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Author Topic: Automakers Want to Outlaw Gearheads From Working on Their Own Cars  (Read 504 times)
Renegade
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« on: April 22, 2015, 08:35:27 AM »

So, the copyright and IP bug has infected a new portion of the automakers' brains. Now they want to make it illegal for you to work on your car. Because copyright.

http://www.blacklistednew...rs/43552/0/38/38/Y/M.html

Quote
Car companies seek copyright restrictions to stop car enthusiasts, home mechanics

Claiming that modern vehicles are “too complex” for home mechanics to fix, automakers are seeking copyright restrictions to prevent gearheads from working on their own cars.



The Association of Global Automakers, a lobbying firm for 12 manufacturers, is asking the U.S. Copyright Office to prevent car owners from accessing “computer programs that control the functioning of a motorized land vehicle, including personal automobiles, commercial motor vehicles, and agricultural machinery, for purposes of lawful diagnosis and repair, or aftermarket personalization, modification, or other improvement.”

“In order to modify automotive software for the purpose of ‘diagnosis and repair, or aftermarket personalization, modification, or other improvement,’ the modifier must use a substantial amount of the copyrighted software – copying the software is at issue after all, not wholly replacing it,” the AGA claimed. “Because the ‘heart,’ if not the entirety, of the copyrighted work will remain in the modified copy, the amount and substantiality of the portion copied strongly indicates that the proposed uses are not fair.”

Auto Alliance, which also represents 12 automobile manufacturers, is also asking the agency to scrap exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that allow car enthusiasts to modify and tune their rides.

“Allowing vehicle owners to add and remove [electronic control] programs at whim is highly likely to take vehicles out of compliance with [federal] requirements, rendering the operation or re-sale of the vehicle legally problematic,” Auto Alliance claimed in a statement. “The decision to employ access controls to hinder unauthorized ‘tinkering’ with these vital computer programs is necessary in order to protect the safety and security of drivers and passengers and to reduce the level of non-compliance with regulatory standards.”

But people have been working on their own cars since cars were invented.

“It’s not a new thing to be able to repair and modify cars,” a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Kit Walsh, said. “It’s actually a new thing to keep people from doing it.”

Interestingly, this attack on the do-it-yourself auto hobby coincides with the current push towards self-driving cars, and who do you think will resist autonomous cars the most?

Auto hobbyists, such as hot rodders, drag racers and home tuners.

“The biggest threat to our hobby is those people in powerful situations who’s idea of a great day out in their car is to spend it riding in the back seat while someone else handles the driving ‘chore’ for them,” a hot rodder said on the subject. “These are the same people who will ban ‘old junk’ from the roads, enforce ’50 miles per gallon’ standards on new, and then older vehicles, and eventually force everyone to drive ‘standardized’ cars that will fit precisely in parking spaces, take up the minimum space on public roads, and follow all the ‘environmentally friendly’ buzz words while boring real car drivers like us to death.”

And the first step to keep people from behind the steering wheel is to keep them from opening the hood.


Embedded links at the link. (6)

I'm wondering if we'll start seeing replacement GPL'd software for cars anytime soon. Certainly it can't be illegal to delete their precious software after all...

Do new cars come with a EULA and an "I agree" checkbox?

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Stoic Joker
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« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2015, 11:25:09 AM »

It's this kind of narrow minded savagely frothing greed that caused people on the fence to go totally Black Hat.

...And quite frankly, I'm already shopping for a Fedora.
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« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2015, 11:37:11 AM »

Outrageous and unacceptable.

Now I can see that there will be safety concerns as modifiable software takes over more and more of the operation of cars. You can imagine a scenario in the not too distance future where someone downloads an "unofficial" patch for their latest auto-parking car, and it turns out a virus causes the car to speed up to 100mph randomly or causes brakes to fail.. After all, if it's possible to do something, someone somewhere is going to try to do it.. So i'm not saying that some concerns aren't warranted.   But this idea of blocking people from being able to hack their own stuff has to stop.
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« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2015, 11:54:29 AM »

In other words, they're using the DMCA in exactly the way it was intended.
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« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2015, 12:27:09 PM »

I have a hard time seeing how this can fit into copyright. You're not actually making a copy of the software/data, you're just modifying pieces of it in place.

This is even more innocuous than making backups of your own music, because with cars, there is no copy. You're not changing form, as if you want to be able to hear your CD on an MP3 player. No, you're going to continue to use the original software/data on precisely the one device that the manufacturer sold/licensed it to you for.
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« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2015, 02:14:24 PM »

In other words, they're using the DMCA in exactly the way it was intended.

