STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
John Deere's Weird Idea of 'Ownership'
By Philippe Gastonne - April 28, 2015

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. – Wired, April 21, 2015

Property rights are the cornerstone of a free society. They were already under attack long before John Deere started computerizing farm tractors. Usually the attackers are from some level of government, but large corporations are joining the fun.

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. – Wired, http://www.wired.com/2015/04/dmca-ownership-john-deere/ April 21, 2015

Property rights are the cornerstone of a free society. They were already under attack long before John Deere started computerizing farm tractors. Usually the attackers are from some level of government, but large corporations are joining the fun.

Yet the corporate attacks typically use politically created weapons. John Deere relies on the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act to claim that the farmers who "buy" its tractors possess only the physical machinery, not the software that makes it run.

Not coincidentally, normal maintenance is almost impossible without access to this software. This effectively forces farmers to keep paying John Deere for the tractor long after they supposedly gained ownership of it.

Some farmers try to avoid this extortion by hacking their own tractors. John Deere claims this is illegal under the DMCA law and is asking the Copyright Office to stop it.

John Deere is not the only company to make this argument. As Wired points out, every major automobile manufacturer takes this same position. (Tesla is the only exception.)

General Motors is particularly passionate about its "intellectual property" claims. Wired writer Kyle Wiens dismisses their arguments.

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.

Bingo. If you want to promote innovation, you allow people with different ideas to try them. That's how regular cars grew into souped-up dragsters. Owners tinkered, modified and created something new and different.

GM and John Deere now seek to make this kind of innovation impossible. Their real goal is to eliminate competition, and they are using political power to do it. They may succeed, too – for now.

This kind of behavior incentivizes innovative people to find different platforms. A few rebel farmers are right now asking themselves why they need John Deere or any other kind of tractor at all. Breakthroughs in LED lighting technology combined with renewable energy are making large-scale indoor farming more cost-effective for some crops.

By using copyright laws to make its tractors more expensive and less useful, John Deere may be planting the seeds of its own destruction.

Stopping a few hackers is easy. Stopping human innovation is impossible. Those who try it always get what they deserve.

Posted in STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
  • cosmos110

    Very good story

    I strongly disagree that they get what they deserve. Allow me to fill in that blank and we’d see the halls of congress empty.

    Over 400,000 federal laws press down on me daily and that’s in addition to another 4,500 federal regulations, and if I go afoul of the least of them, I get what I don’t deserve and plenty of it.
    …………………………….

  • Akzent

    “…Property rights are the cornerstone of a free society….”

    You very elegantly put the reality upside down. The opposite is true, more or less. Property makes only these “free” who own property. What is with the rest? Should they be slaves their whole life?

    And what, when the banksters of God have grabbed the whole world with their fraud money monopoly, perhaps next year or in five years?

    I just today heard again a video with Joan Veon about Public Private Partnership (PPP) which goes exactly in the same direction. If the public won’t own their water system anymore the have pay until they die – because someone else “owns” it resp. has the ownership rights.

    Why is so hard to understand that NO ownership is the key to a free mankind?

    Besides, what Deere wants is of course just more profit for the corporations. And one of the new magic words is Cradle to Cradle, basically a good idea but perverted like all good thinks for more profits for the banksters.

    NO ownership means to go together, ownership means: DO WHAT I SAY, SLAVE! And the cheapest is the best and slaughter each other but don’t touch my property – which I once robbed or have inherited or otherwise stolen ….

    Deere’s proposal is also to see under the Agenda 21 that is about to come big time and give all property to foundations etc. – that seem to be God given – so that they can “do good” like uncle Gates “let’s vaccinate africa to death” foundation – and besides make the owner of the foundations richer than ever. It’s all fraud, ALL!

    • Bill Ross

      “Property makes only these “free” who own property”

      Really? Property rights MEANS YOU OWN YOU. You can trade YOUR labor and produce at mutually agreed rates for REAL property, such as possessions and land, assuming the rationalizing (abuse of “law”) predators who tax and steal YOUR property can be AGAIN effectively dealt with.

      and, you can only be free if YOU take personal responsibility and rebuff those (including the fool in YOUR head) who ACTS otherwise.

    • DWS

      “Why is so hard to understand that NO ownership is the key to a free mankind?”

