The U.S. Copyright Office was asked to permit automobile owners and others to access the computer code embedded in cars and other vehicles. In a recent decision, the Copyright Office determined that such access was beneficial and should be permitted. As a result, after a twelve month waiting period, car owners, repair personnel, and others will be permitted to access computer code embedded in vehicles in order to conduct diagnosis, modification, and repair of those vehicles. This ruling seems reasonable and should serve as a model for additional access to embedded compute code in other contexts.
Manufacturers of cars, trucks, and other vehicles (farm equipment, for example) have traditionally taken the position that all computer code they embed in the vehicles they make is their property, protected by copyright law. By aggressively enforcing that claim, the manufacturers prohibited all parties, including the owners of the vehicles and repair personnel, from accessing the embedded code. For today’s vehicles, access to embedded computer code is essential to conduct effective maintenance, service, and modifications for those vehicles.
This aggressive enforcement of copyright claims caused disruption in the maintenance of the vehicles involved. Copyright law was used to prevent owners of vehicles from asserting full ownership rights (they owned the vehicles but were denied access to the critical software that controlled the operation of the vehicles). The copyright claims of the manufacturers also had an adverse impact on repair personnel. Parties not affiliated with the manufacturers were unable to repair or maintain the vehicles as they were denied essential access to the embedded computer code.
A variety of parties, including vehicle owners and repair personnel, asked the Copyright Office to permit them to access the embedded vehicle code. Specifically, they asked that the Copyright Office exempt embedded vehicle code from the access restrictions imposed by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The Copyright Office oversees DMCA exemptions, and it has granted such exemptions to permit more open access to computer code and other material protected by copyright in diverse contexts.
The decision by the Copyright Office to establish a DMCA exemption for embedded vehicle computer code is appropriate. Such access is essential if owners are to exercise full rights of ownership for their vehicles. Access to the embedded code is also necessary to ensure that there is healthy competition in the market for vehicle maintenance service and repairs.
Among arguments raised by manufacturers and others against access to the embedded code was concern that such access could pose a security risk by facilitating malicious hacker access to the vehicle code. Although security risks are present, the Copyright Office seems to have placed those concerns in an appropriate context.
Open access to the embedded code can contribute to security by making the characteristics and operations of the code more transparent, and thus subject to greater public scrutiny and understanding. The recent revelations involving Volkswagen and apparently other automakers and abuse of embedded emission control software suggest that denial of public access to embedded code may actually pose a greater risk to consumers than does open access of the sort contemplated by the Copyright Office.
The Copyright Office has acted properly by granting a DMCA exemption to embedded vehicle software. The public interest would be best served if the Copyright Office uses this action as a model and grants similar exemptions for a wide range of embedded computer code.drury university university of texas at austin berlin university of technology university of pennsylvania wells fargo asset management webster university where is princeton university akron university california state university los angeles monmouth university university of hawaii at manoa carlow university st john's university yale school of management university of texas at dallas our lady of the lake university mary baldwin university regis university marian university st thomas university bob jones university heidelberg university organize management colorado christian university west coast university portal north central university reliable management baylor university bni university texas am university university of colorado denver university of rochester adelphi university mississippi state university university of central missouri university near me framingham state university st bonaventure university northern illinois university jordan 4 university blue where is harvard university eastern kentucky university university of maryland global campus university of hawaiʻi at mānoa university of cumberlands university of texas at austin florida atlantic university missouri state university shaw university university of michigan basketball forham university william paterson university wilberforce university forham university university of kansas western michigan university university of pennsylvania hospital texas a&m university delaware state university university of colorado boulder villanova university western michigan university davenport university cis university of utah management university of california irvine bucknell university kean university andrews university nova southeastern university southern management corporation montana state university university of southern indiana university of michigan ashford university yonsei university dominican university mercyhurst university st joseph university st.johns university virginia commonwealth university university of glasgow virginia wesleyan university free anger management classes university of alberta arkansas tech university bringston university university of chicago university of north alabama winona state university ferris state university frontline absence management florida a&m university california polytechnic state university humboldt state university southern oregon university truman state university george fox university syracuse university berlin university of technology st lawrence university university of texas management information systems salary northern arizona university delaware valley university mckendree university ohio university west virginia university walden university university of dubuque university of houston clear lake edinboro university western washington university university medical center methodist university florida state university university of san francisco st andrews university webber international university university of colorado hospital concordia university hampton university texas university washington and lee university walden university student portal governors state university monster university university of new mexico plymouth state university university of lynchburg university of florida vanguard university southwestern university houston baptist university angelo state university western colorado university north park university metropolitan state university saginaw valley state university