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Farmers can’t legally fix their own John Deere tractors due to copyright laws

John Deere is synonymous with farming and they are making a bold move stating you do not own the product after purchase, so you cannot alter it. Say what?

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John_Deere

John Deere tractor owners are so very restricted

I live in Oklahoma. Farm country. I took this assignment because it infuriated me. I do not farm, but I have friends and family that make their living farming. John Deere has been synonymous with farming for as long as I can remember and for good reason: they make a good product. Their latest statements have me worried and you should be worried too, even if you don’t farm.

John Deere recently submitted a letter to the U.S. Copyright Office asking to forbid their customers from modifying the software that operates its machines. What on Earth do copyright laws have to do with tractors?

Wait, copyright laws are at the root of this mess!?

It comes down to digital rights management (DRM), or the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA): these two acts made it illegal to circumvent a copy-protection system. In essence, they state the consumer doesn’t own the software of the product, only the product. John Deere is fundamentally stating that if you tinker with your tractor software to get it running the way you need it to, you are a pirate, and therefore, in violation of the law.

I call shenanigans, as do many others. In fact, Wired magazine ran an article about this very thing, which then prompted a response from John Deere to their dealers stating (among other things) that, “similar to a car or computer, ownership of equipment does not include the right to copy, modify, or distribute software that is embedded in that equipment. A purchaser may own a book, but he/she does not have a right to copy the book, to modify the book, or to distribute unauthorized copies to others.”

As Supreme Court attorney Mark Wilson points out, this was not the best example. He said, “when I buy a book, I own the physical book and I can do whatever I want to it, short of republishing the content. I can give the book away, set it on fire, make notes in the margins, or I can turn it into a lamp.” If this is true for books, why not software (so long as you’re not redistributing it, as Wilson stated)?

Why does this matter if you’re not a farmer?

Simple. Old-fashion ingenuity used to be a thing here. If you found a way to make a product work better for you, more power to you. There were no government regulations preventing you from ramping up the horsepower in your car, or transferring your music between computers by burning your own CDs; you did it because it’s more economical, and frankly, more rewarding.

Think about this in the larger scheme of technology as a whole: our daily lives, for the most part, have become techno-centric, and placing restriction on this technology could become quite cumbersome. If my computer crashes, you better believe I’m going to try to fix it myself first, but, government regulations could prevent this if the DRM way of thinking isn’t stopped.

If my computer was subjected to these restrictions, I would have to take my computer in to an authorized repair center and who knows how far away this would be, be without my device for who knows how long, and then presumably pay for the repair and/or shipping. This has gone beyond ridiculous. The original premise of the DMCA was a good one. It was meant to protect industry as we went into the digital age, but as technology advances so should our laws.

#CopyrightLaws

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master’s degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Marco Cota

    June 28, 2015 at 11:12 pm

    First the article title is misleading. I own three John Deere Tractors and I can repair them all I want to legally. Anyone can repair the John Deere Tractors. The Directive by John Deere states that it is illegal for anyone to alter the specific settings in specific performance areas of the engines. This was mostly done for owner protection safety and JD warranty issues. Anyone can even repair these parts, replace them, but not alter the settings. Horsepower can be increased by altering the settings and is the major reason this issue got brought up. The amount of horsepower increase is clearly dangerous for the operator and can damage the engine. John Deere has the right away on this one.

  2. Mitch Tanenbaum

    June 29, 2015 at 12:36 am

    I suggest that if people don't like it, which I don't, they should buy a competitor's tractor. They should verify that that competitor doesn't have a similar policy to Deere.

    If Deere loses enough business they will figure out that this is not a good marketing plan and change it.

    That of course assumes that the Copyright Office signs up for Deere's plan which is not a given. This may be a moot point.

  3. Bill Bradsky

    June 29, 2015 at 1:42 am

    It shouldn't be a crime to do anything that has no victim. The manufacturer of tractors in no way suffers from people "hot rodding" the equipment after it leaves the dealership. In fact, many auto manufacturers make loads of money selling their performance cars specifically because it is very easy to modify the software and "tune" the ecu to handle hardware changes (intake, exhaust, turbo, etc.). Honda with the Civic and Ford with the Mustang can attest to the viability of such a business model. If John Deere wants to punish its customers for buying its tractors, then they're going to go to some Chinese manufacturer who doesn't give a hoot what you do with it after they get your money. Sigh. One more American manufacturer down the tubes.