      That’s a very juvenile sentiment. It doesn’t take take very deep level of thought to come to the problem of use and disposal. Who exactly gets to decide who uses and disposes of what goods? And how? And when? And to what extent? You, Akzent? What about your labor? What’s that worth if you don’t own yourself and by extension your labor?

      Typical childish bs, “Well on paper, communism is ideal…”.

    • Samarami

      Akzent: “…Why is so hard to understand that NO ownership is the key to a free mankind?…”

      And who, pray tell, will “enforce” the “policy” or “law” (or whatever) that outlines, or dictates “…NO ownership…”??? This, in fact, underscores my ongoing lament that “anarchist theory” is poppycock pure and simple. Sam

      • Samarami

        And now I’d like to add one more thought to my above comment to Akzent: The key, my dear friend, to a free mankind is when I become free. I am free.

        So, I’m happy to announce that mankind is now free. Enjoy. Sam

    • Bill Ross

      “NO ownership”

      You forget “tragedy of the commons” AND those who control the state will inevitably claim control of ALL property, for “your own good”, resulting in political as opposed to economic overlords.

      AND, the late not so great evil empire. USSR tried this fraud. Result? “If you pretend to pay is, we will pretend to work”, social / economic collapse, just as in the west, a bit delayed because the predators were busy dealing with USSR. Now that that impediment is removed, they are free to focus and prey on US. Aint freedom grand?

      • sharpin la

        It goes even deeper than that – the same interests that subverted Russia have been subverting the US for decades. Game almost over.

        And they are and were not native Russian sons.

        • Bill Ross

          Russia / USSR / China (communism) Germany (Nazis) were suckered by the banksters, a fraud we are also confronting.

          • Spot-on Bill – simple as that!

          • john cummins

            Yes, yes, and…yes… even back to Stinkin’ Linkin’s time period

      • john cummins

        Yes and a fraud brought on in reality via the Feds over here. Look at the financing of Lenin by Julian Hammer (an NYC illegal abortionist), the father of Algore’s Dad’s buddy, Armand Hammer.

    • The natural laws which exist without the rule of man are fundamental, determined by nature, and are therefore universal in their application. The core of natural law in relation to human social order is that a man has the right to his own being, that is: to own himself, he is his own property.

      If people have property in themselves, their own body, it follows that they too have property in the physical product of their endeavours. The work they do they own, that which they exchange their work for becomes their own, that which they own and then work on, develop and add value to, is theirs too. The land they buy with the product of their labour or unencumbered homestead, they own. A man can dictate what happens to property he owns, so long as it does not harm the property of others, but a man cannot dictate what happens to property he does not own except where it is causing harm to his property.

      Since it is invalid for any individual or group of individuals to rule over any other individual or group of individuals (who are not harming your property) the solution, by default, must simply be that ‘nobody should rule anybody’ and to therefore end the cult belief in the false paradigm of ‘the state’.

      • sharpin la

        Where did man get the land to sell to someone else? He surely did not create it from his own labor and effort. Who decided he gets the existing land to then sell to others who pay for it with the fruits of their labor? So he profits from no effort whatsoever? Just like the fractional reserve lending behemoth – financial alchemy, creating something from nothing: Debt.

        • Land which is unencumbered, where it exists, can rightly be homesteaded, that is if it is not already owned it can found, worked on, developed and so value added. Sticking a flag in the ground and walking away is not sufficient, sticking a flag in the ground and then using the land constantly and productively is.

          • Bill Ross

            plus “prepared to defend, at all costs”

      • john cummins

        Actually, they are determined by God, the original private property rights owner, and owner of all. Once you get that straight all else follows. The core of freedom is private property.

        • Everything we understand is seen to operate in a predictable rational manner: is natural.

          Everything we do not yet understand, once we do understand, will also be found to be natural.

          Everything must have either a point of origin or be infinite.

          Everything that is not infinite must originate through a natural process, a natural system.

          This natural system, from which everything originates, must be infinite.

          ‘Everything’ includes the present universe and whatever caused it.

          Logically all things flow from an infinite natural source (even one outside of the bounds of time and science as we vaguely understand it to be) this source must be consistent in producing a variety of causes and those causes produce consistent effects.

          Nothing can be ‘supernatural’ for, if it exists, it must be natural albeit outside of our ability to conceptualise – including an omnipotent all seeing, perpetual, multi-faceted mechanism of creation (knock yourself out and call that prospect God if it makes you happy) that has a rational far beyond our comprehension and of which we have no absolutely evidence of! That sounds like a rational form of atheism to me.

