As I wrote last week, the California Farm Bureau (which lobbies for the state's farmers) struck a deal to gut the state's Right to Repair legislation, a move that will cost farmers their right to fix their own tractors and other heavy equipment.
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"Precision agriculture" is to farmers as Facebook is to publishers: farmers who want to compete can't afford to boycott the precision ag platforms fielded by the likes of John Deere, but once they're locked into the platforms' walled gardens, they are prisoners, and the platforms start to squeeze them for a bigger and bigger share of their profits.
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Writing in IEEE Spectrum, iFixit's superhero founder Kyle Wiens and Repair.org exective director Gay Gordon-Byrne bring the case for the right to repair (previously) to the engineering community, describing the economic, technical, and environmental benefits of permitting a domestic industry of local, expert technologists to help their neighbors get more out of their gadgets.
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John Deere has turned itself into the poster-child for the DMCA, fighting farmers who say they want to fix their own tractors and access their data by saying that doing so violates the 1998 law's prohibition on bypassing copyright locks. Read the rest
John Deere says that farmers don't really own their tractors -- even the ones they buy used! -- because the copyrighted software necessary to run those tractors is licensed, not sold. Read the rest
Tim O'Bryant, aka Cotontop3, is a logger in Mississippi who vlogs daily. In this episode, he uses the pincers on his log loader to toss leftovers from log bucking, which takes a surprising amount of dexterity. Read the rest
In 2011, the Canadian Conservative government rammed through Bill C-11, Canada's answer to the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, in which the property rights of Canadians were gutted in order to ensure that corporations could use DRM to control how they used their property -- like its US cousin, the Canadian law banned breaking DRM, even for legitimate purposes, like effecting repairs or using third party parts. Read the rest
Motherboard says a source told them that "an Apple representative, staffer, or lobbyist will testify" against the state's Right to Repair bill, which requires companies to make it easy for their customers to choose from a variety of repair options, from official channels to third parties to DIY. Read the rest
In spring, 2015, American farmers started to spread the word that John Deere claimed that a notorious copyright law gave the company exclusive dominion over repairs to Deere farm-equipment, making it a felony (punishable by 5 years in prison and a $500K fine for a first offense) to fix your own tractor. Read the rest
Rick Friday has been the editorial cartoonist for Farm News for 21 years, with a weekly slot in every Friday's paper. Read the rest
Matt Reimer's homebrew autonomous tractor uses open source components to accomplish the kind of automation that John Deere's super-proprietary tractors are known for. Read the rest