It’s not a car, it’s a very expensive proprietary software package that happens to be attached to a chassis, four wheels and an engine and no, you are not allowed to tinker with it. I mean, hack it.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with all the computers in cars, and they allow for safety, convenience, and efficiency levels in our vehicles far beyond what we’ve been able to achieve before. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be repaired or tinkered with by the owner — it just takes a new set of skills and tools. It’s not like re-jetting a carburetor was something just anyone could do, anyway — this is really no different.

Well, it is different in one very important way: because so much of how modern cars work involves computers and software code, cars can now fall under the aegis of bills like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and automakers can use this act to try and restrict what an owner can do to the car that they bought.

Automakers are considering cars “mobile computing devices” and as such would fall under the DMCA’s pretty draconian protections.

– From Carmakers Want To Use Copyright Law To Make Working On Your Car Illegal by Jason Torchinsky.

The bottom line here is that, everything needed to repair and diagnose a car is already available to the aftermarket and any vehicle owner, including modifiers.

The real issue of concern here is that the sophisticated computers in vehicles are so intertwined that they shouldn’t (for security and safety and environmental reasons) be allowed to be tinkered with.

– A representative of the Automaker’s Alliance, a trade group that includes BMW, Ford, GM, and other, quoted in Carmakers Want To Use Copyright Law To Make Working On Your Car Illegal by Jason Torchinsky.

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