...As a blunt object with which the corporations could beat the common man into subjugation?
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Edvard
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« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2015, 01:20:33 AM »

Aha, this is about altering the control computer's software, not actual car repair.  You almost had me there...  embarassed

AFAICT, what they want to stop is folks selling aftermarket performance chips by saying that making them is illegal copying in the same way that making and selling your remix of a popular song without getting permission from the rightsholder is illegal (in their eyes, anyway).

I have a hard time seeing how this can fit into copyright. You're not actually making a copy of the software/data, you're just modifying pieces of it in place.

Well, if the original programming is present on the mod chip, which you bought from a mod chip vendor, then yes, it is a copy.  Ripping and modding your own ROM, not so much.  As close to the fringe that their argument is regarding copyright, I don't see a problem with things like voiding all warranties if the owner used a mod chip, and BTW good luck passing emissions testing.

I'm wondering if we'll start seeing replacement GPL'd software for cars anytime soon. Certainly it can't be illegal to delete their precious software after all...

Well, the man did say "... copying the software is at issue after all, not wholly replacing it, ...".   tongue

I dunno, the control software of a car is a VERY exacting piece of kit which is the entire reason we have cars that can get 20+ miles to the gallon and still have decent horsepower.  It takes very brave (or stupid) people to think is a good idea to mess with that, and I'm not one of them.  I'd never support making modding illegal, but I don't blame the manufacturers getting upset about it.

Is it me, or is the whole "Autonomous Car" thing seem like nothing more than a "personal bus"?  If I were a gearhead, I'd be bored too...
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« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2015, 07:08:12 AM »

Aha, this is about altering the control computer's software, not actual car repair.  You almost had me there...  embarassed

The two are not mutually exclusive...as sometimes the repair is to alter the control computer's software. It's bad enough that the bar is already set at prohibitively expensive gadgetry just to do a minor engine tweak like dropping the idle so one's Harley goes back to idling like a Harley is supposed to instead of buzzing like some spastic appliance (Dealer Only Item(s) cost ~$600 for just that!).

No the corporate masters need to lose this one, and the messier the better. Because killing off an entire aspect of our culture in the name of IP law is simple unacceptable.


Well, the man did say "... copying the software is at issue after all, not wholly replacing it, ...".

A clever sentiment sure. But it reality which scenario is more likely to have an adverse impact on the environment?
1. People get an existing know good system and tweak it to their specific needs/liking.
2. People have to scratch build something totally in the hops of building a workable (close enough) baseline they can then work from.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2015, 07:13:54 AM by Stoic Joker » Logged
MilesAhead
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« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2015, 09:03:17 AM »

Go back to points plugs condenser.  No solid state, no software/firmware under the hood.  No copyright. No problems.  Cars need not be programmed.  Just tuned every few years.  smiley
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« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2015, 09:40:50 AM »

I know quite a few people here have worked on large software projects, but I'm curious -- Has anyone worked on projects with "kill dates" built into the project? I don't mean something like a campaign that runs for X days/weeks/months, but real kill dates where even while the project is being developed, the end of life is already known -- without that being communicated to users until a set date.

I suspect that there's likely some nastiness built into the software, and that if it were decompiled, organised, and understood, there would be some outcry.

I'll skip the conspiracy facts. Wink

Oh, heck. Let's roll with one. tongue

Published in Wired:

http://www.wired.com/2015...ipment-nightmare-farmers/

From here:

http://ifixit.org/blog/7007/farm-equipment/

And a snippet from there:

Quote
Aside from using it, there’s not much you can do with modern ag equipment. When it breaks or needs maintenance, farmers are dependent on dealers and manufacturer technicians—a hard pill to swallow for farmers, who have been maintaining their own equipment since the plow."

"[DIY repair] is cheaper than calling out the technician. But that information is just not out there," Dave explained to me.

The cost and hassle of repairing modern tractors has soured a lot of farmers on computerized systems altogether. In a September issue of Farm Journal, farm auction expert Greg Peterson noted that demand for newer tractors was falling. Tellingly, the price of and demand for older tractors (without all the digital bells and whistles) has picked up. “As for the simplicity, you’ve all heard the chatter,” Machinery Pete wrote. “There’s an increasing number of farmers placing greater value on acquiring older simpler machines that don’t require a computer to fix.”

The problem is that farmers are essentially driving around a giant black box outfitted with harvesting blades. Only manufacturers have the keys to those boxes. Different connectors are needed from brand to brand, sometimes even from model to model—just to talk to the tECU. Modifications and troubleshooting require diagnostic software that farmers can’t have. Even if a farmer managed to get the right software, calibrations to the tECU sometimes require a factory password. No password, no changes—not without the permission of the manufacturer.

John Deere, in particular, has been incredibly effective at limiting access to its diagnostic software. Which is why I wouldn’t have been able to tweak the programming on Dave’s tractor, even if I had been able to hack together the right interface. John Deere doesn’t want me to. The dealer-repair game is just too lucrative for manufacturers to cede any control back to farmers.