          • Bill Ross

            … therefore, you ARE

          • john cummins

            Glad you can understand…yourself!

          • Of cause you don’t understand it – its logic.

          • Bill Ross

            better to ask why. Learn better “argumentation”. JC no fool

          • Nothing temping there for me thanks nonetheless

  • If I sell you a poem, for example, am I entitled to do so only if I can agree a contract with you that says: ‘you must not copy it, give it to anybody else or make any changes to it’. It is then just up to you if you want my poem under my terms or not.

    We have ‘the state’ unnecessary mixed-up in this lock-down of so called ‘intellectual property’ such as poetry but, if there was no state, I could still make a contract with you setting out my terms of sale which, if you broke, I would be entitled to seek compensation from you, not for violating my ‘property rights’, because words to be read and spoken (or the same electrons on a hard-drive) are not definable in reality as physical property, but because of your breaching of the terms of my obligatory contract you accepted when purchasing my poem.

    In reality, of cause, it could be difficult for a poet, in a stateless society, to ascertain who is liable for a breach of contract when one of his poems is being widely circulated off-contract. But it is up to the poet to design a business model that works – perhaps unique poems for each client ensuring accountability in some way.

    The confusion is because the fiction that is ‘the state’ invents a secondary fiction inaccurately called ‘intellectual property’ as a one size fits all ready made system of implied contractual undertaking for the buyers of goods and services that include such ‘implemented creative work’.

    • Samarami

      I ceased using the term and whining about “rights” some years ago. I have no “rights” — property or otherwise. If I do not defend my property I will lose my property. And if I do not guard and defend my serenity I will lose my serenity.

      I make choices. There are many, many individuals standing in the wings who appear to have no greater interests in life than to interfere with the choices I make. Sidestepping and circumnavigating those intrusions into my life and the lives of those I love is MY responsibility — nobody else’s. Surprisingly, that is not as difficult a feat as I had originally imagined. Collectivists are a rather stupid lot. If you possess a collectivist mentality I pride myself in my ability to bamfoozle you and the horse you rode in on.

      But I’m 80, my 7 kids are all grown and successful, as are many of my 25 grandkids. So you might say I “…have it made…” However, if gettin’ old is “having it made” I’m encouraging all reading this to consider the alternative :-).

      • Bill Ross

        totally correct. No such thing as “undefended rights” and, when your “employees” (public servants) put on airs pretending to be “masters”, well, defending YOUR rights becomes YOUR job (if you want rights) and, whining (no action) is FUTILE.

        BTW, the law (Nuremberg Principles) states YOU and your entire country will be collectively punished, should YOU fail to counter tyranny and unleash it on the world, as were the Germans for the Nazi “faux pas” and their failure to oppose.

        • john cummins

          Oh, and it is your right to defend your rights, in reality, this is called 2nd amendment, but it is firmly based upon Old Testament law (which is still in force)

          • Bill Ross

            great! Gonna be a lot of “eyes and teeth” lost and returned to their rightful owners.

      • john cummins

        You didn’t build that serenity, the government did! And, at this point, what does it matter?

      • I think there needs to be a distinction drawn between ‘legal rights’ and ‘natural rights’. A legal right is a fiction and no more truthful than any other diktat of a ruler. Man, conversely, has the natural right to his own being, that is: to own himself, he is his own property. That is indeed ultimately enforced by no other than himself. That is common between all of mankind, is not man-made but is innate, or natural, within human nature.

        • Samarami

          I own myself. Exclusively. Nobody has even an “interest”, let alone any kind of “mortgage” on me.

          Thus, I do not claim a “right-of-self-ownership”. I don’t NEED a “right” — natural or otherwise. I have already made the choice to own myself. Anyone challenging that is a dangerous intruder. There are plenty of those around — including some calling themselves “libertarians” and even “anarchists”.

          Not only that, but I am a sovereign state. With a legislature of 1 — me. I am my representative. Sui juris. I am not a “citizen” — I am “the people” (personage of 1).

          You might say I is the Grand Wizard of the Klan (Klan = me). Sam

          • Are you right to think that you own yourself, do you really own yourself, exclusively? Are you confident that nobody else has even an “interest”, let alone any kind of “mortgage” on you. Is it just your wacky way of thinking? I think not, I think you are right. And, what is more, I think that fundamentally everybody, in their core, feels the same so too, even if they do not consciously understand the point or consider to express it. But are we all right to feel that way or are we all misleading ourselves? I think not. I think we are correct, we are spot-on, we are right. It is a right.

