Planned obsolescence as opposed to open source

We don’t buy our hardware, we rent it. All too often, our hardware is controlled by DRM-protected software that can be used to legally extort money from the “owner.”

Example: an inkjet printer can be programmed to turn itself off every 6 months and demand that the printer’s “owner” buy a fresh ink cartridge. The old ink cartridge may be physically viable, but the company wishes to get $50 per 6-month ownership period. Does this sound like a purchase or a rental agreement? It gets worse.

If you “buy” the printer, it may be illegal for you to change its software. Thus, you may own the plastic from which the printer is made but you are only granted a license for the software that is required to actually use it.

You “bought” the printer which was intentionally built broken and it is illegal for you to fix it. It would be more honest to say you signed up for a subscription or rental, but that is not what it said on the box.

Another example: the EFF argued in court that one should have the right to repair a tractor purchased from John Deere. The company argued that the “owner” of that tractor only had “an implied license for the life of the vehicle to operate the vehicle.” In other words, they owned the metal from which the tractor was made, but not the software required for it to run. Familiar?

These are extractive not productive economic decisions and they should be illegal.

Until they are illegal, I would like to suggest that people invest in backup hardware for critical tasks. Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon devices are subject to the whims of their respective corporations. We are encouraged to forget this fact. Everything about these devices is made to encourage us to think of them as ours but the truth is that these companies can brick the devices at any time.

I think it’s a good idea to maintain a Linux box (even if it is a beaglebone or raspberry pi) and local backup hard drive.