We Need A Freedom To Tinker Law... Not Just A Right To Repair

from the take-it-further dept

The EFF has a post about the proposed "Right to Repair" law that would stop the practice of car companies locking up diagnostic codes and information in onboard car computers.
These codes have been used to force car owners to go to dealers, rather than independent car repair shops, basically using the DMCA to backstop the plan. This is (of course) an abuse of the DMCA in many ways (it wasn't intended for this purpose at all). So while it's good to see this bill put forth to deal with this specific problem (and, as the EFF notes, amazing to see the Libertarian Party and the Green Party both sign off on it), the real issue is the fact that this bill needs to be there in the first place -- and the fact that it's only limited to car repairs.

Ideally, the solution would be to get rid of the DMCA's anti-circumvention rules, but the EFF suggests a more universal "Right to Repair" Act. I'd even take it a step further and say, why not a "Freedom to Tinker Act"? This goes beyond just "repairing," and to basic tinkering -- which is often found at the root of innovation. Companies are abusing copyright law in many ways to prevent any kind of tinkering whatsoever, beyond just repairing. Doing so clearly goes against the entire purpose of copyright law, and it would be great to stop that kind of abuse.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2009 @ 8:48am

    My tech support people hate it when I decide to add a program to my laptop or delete something because it usually ends up with a call to them telling them that I no longer have a browser.

    Touch my car? Hahahaha. Missing a browser is one thing, missing your brakes is another.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Hulser, May 21st, 2009 @ 9:02am

    Missing a browser is one thing, missing your brakes is another.

    Having your breaks go out is one of the worst case scenarios for someone working on their own car. In regards to this article, what's far more likely to happen is that your check engine light comes on and, instead of being able to look up a code yourself, you have to take it to the dealer to have them look it up for you. It could be a small issue that you can take care of yourself, but since you don't know what's causing the check engine light to come on, you take it to the dealer in case it's something serious. The car knows what's wrong. The problem is, the owner doesn't.

    What possible reason, other than a money grab, could there be for not just displaying the information available instead of just a red light or no red light?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2009 @ 9:05am

    Anonymous Coward you are an idiot and have completely missed the point of this story.

    And you miss the point of humor, which is worse.

    That being said, I don't have to take my car to the dealership to use the diagnostics, I take it to a local repair man. That has worked fine, so I don't see an issue.

    You can also go to Pep Boys and buy a damm program and hook it up to your laptop to get those numbers, so again, what is the issue?

    We create a law to ban something that isn't an issue? Isn't this place against stupid laws that don't do anything? Oh, that's right, only stupid laws that you don't agree with.

    I guess I should no not to use humor around it, since most of the people here are humorless.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Hulser, May 21st, 2009 @ 9:22am

      Re:

      I take it to a local repair man. That has worked fine, so I don't see an issue.

      The problem is of course money. Perhaps you have so much money and free time that taking your car to the dealer or an "authorized" repair shop isn't an issue, but most people would want the freedom to attempt to repair their car themselves or, at least, go whereever they want to have it repaired.

      You can also go to Pep Boys and buy a damm program and hook it up to your laptop to get those numbers, so again, what is the issue?

      Based on the linked article, the issue appears to be that the car companies are restricting access to the diagnostic tools to repair shops that they authorize. This obviously restricts the number of parties which can work on a car and therefore increases the price.

      Sure, maybe the Pep Boys program can give you some information, but the article states that some diagnostic tools are being restricted. If you refute the facts as presented in the article, then say so. And if you believe the article, then there obviously is an issue.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Sean Henry, May 21st, 2009 @ 10:14am

        Re: Re:

        AutoZone and several other places will scan the car for free. some cars will give you codes by counting the blinks of the check engine light once OBDII interface pins 13 and 8 are shorted (different on different cars I believe look up before trying).

        I have a scanner that works on all GM, and most Ford and Dodge. Never had a problem reading codes but my scanner is ment for reprograming the computer.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2009 @ 11:25am

          Re: Re: Re:

          blah blah blah...OBDII ...blah blah blah

          You're showing your ignorance if you think OBDII is all there is.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        SRS2000, May 21st, 2009 @ 12:00pm

        Re: Re:

        The basic OBD/OBD II codes are read by generic scanners..
        Many cars have much more in depth diagnostics that are NOT available through OBD. It's generally a separate system.

        I could get likely 10x or more data if I could tap into my BMW's diagnostic system. It gives information about all the systems in my car. Not just emissions related information.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2009 @ 9:10am

    You keep using that word, "humor".

