in the DMCA has been used to stifle competition and expand corporate control over the life (and afterlife) of products.

“The bad part is, my sense is, these companies are just locking up this technology, and increasing the sort of monopoly pricing structure that just doesn’t work for us,” Brian Talley, a farmer on California’s central coast, says of restrictions placed on his equipment. I toured his farm with a fellow from the Intellectual Property & Technology Law Clinic so we could tell the Copyright Office how manufacturers are hampering farmers. “We are used to operating independently, and that’s one of the great things about being a farmer. And in this particular space, they are really taking that away from us.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Intellectual Property & Technology Law Clinic, and the Digital Right to Repair Coalition (Disclaimer: I’m a founding member of the Coalition.) are fighting to preserve the notion of ownership. We’re trying to open the floodgates of information. To let owners investigate the code in their devices. To modify them for better functionality. To repair them, even without the blessing of manufacturer.

Thankfully, we aren’t alone. There’s a backlash against the slow creep of corporate product control.

Earlier this year, consumers sent 40,000 comments to the Copyright Office—all of them urging the restoration of ownership rights. The year before, consumers and activists forced a law through Congress that made it legal to unlock a cellphone and move it to a different carrier.

This week, Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Jared Polis will introduce the “Breaking Down Barriers to Innovation Act of 2015, which would substantially improve the DMCA process. Lawmakers in Minnesota and New York have introduced “Fair Repair” legislation that assert an owner’s right to repair electronic equipment they’ve purchased. They want equal access to repair information, replacement parts, and security updates.

Of course, taking back the stuff that we own won’t be easy. Corporations have better lobbyists than the rest of us. And, somehow, the notion of actually owning the things you buy has become revolutionary.

It doesn’t have to be. Tell the Copyright Office to side with consumers when it decides which gadgets are legal to modify and repair. Urge lawmakers to support legislation like the Unlocking Technology Act and the Your Own Devices Act, because we deserve the keys to our own products. And support Fair Repair legislation.

If you bought it, you should own it—simple as that. It’s time corporate lawyers left the bullshit to the farmers, who actually need it.
I find this fascinating, particularly because I hadn't heard of it and it affects us all. I was told that the real reason for this from Deere, etc., is that it allows them to REQUIRE that all servicing, repairs, accessories, etc. be done through John Deere. That's where a lot of the money comes from.

But it seems that some day in the future, we won't actually get to own anything, just have a license to use it.
Old 05-05-15, 07:43 PM
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Re: John Deere and General Motors says you don't own their products you purchased!

So the next time I crash a GM vehicle, can I sue the ever loving shit out of them since I was in their property at the time?
Old 05-05-15, 07:48 PM
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Re: John Deere and General Motors says you don't own their products you purchased!

Actually if the fault was in the vehicle, by that point, you could probably could. Cuz if the software is there.. then by proxy the frame of the vehicle isn't yours either.
Old 05-05-15, 07:54 PM
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Re: John Deere and General Motors says you don't own their products you purchased!

Originally Posted by Solid Snake View Post
Actually if the fault was in the vehicle, by that point, you could probably could. Cuz if the software is there.. then by proxy the frame of the vehicle isn't yours either.
But if my dumb ass slips on your front porch I can sue you. What if my dumb ass steps on the gas instead of the brake in GM's car? I was in GM's car, just as much as I was walking on your front porch.
Old 05-05-15, 07:59 PM
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Re: John Deere and General Motors says you don't own their products you purchased!

Time to test it out, motherfucker.
Old 05-05-15, 08:15 PM
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Re: John Deere and General Motors says you don't own their products you purchased!

It's like Ferrari, they exert ownership all the time.

http://mashable.com/2014/08/30/ferra...se-and-desist/

If you go against them, they'll black list you.
Old 05-05-15, 08:22 PM
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Re: John Deere and General Motors says you don't own their products you purchased!

Dear John Deere,

Many (if not...all?) of your parts are made in China. That software is being communicated by Chinese-made chips. Continue to play this game, however.

P.S. I personally prefer Kubota.

Best Regards,

DVD Polizei

P.S.S. Tell your lawyers to stop sniffing Monsanto soy bean crops. They can bring on severe delusion episodes.
Old 05-05-15, 08:27 PM
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Re: John Deere and General Motors says you don't own their products you purchased!

Mods, please move this post to the Farm Talk section.
Old 05-05-15, 08:27 PM
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Re: John Deere and General Motors says you don't own their products you purchased!

Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
But it seems that some day in the future, we won't actually get to own anything, just have a license to use it.
Possibly, but by that time, I think affordable technology will allow us to make whatever we want, Chinese knock-offs will continue to replace Asshole American Companies.

Make it harder to obtain a product and you'll find an awesome black market just waiting to take your money for pennies on the dollar.
Old 05-05-15, 09:29 PM
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Re: John Deere and General Motors says you don't own their products you purchased!

There has been a follow-up to this story. Independent repair shops will be allowed into the software. That was a concern, because a mechanic has to have access to the computerized settings to do repairs on modern vehicles. Even the tire shop wouldn't be able to put on different size tires and aftermarket wheels if they didn't have access.

The problem is that since cars have been open-source since the beginning, people think that the manufacturers are happy to keep it that way. Why would they? Closed-source can make a person very, very rich.

