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Featured N/A | National Working on your bike may become illegal under copyright law

Discussion in 'Politics, Laws, Government & Insurance' started by cjvfr, Apr 21, 2015.

  1. #1 cjvfr, Apr 21, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2015
    The USA Copyright office is hearing Automakers requests under Copyright law to "prohibit home mechanics and car enthusiasts from repairing and modifying their own vehicles." This dispute arises under a section of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

    As the USA and Australia now has a free trade agreement the flow on effects if this is upheld may have effects in Australia and perhaps limit working on your own bike.

    Automakers to gearheads: Stop repairing cars

    New threat to Australian sovereignty in TPP negotiations
    • Informative Informative x 2
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  2. if "working on your bike" means modifying the code in the ECU?

    easy, just go with an open source ECU like Microsquirt :D
  3. Good in practice but the Automakers are going for a far broader view so replacing the ECU, they would argue. violates their copyright. A dangerous precedent
  4. Doesn't work in America so it shouldn't be a problem in America. In fact, vehicle manufacturers selling cars in America are required to make a lot of stuff such as fault codes, specific tools etc available for sale to anyone. In Australia they can keep that information and parts for their designated service departments (usually dealers) so mechanics usually buy that stuff from overseas sources.

    Where they do try it on is copying original parts. Chrysler has a track record of taking businesses to court who have been reproducing parts for old models that Chrysler can no longer supply. Ford and GM have tried too but are less aggressive about it as they realise it is bad for business when you stop brand enthusiasts from enjoying their classic cars.

    To protect they trademarks, companies are obliged to tackle others who seek to use them without authorisation otherwise they could lose that trademark. America has a long tradition of copyright and patent pirates but they hate it when others do it to them.
  5. A disturbing tendency
    • Agree Agree x 1
  6. I must be missing something here, how can they possibly make that stick ?
    If you own the bike you can set fire to it if you like, how can anyone say you can't work on it, doesn't make any sense.
  7. Potentially misleading title, from what I gather they're talking specifically about reprogramming ECU, not swapping / modifying mechanical parts.

    If some amateur makes a mistake and suddenly their brakes don't work or the vehicle no longer meets emissions standards should the manufacturer be held responsible? (actually IMHO the firmware should be designed to prevent this).

    A DMCA isn't about safety however, it's about manufacturers "protecting" their configuration / code.

    The whole security argument is kind of null, auto manufacturers don't have the best track record when it comes to security (recent relay attacks on the Prius), whereas opening up their licensing would actually improve security.

    Anyways, I ride a carb'd bike so I'm not too worried ^_^
  8. We have faced this for a while in the electronics industry, while you buy the bike the argument is that you obtain a license for the use of the software in the bike. That license prohibits change.

    Similarly if you buy a computer with Windows installed the license for the use of the Windows is "officially" for that machine alone and is not transferable. If you buy an iPhone you are locked out of the software and do not have full administrative rights Apple reserve this for themselves even though you own the object. Jail breaking the device to obtain full rights is considered an illegal breech of their copyright even if it is commonplace.

    The point is your opinion is what it should be, your owned device, your right to tinker with it. Sadly the aim of big business is to keep you out.

    Ecomomist - Tinkerer's Charter
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  9. You do for the moment but that is probably not a permanent thing :)

    In the wider argument already car black boxes are spying on their drivers, braking patterns acceleration etc are logged. With GPS receiver chips so cheap, less than $2, logging of position with performance details is not hard. In the USA legal argument has been mounted on who owns and has rights to that information, the car owner, the police, the insurance companies, the car manufacturer ???

    This is an attempt to lock you out of your bikes functionality and limit your freedoms, it is a dangerous precedent to set and bears watching.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  10. I see, so they are talking specifically about modifying the ECU or any other software that comes with the bike. I can see how they might carry that off.
  11. Piggyback ECU anyone? Mine intercepts the signal from the OEM ecu, then changes the signal before it reaches the injector. So, I'm not doing anything to their code, but rather to the output of their code.
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  12. [edit: covered by the above posters]

    This is something vehicle manufactureres have been actively discouraging for years.

    Although I don't know why. Surely they would have learned by now that vehicles that are easier to modify tend to sell better in the long run.
  13. Yes, that seems to be a good workaround for now. But if allowed to proceed with initial claim, car manufacturers will find another legal loophole to stop you from interfering with the signal in any way. My bet is they will try to play the same "intellectual property" card by making you less of an owner of a car you "buy", just like with software nowadays. Even though you "bought" your copy of say Windows, you can't legally change the code of "your" copy, even if you wouldn't resell it and it is only for your own personal use. It's still considered an intellectual property rights infringement.
    So if car manufacturers will be able to push their view of the issue into the intellectual property rights legislation, we might soon find ourselves "licensing" our new cars and bikes instead of truly owning them. This might sound a bit like a distopian science fiction but it is a very real threat to our rights these days when big corporations have enough power to sue entire governments and win.
  14. Rip out the ECU completely and replace with another, akin to removing Windows and replacing it with Linux.

    They can go autofellatio if I can only license the use of my property, I'll be shopping elsewhere for sure.
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  15. Except that in this case, they can treat the whole car as their intellectual property which, if they will succeed with their lobbying, would make them eligible to sue you for any "unapproved" hardware modifications as well, including the change of ECU or installing aftermarket parts.
    This is how free market is supposed to work, yes, in theory anyway. But if all car manufacturers will push similar licensing bull$hit, they might make it so that there will be no real alternative. Again, compare this to the software market: most large software vendors have similar licensing practices. Of course we have GNU/GPL/MIT license/etc stuff and various open-source projects available but all that stuff is usually far from satisfying your average Joe in terms of usability, ease of use and support. And with cars(or any other "real" manufacturing for that matter), making an open-source alternatives is much harder due to immense financial requirements, compared to software development.

    So unless an automated manufacturing system become publicly available(something akin to this but big and sophisticated enough to manufacture a car if provided with a blueprint), we will be left with what corporations will give us. Unless of course we will stop them from getting this legislation set-up the way they want it.
  16. Or they'll straight up encrypt it. Would make life harder for engineers, and add a little to manufacturing expense, but I reckon it'd be doable.
  17. Even if they do pass the legislation, I'd like to see them enforce it.
  18. This is exactly what the original owners or Rolls Royce did, right from the early days. It was forbidden to modify in any way, as the title to the vehicle remained with the manufacturer.
    (I'm guessing nobody told RR about some of them being converted into utes in outback Oz).
  19. And, most importantly, there is a high barrier to starting a new vehicle manufacturing business, especially if you don't want to licence parts. You've got a lot of R&D costs -and time- before you can build anything, the equipment is far from cheap, you need to organise distribution... it's, uh, very challenging to capitalise on a niche unless it involves Saudi princes.

    Stuff like Apache, Firefox, Chromium, SDL, FLAC, LibreOffice, Blender3D...? :p
    • Like Like x 1
  20. won't happen. at least not in the US. theres far too many people who modify their cars and they believe too heavily in freedom..... whether it is applied in Australia however is another matter, although from the email i got from Toyota Australia last week I dont think they realise that they are affiliated with Toyota on a global level.