Modern Farmer on how the DMCA takes away farmers' rights over their tractors

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Now they’re trying to fix their own property? I told you nothing good would come from that Rock music!


I have some relatives that own combines and such. Once they had a tractor stop in the middle of a field. It was designed to lock itself down completely in the case of an unrecoverable computer error. They had to call in a technician to replace the logic board. Guy had problems initializing. Eventually figured out some valves or such were in the wrong position on bootup. The big deal was it was burn season, and they almost had to abandon the whole thing to avoid getting roasted. (and such tractors cost in the hundreds of thousands.)


Growing up on a farm and always living hand to mouth, if we all didn’t fix our own equipment then farmers would simply have gone out of business and corporate farms would have taken over…

oh wait…

Well still…this is a terrible idea for sure.


Good ol’ fashion sharewarecropping


Not everyone is on the farmers’ side here; some, according to the Associated Press, are concerned that the move would reduce revenue to tractor manufacturers, potentially landing them in trouble.

So the “some” are tractor manufacturers?


My grandfather would have laughed his ass off, then taken the razor strop to anyone who came down to the tractor shed to stop him from tearing into the guts of his old tractors. IH, Deere, or any of 'em.


I have first-hand experience with Caterpillar mining equipment. The onboard data acquisition and diagnostics are powerful and are essential to lowest cost operation and maintenance, but the majority of the data is only available for use (by Caterpillar) as part of an optional and expensive Caterpillar service and maintenance package. It is a way of locking out third-party maintenance services. The third party services would hack the “encryption” (my non-technical term) so that they could do effective diagnostics and maintenance, then Caterpillar would respond with a security upgrade…and so forth. One reason that Caterpillar may not have fully locked it down completely was because of the risk that they would breach competition bundling laws. They made it hard (and more costly), but not impossible, for others to service their equipment. The DMCA brings a whole other level of “protection” to Caterpillar’s practices.

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I guess you guys aren’t ready for that yet. But your kids are gonna love it.


When in doubt, support property rights. And in this case, support the right of farmers to modify/repair their equipment the way they want. Very often concerns about safety turn out to support big corp and stifle competition - Traditional taxi drivers were protesting Uber because “Uber drivers were unqualified”, but Uber seems to do the same to an extent.
I think that hacking mus spread from computers to real world, and have some real productivity-raising benefits. I know that experimenting with cattle medicine like antibiotics - - may not be seen as huge fun, but we definitely need more innovation.

It is not all black and white, however. Pether Thiele was talking about being the last mover and collecting a lot of profit in the market as being important motivation for business, because this is how you earn real money -
But he also admits that it benefits entrepreneur more than public.

This is why I try to characterize IP issues as between copyright owners and copyowners… I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have copyright, but it is important to note that every right that we grant to the owners of a copyright comes from the owners* of the individual copies.

  • of course these days a big thrust is make consumers licensees and not owners.

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