            This is not something that you need to ‘claim’, this is not some badge awarded by an ‘authority’ to be worn to protect from infringement. This is not a choice. It exists without the person making the choice, it exists despite the individual believing in or understanding the fact. The only right of an individual is to self-ownership and that right is universal and inalienable.

  • Bill Ross

    If our machines, property or anything becomes our enemies we will not buy them and, if forced upon us, WILL destroy them.

    human nature = survive, remove impediments therof.

  • Bill Ross

    should point out, as an engineer, I “take ownership” of what I design during the design process AND, my focus it totally on meeting customer wants / needs. When “done”, I relinquish ownership / control, to the new “owners”, those who contracted me.

    There ARE two problems here:

    1 – design engineers not fully representing / respecting customer wants / needs / rights

    2 – manufacturers being coerced to add “hooks” to steal customer control / privacy of their property, much as has happened to the communications and computing industries.

    • john cummins

      It’s the lawyers and other similar leaches that ruin it for the rest of us…

      • Bill Ross

        No, its us, by tolerating their predations and giving time of day to their sophistry / rationalizations “to prey”. All of their inane babbling is seeking “sanction of the victim” as Rand put it.

  • Danny B

    Some years ago, Caterpillar decided to tightly control the software for their engines. You have to bring it to Cat to get it worked on. I sent a Freightliner ’95 to Cat for a major tune up. It is only a 180 hp. engine. They charged $ 9,000. It’s almost impossible to sell a truck if it has a Cat engine. EVERYBODY turned their backs on Cat. It got so bad that Cat had to manufacture their own trucks for the vocational market. They also manufacture their own automatic transmission where Allison used to be the only choice. NOBODY will spec a truck with a Cat engine. Cat figured they would get around this by selling a complete truck. You can’t escape a bad reputation. Cat now says that they are facing a second great depression in business. NOBODY wants a Cat engine no matter what truck surrounds it.
    Deere will lose market share to Komatsu and Fiat-Allis, etc. I have 2 JDs but, nothing with a computer.

    Ag is going to go into some BIG changes. JD better get with the program.
    http://www.energeticforum.com/274524-post1.html

    • sharpin la

      True free markets are the only solution. The market dictated to Cat what it wanted.

      Just like the market has told McDonald’s what it doesn’t want – they are closing 900 stores; meanwhile Chipotle, McDonald’s former holding, just announced they are now completely GMO-free. Their sales are doing very well.

      When you are operating for “synergistic” profit purposes versus the demands of the market you will ultimately fail in grand style, unless you can use government regulation toward your own interests, that is, as is done daily in DC using industry lobbyists.

      These corporatists hate true free markets and competition – they feel they are deserving of monopoly status, which statism can deliver.

  • 2prickit

    The landfill located on the east-side of my little town is growing much, much taller; I say is growing because of the habits of this here local population and the desires of the national corporation that owns the land-fill site and its monopoly contract with the city/county. The rate for residential use, the entrance fee to dump a pickup load or trailer suddenly doubled; that is from a basic rate of $5.00 to $10.00. Who says they can do that without asking me? Well apparently the city council did: buckle they do like all politicians won’t tell you they do. Nonetheless, even in this 2009 economy that we’re still suffering presently, the site is developing rapidly: roads lead up to an elevation that overlooks the panorama to the west; a picture perfect view of the tall snowcapped Sierra Nevada mountain range. Ready for the next housing boom? One of those lots will probably fetch more than I’m willing to imagine, even though the corporation gets it for the taking.

    They are of the many feudal rulers of the prevailing times; the epoch of the corporate welfare state- established in 1789 in Washington DC—not going to change too soon. Recommended reading: the original North West Ordinance: that land was given to those states as defined north of the Ohio and West to the Mississippi River. That gave States the very land that their boundaries circumscribed, for to do with as each state saw fit. That’s what the present US Constitution fundamentally disagrees with and that was well before the 1861-65 mess. Central planning has been here for a long long time.

