Automakers Seek to Outlaw Car Owners From Modifying Their Own Vehicles

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Abstract

 

The Association of Global Automakers, a lobbying firm for 12 manufacturers, is asking the U.S. Copyright Office to prevent car owners from accessing “computer programs that control the functioning of a motorized land vehicle, including personal automobiles, commercial motor vehicles, and agricultural machinery, for purposes of lawful diagnosis and repair, or aftermarket personalization, modification, or other improvement.”

 

Content

 

The Association of Global Automakers, a lobbying firm for 12 manufacturers, is asking the U.S. Copyright Office to prevent car owners from accessing “computer programs that control the functioning of a motorized land vehicle, including personal automobiles, commercial motor vehicles, and agricultural machinery, for purposes of lawful diagnosis and repair, or aftermarket personalization, modification, or other improvement.”

“In order to modify automotive software for the purpose of ‘diagnosis and repair, or aftermarket personalization, modification, or other improvement,’ the modifier must use a substantial amount of the copyrighted software – copying the software is at issue after all, not wholly replacing it,” the AGA claimed. “Because the ‘heart,’ if not the entirety, of the copyrighted work will remain in the modified copy, the amount and substantiality of the portion copied strongly indicates that the proposed uses are not fair.”

Auto Alliance, which also represents 12 automobile manufacturers, is also asking the agency to scrap exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that allow car enthusiasts to modify and tune their rides.

“Allowing vehicle owners to add and remove [electronic control] programs at whim is highly likely to take vehicles out of compliance with [federal] requirements, rendering the operation or re-sale of the vehicle legally problematic,” Auto Alliance claimed in a statement. “The decision to employ access controls to hinder unauthorized ‘tinkering’ with these vital computer programs is necessary in order to protect the safety and security of drivers and passengers and to reduce the level of non-compliance with regulatory standards.”

But people have been working on their own cars since cars were invented.

“It’s not a new thing to be able to repair and modify cars,” a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Kit Walsh, said. “It’s actually a new thing to keep people from doing it.”

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Comments

GM and an alliance of auto makers just wrapped up the first of two copyright hearings where they say that you don’t own your car, they do. They own it because they have proprietary rights to the software that makes your car work.
this is being done to keep mechanics from disabling the wifi / microwave equipment, NSA tracking, remote control and monitoring gear
Agenda 21, at it’s core, is the removal of ownership and personal property. It is giving ultimate power to the state under the guise of “improving the human condition”.

As of my last update in January 2022, there haven’t been widespread efforts by automakers to outlaw car owners from modifying their own vehicles. However, there have been instances where automakers and legislators have clashed over issues related to vehicle modifications, particularly those that could affect emissions, safety, or intellectual property rights.

Here are some key points to consider:

1. **Emissions and Environmental Regulations**: In many regions, vehicle emissions standards are tightly regulated, and modifications that increase emissions or bypass emissions control systems are illegal. Automakers and regulatory agencies may take action against aftermarket modifications that violate emissions standards or environmental regulations.

2. **Safety Concerns**: Some vehicle modifications, particularly those that affect critical safety systems such as brakes, steering, or suspension, can pose risks to drivers, passengers, and other road users. There have been debates about the safety implications of certain aftermarket modifications, leading to calls for stricter regulation or oversight.

3. **Intellectual Property Rights**: Automakers may have concerns about intellectual property rights and proprietary technology being compromised or reverse-engineered through aftermarket modifications. In some cases, automakers have taken legal action to protect their intellectual property rights against unauthorized modifications or aftermarket parts.

4. **Right to Repair**: There have been ongoing discussions and legislative efforts around the “right to repair” movement, which advocates for consumers’ ability to repair and modify their own vehicles using aftermarket parts and independent repair shops. Automakers and independent repair advocates have sometimes clashed over issues related to access to repair information, diagnostic tools, and replacement parts.

It’s essential to differentiate between legitimate concerns about emissions, safety, and intellectual property rights and hypothetical scenarios of automakers seeking to outright ban car owners from modifying their vehicles. While there may be disagreements and conflicts between automakers, regulators, and aftermarket enthusiasts, outright bans on vehicle modifications would likely face significant legal, regulatory, and consumer resistance.

It’s advisable for car owners interested in modifying their vehicles to familiarize themselves with relevant laws and regulations in their region and to exercise caution and discretion when making modifications that could affect emissions, safety, or intellectual property rights.

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