Right to Fix Their Own Equipment Effort Launched by Farmers


Lincoln Journal-Star reports: 

Gone are the days when farmers could be their own mechanics. Just taking a peek under the metaphorical hood of the computers that run the big tractor farmers use could put them in violation of the federal Digital Millennium Copyright Act. 

Nebraska is one of four states to consider legislation that would require manufacturers to make diagnostic, service and technical information available to farmers and independent repair technicians. The others are Massachusetts, Minnesota and New York. 

While the Nebraska Fair Repair Bill (LB1072) failed to gain traction before senators adjourned this spring, the issue is far from dead. It has been referred to the Agriculture Committee for study over the summer, and advocates are pushing for the bill to be reintroduced during the next session. 

Now, the makers of off-road and farm equipment and many consumer electronics require their products to be repaired by certified technicians. 

That means if a farmer's tractor stops working he has no choice but to call the dealer. He can't check the system codes himself to decide whether it's an easy fix like changing a filter or something more complicated. 

“I want it to be my call. I don't want to have to make two trips to the service department — one to diagnose it and one to fix it,” said Mick Minchow, who has been farming in Nebraska for more than 40 years. 

And as dealerships have closed or consolidated, he said, technicians have gotten further away and service bills more expensive. 

John Deere, in a 2014 comment to the U.S. Copyright Office, said the people who buy its tractors don't own the software that makes them run. Instead, each has an “implied license for the life of the vehicle to operate the vehicle.” 

In some cases, the company said, software could be subject to third-party restrictions and accessing it could violate copyright, trade secret or contractual rights. 

But farmers work when they can, and every hour matters when storms, frost and mud leave them with few suitable days. A malfunctioning combine can bring the fall harvest to a standstill. 

Waiting for a dealer to diagnose and fix a problem could mean hours, days or weeks lost.

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See More: 

Who Really Owns Your Tractor?

Deere: You Do Own Your Tractor



Source:  Lincoln Journal-Star



Photo credits: Pixabay  CC0 Public Domain

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