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Car Manufacturers Plan to Prohibit Home Mechanics from Tinkering



/ 2 years ago

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Car manufacturers are supporting new changes in copyright law that could stop home mechanics and car enthusiasts from repairing and modifying their own vehicles.

A federal agency has had several comments filed with it that may determine if tinkering with a car could become a copyright violation. Every three years the US copyright office holds a meeting on whether certain activities should be exempt from the law that governs technological measures that protect copyrighted work. To prevent all changes to cars being blocked the Electronic Frontier Foundation have asked the government to allow changes to the necessary car components such as headlights, wiper blades etc.

Many auto makers have expressed concern that allowing 3rd parties to access the Electrical Control Units in their cars could be potentially fatal. The ECU controls vital functions such as throttle input, braking and steering, however incorrect changes may affect these functions or worse, stop them completely. The industries have also expressed concern that modifying the computers could lead to security vulnerabilities and issues with cyber security.

After-market suppliers and home enthusiasts have been changing ECU’s for several years without serious consequences. This was done in a process commonly known as chipping. Changes to the code have been able to increase horsepower, increase fuel efficiency and enhance countless other features.

For the main part, manufacturers say they’re more concerned about potential money loss rather than new money streams. Tinkering with the computer can void the cars warranty but the auto makers remain concerned if the changes could result in physical or financial harm. They noted that some mechanics manipulate odometers and make cars appear that they have less miles on them, a serious problem for used car buyers.

What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments below.

Thank you to AutoBlog for this information

Image courtesy of Munic.io


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  • ImUrAssassin

    It could be a Copyright Violation if you claim it as your own… This is just a good way to lose customers and sales.

  • YeahRight

    The copyright argument is not aimed at home users, since that’s legally pointless. Everybody can take a copy of “Gone with the wind” and edit the heck out of it for their own use without ANY fear of punishment. What they can’t do is to republish the edited version under their own name. It’s the same for micro-controller code. One can hack any controller and there is no copyright issue, as long as that code doesn’t get distributed.