Car Companies Want to Make it Against the Law to Modify Your Own Vehicle

April 24, 2015   |   John Vibes

John Vibes
April 24, 2014

(ANTIMEDIA) It was recently reported that automakers could soon be going after car owners for making repairs on their own vehicles. Some of the industries leading companies are now claiming that their software has become so complicated that “tampering with it,” or making repairs on your own property, could be a copyright violation.

Interestingly enough, Tesla, the company which has the most complicated technology in their vehicles, is not in support of this legal action.

A simple change in classification could change how cars are approached legally, allowing automakers to make copyright claims against the people who they sell their cars to. That is exactly what companies like GM and Ford are pushing for, a reclassification of cars as “mobile computing devices” — a move that allows for a number of legal loopholes that would all be a disadvantage to the consumer.

As of now there are currently 13 auto manufacturers on the list supporting that the DMCA be applied to cars:

General Motors Company
BMW Group
Ford Motor Company
Jaguar Land Rover
Mercedes-Benz USA
Mitsubishi Motors
Volkswagen Group of America
Volvo Cars North America

These companies have made the following statement justifying why they want to make it illegal for people to work on their own cars:

Automobiles are inherently mobile, and increasingly they contain equipment that would commonly be considered computing devices… Many of the ECUs embodied in today’s motor vehicles are carefully calibrated to satisfy federal or state regulatory requirements with respect to emissions control, fuel economy, or vehicle safety. Allowing vehicle owners to add and remove programs at whim is highly likely to take vehicles out of compliance with these requirements, rendering the operation or re-sale of the vehicle legally problematic. 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. We urge the Copyright Office to give full consideration to the impacts on critical national energy and environmental goals, as well as motor vehicle safety, in its decision on this proposed exemption. Since the record on this proposal contains no evidence regarding its applicability to or impact on motor vehicles, cars and trucks should be specifically excluded from any exemption that is recommended in this area.

It seems obvious that these companies have a financial incentive to not allow people to work on their own cars, and large corporations have traditionally used copyright as a tool to gain an advantage over competition and customers.

This article (Car Companies Want to Make it Against the Law to Modify Your Own Vehicle) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and Tune in! The Anti-Media radio show airs Monday through Friday @ 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. Help us fix our typos:
.Image credit:

John Vibes is an author, researcher and investigative journalist who takes a special interest in the counter culture and the drug war. In addition to his writing and activist work he organizes a number of large events including the Free Your Mind Conference, which features top caliber speakers and whistle-blowers from all over the world. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page. You can find his 65 chapter Book entitled “Alchemy of the Timeless Renaissance” at

Author: John Vibes

John Vibes joined Anti-Media as an independent journalist in October of 2014. His topics of interest include agorism, anarchism, consciousness, the Drug War, and spirituality. Born in Philadelphia, he currently resides in Maryland.

Share This Post On


  1. My profit for last month was 11 thousand bucks… All I was doing was simple online work at home for several hours each day that I got from this company I found online and they paid me $95/h…
    Try it yourself…


    Post a Reply
  2. The software industry already got away with this bullshit.

    Post a Reply
  3. not a copyright issue.

    Post a Reply
  4. nah, they just have to buy "certifications" and "training programs" – like how Microsoft makes huge profits from it's MSCE type program.
    Which the mechanics etc just pass on the the customer.

    Post a Reply
  5. It's about not allowing you to mess with the monitoring data boxes and gps, so they have total control over your car, the microphones and computers that are in it. Has NOTHING to do with safety, all about MONEY and CONTROL! When they start taxing us on miles driven, because they arent getting enough now that we have more efficency cars (a good thing right) they will be able to punish you if you tamper with it. you ever ask a dealership to remove onstar and the gps, i did and guess what…. i was told anything from it will void warranty, vehicle wont function, center console wont function, but all excuses led to "we can not do it" makes you wonder why you cant take their computers out of you car doesn't it?

    Post a Reply
  6. Not a problem, just don't buy their product! That crap will end PDQ!

