John Deere scolded for its inability to comply with GPL software license
The corporation has been abusing open source software license for yearsBy Alfonso Maruccia
What just happened? John Deere is one of the most serious offenders when it comes to forcing customers into a technology walled garden. As it turns out, the company provides very little support for third party access and right-to-repair initiatives despite infringing the GPL license for open-source software.
John Deere has been recently called out for its inability to properly handle open-source software according to the GPL license. Non-profit organization Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) said that the Moline, Illinois-based corporation has been essentially unwilling to follow the rules defined by the most popular open-source license "for multiple years."
On SFC's official blog, Denver Gingerich remarked how farmers have relied on their ability and "right" to fix their tools for thousands of years, which allowed agriculture to grow and improve "immeasurably." With a company like John Deere, Gingerich said, the right to repair farm tools is in serious jeopardy.
The farm equipment manufacturer benefits immensely from the "readily-available software that they can provide as part of the farming tools," SFC said, but the company is doing so in direct violation of the right to repair licenses of said software components. As a result, farmers are essentially cut off from their livelihood if the equipment cannot be easily (and cheaply) repaired when it inevitably fails.
John Deere, which is the largest manufacturer of agriculture machinery in North America and one of the largest in the world, has been failing to meet the requirements of the software right-to-repair licenses they use "for some time." The most widely-deployed GPL software (ab)used by John Deere is Linux, Gingerich revealed, and most Linux distributions use several other programs covered by copyleft ("right to repair") licenses as well.
SFC tried to convince John Deere to comply with the GPL license for years, asking the company to "immediately resolve all of its outstanding GPL violations" by providing complete source code, and "the scripts used to control compilation and installation of the executable" covered by the GPL license, to farmers and anyone who is entitled to it.
The organization is now publicly asking John Deere to do so, as the company has mostly been unresponsive to SFC's private comply requests so far. Deere's inability to provide complete source code for all requested products more than 2 years after the SFC's first request is "beyond unacceptable," the organization said.
SFC also stands with all the other organizations (and antitrust agencies) which are fighting against John Deere's "various violations" of other agreements and laws. The company did recently provide some right-to-repair concessions to customers while threatening to withdraw said concessions if any right-to-repair legislation had to become a state or federal law at the same time.