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Will working on your own car mean breaking copyright laws?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Mindgrinder, Apr 26, 2015.

  1. Mindgrinder

    Mindgrinder Karma Pirate Ninja Jedi Bipolar WINNING M.L.F.

    Will working on your own car mean breaking copyright laws? | Driving

    Autoblog.com recently revealed that the Auto Alliance — one of the industry’s main lobbying arms — is trying to prevent owners, the Do-It-Yourselfers of backyard legend, from tinkering with their cars. By considering the car as a “mobile computing device” under the 1996 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), automakers are contending that allowing consumers and third parties to repair/alter the computational/information systems of their cars is not only unsafe, but violates their copyright protections. Essentially, the automakers are saying “we own the rights to the software, we don’t think you’re smart enough to fix it, so only we or somebody we designate should be allowed to work on your automobile.”

    Ostensibly, the target is the traditional shade-tree mechanic, the automakers reasoning that modern automotive computer software is simply too complicated to allow amateurs to futz with. Steering, braking and even throttle inputs are too important to the common good, the Alliance of Global Automakers positing that allowing the open manipulations of computer code could pose serious safety concerns.

    For your protection....
    For the children....
    VisuTrac likes this.
  2. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    David A. Crossno, my Agriculture Instructor, back in 1974, predicted this along with ATM machines creating a fiat based currency, Monsanto and their GMOs destroying the small American farm industry, race-card politics, and the Corporate take-over of our Republic. We laughed at him behind his back and thought he was a total basket-case....I lie awake at night sometimes now, playing back many of his lectures, hoping to remember anything that I may have missed.
  3. vonslob

    vonslob Monkey++

    How are they going to enforce it and the reasoning for the copyright violation makes no sense. Good luck to them
  4. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++ Site Supporter

    There is a difference between repairing a car that broke and trying to change the code in the engine control module to alter how the engine performs. The reporting is confusing the two. Maybe it's the reporters ignorance. Maybe it is intentional by those advocating there is copyright/license infringement. Maybe the editors want to create sensationalism and outrage.

    This whole thing is kind of ridiculous as the on board diagnostic (OBD) regulations require the use of a calibration ID number (CALID) and a computed calibration validation number (CVN) that is the result of a big polynomial (10th order as i vaguely recall) calculated from all the calibration values in a contoller's software. Manufacturers are legally obligated to provide what the CVN numbers are for each calibration on a quarterly basis to government. Then when a vehicle is inspected for registration renewal, the CALID is looked up in a data base and the CVN number is pulled. If the database CVN does not match the CVN read from the vehicle's engine controller with their scan tool, then the registration/renewal will be denied. The OBD system, engine emissions and emission control methodologies are all certified with the government (California and EPA) and this certification includes test data for normal operation and data that also establishes the diagnostics will detect problem before the emissions go up very much. Hence why the government requires a means to detect if something is different about the certified system.

    Therefore, so what if a car owner wants to try and change his operating code, he won't be able to drive it long on the highway in any state that requires inspections. At best this is nonsense. At worse it is yet another example of people trying to control other people.

    My quess is this is not really about owners repairing their car, rather it's manufactures not wanting a small team of engineers reverse engineering their code, creating and selling (where copyright comes in) go fast calibrations and a software mod that tricks the CVN system and reports the old CVN value without computing it. That is not the average owner fixing his car but the editors liked to stir the pot.

    Last edited: Apr 26, 2015
    kellory, Yard Dart and 3cyl like this.
  5. Mindgrinder

    Mindgrinder Karma Pirate Ninja Jedi Bipolar WINNING M.L.F.

    Any alteration voids all warranty and renders vehicle "unroadworthy"...including disabling "features" such as GPS...Replacing chips/boards with non-proprietary = the same "unroadworthy"....even if it passes all tests. My buddy has a diesel truck that he can plug a computer/device into and change how the engine performs on the fly...."tow", "highway" etc. Cost him a FORTUNE and it's really a nothing device worth MAYBE $100 in parts.
    It's about centralized control @Airtime.
  6. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    'My Brother, (The Engineer) does just this, in working on his Truck, and other Vehicles. He does have an IN, to the firmware, in that his Engineering Firm, has dealings with most of the Major Vehicle OEMs, as they do Crash Reconstructions, for these OEMs, when they get sued, for Manufacturing, and Design, Flaws, that the Plaintiffs say, caused the Crash. He has written many "Chip Mods" over the years. One, I remember was for his Truck, where he changed the Engine Control Code, to give his Truck a 7% increase in Fuel Economy, by sacrificing Cold Weather Starting ease. You never get "something for nothing".... There is ALWAYS a Tradeoff......
    Tracy and kellory like this.
  7. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Not quite the same thing, but motorcycle electronic controls are freely hacked and modified. So far as I know, there has been no legal action taken against either the riders or users of the code tweaking systems.
  8. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey..... Moderator Site Supporter++

    I have an Edge product on my diesel. If I take it in for repairs, I have to put it back into stock mode prior to getting to the shop.... they will invalidate the warranty if the unit is installed...... not a big deal to pull it quickly if needed.
    Tracy likes this.
  9. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++ Site Supporter

    The days of changing "chips" is over for modern vehicles. The controllers all now have soldered in memory circuits and are designed to not be easily tampered with or changed. Tamper resistance is now a government requirement. On diesel vehicles with SCR catalyst systems detecting tampering is even required for the OBD system. There are security provisions and even encryption is being used more.