Last edited by Nick Danger; 05-05-15 at 09:35 PM.
Old 05-06-15, 12:07 AM
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Re: John Deere and General Motors says you don't own their products you purchased!

So buy the red tractor and a Ford/Honda/etc. Money talks, bullshit walks.
Old 05-06-15, 12:33 AM
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Re: John Deere and General Motors says you don't own their products you purchased!

Originally Posted by covenant View Post
It's like Ferrari, they exert ownership all the time.

http://mashable.com/2014/08/30/ferra...se-and-desist/

If you go against them, they'll black list you.
With that type of corporate behavior, I'm never going buy a Ferrari. Never ever.
Old 05-06-15, 12:57 AM
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Re: John Deere and General Motors says you don't own their products you purchased!

Originally Posted by covenant View Post
It's like Ferrari, they exert ownership all the time.

http://mashable.com/2014/08/30/ferra...se-and-desist/

If you go against them, they'll black list you.
I never knew Ferrari was Italian for "Assholes".
Old 05-06-15, 07:15 AM
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Re: John Deere and General Motors says you don't own their products you purchased!

I thought these type of threads weren't allowed here. Doesn't hacking the software of vehicles come under the some provision of copyright as hacking the copy protection of digital media?
Old 05-06-15, 07:34 AM
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Re: John Deere and General Motors says you don't own their products you purchased!

I would never want to own a GM product anyway so this sounds fine to me.
Old 05-06-15, 08:36 AM
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Re: John Deere and General Motors says you don't own their products you purchased!

John Deere software is HORRIBLE. My dad and his partner have spent tens of thousands on it, and while it ultimately does what intended, it's not at all user friendly...particularly for guys 50+ who make up the vast majority of farmers in the heartland.

IMO there's a huge market out there for a 3rd party technology...which is probably why they will fight hard to disallow it.
Old 05-06-15, 10:47 AM
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Re: John Deere and General Motors says you don't own their products you purchased!

Originally Posted by rw2516 View Post
I thought these type of threads weren't allowed here. Doesn't hacking the software of vehicles come under the some provision of copyright as hacking the copy protection of digital media?
The courts recently decided you do have the right to "hack" into your own phone, so this is probably too early to tell. But if this does continue with automakers, expect it to go poorly as soon as one company starts to advertise, "You buy it, you own it!" against the other companies.
Old 05-06-15, 12:10 PM
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Re: John Deere and General Motors says you don't own their products you purchased!

Can we just have stuff that doesn't have "computers" inside of it? Why not make stuff that is strictly mechanical like they used to?
Old 05-06-15, 12:43 PM
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Re: John Deere and General Motors says you don't own their products you purchased!

Originally Posted by dsa_shea View Post
Can we just have stuff that doesn't have "computers" inside of it? Why not make stuff that is strictly mechanical like they used to?
To continue the farm talk .....a lot of older machinery holds its value much better than newer stuff with tons of technology, since it's so much more reliable and much cheaper to fix.

And the tractor manufacturers love everything being computerized, because the warranties cost a ton and the old non-tech savvy farmers end up paying a ton more in "repairs" (replacing chips and whatnot, rather than transmissions or whatever in the past which most owners could repair themselves).
Old 05-06-15, 01:12 PM
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Re: John Deere and General Motors says you don't own their products you purchased!

Originally Posted by Nick Danger View Post
The problem is that since cars have been open-source since the beginning, people think that the manufacturers are happy to keep it that way. Why would they? Closed-source can make a person very, very rich.
It can also stigmatize you and make your company very very poor. Competition will certainly love this idea by John Deere.
Old 05-06-15, 01:13 PM
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Re: John Deere and General Motors says you don't own their products you purchased!

Originally Posted by rw2516 View Post
I thought these type of threads weren't allowed here. Doesn't hacking the software of vehicles come under the some provision of copyright as hacking the copy protection of digital media?
John Deere hasn't complained. Yet.
Old 05-06-15, 01:48 PM
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Re: John Deere and General Motors says you don't own their products you purchased!

In a similar article a few weeks ago Tesla was actually against this but in a separate artice Tesla stated they don't want customers customizing their cars.
Old 05-06-15, 02:02 PM
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Re: John Deere and General Motors says you don't own their products you purchased!

Tesla didn't join this, and they have let most of their tech be open to public domain, similar to Android. I think they recognize that it helps innovation, which they need more of to get their cars out to everyone but John Deere don't give a shit because it isn't about innovation to succeed, it's about making the most possible money by riding that line between pissing off customers and making bank.
Old 05-06-15, 03:13 PM
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Re: John Deere and General Motors says you don't own their products you purchased!

Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
But it seems that some day in the future, we won't actually get to own anything, just have a license to use it.
This could well be the next stage of capitalism, where we don't actually own anything.

We're already sort of seeing with leased cars, and the entertainment industry where we "buy" digital content that is DRMed so that we are restricted in how we may view it (everything from Kindle books to streamed movies to comic books sold on Comixology).

How long before all of our appliances are wi-fi enabled, and we have to pay a small monthly fee to use our microwave ovens and refrigerators? Or pay Whirlpool for every load of laundry we wash? It's the DIVX model writ large.
Old 05-06-15, 03:33 PM
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Re: John Deere and General Motors says you don't own their products you purchased!

Originally Posted by Josh-da-man View Post
It's the DIVX model writ large.
The past tense of write is wrote, not writ. Damn you dumb.

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