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Transportation

Automakers To Gearheads: Stop Repairing Cars 649

Mr_Blank writes 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. 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.
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Automakers To Gearheads: Stop Repairing Cars

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  • by davydagger ( 2566757 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @04:51PM (#49514227)
    you simply get to use it, and the automaker gets a final say in how you use your car. good grief.
    • by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @04:52PM (#49514239)

      I guess when my windshield gets a knick in it or if someone rubs my fender, it's time to throw out my car!

      • by Wootery ( 1087023 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @05:07PM (#49514429)

        Nothing a nice, expensive official repair shop won't fix.

        • by schnell ( 163007 ) <{ten.llenhcs} {ta} {em}> on Monday April 20, 2015 @09:20PM (#49516317) Homepage

          Nothing a nice, expensive official repair shop won't fix.

          Well, somebody needs to play Devil's Advocate here, so I will. What if onboard vehicle computers truthfully are (or soon will become) so complicated - and so integral to the functioning of the vehicle - that an untrained hobbyist screwing with it could cause injury or death? What if some homebrew-loving gearhead hacker decides to roll his own firmware for the car because he thinks he can squeeze some extra MPG out of it, and instead it zeroes out the odometer due to a glitch? Or disables the seatbelt warnings? Or randomly cuts of f the engine in the middle of the highway?

          Yes, it can be argued that negligent behavior causing death or injury already has penalties, but those are after the fact. We all understand how easy it is to screw up software. Do we want to be reactive or penalize it in the first place? Might it not be reasonable to say in effect that cars with owner-modified computers are fine but are no longer street legal?

          P.S. No, I don't work for a car company, I'm not a shill or a troll. In fact I generally find cars quite boring. But I find Slashdot even more boring when nobody attempts to find merit in a contrary opinion...

          • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 20, 2015 @09:43PM (#49516413)

            My response is: That's YOUR (the automaker's) fault for making them that way, and therefore you need to change your habits, not me.

          • by Predius ( 560344 ) <josh.coombs@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Monday April 20, 2015 @09:56PM (#49516487)

            You don't need to worry about car complexity creating that scenario. An idiot wrench can absolutely wreck his ability to stop by sucking air into a caliper while 'bleeding the brakes' leading to a failed panic stop or fail to lock down cables on a carb leading to a stuck open throttle, etc.

            • by davester666 ( 731373 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @01:46AM (#49517341) Journal

              Hell, the moron who replaced the water pump in a truck just before I bought didn't bother to clip the radiator hoses down [just push them into their holders].

              Two weeks later, fan rubs a hole in it, and all the water gets pumped out.

              Fortunately, it was a cold day and I wasn't too far from a parts store...

              There are a million things that a weekend mechanic can do to make a vehicle dangerous to drive.

              And don't forget the manufacturer. They can't even get it right. Are there any vehicles that don't have one or more recalls issued for them, for all kinds of fun reasons like the ignition key turning to off [and locking the steering wheel in place] while the car is in motion, or the steering wheel coming off, engine revving or turning off spontaneously, transmission shifting incorrectly, brakes failing, air bags deploying [or not].

              • by topologicalanomaly47 ( 1226068 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @06:21AM (#49517951)

                The big issue for me is that around here the chance of having my car repaired by a moron is a lot greater if I go to a dealer shop instead of some trusted garage that all my friends use.

