Making auto performance modifications to one’s vehicle is a passion and hobby for many car enthusiasts who want to get the most out of their drive.
However, it might soon be illegal to do so.
According to an April 22 MotorTrend Magazine article, lobbyists for 12 of the world’s top automakers are currently pressing the U.S. Copyright Office to consider the computer systems found in cars as intellectual property, effectively protecting them under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
If the Copyright Office complies with these automakers’ requests, it would effectively make it illegal to make repairs or modifications to your car’s computer system.
The Digital Millenium Copyright Act, passed in 1998, protects intellectual property related to computer systems; because most of today’s cars come equipped with dozens of high-tech computers, automakers like General Motors, Volkswagen Group of America, Toyota and more say their cars’ computer codes should qualify for protection.
“This could be problematic for anyone that owns a car. It will restrict you from making the car exactly how you would like and also cripple a huge portion of the country that relies on these performance products for their careers,” explained Gabe Adams from Bluewater Performance. “I do not believe that the copyright office will follow automakers’ demands. This is too far fetched of a demand and ultimately will be shot down.”
Currently, car owners often make modifications to their vehicles’ computers for a number of different reasons. They can do so to increase a vehicle’s horsepower or fuel efficiency, or even set performance limits for teen drivers, according to KFOR.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, an organization that aims to protect fundamental rights in technology use, has appealed to the Copyright Office in defense of car owners, saying automakers are more preoccupied with profits than driver safety. If successful, automakers could actually force customers to get their cars repaired at their own dealerships or certain repair shops.
“Sections of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act could actually prevent car owners from looking under the hood — or even protecting themselves from vulnerabilities and malware,” the EFF explained in its online petition that will be presented to the Copyright Office.
It’s anticipated that the Copyright Office will make a final decision on the case by mid-year, KFOR reports.