    • john cummins

      I’d put greenhouses on the landfill and tap the methane…

      • 2prickit

        Like prisons: convert human excrement to fuel to power the prison complex? Totaly feudalistic; beg your pardon, I should, more properly say, Futuristic. And also, there is a special pit for dead animals on site. Maybe they have designs to create a take-off of La Brea Tar pits near Los Angles, California; quite a tourist attraction.

  • Joelg

    This is what you get when the U.S. Congress, both Senate and House of Representatives, act like a House of Whores soliciting money. The 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act is only one of many favors bestowed on campaign donors. On the international level, a parallel is playing out, like with Hilary’s travels as Sec. of State and TPP.

    I would imagine Open Source engines etc. would be the next logical step. Perhaps China, Russia et al. will seize the initiative. Like the Tyrannical King, the Tyrannical Corporation will after much angst and disruption eventually be changed.

    Perhaps time to change the law (DCMA)? At the very least, when the candidates debate they should be asked about this.

  • sharpin la

    It’s so easy to advance the interests of a special interest group while distracting people with the complaints or machinations of other special interest groups in costume.

    This is fascism not communism. But it continues because we have a “communist” president, you see ;), because it clearly cannot be fascism…

    Same way Bush expanded the size and scope of the federal government but it was OK because, you know, he was a republican and they are for small government. So no matter how much he expanded it, his water carriers didn’t notice.

    They finally figured out how to get all their plans achieved by relying on the lack of critical thinkers amongst the masses of supporters for both the Ds, and the Rs.

    So let’s clear things up now – they are all fascists.

    • john cummins

      The labels don’t, frankly, matter, it’s all totalitarianism and to the extreme far left on any reasonable political spectrum.

  • john cummins

    This is similar to the statement adopted by (or stolen by) the Faux POTUS, “you didn’t build that business”. It is, frankly, getting tiresome!

  • sharpin la

    Just so everyone knows, you don’t own your house either unless you are fortunate enough to have an allodial title (what’s that you ask?) – we have tenement real estate law in this nation.

    Every credit card purchase or mortgaged asset is owned ultimately by the state because the social security number is owned by the state and issued to “agents of the state” and everything bought using that number is owned by the entity that owns the SS# – the state. Your credit card or mortgage application asked for your social security number for a reason.

    • Joelg

      You do own the asset, once it is paid off in the case of real estate; sometimes with qualifications like the underlying mineral and water rights. The whole point of the article is that once you have paid in full for your tractor or truck with the digital software in the engine and elsewhere, under DCMA the corporations are arguing that you still do not own the asset despite having paid in full.

      The fact that you give someone your Social Security number on a form is giving them that information, nothing more. The SS number is simply a form of identification, a branding like on cattle hides but without the same ownership connotations. Otherwise, when you default, the Social Security Administration would have to payoff your debts; many wish it were so.

      • Bill Ross

        Hah! Tell that to the revenuers who have placed a bogus lien on my fully paid home, despite my not “consenting” to “voluntary” income tax, nor, acknowledging the legal “validity” of their bureaucratic “decree of man” allegation of my “obligations” and THEIR inability to “show me that law” that states THEIR bureaucratic opinion has “force of law” or is any more valid than my contrary opinion.

        And my “public servants / employees”?

        They tell me that they WORK for the government and NOT me / us. My response: well, then let the government pay you. Not me.

        • john cummins

          exactly, and well said, what is it “our” houses are under Admiralty law or some such nonsense?

          • Bill Ross

            … and, we’ve all been press-ganged by the taxman

        • 2prickit

          For a look at successful Tax Court defense
          see: The Underground Lawyer; Michael Minns. Also, How to Survive the IRS Michael Louis Minns; 2001 Barricade Books

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAU9YhTRfSg

          • Bill Ross

            Thanks; but, they don’t follow / obey ANY rules apart from false opinion “they master, me serf”. We’ll see what they can pry from my cold, dead hands. When they actually get the cohones / stupidity to use force against me, that is when I have a REAL “case” and will physically defend. The “intellectual war” is illusionary, only one side has “reason”. Until then, its all BS bandying of opinions and idle threats.

            I won’t give them the satisfaction (and tax) of pretending this is a matter of “debate” on their slanted turf.

        • Joelg

          I had a friend whose father took the same position. The IRS waited until the father died, and then came after the mother and son who inherited the home. IRS is USA.gov and has deep pockets, and they apparently just bided their time and waited for an opportune time.

