In the 21st century, only corporations get to own property and we're their tenants


Originally published at:


The solution is as obvious as it is difficult. Do not buy real goods that you will not own.


Exactly what I was going to say. The whip of the long tail is gonna leave a mark.


Not just the U.S., of course, and oddly enough it’s John Deere again. A neighbouring farmer here in the UK had a problem with his tractor engine last week: it would run, but without enough power actually to pull anything useful. He contacted his supplier, who told him that his bank hadn’t made his latest payment; if he got up to date with his debt, his tractor would be remotely re-activated.


I like the idea, but it sounds like many manufactures are joining in on this. (The noted exception being Tesla, which I would love to have, but I can’t even being to afford.) What does it look like when all vehicles have gone this route?

I’m also wondering what this means for the sale of used equipment. I grew up in rural North Carolina surrounded by a lot of farmers, loggers, and other users of heavy equipment. (Come to think of it, my family’s logging outfit had a few John Deere skidders). Most of them, even in those days, could not buy new equipment. Surely if you don’t “own” it, you can’t sell it. That sounds like a hell of a way for companies to force potential buyers towards new equipment direct from a company.


We still possess the stuff, and that’s the more important part of ownership. It is on us to whip out the increasingly cheaper digital analyzers, buy hot air rework stations for pennies on Aliexpress, and read the tutorials; or hire the neighbor kid. And possibly replace the whole engine control unit with an opensource version. If they give us a black box with wires to the sensors and injectors, we can replace it with our own transparent box; it’s no arcane magic. Or tear out the dishwasher’s brain and replace it with an Arduino; or even just use the Arduino to fake the dish authentication.

The king can make all the rules he wishes for. But we the peasants then can ignore them as far as our tools reach. And the tools are getting better by week. The concept of civil disobedience exists for a reason.

Fuck the wannabe kings.


Has anyone made an opensource replacement ECU?
I would love to add that to my external storage unit AKA mostly parked car when I pull and rebuild the motor and tranny with my kids.


…and that’s just from the first page of Uncle Google’s results on “opensource engine control unit” query.


See, this is where I turn all Republican and call upon the Invisible Hand of the Free Market. If this pisses off farmers, they will quit buying Deere. Farmers are a smart, independent bunch, and they share notes. If Caterpillar brings out a competing model that’s DRM-free, guess what they’re going to buy?

In fact, like with computers, this offers a golden opportunity for somebody to start a fresh company - or 100 companies. It also means there will be a bigger market for old models, reconditioned. If I was a gambling man, I would short John Deere.


I imagine more and more older cars being better maintained and an increase in the secondary market.


What happens when the DRM servers are retired?


The market is not level, anyone can finance a Deere or Cat. Geeklys community design home brew tractor will always be cash up front.


Like Cuba? :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:


Something wrong with Cuba?


The question is, did farmers know about this ahead of time, or was it something that only came up after the fact? People have already bought tractors - are they supposed to “throw them away” and buy new ones? (I also could imagine that industrial machinery makers could operate as kinds of “ecosystems” of compatible equipment, such that once you buy a certain amount of one manufacturer’s equipment, you’re kind of “locked in” to only buying their gear.) What guarantees do they have that the new tractors won’t be operating under the same principles? Even if something is solds as DRM-free, what guarantees do you have it’ll stay that way? (I can think of cases where people contributed vast amounts of labor to “open source” projects that suddenly went closed-source.) It seems like this is something that potentially will be the case with any kind of powered object, even ones that don’t obviously have computing devices within them.


Did it? Or, did the product become commercial and future code become closed source? How did they manage to retroactively make all that GPL code become closed source?

I imagine I would sell (trade in) the tractor and buy one that I knew was DRM free.


This is the experience for late model BMW “owners”. The good news is that once you are past the warranty, there are lots of aftermarket scanners, coders, etc. most of the basic stuff (like reset oil change intervals, register a new battery (not kidding for gods sake)) is no problem.

But once you start dealing with the highly complex stuff like the variable valve timing, emissions, transmission settings, etc. you are pretty much fucked.

Didn’t know that when I got it (used). Now will have to investigate when this really started in earnest and just buy older cars.

Sorry BMW - you make good cars but you only get to sell them once.


Good example. I have a 2000 528it (E39) that has several control modules that oversee various systems. In the case of BMW’s I’d say that this generation and prior is relatively safe. Anything with iDrive may be a lost cause. Even still, only after a recent software update to his third party diagnostic machine was my indie mechanic able to “code” a replacement module to perform correctly. It was a used module out of a different model, the stealership would’ve insisted on a new module (not made any more so only those left in stock $500+) plus charged for the coding.

It would be nice to see BMW (and others) embrace the fanbases for their older models. There are a lot of gurus out there though and tons of info/parts/tuners out there to help you out.


No, I love Cuba. I’m just amused at the idea of the DRM-Industrial complex fucking their own markets to the point where we end up scouring the Earth for old 50s and soviet tech, which we then keep running forever through careful and tender ministrations.

I seem to remember reading about a sort of open-source farming project that was all about combining Raspberry Pi and Arduino with old tech. I might have even read about it here.

I guess honestly I don’t believe that most people will have the commitment, the ingenuity, and the time to go to such lengths, in most instances. Firms like John Deere will pitch their interference with your purchase just below the level of cost and annoyance that will lead their market to go elsewhere, so most people will drift, as posited, into a kind of tenant position.


There was, for example, when CDDB, that was built up entirely by volunteer labor under the understanding it was open source, turned into Gracenote and was made proprietary. I believe the GPL turned closed source when the owners suddenly said that all references to GPL in the website were actually “a mistake.” A mistake they only “corrected” once they had built up a commercially valuable database.