We are allowed to use the land as the sovereign sees fit – and not otherwise. If we use it in ways forbidden, the king – whoops, Uncle – will punish us. He can also just take it from us via another noxious doctrine – that of eminent domain.
But until recently, we at least owned our incidentals – the small-potatoes stuff, like the clothes on our backs. Our cars.
Our tractors, certainly.
Not if it’s a John Deere tractor.
When you buy one, you’re actually purchasing an “implied license for the life of the vehicle to operate the vehicle.“ Basically, a rental contract. With the difference being that even when the rental is paid off, you are still bound by the contract.
It has to do with two things – the code that runs the tractor (yes, them too) and the ownership claims to that code asserted under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
You may recall the ruckus that erupted abut a year ago when the car companies floated the idea that even though you bought their car, it was still their code that ran the thing – and this code remained proprietary. That is, their property. To “tamper” with anything that could conceivably affect the code, their lawyers proposed, would violate both the warranty and copyright laws. Effectively making the car not your property, no matter the name on the title.
A DMCA exception was granted for cars – but probably only because of the rictus of outrage that erupted; rightly so.
Tractors, on the other hand. . .
Probably because there are fewer farmers – and most of them are wholly owned subsidiaries of massive agricultural Big Ag cartels, working the fields on behalf of Monsanto and Archer Daniels Midland, et al.
When you buy a Deere, you must since a licensing agreement (see here) that contains what amounts to the rental agreement. It basically says that you – the “owner” – will not perform unauthorized repairs or modifications; that you will only permit an authorized Deere technician to touch “your” tractor. This comes in mighty handy when you are out in the field cutting hay and something breaks and you need to get the thing running again right now . . . not next Thursday, when the Deere dude can schedule you an authorized appointment.
Naturally, this is all about the money. That – and the control.