May 22

GM & John Deere’s DMCA Plans: The Facts.

DerpSo everyone I know is posting this piece of news with headlines similar to “You don’t own your car! GM says so.” This would be another example of a sensationalist headline that links you to a couple paragraphs that are designed to rustle your jimmies rather than inform you. I’m going to do my best to explain this from the little information I could locate.

What does it mean?

Several car manufacturers are seeking protection for the copyright in their ECU’s software. The ECU is your computer’s brain. In the early days it was just in charge of your car’s fuel injection, Anti-Lock Brake System and possibly cruise control. On modern vehicles it controls everything from the way your transmission shifts to how much cold air comes out of your air conditioning ports. The modern ECU is what has made modern motors so much more fuel efficient while producing more horsepower than older motors the same size.ecu

If you have the proper hardware to connect up to your cars ECU you change even the most fundamental things about how it runs. Included but not limited to: adjusting vehicle speed sensor to compensate for different sized wheels, upping the motor’s horsepower, resetting the shift points for better acceleration, leaning out the air/fuel mixture for better gas mileage, remapping the air fuel mixture to support a turbo, or changing the fuel map for alternative fuels.

Car companies looking to protect their interests are looking for government protection for their interest in the software your car runs. This really isn’t any different than when Apple was seeking the same protections for the iOS software that runs the iPhone.


Who Cares?


The main people who are effected by this (right now) are amateur tuners, performance shops, and

independent auto shops (non dealership) at this point your average shadetree mechanic is not the type who will go into the ECU and modify it’s functions. Right now accessing and modifying a vehicle’s ecu is something that is reserved for people who will pony up a few thousand dollars for the proper hardware and software to do so. Basically your uncle will still be able to change out bake pads on grandmas Cadillac.

Potential implications

This is where it gets sticky and where all the articles fall short. There is a boat load of reasons why the car companies shouldn’t have this sort of control. One potential implication would be every single part on killuhthe car having an authentication chip; so if install a non OEM oil filter on your car it won’t start. That is crazy but is absolutely something car companies could do!

On the side of the car manufacturers however It would protect them from legal liability if someone reprogrammed a self driving car to into a guided assassin that drives around the block until its target (identified by their cellphone) is detected and hit at full speed.

I’m not out to sensationalize, but a Tesla being used as a self guided missile isn’t out of the realm of possibility.


In conclusion

ping contestThe whole DMCA proctecting ECU software

thing isn’t as black and white as the media would make you think. There is a lot of nuance and gray area involved. One more thing! If you are one of those retards from facebook that were like “Er, that’s one more reason not to buy a Chevy!” Shut up idiot! You think “Ferd” or “Terta” wont do this same bullshit? PFFFT…..