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Vehicle Owners Given Legal Access to Computer Software in Their Cars
“In an effort to monopolize the multi-billion dollar auto repair business, auto makers have copyrighted the software in vehicles computers and used lockdown devices known as Technological Protection Measures (TPM’s) to block consumer access to the computer code under an obscure law known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Today the Librarian of Congress issued a historic decision giving vehicle owners the right to access and modify the computer software that controls the operating systems in their vehicles. The Librarian failed to offer similar access to telematics system which can adversely affect safety. The decision does not adversely affect air quality and safety as existing statutory provisions make it illegal for a repair shop to disable safety or emission control device. This is a great day for auto owners who pay more than $30,000 for modern vehicles which are computers on wheels. Without access to the computer code in their vehicles, consumers would pay thousands more in maintenance and repair costs over the life of their vehicles.”
Statement of Clarence Ditlow
CAS Executive Director
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Clean Air Act, 42 USC § 7522
The following acts and the causing thereof are prohibited—
(3) (A) for any person to remove or render inoperative any device or element of design installed on or in a motor vehicle or motor vehicle engine in compliance with regulations under this subchapter prior to its sale and delivery to the ultimate purchaser, or for any person knowingly to remove or render inoperative any such device or element of design after such sale and delivery to the ultimate purchaser; or
(B) for any person to manufacture or sell, or offer to sell, or install, any part or component intended for use with, or as part of, any motor vehicle or motor vehicle engine, where a principal effect of the part or component is to bypass, defeat, or render inoperative any device or element of design installed on or in a motor vehicle or motor vehicle engine in compliance with regulations under this subchapter, and where the person knows or should know that such part or component is being offered for sale or installed for such use or put to such use; …
National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, 49 USC § 30122. Making safety devices and elements inoperative
(a) Definition.–In this section, “motor vehicle repair business” means a person holding itself out to the public to repair for compensation a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment.21
(b) Prohibition.–A manufacturer, distributor, dealer, or motor vehicle repair business may not knowingly make inoperative any part of a device or element of design installed on or in a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment in compliance with an applicable motor vehicle safety standard prescribed under this chapter unless the manufacturer, distributor, dealer, or repair business reasonably believes the vehicle or equipment will not be used (except for testing or a similar purpose during maintenance or repair) when the device or element is inoperative.
(c) Regulations.–The Secretary of Transportation may prescribe regulations–
(1) to exempt a person from this section if the Secretary decides the exemption is consistent with motor vehicle safety and section 30101 of this title; and
(2) to define “make inoperative”.