Does anyone think consumer vehicles are much different?

Oh, what's that sound? The squirting of milk into a steel bucket? I think I hear some cackling as well...



I dunno, the control software of a car is a VERY exacting piece of kit which is the entire reason we have cars that can get 20+ miles to the gallon and still have decent horsepower.  It takes very brave (or stupid) people to think is a good idea to mess with that, and I'm not one of them.  I'd never support making modding illegal, but I don't blame the manufacturers getting upset about it.

Unfortunately, "improved fuel efficiency" in modern cars is a near total fabrication. Or at least in the US. Regulatory authorities actively work against the industry to create less fuel efficient cars, and then set idiotic emissions standards that are ineffective and that only create more emissions. You can't make this stuff up.

Check out Eric Peters for all kinds of crazy information on that. It's simply unbelievable, yet he has all the facts to back it up. Just nutty. You might have seen him on news programs - he covers the automotive industry (probably in too much depth for some people).

FAIR WARNING: If anyone actually checks out Eric Peters commentary on what happens in the industry, be prepared to start screaming, cursing, and breaking things. It will seriously piss you off, as in homicidal rage I just came to because I nearly drown in a pool of blood surrounded by uncountable dismembered bodies pissed off. And, for everyone else, he'll just piss you off period. tongue

A fun exercise is to check identical models of cars in Europe and the US for mileage. It's silly. :wallbash:

But, back to chips...

There are a few people out there creating mods and add-ons for vehicle computer systems. Many are actually outside of the system, but modify and control communications (and more) and then relay that to other systems in the vehicle to create improvements. The external devices are so far removed from any ability of the manufacturers to retaliate, that we won't see them retaliate for at least a couple more years. tongue Cool Unless they want to go full retard MAFIAA. Cool

This issue is going to spill into a lot more areas and very quickly.
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« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2015, 06:59:11 PM »

I've said this for a long time as well. Most of your 'environmentally friendly' measures implemented on American cars are in fact a burden that reduces your fuel economy. And it is already a federal crime to remove or bypass an emissions control device, even though basically every performance equipped custom vehicle started out by removing most if not all of the emissions devices in the name of performance gains.

And I like so many other technically inclined people have a healthy enough distrust of computing devices to not ever allow a system to tell me what I cannot do. It either does what I tell it to, or it finds itself being reprogrammed to a system that I can be in control of. Its a shame cars are too varied to really allow a GPL drop-in replacement for the typical PCM, but perhaps a platform that could be coupled with DIY hardware using a modular software structure akin to most Linuxes would make it fairly easy for someone with a working knowledge of computers to assemble and program an open source PCM to fit their vehicle. I wouldn't mind trying it myself.

But a lot of cars you can completely redefine their operating behavior as easily as changing a memory cassette in the PCM, with more modern vehicles being dealer-reprogrammable by simply re-flashing the software and tables inside it. I see this as a play by the automakers to guarantee their stranglehold on that capability, so that nobody outside of their authorized dealerships can legally have the tools or software to do modifications on that level, modifications often required by high end performance modding to allow the PCM to work with performance parts.

Far as I know though, the ultimate you can get in fuel economy for a gasoline engine with modern technology is the following. Anything else just burdens the motor or makes you use more fuel than you need. :

Feedback Carburetor- this does have an oxygen sensor and computer, and uses feedback from the oxygen sensor to adjust bypass air. Like so you set the base mixture to suit the engine, and then the bypass trims it richer or leaner as needed to compensate for variations in driving conditions and engine behavior.

"Straight" Gasoline - NONE of that Ethanol crap! I've tested this myself, using '87 octane' gasoline purchased in bulk for a farm tested against '87 octane' pump gasoline from the station downtown that is marked as containing up to 10% ethanol. Well, on a 1.6L carbureted engine, the straight gas was giving me almost 40 MPG, while the E10 was barely making 30 MPG. Now think about this a minute- gas consumed vs mileage travelled, and you suddenly realize that E10 gasoline is causing me to burn more actual gasoline than i would be using on straight gas.

Electronic spark advance - this and the feedback carburetor are among the very few places where the electronics do beat their mechanical counterparts. Simply because the ignition timing can be made far more precise and can respond to changes in operating conditions far more easily than can be done mechanically. Plus the breaker points are a high maintenance area that is often neglected, letting the electronics win in this area eliminates an often neglected maintenance item that has fuel economy penalties for ignoring.


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« Reply #11 on: Today at 07:28:57 AM »

^^  Interesting.  I have to agree that electronic spark advance has to be more accurate than spring, vacuum and flywheel schemes.  However, once you can no longer see how something works with the naked eye(even if must be disassembled to do so) then by definition it starts working in invisible ways.  At that point not everything being done can be detected.  The operator is no longer in control.
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