As software has become ubiquitous, remaking everything from cars to phones to everyday appliances, so too have legal and technical restrictions on basic users rights to repair, research, remake and reuse our devices. Now more than ever, we need organizations like to defend our rights.
— Corynne McSherry, Legal Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation

Car owners have a long tradition of tinkering and customizing their vehicles. Because of copyright law, some of that tinkering is still illegal until next year. You can make wild and fanciful physical changes to your car—but you still can't make unauthorized tweaks to your car's software. Not even for the purpose of repair.

Recent agreements by the auto industry for Automotive Right to Repair require carmakers to share service information and diagnostic codes with independent repair shops. But those requirements don't kick in until model year 2018.  The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is a great first step—but it leaves a lot of holes.  For one thing, it doesn't apply to motorcycles, RVs or off-road vehicles, such as farm equipment. 

There is a new agreement in place separately for commercial trucks. This agreement covers on-road vehicles over 14,000 lbs gvw—but again, does not include motorcycles, RVs, or off-road vehicles.  

When it comes to tinkering with the onboard software, the US Copyright Office has finally agreed—after months of testimony—that car owners should be able to tinker with their cars. There are three huge holes in this ruling. One: it takes effect in the fall of 2016. Two: it specifically precludes any third-party tinkering. Only the vehicle owner can fiddle with the software. Their mechanics cannot. Three: the exemption is only good for two years.

We encourage all auto, truck, and off-road vehicle gearheads and enthusiasts to join The Repair Association. Use your experience to guide legislators towards both Fair Repair and Copyright Reform. Restore your right to customize and repair your vehicle.