Traditionally, whether a person buys an appliance or a car, he/she owns the product once they have a receipt. As pointed out by Wired writer Kyle Wiens on Monday, April 21, John Deere is attempting to change the definition of ownership based on the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.
As more products contain computer parts and proprietary software used to make those parts work, manufacturers have decided that the only way to protect software and hardware from copying and hacking is by claiming that product “owners” only receive a “license” for use of a product during its lifetime instead of an actual transfer of ownership. Personal computer manufacturers already advise owners that they have purchased the right to use software and not the right to modify, hack or copy it.
SuperLawyers says that the United States Copyright Office has agreed to consider these arguments further in July during a hearing. If the manufacturers get their way, they could be allowed to sue consumers who hack or even repair their products.
On one hand, their arguments are valid to protect their software and hardware designs. On the other… If they really wanted to take it too far, they could require that only technicians certified by them repair those products, which could shut down many small mom and pop repair shops and prevent product “life hacks” being performed by users. It could even prevent derivative product creation by users.