    Post a Reply
  7. If I'm buying the damn car/truck… I will do what ever the hell I want with it… Last time I did some work on my last truck. It actually got better MPGs and increased horsepower. So is it that the auto industries are getting jealous of after market companies are making better parts? Bet I do the same thing to my new truck I have now. Yes it's getting Magna Flo true duals and cold air intake by K&N air filters. Don't they realize that some people can't afford to pay a mechanic 30 bucks an hour to work on there vehicles ?

    Post a Reply
  8. all i have to say is good luck stopping every motor head from just doing what they want

    Post a Reply
  9. all i have to say is good luck stopping every motor head from just doing what they want

    Post a Reply
  10. Not with me i don't pay for that use linux free

    Post a Reply
  11. Carl de Malmanche , that isn't the way it will go if this comes to pass. It is an extreme form of corporate control. It will result in hundreds of thousands of job losses and in turning people like me into criminals, because I sure as Hell won't comply with this horseshit.

    Post a Reply
  12. Bobnalice Winslow I agree with your point. No mechanics at dealers working for less than 110 an hour, But Jimmy has a point, it his vehicle It doesn't belong to Ford or GM or Chrysler anymore, despite the symbol on the hood.

    Post a Reply
  13. Blake Newton It's the same as the Software certification system used by Microsoft, Novell etc. Its not a violation of copyright (unless you're going to clone the equipment) but it _will_ invalidate any warranty using uncertified practicioners. Companies make a killing selling "education".

    If the tech is in your car, it's YOUR property to use and "enjoy the privileges of ownership" which means as long as your don't try to sell or give it a away (except as secondhand/disposal) yuo can do what you want.

    But the training courses,training materials and gadgets which they can make available ONLY to registered and currently certified people (and their companies who are paying to be part of the certification system) … those courses/materials/registrations they can sell to the same people over and over and over again every year. A car, they only sell once.

    It's a "dirty little secret" that the Microsoft Certification/Training arm is actually the most profitable of all it's operations. Not software.

    Follow the money Blake.

    Not job losses, you'll just have to sign own with a corporate that is able to afford to buy into the registration program…. just like us Computer Tech folks. And I don't remember you protesting when it happened to us…

    Post a Reply
  14. Well I don't know what mechanics get an hr anymore since I do my own work and I have some certifications ( ASE ) as a mechanic but these newer vehicles are more complicated but I'm not going to give a rats ass on what Ford, Chevy, Dodge, and so on says. Blake Newton you hit the hammer dead on the nail and drove it in on the first hit.

    Post a Reply
  15. Jimmy Sully ,They want to "loan" us the vehicle, much like they did with the EV-1 and the old Chrysler Turbine Cars, then take it back and crush the thing, just so no "cheap vehicles" are around. Imagine the company owning the car you bought and suing because you "modified" their vehicle. What they did in those past situations is becoming clear now. It has nothing to do with whether or not it was a good car or a piece of garbage, this is designed to make you completely reliant on their goodwill and to control your movements. BTW I am Journeyman Parts Technician, so my job is dead if they get what they want.

    Post a Reply
  16. Solve the problem by creating low tech more affordable cars that can be easily worked on by existing mechanics. I bet people would think twice about high tech cars if it hit them in the wallet come repair time. There were a few carbureted cars that came out before fuel injection that were very fuel efficient. The old Volkswagon Rabbit being one. Chevy had a compact car that was very fuel efficient. I bet someone could create a whole new market for low tech cars.

    Post a Reply
  17. Well I'm going to keep on doing what I do to my trucks cause they run better and not only that.. I get better MPGs. I had a 2007 F-150 and I put duals ( All Stainless Flowmaster exhaust system… True duals ) on it and a K&N cold air and I picked up 5 more miles to the gallon and picked up maybe another 75 hp. The auto industries has no business in telling us what we can or can't do with the cars or trucks we purchase from them. Once we buy them from them it shouldn't matter what we do with them.

    Post a Reply
  18. Funny that Republicans aren't opposed to "big government" when it works to the advantage of their corporate masters.

    Post a Reply
  19. 89 Mustang right here! love working on that car and since rich Mother fuckers won't give up their classic collections I'm guessing there will always have to be a loophole for older cars.

    Post a Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *