A battle is brewing in at least eight states over “right-to-repair” legislation. Tractors have gone high tech and often require software downloads to aid in the repair process. Fox News Tech Dot Com reports that software hackers overseas are creating and selling hacks to John Deere software. Local repair shops in America’s farm country are downloading the hacks and using them to repair the company’s tractors. The article says when farmers are in crunch-time, like harvest, they usually don’t have time to wait for a dealership employee to come out and authorize a download to help with repairs. But farmers who buy John Deere equipment have to sign a license agreement that doesn’t allow virtually all types of unauthorized repair and modification to the software embedded in most of the new machines. The agreement allows repairs to the actual machinery but no work on the software. Nebraska is one of eight states considering the “right-to-repair” legislation that would invalidate the John Deere licensing agreement. It would also prevent farmers from suing for “crop loss, lost profits, loss of goodwill, or loss of use of equipment arising from the performance or non-performance of any aspect of the software.” John Deere is against the legislation, noting that any non-authorized modifications to the software increase the risk that the machinery won’t work as designed.
From the National Association of Farm Broadcasting news service.