                • by Bob the Super Hamste ( 1152367 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @08:07AM (#49518239) Homepage
                  Same here. My .last experience with the dealer was when one of the window regulators broke (E46 BMW so it is a common problem). It looked like it was going to rain so I inquired what it would cost for them to install it and got some absurd number like $800 most of which was 2.5 hours of labor. I flat out told them it doesn't take 2.5 hours and said that I would pay for 1 hour of labor. They insisted that this was way too low and that they could get it done in 2 hours. So I left with a new regulator, plastic clip and nut and went home. At the time my 5 year old wanted to help and learn how to fix the car so I let him do most of it and he managed to do it in a little more than a hour.
            • I grew up in the 70's and 80's when every young bloke got his first car they put a bigger or modified engine in it, without upgrading anything else. Back then the road toll was over double what it is now. The funny part is that your standard Toyota has more power than the V8's of old, but now we have great tyre tech, ABS, modern suspension, crumple zones, compulsory seat belts, and better roads.
          • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Monday April 20, 2015 @10:45PM (#49516727)

            Well, somebody needs to play Devil's Advocate here, so I will. What if onboard vehicle computers truthfully are (or soon will become) so complicated - and so integral to the functioning of the vehicle - that an untrained hobbyist screwing with it could cause injury or death?

            Fuck, man, brakes have been like that for a hundred goddamn years!

            Stop letting "buh-buh-buh-computers!" be an excuse for corporate sociopaths and nanny-state asswipes to destroy your rights. Seriously.

            We have two choices: we can be free, or we can be safe. These are mutually exclusive. And in the United States of America, the only correct choice is to be free. Sniveling infantile cowards who think otherwise can fuck off and die.

        • by dwye ( 1127395 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @11:28PM (#49516893)

          Actually, the local Mercedes-Benz dealership doesn't do body work, so my parents had to go to the local Cadillac/5others dealer a couple years ago when a deer committed suicide by running into and bouncing off our front bumper and grill. It looked like almost no damage, but it took months to get everything fixed, since the Cadillac dealership/bodyshop didn't have any official trained MBenz mechanics to do the work that they would have had to do.

          So, no, your official repair shop might not handle your windshield crack or fender scratch, even now.

          The only automakers mentioned in the article (yes, I occasionally read them, so sue me) were GM and Ford, which are oddly enough the only two US companies left (left as US companies, at least). Whether Chrysler Fiat or any of the US manufacturing Japanese companies AREN'T doing this, aren't doing this YET, or just weren't worth mentioning since engineering decisions are made out of the country and thus beyond reach of mail campaigns, is anybody's guess.

    • by theguyfromsaturn ( 802938 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @04:52PM (#49514247)

      Indeed. Sounds like Apple.

    • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @04:56PM (#49514285) Homepage

      Fine, if I no longer fucking own the damned car, then they can charge me considerably less for it.

      What they want to do it wipe out the doctrine of "First Sale" which says "this is my property, what you think I should do is irrelevant".

      This is just a cash grab by greedy assholes.

      But if the car isn't mine, don't go expecting the same amount of money for it.

      I sincerely hope these auto makers get smacked down really hard.

      • Since I'm not buying it I shouldn't be taxed on it, but aren't we taxed on the phones even though they're leased?
      • by FatdogHaiku ( 978357 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @05:13PM (#49514507)
        Sales is all they understand. Now they would like to force you to use them for service. Next it will be "Remove all cars more than X years old because of pollution ( I know, you think a car manufacturer would not touch that topic, but they will) and safety issues. The only thing you can do is convert an old car to electric (and they will scream about safety for that too) and not buy a car under the new terms.

        From a legislative point of view, an automobile conveys more personal freedom than anything other than weapons. Therefor it will be constrained, (you can only drive this or that type of vehicle) then limited (i. e. mass transit or autonomous-cabs for the masses), then restricted (as in "Hey you middle class,go huddle with the masses") until only the elite have actual freedom of movement.
        • by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @05:27PM (#49514633)

          We kind of do the pollution thing already- you need to take smog tests in most states to keep it registered. Older cars have more trouble than newer ones. There are exemptions for cars old enough to be classics, but it is effective at weeding out those in the 15-20 year old range.

          • by JoeMerchant ( 803320 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @05:40PM (#49514783)

            Depends heavily on the state, county, etc.

