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delcecchi

Cars and Copyright.

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I'm not sure if this is the right place, but seems like it might be of interest.

Automakers to gearheads: Stop repairing cars

Car Companies Say Home Repairs Are 'Legally Problematic,' Seek Copyright Restrictions

Quote:
Automakers are supporting provisions in copyright law that could prohibit home mechanics and car enthusiasts from repairing and modifying their own vehicles.

In comments filed with a federal agency that will determine whether tinkering with a car constitutes a copyright violation, OEMs and their main lobbying organization say cars have become too complex and dangerous for consumers and third parties to handle.

Allowing them to continue to fix their cars has become "legally problematic," according to a written statement from the Auto Alliance, the main lobbying arm of automakers.

The dispute arises from a section of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that no one thought could apply to vehicles when it was signed into law in 1998. But now, in an era where cars are rolling computing platforms, the U.S. Copyright Office is examining whether provisions of the law that protect intellectual property should prohibit people from modifying and tuning their cars.

Every three years, the office holds hearings on whether certain activities should be exempt from the DMCA's section 1201, which governs technological measures that protect copyrighted work. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit organization that advocates for individual rights in the digital world, has asked the office to ensure that enthusiasts can continue working on cars by providing exemptions that would give them the right to access necessary car components.

Interested parties have until the end of the month to file comments on the proposed rule making, and a final decision is expected by mid-year.

In comments submitted so far, automakers have expressed concern that allowing outsiders to access electronic control units that run critical vehicle functions like steering, throttle inputs and braking "leads to an imbalance by which the negative consequences far outweigh any suggested benefits," according to the Alliance of Global Automakers. In the worst cases, the organizations said an exemption for enthusiasts "leads to disastrous consequences."

Complex Software, Increased Risk

Industry concerns are mounting that modifying these ECUs and the software coding that runs them could lead to vulnerabilities in vehicle safety and cyber security. Imagine an amateur makes a coding mistake that causes brakes to fail and a car crash ensues. Furthermore, automakers say these modifications could render cars non-compliant with environmental laws that regulate emissions.

But exemptions from the DMCA don't give third parties the right to infringe upon existing copyrights. Nor does an exemption mean consumers don't have to abide by other laws and rules that govern vehicles passed by the National Highway Traffic Administration, Environmental Protection Agency or U.S. Patent and Trade Office.

"It's not a new thing to be able to repair and modify cars," said Kit Walsh, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "It's actually a new thing to keep people from doing it. There are these specialized agencies that govern what vehicles can lawfully be used for on the road, and they have not seen fit to stop them from repairing cars."

Aftermarket suppliers and home enthusiasts have been modifying ECUs for years without dire consequences. By tweaking the ECU codes, a process sometimes known as "chipping," they've boosted horsepower, improved fuel efficiency, established performance limits for teen drivers and enhanced countless other features. These innovations have contributed to a "decades-old tradition of mechanical curiosity and self-reliance," according to the EFF.

Those innovations could be curbed precisely at a time that automakers believe personalization of vehicles is emerging as a significant trend. Software is allowing for all sorts of technology, such as 4G LTE wireless connections, and motorists can use this software to choose from an increasing array of infotainment options. But the car companies, paradoxically, want to be the ones doing the personalizing. (more at site)

http://www.autoblog.com/2015/04/20/automakers-gearheads-car-repairs/

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Like everybody else, I'd certainly be shocked if they passed the provisions. I'd definitely be interested to see how they enforce them. I can see limiting home modifications based upon warranty issues, but that hasn't even been a problem up to this point.

I've actually thought about getting a tuner for my 2015 Ram 1500 once they become available. These things really are computers. The service manager at my dealership was just telling me how 90% of the problems that customers bring in are solved with software patches/updates/corrections vs mechanical fixes. Of course, the dealership mostly deals with the new cars but the point is still valid.

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