John Deere opposes US states' proposals for right to repair


In October 2017, the farm equipment manufacturer John Deere began requiring American farmers to sign an agreement forbidding almost all repair and modification of the equipment they buy and also preventing them from suiting for software-related problems. In response, the began hacking their John Deere tractors with internet-sourced Ukrainian firmware in order to circumvent the restrictions. Farmers, who have traditionally had the ability to repair their own equipment, view the restrictions as an attack on their sovereignty and a potential existential threat to their livelihood if a tractor breaks down at the wrong moment. Farmers also fear that the company could remotely shut down a tractor without their consent or could decide to cease supporting older models when new ones become available. Third-party mechanics can install parts, but must pay Deere  $230 plus $130 an hour for a technician to drive to the shop and authorise the part by plugging a connector into the machine's USB port. Proposed legislation in Nebraska and other states, which John Deere opposes, would grant purchasers of farm equipment the right to repair. In 2015, the Librarian of Congress approved an exception to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act for land vehicles, including tractors, that allows modification of computer programs embedded in land vehicles in order to enable repair, diagnostics, or lawful modification.
Writer: Jason Koebler

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