    I do not think it means what you think it means.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    R. Miles, May 21st, 2009 @ 9:19am

    A $40 OBDII reader is too much?

    Autozone will use a reader and tell you what the problem is. Total cost: $0.

    A simple, easy to use ODBII reader runs about $40 and codes (universal, thank goodness) can be found on the internet. Many readers will come with a small booklet as well.

    I read the Ars story on this, and it's the specific machine tools which caught my eye, and if this bill passes into law, I'll be thankful. There's nothing worse than trying to work on a vehicle requiring a special tool which can't be purchased.

    The worst part about all this is the deliberate steps an auto manufacturer will take to ensure the car is returned for service. They kill people's wallets there.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      James (profile), May 21st, 2009 @ 11:34am

      Re: A $40 OBDII reader is too much?

      Yup, bought an ODBII reader for my laptop. Hooked it up to my Corvette. read the code, looked it up on the internet and found step by instructions on how to replace the ONE part that throughs that code. Reset Codes. Never saw it again. I think what the article wants is for the auto industry to do away with the idiot light and just tell you what is wrong on the display. unfortunately, without and LCD display, there is not enough room for individual gauges and warning lights on the dash.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        James (profile), May 21st, 2009 @ 11:37am

        Re: Re: A $40 OBDII reader is too much?

        After reading the article further, I might add that my software allows me to send info to the ECU but I would not try to outhink the GM engineers that designed my fuel curves in the first place.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        A Dan, May 21st, 2009 @ 2:06pm

        Re: Re: A $40 OBDII reader is too much?

        I have a reader. But there are other modules on the car that require you to take them to the dealer -- the shop will not have a reader for them. I had to take my car to the dealer when my ABS warning light was on, for example. I'd like to see you try to get a $40 reader for your car's brake computer.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2009 @ 11:28am

      Re: A $40 OBDII reader is too much?

      A simple, easy to use ODBII reader runs about $40 and codes

      You're showing your ignorance if you think OBDII is all there is.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2009 @ 9:38am

    Husler, I dunno, you can go to any many sites that say the diagnostic programs can be purchased. Took me a quick google to find many.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Hulser, May 21st, 2009 @ 9:50am

      Re:

      Husler, I dunno, you can go to any many sites that say the diagnostic programs can be purchased. Took me a quick google to find many.

      Even if an individual is able to get a hold of a diagnostic tool that will work on their own car, there is the bigger issue of whether independent repair shops can. It'd be hard -- but not impossible, as we've seen -- to sue individuals, but it's much easier to sue car repair shops. If you owned a car repair shop and knew that if a major car company found out that you were using some diagnostic tool you bought on the Internet, you'd be sued into oblivion, you might think twice about doing so.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      chris (profile), May 21st, 2009 @ 11:35am

      Re:

      Husler, I dunno, you can go to any many sites that say the diagnostic programs can be purchased. Took me a quick google to find many.

      and what happens when the car companies start issuing cease and desist letters claiming trade secrets or copyright violations?

      if you buy a physical item, you should have the freedom to do what you want to it regardless of the seller's wishes.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2009 @ 11:30am

      Re:

      Husler, I dunno, you can go to any many sites that say the diagnostic programs can be purchased.

      Those are the OBD/OBDII codes. There's more to it than that.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2009 @ 9:54am

    A long time ago (IE: 20 years) I had an 84 Dodge Daytona, iif you stuck the key in 2 times and turned it 2 notches and bac 3 timess and did the hokey pokey it would flash the trouble code with the check engine light. I would just call up the dealer and ask the service department what the code meant (02 sensor was bad, MAP sensor was bad.....).

    When I graduated from college and moved to a larger city I tried this and the dealer refused to tell me and said I would have to bring it in for a $145 diagnostic. Hopefully the new law would prevent this kind of extortion.

    I can't believe that all new cars don't have this type of self diagnostic test built in, I think it should be required that the steps to initiate the test and the resulting error codes be printed in the owners manual.

    I have been unable

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      hegemon13, May 21st, 2009 @ 11:34am

      Re:

      The dealer has no obligation to give you that information, and it was not "extortion" for them to refuse. I would guess your former local shop had a few names for people like you. If you knew the code, it was your responsibility to research and determine what it meant.