          My friend ran out of money for lawyers, and IRS took the house and him and his mother moved into an apartment before becoming homeless (living out of truck); and reluctantly (took several months of persuasion by a local socialist who believes everybody should milk government for free cell phones and everything else they can get) began collecting various government welfare checks. Sure he kept up the fight as best he could… But lost his independent business and everything else in the process. Though still believes he took the right stand.

    • perlhaqr

      It doesn’t have anything to do with Social Security numbers, or Admiralty Law, or any of the other theories I see bandied about on sites like this.

      I don’t understand why people who are so close to seeing the truth persist in propagating such tales, unless it’s the last reflexes of optimism kicking a few more times before dying completely. The last dregs of hope that something other than pure tribalist indifference accounts for this crushing of man.

      None of this “Fringe on the Flag” stuff matters. The government organizations that take people’s homes don’t do it because they’re following some arcane rulebook that lets them do so–that signing a form with one’s name printed on it in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS is somehow a ritualistic abnegation of the self–they do it because they can.

      And the reason that they can is because almost everyone in the country accepts their authority to get away with it. I suspect that if you asked a thousand people what an allodial title is, 999 of them wouldn’t know. (I happen to, because I live in New Mexico, and I know someone who actually has one from an old Spanish land grant. But even then, the only reason that it has any value at all is because the government has decided to honor them. I mean, it’s not like Spain is going to invade the US if Congress suddenly decided to start charging property tax to the folks who live in Chilili.) The other 999 of that thousand would say that it’s perfectly OK for the government, at whatever level, to charge a notional property owner an annual rent, in the form of property tax, to be allowed to continue occupation of “his” land.

      Putting your social security number of a mortgage isn’t where the government claims the authority to charge property tax from. I assure you, they’ll be just as happy to demand their “fair share” if you pay cash, or even raw unmarked bullion. And the reason they get away with it is because that 999 out of 1000 people will all react in absolute horror if you treat the tax man the way you’d treat a common mugger, simply for the fact that he’s got a government issue clown suit on.

      True property rights–allodial titles and the like–cannot properly exist in a world where less than a tenth of a percent of the people in it even realise what’s on the table.

  • WPalmer

    One day the Starbucks surfers and the permanently wired “Appleites” will have their ear-buds surgically removed, and will close Facebook to be faced with the stark reality that the world has changed, and so has their place in it whilst they were “being entertained”…
    What then…….? You may well ask.

    • john cummins

      Yes, I’m asking…

  • Bruce C.

    If JD wants to claim that the DMCA provides ownership of the physical tractor only, but not the software that runs it, then I don’t see how they can use the same law to disallow the “hacking” of the physical tractors or reverse engineering or modifications that would allow alternative code to run the machine. That seems to be the free market solution here, besides just not buying JD equipment.

    • perlhaqr

      They probably aren’t. The issue is that doing a cleanroom implementation of the software to run a JD tractor is probably beyond most farmers, or even really dedicated open-source fanatics. Please note that I don’t agree with what JD is doing here at all, but I suspect what they are using the DMCA to combat is people taking the code in their systems and decompiling it for reverse engineer purposes.

      • Bruce C.

        JD might have a case about that if it is their software that is tampered with, although that could be difficult to prove. I’m suggesting a complete replacement of the JD’s computer module with a different one. The modules are physical hardware that are owned. A different module with different code would replace the JD system.

        • perlhaqr

          Even harder to build.

          I mean, not impossible, just… very very difficult.

          • Bruce C.

            Unfortunately I don’t know the specifics and how complex JD tractors have become, and I’ve been out of the field for decades, but assuming it’s a modular system (i.e., not distributed) it’s basically a localized FSM (finite state machine) so the binary sequence for each state (or actuator) is straight forward. I wouldn’t think that creating a modular control system with those outputs would be that hard given the building blocks available. I’m not suggesting that JD’s control system be utilized. That could be mess to decode.

          • perlhaqr

            You have a good point. I know a lot more about automobiles than I do about farm tractors. And I’m guessing tractors don’t have ABS. 😉

            I do wonder if that would be illegal for other reasons, though. If you pulled all the hardware and software out of a new car, for example, and replaced it with aftermarket stuff, it would probably be illegal to operate due to EPA considerations, even if the DMCA was no longer a concern.

          • Bruce C.

            That would depend upon the aftermarket dealer. For example, California will only allow (legally) a “Stage 1” performance upgrade from Roush for Mustangs and F-150s, whereas I can legally have a Stage 3 system in Florida.