    Some companies are still selling little devices that plug in the wire haress where a sensor should plug in and the sensor plugs into the box and it alters the value the ECM reads but the range of alteration may be limited because the diagnostics are required to assess the rationality of the sensor values. Some sensors can be assessed pretty tightly and some can't be assessed easily and the diagnostics can be rather crude for those. If the ECM determines a sensor reading is bad, it will go into a default operation mode ignoring that sensor and may have reduced power to prevent potental damage.


    Yeah, still the wild west as they are not subject to all the OBD crap..... Yet. Same with off-highway equipment though emission regulations affect that stuff now. Just a matter of time for OBD requirements. The trick for off-highway equipment is it is not required to have registration and inspections, so if the diagnostics say the engine is polluting, unless the owner cares, nothing will happen if it is still running adequately. My guess is inspection/registration stickers will eventually be required for off-highway equipment. My guess is once motorcycles are pretty much all electronic as well OBD will phase in. It is very expensive to develop and certify and .gov does know that.

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 27, 2015
    kellory likes this.
  10. tr7heaven

    tr7heaven Monkey

    I was so taken by this article I just had to join. I have a 1994 Lincoln Mark VIII, I took it to Ford garage and the main mechanic didn't want to work on it, use to work for Ford Dealership elsewhere and said the MARKVIII is so difficult, so I took it to a shade tree mechanic and he fixed it. May shade tree live on forever. :)
    Tracy, kellory and Yard Dart like this.
  11. tr7heaven

    tr7heaven Monkey

    A true story of my late older brother (2-1/2 years between us). I fixed my own 1972 olds cutlass once, still missed bad afterwards, took it to two Shell station certified mechanics, they laughed, said I used cheap parts and put it on there high tech equipment laughed again said all your tune up parts no good, I paid them a large sum of money to fix it, got home still the same. My brother finally got home from a trip and I took it to him. He said you should have waited for me, he fixed it in minutes, worn bearing on the distributor. My brother never went to school to learn automotive, he just knew it from the time he was a kid, just like some pick up guitar and sound like they played all there life.
    kellory likes this.
  12. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++ Site Supporter

    If folks want to learn more about servicing cars, there is a good instructor on YouTube and on his own website, scannerdanner.com. The guy's name is Paul Danner and I think his stuff is real good. He goes by scannerdanner on YouTube as well. He teaches for a college, has an online course/program and consults in the Pittsburg area to car repair shops that can't figure out problems. There are a bunch of videos you can view without signing up for his course but the cost isn't terrible if you truly want to learn a bunch about diagnosing engine problems. He uses code scanners and an oscilloscope a lot but you can do much of what he does with a cheap scope, a few specialized probes and a cheaper scan tool. Shopping for used stuff you could probably get in for $300-400. Have fun.

    Last edited: Apr 28, 2015
    Cruisin Sloth, kellory and Yard Dart like this.
  13. tr7heaven

    tr7heaven Monkey

    @ Airtime yes you are so right, U-Tube and so many other places on the web are so useful. Like right here.
  14. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    The pool of knowledge in the shade of the monkey tree, is both deep and wide. Come on in, the water's fine.
    Tracy likes this.
  15. tr7heaven

    tr7heaven Monkey

    @ kellory! I like it, I like it. :)
    kellory likes this.
  16. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Moderator Moderator Founding Member

  17. tr7heaven

    tr7heaven Monkey

    What I have found is we need both the professional and the shade tree. I have also found that when I watch things on U-Tube eev blog and such, like oscilloscope it never seems as easy as it is for them. I love electronics but the oscilloscope is a hard one for me.
  18. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

  19. -06

    -06 Monkey+++

    Years ago it took ONE wire to run an engine---to the distributor. I tossed the electronic ignition to my old one ton PU last fall and put in a new points distributor--got tired of putting up with things I did not understand. Back to ONE WIRE and one to the solenoid to start it----YES. Putting the old 79 Mark III back on the road soon and the '69 Jeep Commando.
  20. tr7heaven

    tr7heaven Monkey

    Always good to get them on the road again. Last thing that happened to my MARKVIII was drivers outer door handle broke, I fixed that, I remember saying over and over I will never get this back together. Before that rubber gas line in the tank split, I figured out the problem but had it fixed, to big a job for me. :)
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