Carmakers Can't Use The DMCA To Make Working On Your Car Illegal

Discussion in 'HardForum Tech News' started by HardOCP News, Oct 28, 2015.

  1. HardOCP News

    HardOCP News [H] News

    Dec 31, 1969
    As a bit of a follow up to this news item, auto enthusiasts are thrilled that auto manufacturers can no longer use the DMCA to stop you from working on your car.

    Well, they offered an exemption. As the Library of Congress’ U.S. Copyright Office ruled this morning, “reproducing and altering the computer programs on ECUs for purposes of facilitating diagnosis, repair and modification of vehicles” is totally cool.
  2. Tuxon86

    Tuxon86 Limp Gawd

    Oct 19, 2012
    for purposes of facilitating diagnosis, repair

    I wonder if this precedent could be used against DRM since they impede diagnosis and repair of faulty optical medium or corrupted files...
  3. westrock2000

    westrock2000 [H]ardForum Junkie

    Jun 3, 2005
    There is still EPA regulations, which would pertain to much of "modification".

    As far as "repair", I have never seen a situation where someone would need to modify operating parameters to get a car back to normal working condition. That would sound like a Band-Aid fix. If the ECU or PCM or whatever you want to call it is faulty, then it needs to be replaced. This isn't Star Trek, you do not redirect the shields to starboard to get through it.

    So this whole thing about outlawing car repairs sounded like a ruse to me. This is about modifiers. And that has been illegal for a long time. You think CARB is going to care about your rights under the DMCA? It's not their concern.
  4. Jagger100

    Jagger100 [H]ardness Supreme

    Oct 31, 2004
    How is 'messing with code' working on your car? You mean modifying you car. Wildly different from maintainence which is what most assume from the statement. Lawyers are going to love suing Auto Makers for firmware changes some yahoo makes. Automakers are probably going to respond by making the part completely unservicable or force a hardware modification to obtain a firmware modification.

    In the end, they will be less modify-able and more expensive to service for everyone else. Big win for Lawyers though.
  5. Quix

    Quix 2[H]4U

    Jun 12, 2011
    Since the alternative the automakers wanted was 0% non-dealer serviceability I can't see how this can possibly be worse than that. It doesn't stop them from tracking modifications and voiding warranties (which I totally agree with). If you want to modify something you've bought, the manufacturer shouldn't be able to use the law to stop you from doing so.
  6. Dirty Butler

    Dirty Butler Limp Gawd

    Sep 3, 2011
    What? Dealers reflash the computers in cars all the time to fix issues
  7. Kueller

    Kueller [H]ardness Supreme

    Jun 19, 2001
    I hope this applies to farm machinery too.

    Not a fan of what John Deere and others have been doing in that area, encrypting their ECUs and programming them to disable the entire vehicle for software problems or non-critical mechanical/sensor faults, until an authorized technician can come out and re-enable it for an exorbitant fee.
  8. Intel1317

    Intel1317 [H]Lite

    Jun 27, 2002
    Actually most dealers these days at some point will update an ECU's settings to fix or improve certain issues. I know BMW has done it on some to get better gas mileage and better transmission control, Many brands do this for something as simple as the idle needing to be set higher for weather conditions or changing the sensitivity of your electric gas pedal.
  9. waynea

    waynea n00b

    Jul 24, 2015
    Define modify. If you replace the battery on a late model BMW you gave to tell the ecu. The factory battery for a 5 series runs about $300 and the dealer wants $500 for the service for a battery that should cost 100 to 150 and the service total might be 150 to 200.
  10. XViper

    XViper Gawd

    Aug 24, 2012
    Interesting. I've seen people hack the ECU's in order to get a turbo kit working on their car or something. Now I guess it's legal to do. Not like it was ever going to stop those people anyway.
  11. xXaNaXx

    xXaNaXx Gawd

    May 15, 2003
    ^^^ this

    as long as vehicles have been around, people have been modifying them. they're not gonna stop just because some copyright law says you can't tinker with it.

    at least now those doing the modifying have less to worry about in terms of repercussions should it ever be found out.
  12. Wierdo

    Wierdo [H]ard|Gawd

    Jul 2, 2011
    I remember having a Ford a long time ago - college student with a junk car - that needed a simple fix, but the mechanic couldn't help me because there was a proprietary chip preventing him from properly analyzing some sensor for me.

    After an accident due to the car shutting off at a stop sign I sucked it up and spent the tuition funds on the car dealer because only they had the proper tool for doing those readings. Sword off Fords ever since.

    Maybe this can help in that situation, would be nice if mechanics were allowed to now hook up to that DRM barrier and perform the simple repair.
  13. TechLarry

    TechLarry Can't find the G Spot

    Aug 9, 2005
    As usual, they left a gray area.

    You can't modify it to change emissions, and the mfr's will argue that changing the 'tune' alters the emissions modeling of the car.

    It'll happen. Wait for it.
  14. Wierdo

    Wierdo [H]ard|Gawd

    Jul 2, 2011
    edit: Swore off*
  15. bob616

    bob616 Limp Gawd

    Mar 30, 2015
    Dang I was going to tell you to keep your sword away from my Ford. Sure it wasn't a Freudian slip? Well expect maybe today when like John Cleese I wanted to thrash the thing since, while the aircon works fine, the heater only blows cold, of course I find that out a few days before it's supposed to snow (record highs for Saturday, snow by Monday).

    If it was easy I'd love to play around with the transmission settings see if I couldn't trade a little power for a bit more MPG, I don't think CARB would care about that.
  16. Rizen

    Rizen [H]ardForum Junkie

    Jul 16, 2000
    You need to be able to tune your engine if you start changing parameters, and not all of us are required to pass emissions, or even drive our cars on the street.
  17. Armenius

    Armenius I Drive Myself to the [H]ospital

    Jan 28, 2014
    No vehicle inspections in my state. Sometime in the past the state governement figured out that they were a waste of time and too much of a burden on both vehicle owners and the businesses that needed to facilitate the inspections. You can just reflash the ECU with the stock program beforehand, anyway.
  18. Ocean

    Ocean [H]ardness Supreme

    Oct 19, 2003
    im okay with this now, but i wonder what happens when someone foobars a self driving vehicle code that can cause bad press when it kills someone.