            I was pretty livid living in Harris County (Houston, TX), driving past the petro-refineries pumping out visible tons of pollution per day to take my 3rd round smog test because my 1600cc car that I drive 4000 miles a year was measuring 230ppm hydrocarbons instead of the legal 220 - meanwhile our 5900cc pickup truck had a legal limit of 330ppm....

          • Older cars have more trouble than newer ones. There are exemptions for cars old enough to be classics, but it is effective at weeding out those in the 15-20 year old range.

            My 1993 Ford Escort Wagon (yes, I still own it) has absolutely no trouble passing State of Washington emissions laws. It's not even close to the limits.

            My vehicle currently gets roughly 35 mpg highway and 30 mpg city. I know it's simplistic to use gas mileage as a proxy for gasoline conversion efficiency, but - it is not obvious to me that there's been significant improvement in gas engines over the past 20 or 30 years. I don't see a lot of similarly-sized new cars that do better than - or even as good as -

      • The price of a car (and everything else, for that matter) has never been been determined by value, or utility, it is determined by what the market will bear.

        What they are hoping here is that the market will continue to pay current prices for cars while losing the right to modify or repair them. I'm sure the people who lease a new one every 2 years won't mind a bit; mechanics, tuners, and gearheads are another story.

        Since this is a democracy, we have to hope that people standing on principles of freedom / p

    • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

      Its already been like that for a while actually.
      Have you ever tried replacing a major component such as a transmission of a car yourself? in most cases the car does an audit of whats plugged in before it will even turn the engine over. If an installed part has a serial number that doesn't match the ECU's stored manifest, the car wont even try to start. To update the manifest you need a dealer-only tool.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 20, 2015 @05:15PM (#49514525)

        Ugh, I think you need to actually work on cars before saying anything like that.

        Only the Nissan GTR has an engine mated and tuned directly to the transmission. Other high end (150+k) cars would have this even remotely possible. Cars are mass produced. The transmission your car can be replaced with any of the like car transmissions without being disabled.

        • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

          Ugh, I think you need to stop talking down to people. As it happens I do "actually" work on cars and have done so for a long time.

          >> Other high end (150+k) cars would have this even remotely possible.

          Wrong. There are many brands that all have cars under $40k that do this. You can start with most if not all Euro brands, especially the premium brands.

          >> Only the Nissan GTR has an engine mated and tuned directly to the transmission. ....which has exactly nothing to do with what I was describing. Pl

      • I know as an anti-theft "feature", some makes have coding on the radio making it impossible to replace with another OEM radio.

        Here's another one: Someone I know accidentally set off the airbags in their car (no collision). They replaced the bags, but the air bag light was still on. Toyota couldn't simply "reset the fault" and wanted to sell him a whole new air bag computer ($$$). He found some online outfit that will reset the computer.

    • Not even going to mince words here: They want to be assholes.

      Of course this will never be allowed to happen. If so it might well completely collapse the economy. There are many, many people who cannot afford to pay someone to do repair work on their vehicles, and what are you going to tell them? "Sorry, you have to quit your job you're just getting by on, and take a shittier job within walking distance of home, because you can't afford to pay exhorbitant fees to have simple repairs done to your car that yo
    • by rnturn ( 11092 )

      Great... Next we'll be told that it's a "transportation appliance" with no user serviceable parts inside..

    • by mark-t ( 151149 )
      What if *YOU* build it?
  • Probably best (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bobstreo ( 1320787 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @04:51PM (#49514235)

    To purchase a nice car from the 60's or 70's with no computer. Easy to fix, and except for crash-readyness usually pretty solid.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Cars from the 60's-70's suck big time.
      What you want is a car from the early '90s, pre OBDII.
      It turns out that the engine computer in my car is a 6502 derivative. Seeing how I cut my programming teeth on VIC-20's, C-64's and Atari 800's it wasn't difficult to go in to the rom and modify the code as I saw fit.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        OBDII only requires a laptop, an OBDII to USB cable, and (some free) software. Tune away. And pre '75 cars are totally modifiable, you can put an Allison V12 with a supercharger on it if you want, as they are exempt from smog inspection now.
    • Coincedently I just bought a 64 1/2 'stang.