  4. jeff fichten

    June 29, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    It's mine! I can do with it what I want! If I leased it that would be different. I paid for the equipment and the technology, it's mine! As long as I don't try to sell any of the technology I should be able to make changes. This really pisses me off.

  5. Mathew

    July 2, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    I'd like to say, you sign a form, voiding your warranty and you can modify your heart out. But as soon as that happens and somebody figures out to hack your machine and make your tractor form crop circles while you try and figure out what the hell is going on, I don't think anybody would like it.

  6. Joe

    January 5, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    They are saying you only lease the product for the life of it, then if it brakes it is only fair they pay to fix it as in any other thing you lease on this world. The owner is the one that pays for the repairs, not the leasee. They don’t want you fixing it or modifying it their product because they are starting they own it, then if it brakes, they should be responsible for the repairs.

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  9. Faylinn

    April 7, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    I have a good size property and have been considering getting a tractor, but I have yet to decide which type. Your article makes me wonder about other brands. Do you know whether or not other tractor companies like John Deere have made such copyright rulings for their brands?

    • Lani Rosales

      April 7, 2016 at 3:49 pm

      We aren’t aware of any, but it’s not a beat we cover very often, so we might not be the most reliable source of info on tractors. We DO know that JD has made the ruling, but a precursory search doesn’t show others following the same path.

      • Emil Blatz

        January 23, 2017 at 2:09 pm

        Perhaps in the aftermath of the VW Diesel emissions scandal, you may begin to understand why. In that instance it was the manufacturer, deliberately altering the software that led to massive liability ($20B and counting.) But, a similar emission or other aspect (safety) concern could come about if owners were tweaking the software and Deere either explicitly or implicitly was aware of it, they could have liability. So, they have to disclaim it.

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Calvin Klein skips stores, opts for Amazon – smart or suicide?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Calvin Klein takes a creative step that may increasingly become common, but is it still risky at this stage?

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Calvin Klein has announced that it is taking a new approach this holiday season – instead of giving department stores access to its new stuff – online giant Amazon gets all that awesome underwear and denim first (here). Department stores won’t have access to their line until after Christmas sales have ended.

Wait, what?

It’s not a bad idea though. Basically, CK is following the money trail and with more and more consumers going to Amazon as the online shop of choice, compared to the thousands of stores closing across the country for the retail sector, it makes sense.

CK’s new approach is innovative- in addition to going online, it’s got two in-person pop-ups to create a new shopping experience that integrates Amazon Alexa devices and a highly personalized shopping experience. For example, you could literally see how those jeans pop in the club by having some delicious dance track play on Alexa and some clever lighting – dude! The pop up stores won’t even have prices, they just use the Amazon app to show relevant, changing prices (thanks to robots with algorithms).

How this new approach and unique shopping experience goes for this brand is going to set a new tone possibly – if it’s successful.

Amazon is set to benefit in its broader exposure and exclusivity (as though you needed a reason to shop at Amazon – I sure don’t!) of the relationship, but more importantly, as Amazon moves into fashion with things like “Prime Wardrobe” and seven new private-label clothes brand it’s set to become a great place for clothing. Earlier this year, Nike began selling on Amazon as well, so while CK isn’t the first to jump on it, it’s certainly doing it in a unique way.

Sadly, the pop-ups are only in the bougie locales of New York and Los Angeles, but everyone else should check out the customer site for all those good denim jackets, I mean, jeans. In terms of marketing, Model Karlie Kloss and YouTuber Lilly Singh are influencing the campaign, creating a one of a kind mix of fashion, technology, and engagement.

The great CK experiment is proving to be a fascinating show – and has some big implications for future retail.

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Business News

Working through job interview adrenaline and anxiety

(CAREER NEWS) Find out how to use the pressure and adrenaline of a face-to-face job interview to your advantage.

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introverts job interview

It’s undeniable that there is a certain amount of adrenaline that flows through you during a face-to-face job interview. You’re theoretically vying for a job you really want (or need), so you have to make sure that you put in your best effort.

Even under the best of circumstances, this can make you feel like you’re in an interrogation room being asked what you were doing the night of December 2nd, 1997. This is where that adrenaline can come into play, which can make things harder – just make sure you’re properly utilizing it.

First off, use that adrenaline to get you to the interview location with plenty of time to spare. No employer values tardiness, and it’s good to walk into a high-pressure situation with all of your ducks in a row.

Being early also gives you a chance to get a feel for the environment and gives you a chance to make an impression with the receptionist. Speaking as a former receptionist, this is not something you should overlook as our opinions are often asked by the employer.