          • perlhaqr

            Right, but Roush went to a lot of effort to get their systems approved by EPA and CARB.

            If I went out and bought a new Toyota, and pulled the factory fuel injection computer and replaced it with a Megasquirt (which isn’t truly open source, but is a lot closer than the Roush equipment), I’m pretty sure that would not be legal for use on public roads.

            What you’re proposing is a lot more like the Megasquirt than the Roush setup, in terms of a DIY replacement system.

          • Bruce C.

            Sort of. Roush parts can be bought directly and installed by anyone (e.g., DIYers). Roush does not insist on installing them themselves or by any other outfit. Secondly, Megasquirt probably could obtain the bureaucratic stamps of approval if they wanted to.

            I’ve meant all along that a separate company would provide the replacement SW/HW system, like Roush. JD farm/agricultural equipment is way too big and expensive and important for DIYers. All I’m saying is that if problems like this persist (e.g, the market perceives the cost of being chained to the teat of JD is too high) or that this “business model” expands into other realms then there will eventually be alternatives. They can be fully legitimate, legal alternatives not some grey market “fix.” JD shouldn’t be able to have it both ways, and that’s the point of the article.

    • Bill Ross

      Follow the “logic” JD claims YOU own the physical tractor, including memory “chips”. So, rent them YOUR property to host THEIR software. They won’t pay rent? OK, seize THEIR software for back rent. Simple eh?

      Lawyers are such idiots if they believe their “wisdom” will long stand.

      • Bruce C.

        “Wisdom”? I doubt many are so idealistic. They are the ultimate pragmatists. I remember a student I had who said he wanted to be a lawyer because he liked to argue all sides of an issue. He didn’t care which one was right. In fact, he didn’t think any of them were any more “right” than the others. It’s probably not fair to generalize, but I don’t trust them in the most important ways.

        That said, I remember the halcyon days of more simplicity and clarity, when machines (cars) were purely mechanical. Machines were INDEPENDANT, as they should be almost by definition. There’s something weird and not good about machines and technology that make one more dependent and less free.

  • Fabian

    What if you disconnect their computer and install an iPad instead? Maybe then the tractor belongs to AAPL.

  • sleat

    This is similar to the time just before Linux emerged. IBM and Microsoft looked like they controlled the world at that time. Now Linux and clones are literally everywhere.

    There are a few open-source projects for internal combustion engine management systems. There is enough similarity between all internal combustion engines that with only a few common sensor inputs and a handful of outputs, any internal combustion engine could be optimally controlled with the right set of parameters, I.e compression ratio, valve timings, spark advance formulae and timing, injection timings, and so forth.

    You can already get complete open-source autopilots scalable for any sort of aircraft and even low-cost partially-open gas turbine engine FADEC code.

    The world will change for companies like JD.

    • Bill Ross

      translation: get uppity and form any sort of monopoly that attempts to thwart the unseen hand (or our collective choices) seeking honest value, well, you create “problems” which innovators interpret as “opportunity” and create “better” alternatives. The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

      Currently, it is a criminal conspiracy of corrupt law, states and counterfeiting banks that are “in our faces”. Adios, see you in “dustbin of history”. Waste of skin, all.

      JD is small fish, following a doomed trend.

      • Silverado

        Founded in 1837 and with a market cap of nearly $31 Billion I’m sorry but that’s NOT true. Deere and Co is a world leader in more than just farm tractors. Check em out at http://www.deere.com
        Long as people are eating I don’t think of agriculture as a “doomed trend” and you’re making a huge mistake in that direction. Farmer’s are innovators of food production and will be the new millionaires of this century. There’s the “trend” and it’s hardly doomed…

  • Praetor

    Build your own tractor on a different platform, use old tech, use old frames, use old engines, from the junkyard. I’ll help you build it, I’ve got a welder, whole lot of tools and the equipment, who are these arrogant pucks. Take your code and your tech, and shove it, plus we can grow some hemp and turn it into biofuel, to motivate the tractor down the field, screw these whack jobs. And when you harvest the food, make sure Johnny Dearest and their brain trust starves to death. When you think you’ve heard it all, you hear something else. Go to China, Johnny Dearest, who needs ya!! Your time has come and gone!! A couple of guys built an airplane in a garage, a couple of guys built the Harley in a garage, a couple of guys built Microsoft in a garage, need I say more. There be opportunity in adversity, if you got the guts. Screw Them, and now we know who THEY are.

