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Why American Farmers Are Hacking Their Tractors with Ukrainian Firmware

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Why American Farmers Are Hacking Their Tractors with Ukrainian Firmware

Motherboard,

5 min read
5 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Tractor manufacturer John Deere is reaping what it’s sowed, and farmers aren’t pleased.


Editorial Rating

7

Qualities

  • Controversial
  • Eye Opening
  • Background

Recommendation

A farmer has always been a jack of all trades, but now American farmers are adding an unexpected skill to their repertoire: hacking. In a dispute that pits equipment maker John Deere against customers who insist on their right to maintain and modify their own machines, farmers are learning to hack their own tractors using pirated software purchased on the Eastern European black market. Journalist Jason Koebler uncovers the dark side of tractor software, whereby American farmers purchase pirated firmware to bring home the bacon. getAbstract recommends this article to anyone interested in intellectual property, farming and stories of resistance to corporate power.

Summary

John Deere – one of America’s most iconic tractor manufacturers – is putting farmers in a bind. In the past, if your tractor broke down, you rolled up your sleeves, got your hands dirty and fixed the problem yourself. This wasn’t just a matter of pride but one of necessity: With farms often located many miles away from the next dealership, you risked losing entire harvests by waiting for a technician to come out and repair the problem. But today, things are different. Embedded software and license agreements mean that any fixes farmers...

About the Author

Jason Koebler is a senior staff writer at Motherboard and has written on science and technology for The Atlantic, The Washington Post and U.S. News & World Report.


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