For at least three more years, you can safely avoid a $500,000 fine and five-year prison sentence for working on your own vehicle.
Phew. Close one, folks.
The U.S. Copyright Office this week granted an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), making it legal (even though you probably didn’t know it wasn’t) to diagnose, repair, or modify your vehicle with performance chips and tuners.
This issue came to light last April when automakers and farm equipment manufacturers were lobbying the federal government to protect on-board automotive computers as the intellectual property of the vehicle manufacturers—effectively stripping car owners of the rights to repair or upgrade modern, software-controlled vehicles.
Hemmings summed it up perfectly:
“So, while you may own the car, the actual physical components of the ECU, the throttle body, the fuel injectors, the wires and everything else associated with the car, you don’t own the software. And, under the DMCA, attempting to undermine any portion of that system may be considered a violation of the law, even if all you want is to smooth out a rough idle or, say, open up the top end of the engine at the track.
“But, as anyone who has ever really ‘gone under the hood’ and tried his hand at diagnosing or modifying a modern car, the right way to do it involves getting at that code. Let’s take that water pump for instance. If you’ve modified your engine, you may want to beef up the cooling, but modifying the software to talk to the ECU-controlled, on-demand electric water pump was a big no-no, legally speaking, before this exemption.”
For a more thorough explanation of how and why this all came to be, you can see the full Hemmings story here.
They are trying to stop people from taking their cars to anyone but the dealer , however if I buy the car and modify it , it belongs to me ,it ma void the warranty but that’s it, as long as you do not do this for profit or sell an altered program there is no infringement on their copy rites. But of course if they throw money at the politicians you never know where it may go.
The problem is that many that modify the software in the ECM do it to increase performance. Many then drive the vehicle harder than it was designed to be driven. This usually results in mechanical damage to the vehicle. Then they have the tune removed and take it to the dealer for warranty repairs. It is not a defect in material or workmanship that caused the vehicle to fail, but rather the owner that modified the vehicle. It should be a crime to do this. Or insurance fraud at the very least! These fraudulent warranty repairs only serve to drive the cost of new vehicles higher to offset the cost of repairs. It is literally theft!
Dan , your assuming that the car isn’t already tested to withstand WAY more than the average person uses a car for , i know for a fact , as do most every person who has seen the footage of what they do to test how “tough” their car is that the manufacturers make the cars tougher than the average person drives , i get that they want to control the software but most if not all aftermarket tuners don’t replace or alter the code itself , they just change the dynamics of which that code is read . waterpump is a bad example , as cooling is controlled in multiple mechanical ways as well as electronic , but say how much fuel is sent into the injectors or when the O2, sensors react , those are variables that are optimized and changed to increase the performance of the vehicle. It is also common knowledge that altering the ECU in anyway does in fact void warranty , therefore its not the dealers problem to deal with the problem. I understand they want to protect their code , but their code will always remain intact even with a tune. No one is ripping their code off and calling it their own . Copyright the factory code , no questions on that , but to not allow the enthusiast to alter their car in ways that have been tested beyond what the manufacturers already do to test their cars , is insane and ludicrous. Its like me giving you a stick , and then telling you that you can’t change the stick in anyway form or fashion , and also telling you how to use it , and that you can’t alter it to make it more personal to you. it makes no sense.
Listen to Dan
You are 99% wrong! Most people who modify thier cars do so after the warranty runs out. Those that do also add parts that make it obvious that the car has been modified. The very small percentage of tuners who might cause the company money by dishonest reflashing is more than offset by dishonest dealers charging customers for work that should have been covered by warranty (either from the manufacturer or dealer for improper repairs) Until you can say no dealer is capable of stealing form a customer then i say let these very few get their broken parts under warranty. Why punish all of us honest people who want to fix our cars for ourselves.
How about they make vehicles to last like they used to? Vehicles these days are designed to last long enough to pay them off.
Semi truck manufactures do, they are called glidder units
Ok, but what happens to the older vehicles that dealers won’t touch. “Sorry, your car has OBD 7, Witch is no longer supported. You need to buy a new car. ”
ECU hacking can be controlled and monitored. The software engineers have the capacity to to install a black box. Manufacturers are doing this now, “Your car reported 5 times you hit the rev. limiter, during break in period. ” Sorry void warranty.
There goes more of are freedoms
Meanwhile police cars are getting faster they want to nullify the enthusiasts
It doesn’t matter how fast the cop cars get. Most of the ones I know can’t drive for crap anyhow so would not be able to utilize that power and speed. Know for a fact that a one armed man in a minivan out ran them one night.
Fuck out of here 500,000 fines and prison time what are we in nazi germany
That’s called socialism, it’s a liberal democrat thing….
That’s an ignorant statement.
I now have 3 years to finally finish my LS swap into my 1988 S10 before it becomes illegal to get the ECM flashed. lol Bunch of BS. What about those of us who work at dealerships and work on our own cars? The law they’re trying to have passed probably won’t actually affect most people who modify their own cars regardless of who says what and definitely won’t be able to affect anything not protected by warranties or independent shop visits.
what is wrong with these people who wants to put you in jail for working on your own car .car people have always worked on their own autos to make run better and to suit their own needs
This is just another liberal act of further stripping Americans of our freedoms…
So dear car loving democrats. U might wanna think about voting republican or
Independent….. liberal democrats are the cause of these socialist laws and
Legal maneuvers to further infringe upon our rights….
That’s my I buy old cars and trucks that are manually ran and don’t really on computer that have glitches
It’s all a scam, just like 3/4 of the auto service centers..they want to over charge you for “repairs” or say that it was your fault it broke, that I can honestly say 50% of repairs probally didn’t even need to be done when you brought it to whomever. I’ve been in this run down to bare bottom automotive industry for over 20years and have been forced to replace parts that didn’t need it and watched my managers come over to cars I was on that passed inspection no problem and break parts just to fail it!..to the point of me quitting and being done with this field forever. And now you can’t work on your own car? There is nobody else you can trust besides yourself. .I am master certified and am litteraly dropping it all because I don’t believe in dishonesty.especially when someone is putting their trust into you not to screw them over working on their vehicle..the mechanics work off commission..in other words, if there is nothing wrong there is no pay..the more they find wrong the more they make.so you can bet whatever is wrong with your car going in even if it is a small fix, chances are you will be leaving with any and every part with in whatever system is gonna be replaced.and don’t think mechanics are only making a percentage off labor..I’ve worked for more than one shop that was percentage off the whole bill..so now you will be paying double for your parts too..I could slam the automotive industry down till I was blue in the face…some of you will think I am talking out my ass..well all I can say is be cautious, ask for your old parts back, ask to see them bad while they are still on the vehicle, and if you don’t know what your looking at, bring someone with you that does.do not trust, you show trust you show a weekness that the shark salesman will sniff out figure out how much you can afford, try to sell you on their 20% credit card for the repair and rape your wallet. Because sure as hell they will fight tooth and nail to say it is your fault if it could be anything under warranty.just looking for another way to screw the consumer…normally they will screw you 6 ways from Sunday. ..well now it is sunday and here’s the 7th way to screw you. Guess there’s 7ways now.this world is just being taken over by liars and thieves. Pathetic
Thanks for sharing your information..
Some of this is true. Dishonest on both sides, but dealers are out to screw you. I have bought lots of cars & they say you are saving money but you end up paying more when you leave.
[…] the law only impacts the state of Massachusetts, there is momentum growing for similar legislation in other […]