      Buy it off me, before I put a mouse and a munci in it. It will be the first SS mustang (that will really piss them off).

    • I don't know, I hit someone's van with my Bronco (full size) my bumper was fine, his side had a big dent in it. It's easy to go through these crumple cars when yours doesn't.
      • by Sowelu ( 713889 )

        I'd give the van's occupants better odds than I'd give you against a brick wall, though.

    • Re:Probably best (Score:5, Informative)

      by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @05:05PM (#49514413) Homepage Journal

      Actually most hot rodders are using the new Chevy LS engines on older cars because they are so good and easy to work one even with the computer.
      Google Chevy LS builds.

    • by Xel ( 84370 )

      Terrible mileage, hard to find parts, unsafe in crashes, harder to drive. If you're willing to put up with all that because you're just such a gearhead, why not just build your own car from the ground up?

    • by bored ( 40072 )

      You probably don't have to go that old, plenty of cars from the late 90's are both safer, and get better gas mileage. Sure they have ECU's too, but the ECU tends to be only for engine management, and its built with 80's era DIP's and 1Mhz processors. AKA you can reprogram it, repair it,etc.

      I've have a late 90's Toyota, that is pretty open (or has been reverse engineered) has airbags/etc. But it doesn't have TPS's that have to be replaced all the time, or an AC that decides I don't want recirculation on with

    • I owned a 74 chevy nova as my first car. I was racing with my friends. I wrecked my car into a guard rail, and jammed it back a bunch of feet. My car's damage? It had about a 1/2 inch dent which wasn't noticeable since I had so many other dents :) Big ol steel bodied cars are okay for people in them, but not so much the things you hit... kinda like how trucks operate...

      I live in a family of people who can do pretty well under the hood for repairs. They've said they think it'd be great if auto man
  • Why don't the automakers just seek refuge under the DMCA [slashdot.org] from all those evil automobile hackers? Clearly, figuring out how your car works is a direct attack on the very hard work and property of those automakers.

    Time to pass a bill state by state [slashdot.org]. I'm the sure the invisible hand of the free market will line all the right politicians' pockets to rush those through. Hopefully someday we won't be able to own our cars and we can go back to the Ma Bell days when every phone was rented.
    • by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @04:58PM (#49514321)

      This has nothing to do with the free market. This is using government regulation to prevent the fair use of your own property.

      Although I wouldn't be surprised if someone made that lame brained argument on the automaker's side. They're no more in favor of a free market than a communist is. It just so happens that when they have bought out the government, government regulation works for them, and not as a means of checking them.

  • by Bruce66423 ( 1678196 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @04:53PM (#49514261)
    Whilst the DMCA may or may not be a good thing, it is certainly not a means for the car manufacturers to impose a SAFETY based restriction. That organisations pull that sort of abuse is why the legal system is held in contempt.
  • Hold it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @04:54PM (#49514271)

    " 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"

    Do the editors even read this site ? Virtually everyone realized this could apply to just about anything that ran code. There was even the infamous use garage door opener case

    https://freedom-to-tinker.com/... [freedom-to-tinker.com]

    And the HP and Lexmark toner cartridge cases which were just about embedded serialization
     

    • Re:Hold it (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Fire_Wraith ( 1460385 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @05:32PM (#49514691)
      Everyone who was technically astute and aware, on sites such as this, raised concerns of this very nature. While I don't have the reference at the tip of my finger, I feel that I can state with some certainty that this very possibility was raised, by explaining how applying the DMCA to cars would prevent you from modifying, repairing, or otherwise working on your car, or even taking it to a third party mechanic. (After all, since when has Slashdot been able to resist a car analogy?)

