Automakers Want to Use the DMCA to Prevent Unauthorized Servicing or Modification

Chalk another one up for companies using the DMCA in dubious and creative ways. Pete Bigelow, Autoblog:

If there’s a recurring theme in the comments beyond their assertions of ownership, it’s that they say they know the intricacies of these ever-more-complicated software systems better than consumers and third parties. The Association of Global Automakers says the manufacturers and their suppliers “best understand the interdependence of automotive systems and are in the best position to know whether a modification, regardless of how slight, would disrupt another system.”

Comments from equipment manufacturer John Deere took a more condescending tone toward independent and amateur mechanics, noting that circumventing protected technology should be “against public policy because individual vehicle owners do not have the technological resources to provide safe, reliable and lawful software for repair, diagnosis or some dubious ‘aftermarket personalization, modification or other improvement’ that is not directed toward repair or diagnosis of the vehicle.”

It’s fair for companies to deny warranty coverage for a problem in which aftermarket modifications are likely a cause. But tinkerers shouldn’t live in fear of breaking the law just because they modified their ECU. That dispute should remain between the automaker and the owner.