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Proposed rules could make working on your car illegal

If you're a "gearhead" who loves to tinker with cars, better take notice.

And if you're a "shade tree mechanic," you may be in for a nasty surprise.

According to information that's working its way into the public domain, it appears that General Motors, Ford and other car makers are trying to make it illegal to work on your own car.

And farmers may feel the impact as well since "Big Green," also known as John Deere, wants to do the same with its tractors and other high-tech farm equipment that are subject to the same laws.

The law is called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

It's been around since 2000 and started as anti-Internet piracy legislation.

But automakers want to use it to try making working on your own car, which is packed with lots of computers, illegal.

The general premise is that unlike cars of the past, today's vehicles are so advanced and use such a large amount of software and coding, altering that code could be dangerous and possibly even malicious.

So, instead of an automobile being considered a transportation device designed and used to get you from here to there, automakers are trying to convince lawmakers that it's really a "mobile computing device."

The law would hypothetically protect automakers from owners altering any of the technology in the vehicle that relates to the onboard computer. That obviously could also lead to all sorts of problems for aftermarket shops.

Now where it gets dicey -- and will affect gearheads, shade tree mechanics and lots of professional mechanics -- is that GM, and even tractor companies like John Deere, argue is that owners don't actually own their car. Or, at least they don't own the car's software.

Manufacturers are trying to maintain that you're just "borrowing" it for an extended amount of time and paying for the right to use the technology.

If it sounds ridiculous -- it is. But it gets worse.

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, John Deere argued that "letting people modify vehicle computer systems will result in them pirating music through the on-board entertainment system."

Pirating music through a tractor? Really?

Big Green actually contends that could be a problem but we can't imagine many farmers piloting huge rigs across large fields spending much time trying to pirate music.

But maybe there's a dimension of farming in the 21st Century that we don't know about.

Currently there are 13 manufacturers on the bandwagon with this DMCA effort, including:

General Motors Company
BMW Group
FCA US LLC
Ford Motor Company
Jaguar Land Rover
Mazda
Mercedes-Benz USA
Mitsubishi Motors
Porsche
Toyota
Volkswagen Group of America
Volvo Cars North America

It's interesting that one of the brands that relies most on all types of new technology -- Tesla Motors -- does not support DMCA.

Yet other American companies like GM, Ford and Chrysler agree that working on your own vehicle should be punishable by law.

Wait a minute, didn't we taxpayers bail two of those last three companies with our own hard-earned tax dollars?

Now, they want to turn us into criminals in our own vehicles sitting in our own backyards!

If this issue isn't dealt with in an effective manner, we could all be sitting around looking at our vehicles, afraid to modify or even drive them, because they are merely "borrowed" at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars and the software that makes them work isn't really ours.

Is this nuts or what?

To help fight this nonsense, there are a number of citizen petitions available online where you can sign up in opposition.

A simple computer search should turn them up easily -- unless that violates some other regulation!


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