      No, the people that "didn't realize this" are the politicians and proponents of the DMCA and other horrible laws like it, and the others who bought the line of BS being fed to them by those proponents - the people who dismissed such objections as the being "outlandish," "preposterous," or similarly unrealistic. We tried to tell them, and they ignored us.
    • Re:Hold it (Score:5, Informative)

      by Frobnicator ( 565869 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @11:26PM (#49516875) Journal

      And the HP and Lexmark toner cartridge cases which were just about embedded serialization

      Yeah, no. This was specifically mentioned in the Lexmark v Static Control Components case. That was already dealt with in the 6th circuit and supported 9-0 by the SCOTUS. Copy of the decision. [eff.org]

      Automobile manufacturers, for example, could control the entire market of replacement parts for their vehicles by including lock-out chips. Congress did not intend to allow the DMCA to be used offensively in this manner, but rather only sought to reach those who circumvented protective measures “for the purpose” of pirating works protected by the copyright statute. Unless a plaintiff can show that a defendant circumvented protective measures for such a purpose, its claim should not be allowed to go forward. If Lexmark wishes to utilize DMCA protections for (allegedly) copyrightable works, it should not use such works to prevent competing cartridges from working with its printer.

      ... By contrast, Lexmark would have us read this statute in such a way that any time a manufacturer intentionally circumvents any technological measure and accesses a protected work it necessarily violates the statute regardless of its “purpose.” Such a reading would ignore the precise language – “for the purpose of” – as well as the main point of the DMCA – to prohibit the pirating of copyright-protected works such as movies, music, and computer programs. If we were to adopt Lexmark’s reading of the statute, manufacturers could potentially create monopolies for replacement parts simply by using similar, but more creative, lock-out codes. Automobile manufacturers, for example, could control the entire market of replacement parts for their vehicles by including lock-out chips. Congress did not intend to allow the DMCA to be used offensively in this manner, but rather only sought to reach those who circumvented protective measures “for the purpose” of pirating works protected by the copyright statute. Unless a plaintiff can show that a defendant circumvented protective measures for such a purpose, its claim should not be allowed to go forward.

      Yes it is a short line, but it seems rather bright-line to cite in this case.

  • by XxtraLarGe ( 551297 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @04:59PM (#49514327) Journal
    I'm not Joe Mechanic or anything like that, but I know enough to change my air, fuel & oil filters, add fluids, etc. I've even done tune-ups on my older cars, but what about the real grease monkeys who can fix anything on a vehicle? Wouldn't this type of law put the Auto-Zones, Napas & the like out of business? I don't know where they get the majority of their sales, but I know a sizeable amount has to come from home car repair/tuning enthusiasts.
    • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @05:21PM (#49514575)

      They are already having some difficulties. Cars are a lot more complicated than they used to be, and getting more so. That means even simple repairs on anything other than the body involve a fair amount of computer work. Want to replace the air filter? Ok. Want to replace it with a slightly different one for performance tuning purposes? The ECU is configured for the stock part, and you can't reprogram it to utilise one with lower flow resistance unless you purchase the manufacturer's highly-specialised cable and software, and even then they might not allow it to be flashed with details for non-standard parts. You can't swap the gearbox because the old one has a link to the vehicle network in order to report the current gear selection and output angular speed to the ECU, and you'll struggle to find another that speaks the same protocol - assuming there isn't a deliberate anti-tamper in place that disables the vehicle if it detects an unauthorised serial number, and again requires reconfiguring using the expensive specialised tool.

      Everyone on Slashdot has seen the situation with computer technology in recent years: They are not built to be repairable. Locked-down firmware, more parts being soldered to the mainboard to bring costs and size down, and the rise of devices like tablets that deliberately render low-level access impossible so the user is confined to running only what the manufacturer permits. Same story in automotive, just a few years behind.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    When you start your new car for the first time, an FBI warning replaces the metering display and an annoying voice from the sound system asks; "You wouldn't pirate a movie, would you?"