Once you’re in the interview setting, use the adrenaline to keep you engaged in the conversation. An important aspect of this is making eye contact.

Don’t confuse this with being creepy and staring without blinking. Just be sure to look into the eye of the person you’re speaking to, and be sure to share that eye contact with others if you’re speaking to a panel of interviewers, keeping a happy, interested (but not scared or overly enthusiastic) look on your face.

With rushing adrenaline, you may use self-soothing movements like playing with your hair or wringing your hands. You may exhibit anxious movements like toe tapping. Don’t do any of these things – they’re within your control. But if something like a shaky voice from these nerves are not within your control, apologize up front (“Apologies for my shaky voice, I have normal interview jitters, I usually speak like a normal human person”) and move on.

Depending on how the interviewer leads the conversation, the entire interview doesn’t have to be this stiff discussion. If given the opportunity, use this time to work in some small talk so they can see the personable side of your personality. For example, you can keep it related to the situation by making small talk about the traffic and asking how the interviewer typically gets to work each day (buying time is another great way to work through the anxiety of rushing adrenaline).

Throughout the course of the conversation, whether the small talk or the interview itself, make sure you’re showing your true colors and not lying. It isn’t hard (especially these days) to be caught in a lie, so don’t waste anyone’s time with the nonsense.

Once everything is said and done, say your thank yous and your goodbyes and make your way to the exit. Don’t try and overstay your welcome or linger in the lobby, just be on your way. But, don’t forget to send a courteous “thank you” email.

Above all, remember that everyone is nervous in a job interview situation – you’re not alone!

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If Amazon puts HQ in Chicago, they’ll get a cut of their workers’ income taxes

(BUSINESS NEWS) Amazon continues the hunt for a new city to set up shop, and cities across the nation are offering plenty to attract the brand.

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If Amazon sets up a new headquarters in Chicago, the company could get over two billion dollars in tax breaks, including $1.32 billion from their workers’ income taxes. How would they achieve this fiendish feat?

With the magic of personal income tax diversion, where employers withhold state income taxes from employee paychecks. Workers still pay full income taxes, but the company holds onto all or part of the funds.

This happens when a city says to a business, “please come live here, we want your money so much you can just not pay taxes okay?” In this case, both Chicago and the state authorities of Illinois presented this offering to Amazon.

In September, Amazon announced plans for a second headquarters, which was very originally dubbed Amazon HQ2. The new headquarters is intended to supplement the existing one in Seattle. Amazon intends to spend around five billion on new construction alone, and said it plans on having 50,000 workers at HQ2.

Amazon outlined core requirements for HQ2, including access to mass transit, metropolitan population of over one million, and up to eight million square feet of office space just in case they need to expand even more. Proximity to major universities and airports with direct flights to New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington D.C. were part of the optional rider.

At least 238 other bids have been made for the headquarters. Chris Christie proposed paying Amazon up to $10,000 for every job created even though New Jersey has $60 billion in unfunded pension obligations.

Plenty of other cities want to take Amazon to prom too, and have launched promotional campaigns to stand out from the crowd. One Arizona economic development firm sent a 21-foot cactus, which was rejected due to Amazon’s corporate gift policy. Don’t worry about the cactus’ feelings though, it was donated to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

In another proposal, Kansas City, Missouri mayor Sly James purchased one thousand Amazon products, donated them to charity, then wrote five star reviews for every item, which all included shout outs to Kansas City’s positive attributes. James either has way too much time on his hands, or employs very productive interns.

This lovely display of cities offering incredible legal loopholes for Amazon is pretty heartwarming. After all, the company is definitely in need of financial help and government perks. Except that oh wait, founder Jeff Bezos is currently the only person in the world worth over $100 billion dollars.

Amazon’s soaring share price added around $43 billion to founder Jeff Bezos’ personal fortune this year, and Black Friday alone raked in $2.4 billion. There’s also all that fun stuff about subpar
workers’ conditions in Amazon’s warehouses that we all pretend to forget when there’s free two-day shipping on that thing you really, really want.

So far, Amazon has yet to accept Chicago’s tax-tastic bid, or any other offer. Based on the list of requirements, Moody’s Analytics released a data-specific analysis of the top cities.

Austin, Texas topped the list, followed by Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Rochester, New York. Other contenders include Pittsburgh, Portland, and New York City.

Amazon will announce the final site selection and plan sometime in 2018.

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