Firmware licenses threatening the concept of ownership

by
in code on (#7KYD)
In the software world, it's long been the practice that you don't purchase software, you purchase a license to use it. But as software increasingly gets woven into other products - like the many chips and circuits that run your modern automobile - this practice starts to chip away at the traditional sense of ownership of physical goods.
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.

Several manufacturers recently submitted similar comments to the Copyright Office under an inquiry into the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. DMCA is a vast 1998 copyright law that (among other things) governs the blurry line between software and hardware. The Copyright Office, after reading the comments and holding a hearing, will decide in July which high-tech devices we can modify, hack, and repair—and decide whether John Deere’s twisted vision of ownership will become a reality.
It's a conversation with profound implications for the future. Check out the rest at Wired.

Re: Don't buy it! (Score: 1)

by carguy@pipedot.org on 2015-04-26 01:28 (#7TTC)

Yes, there are aftermarket ECUs and also ECUs for racing that could be adapted to run a street car. But in my state (NY), my car has to pass a state inspection every year that is partly done through the OBDII interface. The inspection station querys the engine computer to make sure that the emissions system is working correctly. When I looked at the two sites you mention I didn't see any mention of this capability (maybe I'm not looking in the right place)?
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