  • by Trachman ( 3499895 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @05:00PM (#49514353) Journal

    In 100 years it will be determined that home based human baby producing process is too dangerous. All the enthusiasts and hobbyists are at great risk of infringing of the global law, 1 baby per family, and are at risk of procreating unauthorized offspring.

  • by sstamps ( 39313 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @05:02PM (#49514369) Homepage

    (at least the ones who think this is a good idea)

    Fuck off and die, preferably in a fire.

  • From now on, sticking with cars made before this stupid concept went into effect.

  • The DMCA does indeed suck. You should let your senator know that you don't want this and maybe even create one of those presidential petitions?

  • A cynic might suspect that this is the automakers' response to the coming of the electric car, with its much lower maintenance costs.

  • by MachineShedFred ( 621896 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @05:14PM (#49514511) Journal

    Fuck you.

    Show me a car that I'm not allowed to fix, and I'll show you a car that I won't allow myself to buy.

    • by eth1 ( 94901 )

      Fuck you.

      Show me a car that I'm not allowed to fix, and I'll show you a car that I won't allow myself to buy.

      Problem is, they can probably apply it retroactively to any car you're likely to currently own.

  • Hang on.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Coffee Warlord ( 266564 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @05:16PM (#49514535)

    How are we supposed to make a car analogy now?

  • Inaccurate headline. (Score:5, Informative)

    by jklovanc ( 1603149 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @05:18PM (#49514559)

    From the article;

    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.

    This is not about replacing brakes, oil changes, replacing spark plugs, etc. It is about making software changes that most people do not have the experience or knowledge to do.

    • Came here to say this. This has nothing to do with replacing your spark plugs or ball joints. This is about modding your ECU. That said, I think that if a manufacturer ships an ECU that can be modded to such a degree that it causes the brakes to fail, the manufacturer bears a lot of that fault. However, in general, cars aren't cell phones or PCs. It's no big deal if you load up Cyanogenmod and your phone crashes. It's a pretty big deal if you flash your ECU and you lose traction through a turn thanks to som

    • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt AT nerdflat DOT com> on Monday April 20, 2015 @05:34PM (#49514715) Journal

      And if such changes would cause the vehicle to no longer comply with regional safety standards for vehicles, then the person would be held responsible if or when that modification was discovered. While that may be too late to actually prevent an accident, making it illegal to modify your car under the allegation that you may make it unsafe to drive is like making it illegal for you to drink alcohol if you happen to have a driver's license (ignoring the fact that a driver's license is often used for verifying that one is of legal drinking age in the first place) because you might try drive while drunk. Most of the people who are suspected of drunk driving are unfortunately only found so after they have already caused an accident as well.

      My point is that like drunk driving, and laws that prohibit that activity, there are already laws that prohibit making any unsafe modifications to your vehicle... and not realizing that a change would cause a vehicle to not meet the necessary safety requirements is no more of a justification than not realizing that one was over the legal limit for blood alcohol content when getting behind the wheel of a car.

  • ... that prohibit enthusiasts from making modifications to any vehicle that is to be driven on public roads which make it no longer comply with regional safety regulations.

    If manufacturers don't want people tinkering with their systems because they are genuinely concerned about public safety, then it seems to me like they are already covered... there's no need to bring the DMCA into it at all.

  • by random coward ( 527722 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @05:24PM (#49514605)
    If they do this, they're going against the magnuson moss act.

    In a just world they would lose copyright when they stop warranting the product. You want copyright of that ecu? You give a permanent warranty on it and replace them every time they fail, for free. Don't want to have to replace it? then you give up copyright to the code on it because user needs to fix it. I'm not holding my breath though.
  • by bunyip ( 17018 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @05:33PM (#49514701)

    Is there nothing more American than taking a mass market car and finding another 10 horsepower?
    Or making the stereo loud enough to knock down old barns as you drive by?

