Story 2015-04-22 7KYD Firmware licenses threatening the concept of ownership

Firmware licenses threatening the concept of ownership

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.
Reply 7 comments

:-) (Score: 2, Funny)

by on 2015-04-23 00:30 (#7MBK)

All your tractors are belong to us

Re: :-) (Score: 1)

by on 2015-04-23 09:58 (#7N47)

And your power distribution systems, and your nuclear power SC ADA systems, and your traffic lights and ... and ... and ...

Good times.

Re: :-) (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2015-04-23 20:58 (#7PGF)

Main Fuck John Deere Turn On...

Don't buy it! (Score: 1)

by on 2015-04-23 12:42 (#7NFJ)

If there is product with a black box of secrets, the answer is to simply not buy it. If you buy something with a black box, don't complain when they do something bad to you, reverse engineer it or buy something without a black box. There is almost nothing that doesn't have an open and free or reverse engineered alternative. The general populace started the PC revolution with proprietary everything and we are still working hard to undo that mistake.

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

by on 2015-04-23 16:12 (#7NYK)

Do any exist? I can't think of a single automobile on the market that doesn't come with enough chips, sensors, and electronics to choke a donkey.

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

by on 2015-04-24 05:47 (#7Q5D)

cars have had their black boxes pried open by congress. companies must provide an OBDII interface. however, there are reverse engineered ECU solutions like at as well as from scratch ECU replacements like at

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

by 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)?