Manufacturers would prefer to sell you their latest models rather than repair your old electronics, so they work to make fixing their products too expensive or too impractical. It’s a global problem because the marketplace for technology is global, and people everywhere are affected. With so many people throwing out so much broken stuff, it should come as no surprise that e-waste is the fastest-growing waste stream, with tens of millions of tons discarded annually around the world.It's going to take a fight, and perhaps legislation, because manufacturers are taking liberties with the concept of ownership. We're not talking about proprietary electronics in a smart 'phone (calls for a careful touch with a soldering pencil) or a command control module in a locomotive (I know people who are proficient with that). We're talking about farm tractors.
Tossing things out instead of fixing them has far-reaching consequences—for consumers, for the economy, and for the environment. Indeed, a future in which nothing ever gets repaired isn’t bright for anyone except the people trying to sell you new products. And many of us are not prepared to accept that future without a fight.
Even John Deere deploys digital locks to make sure that only its own technicians can fix anything software-related on its agricultural machines.Thus we have a world in which right-to-repair laws are a thing. And farm tractors come with an End Users License Agreement. (Via Insta Pundit.)
When asked why it was standing in the way of farmers who want to fix their own tractors, the company replied that farmers didn’t really own their tractors. According to John Deere [PDF], farmers have only “an implied license for the life of the vehicle to operate the vehicle,” and farmers (or their mechanics) aren’t allowed to fiddle with the software to effect a repair.
Naturally, that position upset a lot of farmers, who assumed that when they plopped down $75,000 or more for a new tractor, they were buying the whole thing. They felt they should be able to fix their tractors on their own terms. And it turns out that the farmers were right.
Authorities in the U.S. Copyright Office—who presumably have a deeper knowledge of U.S. copyright law than John Deere does—have generally sided with consumers when it comes to repair. In 2015, copyright officials told John Deere that owners do have the right to repair their own tractors and other equipment.