    What if immersing your motherboard in liquid nitrogen for another 3 frames per second were illegal?
    Or writing your own operating system could land you in jail?

    What have we come to? We need to protect people from doing stupid stuff, but nobody wants to live in a world with only one flavor...

    A.

  • by 0dugo0 ( 735093 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @05:43PM (#49514823)

    Religious leaders are supporting provisions in copyright law that could prohibit home writers and book enthusiasts from repairing and modifying their own bibles. In comments filed with a federal agency that will determine whether tinkering with a bible constitutes a copyright violation, churches and their main lobbying organisation say bibles have become too complex and dangerous for believers and third parties to even scribble in. The dispute arises from a section of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that no one thought could apply to bibles when it was signed into law in 1998. But now, in an era where books are text files, the U.S. Copyright Office is examining whether provisions of the law that protect intellectual property should prohibit people from modifying or even put boogers in their hardcopy bibles.

  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @05:44PM (#49514843) Homepage Journal

    OEMs and their main lobbying organization say cars have become too complex and dangerous for consumers and third parties to handle.

    It sounds like it would be in the interests of public safety, to use their own quotations to support an injunction from them being able to sell these unsafe cars.

    Just as unmaintainable computers should not be allowed on the Internet, unmaintainable cars should not be allowed on public roads.

  • by erp_consultant ( 2614861 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @05:50PM (#49514903)

    For years these pricks have been ripping off their customers with deceptive pricing and dealer networks that are nothing more than a middle man. They want you to believe that you have to bring your car to the dealer for service but if you read the fine print you will see that any competent neighborhood mechanic can service you car and not void the warranty.

    Then along comes Tesla and Uber and others that threaten their monopolies. So instead of changing their business to suit the way consumers want it they double down and try to lock you in. Right out of the playbook of the movie studios and cable companies and utilities. They will litigate and use political pressure to force you to play the game the way they want it played. Same old same old.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 20, 2015 @06:10PM (#49515043)

    We want you to buy a new car every 3 years and with auto drive cars they will shutdown after software updates end after 2-3 years.

  • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @06:21PM (#49515137)

    Ok, automakers want to force me to obey their license terms? WHERE ARE THEY?

    I've never had a dealer make me sign a EULA or license terms to use the car they just sold me... Go ahead guys, TRY IT!.

    Once you do this, I'm going to review all the software I can find in my car and start looking for Open Source libraries in all that fancy user interface stuff you are providing now and make you comply to the license terms for it all. I have a feeling that we will find that you have some legal problems..

    Next they are going to try this on hand tools....

  • I have found that in recent (say 10 or so) years dealerships have become a lot more cost competitive; at least for some types of repairs and maintenance procedures. One example I have noticed is with oil changes. My car uses synthetic oil, and a lot of it. I priced out what it would cost me to change the oil myself if I bought the appropriate oil at the local parts store, and the filter. I then called the dealership and their cost to me for the same was only $5 more. If I had done it myself I would have spent $5 running the used oil somewhere for disposal, and likely had to spend time afterwards cleaning up part of my garage. it was well worth the $5 to let them do it.

    I have found other similar situations with brake jobs (I would normally do these myself but in situations involving stuck calipers or parking brake pads that won't release, I call and price it out at the dealership and local brake shops).

    Now, I haven't encountered the need for a really large repair yet. I don't know if this scales or not. But it does suggest that the dealerships are aware of consumers pricing out these things and have brought their charges down in response.
  • Lexmark case (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pcjunky ( 517872 ) <walterp@cyberstreet.com> on Monday April 20, 2015 @09:09PM (#49516247) Homepage

    Printer manufacturers tried this several years ago with chips in ink cartridges. The supreme court ruled it was ok to reverse engineer the code on these chips if it was required to allow other companies to make make compatible cartidges. I would think the same would apply to cars and after market parts and upgrades.

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