American culture from its very roots is a Do It Yourself culture. Only in recent years has it been “fashionable” to take your car to the shop to get it repaired or to pay someone to repair your home and “toys”. It’s built into our DNA and our entertainment: “She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts, kid. I’ve made a lot of special modifications.” ~Han Solo.
Even more so, can you imagine your local farmer paying a technician big bucks to repair his equipment? Of course not. Farmers do their own repairs.
Well, of course, not if GM and John Deere have their way. In fact, they claim that you don’t actually own the equipment that you purchase.
And John Deere is not beating around the bush, either. “In the absence of an express written license in conjunction with the purchase of the vehicle [to operate its software], the vehicle owner receives an implied license for the life of the vehicle to operate the vehicle, subject to any warranty limitations, disclaimers or other contractual limitations in the sales contract or documentation.”
GM, meanwhile, alleges that “Proponents incorrectly conflate ownership of a vehicle with ownership of the underlying computer software in a vehicle.”
Having been a software designer and developer for *cough, cough* years, I see where this is coming from – and going. Commercially available software has been “licensed” for years. You don’t actually own the copy of Windows on your computer, you just license the use of it from Microsoft. Microsoft maintains control of its software. GM and John Deere are claiming that software constitutes most of the advanced technology that operates their machinery. Changing the hardware requires changes to the software. Hence, you must have access to the software to tinker or self-repair your vehicle.
Is there a solution to this issue? Will we even be able to repair our own cars if we want to? Or do we have to lay out the cashiola for a high-dollar technician every time. Only time will tell.