    • RogerP77

      They won’t allow that either. They are SYSTEMATICALLY cutting off all escape routes. They just haven’t finished the job yet.

  • Richard Greenfield

    That’s why I run my farm with two Farmall Tractors — a 1953 Farmall M for the heavy work and a 1950 Farmall Cub for cultivating. No electronics. Simple machines. At 62 and 65 years old, they still run fine and do their job. And you don’t need a computer specialist to keep them going.

    • RogerP77

      Soon they will be made illegal. That is also part of the plan. We can’t have ANYONE but the elite owning ANYTHING.

    • Samarami

      I’m thinking you can still completely rebuild the motor on the M for under 200 federal reserve notes in parts — maybe considerably under if you can grind the valves and seats yourself. Sam

      • Richard Greenfield

        It’s a piece of cake to work on. Even doing a clutch job — while not as easy as it is to do on a John Deere A because you have to split the tractor in half — is still not a very tough job to do.

        • Samarami

          Of course there are a few implements the Farmall M or the John Deere A won’t handle well,

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UduuW9v-2zk

          and I think this is where Philippe Gastonne’s article was focused.

          Sam

          • Richard Greenfield

            We, of course, are getting way off the original subject, but it’s been fun. You are absolutely correct. Neither the Farmall M or the John Deere A would be able to handle a 54 row, 90 foot wide corn planter like the one in the video but they could certainly pull a six row planter with ease. And 9 Farmall M’s and 9 six row planters would cost a hell of a lot less than one of those modern monsters.

          • Samarami

            Plus, could you imagine planting the point-rows with the 90′ job??? Yegads!

  • RogerP77

    You don’t understand. This is all according to plan. In order to bring in an Agenda 21/ Hunger Games world, were only the elite can own ANYTHING you have to systematically strip the previous owners of all of their rights. In other words, the plan is that they own EVERYTHING and we are all just renters, serfs. A world were a tiny few own EVERYTHING and control EVERYTHING and we are utterly impoverished endlessly paying for things we will never own EVER. Let that sink in because that is what they are bringing in.

    This is the idea behind the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) and the other “trade treaties” (TTIP, TAFTA, etc.). It is about using copyright laws so that , in effect, you OWN nothing but are simply making endless payments on it. You are LICENSING it like most software today. Forever paying for it but it is NEVER yours. Hence, the kill switches in all modern electronics such as cell phones and cars. It can be made ineffective at ANY time for ANY reason. Exactly as planned all along. Also, they can endlessly tax you and so steal ever more of your money such as the tracker boxes in all cars built since 2004 (at least). They want ALL of the money!! Agenda 21.

  • dave jr

    Lets not forget that engine manufacturers (JD included) have huge investments in the software running their engines also because of ongoing, tightening, government (EPA) regulation. I am not as familiar with the tier IV requirements, for off road use, but I am for on-road equipment. Caterpillar for example (Danny B), refused to clobber their engines with EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) valves and tried to meet emission requirements through software programming they called ACCERT technology. They couldn’t quite meet specification and paid EPA fines of up to $8000 per every engine sold, for over a couple of years. When it became apparent that the EPA wasn’t going to back down or be successfully challenged, CAT withdrew their product from the on-road market. It was a top performer and will be missed. The CAT vocational truck btw, is a partnership with Navistar that manufactures it with the CAT label and a few CAT driveline components installed.
    .
    I am not defending JD but I do understand that when a company has millions invested in their proprietary technology, which is required to meet government demands, they are going to protect it. I can understand if a manufacturer warns me that tinkering with the software will void the warranty. But I don’t understand the market place bullying stance, like Monsanto, that large manufacturers are increasingly taking towards their customers. What’s next? Terminator tractors? Using software for planned obsolesce? Maybe I shouldn’t give them any ideas.

  • Tom

    There are other brands on the market. Indeed, there are brands from China and S. Korea. John Deere and the others can sh*t on their customers just once. Then their party’s over.

  • John Bull

    The problem with American corporations and the American government is Americans. Want a change? Vote for someone, anyone ,not part of the party system. Want responsible banks? Change to a credit union. Want to actually own your car? Then simply do not buy GM. The agrarian man is dead so corporations buy JD any way. The reason America looks stupid to the world is because it is.

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