John Deere, the world’s largest agricultural machinery maker is pushing the concept of users buying a license, not the product, into real world items.
Users of software such as Steam are probably aware that when you pay money for a game on Steam what you actually own is a license to play the game, you don’t actually own it like you would a chair that you buy from the shop.
Now John Deere has told the Copyright Office that farmers who have purchased tractors don’t actually own them thanks to on-board software, which, they claim is just licensed to farmers.
In their tirade John Deere lawyers make some bizarre suggestions that if modifications were allowed to the tractor’s software this would somehow benefit pirates and third-party software developers. One of the more reasonable claims they make, however misguided, is that competitors will steal the code which JD spent money on during research and development.
The ramifications of not being able to repair, improve or modify software that comes on John Deere’s products and by extension smart cars goes beyond unpleased farmers and tinkerers, digital locks on hardware could lead to shorter product life spans of products if the ‘owner’ cannot fix issues, this leads to the early retirement of otherwise good hardware.
If John Deere was in the business of making coffee they may even ban users from adding sugar to their drinks. It may violate Deere’s copyrights.