Sunday, August 30, 2015

Farm Data in Custom Farming Contracts

As custom harvesters make their way across the United States and Canada this summer, I keep wondering what happens to all that yield data these machines are collecting.  I am sure much of the data is forwarded to the landowners and farmers so that they can make decisions for next year.  I hope so.  But do custom harvesters address this in their agreements?  Here are some suggestions for how they should.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Is Your "E-Signature" Valid?

The prevalence of "I accept” check boxes on online contracts may have some people wondering whether one click of the mouse is as effective as signing your John Hancock?  The answer, for the most part, is yes.  “E-signatures” can be just as binding as real signatures. But like all legal matters, the validity of e-signatures is not always black and white.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Response to NPR's Article about DIY Tractor Repair

A recent NPR story exclaims that “copyright law makes it illegal to repair [farm] machinery run by software.”  (DIY Tractor Repair Runs Afoul Of Copyright Law).  WIRED essentially ran this same article a few months ago (We Can't Let John Deere Destroy the Very Idea of Ownership).  Both authors make some good points, but both also overstate the facts to make their case. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) does grant John Deere (and other ag equipment manufacturers) the ability to prevent tampering with their proprietary software--such as the engine ECU--but contrary to the NPR article’s premise, normal maintenance and repairs do not run afoul of the law.

Monday, August 10, 2015

My Top Ten Farm Data Articles

I've been writing about the legal issues surrounding farm data for a few years now.  Quite simply, farm data is the most exciting subject I've encountered in more than a dozen years practicing law. A farmer's ability to collect, share, and analyze data has tremendous potential to improve farming in next decade. As a farm kid turned-lawyer, I see my role in agriculture's big data revolution to push farmers to think about legal issues they may not have considered, and to push ag technology providers to rethink traditional legal frameworks that apply to data in other industries. Farming is different. That's why I keep writing.