      That said, I agree with this law. I just don't think it means anyone should expect a dealer to be a free information hotline. That's no different than when I worked in an IT shop, and we would get calls from people who wanted us to walk them through repairs over the phone for free. A repair shop of any kind provides a service based on knowledge and experience that they and their employees have spent time and money to obtain. It is not reasonable for anyone to think they have a right to call a repair shop and demand free information or advice.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Jason, May 21st, 2009 @ 11:58am

        Re: Re:

        Oh whatever! The manufacturer SHOULD have an obligation to make that information available to anyone who has purchased one of their cars, and it should be part of the licensing agreement with their dealers to require them to share -- if nothing else you should be able to call the dealer for a phone number or website where you can research it yourself.

        Any IT shop worth their salt would be happy to give you a mfr phone number if they have it.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2009 @ 11:37am

        Re: Re:

        I would guess your former local shop had a few names for people like you.

        Yeah, and some of the boys in the shop probably had names for blacks, Jews, women, homosexuals and others too. Thanks for pointing that out.

        If you knew the code, it was your responsibility to research and determine what it meant.

        Err, that's what he was doing.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2009 @ 9:56am

    I hate repair shops, they freaking rip your arm off to do anything. I don't think this will change much at all though. Most people aren't going to go to the corner "Mc Greesy and Inbred Children Repair" or buy fancy gadgets when people don't even known how to change their own damn oil. It's puzzling why car companies thought they had to hold on to cars so much at the get go. People in the US are more lazy and trust faceless corporations instead of mom and pop businesses.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Paul Brinker, May 21st, 2009 @ 9:59am

    2 differnt programs

    There are 2 major programs going on right now.

    First is the program for smog checks etc. By law the car needs to use standard codes for some stuff. This is stuff like a sensor saying the fuel air mix is off so your gas is not burning perfectly. This can be read by autozones 40-60 dollar gizmo.

    The 2nd set of codes are the codes the automaker put in itself (not covered by law) this list of codes can be anything under the sun and what the code means is a closly guarded secret. Generaly its so closly guarded people calling in asking if there car is safe to drive to a repair shop wont even be told what the code means. The "dealer" will however send a tow truck.

    The biggest problem here is the fact that the code translations are being kept as trade secrets. Depending on the car manufacturor even the code book may be unobtainable unless your a real "authorized dealer" or "authorized repair shop" because the company does not want anyone outside their circle of friends to do repair work on your car.

    Just a counter argument:

    Cars have become so complex in their computer systems that you can no longer repair them with common tools around your house. In some cases over 100 sensors in modern cars means that even well trained repairmen may have no clue whats going on in your new car. As such, we the generic car company have a right to say who can and cant work on your car, because otherwise we would get hit with possable liability if your repair goes wrong, or bypasses one of our sensor or safty systems leaving the car in a non-standard state. Thus we have both the right and the responcability to ensure your car is running at 100% at all times and for even the most minor of repairs demand that one of our service people, with years of training, get to work on it.

    The above is definatly not my opinion, but vary close to that of car makers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      hegemon13, May 21st, 2009 @ 11:39am

      Re: 2 differnt programs

      "The above is definatly not my opinion, but vary close to that of car makers."

      Yes it is, but it is also complete BS. They do not have the right to determine anything about your car because it is, in fact, your car.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      hegemon13, May 21st, 2009 @ 11:39am

      Re: 2 differnt programs

      "The above is definatly not my opinion, but vary close to that of car makers."

      Yes it is, but it is also complete BS. They do not have the right to determine anything about your car because it is, in fact, your car.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Tgeigs, May 21st, 2009 @ 10:00am

    Computer Code

    I plugged my notebook into the cigarette lighter and typed "IDKFA". Instantly my car was retrofitted with a myriad of weapons: chainsaw, handgun, machine gun, shotgun, plasma, BFG, etc. Confused, I then typed "IDDQD". This had the effect of making my car indestructable.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Paul Brinker, May 21st, 2009 @ 10:04am

    I typed IDSPISPOPD and drove right through some vary scared people.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Tgeigs, May 21st, 2009 @ 10:14am

      Re:

      I just did "down, forward, back back, high kick" and my Jeep Wrangler turned into a goddam dragon and started eating people!

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Lazerus King, May 21st, 2009 @ 11:52am

        Re: Re:

        Oh man. I just hit up,down,left,right,A,B,Select,Start and my car asplode.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          identicon
          Jason, May 21st, 2009 @ 12:08pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Yeah, I hit pause, O-X-X-square-triangle-O, and suddenly I'm in a damn UFO!

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          •  
            identicon
            Tgeigs, May 21st, 2009 @ 12:23pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I was running away from your UFO-Car and got really tired when some trainer guy came over to me. I reached and pressed select and he started patting me on the shoulder VERY hard. For some reason, this gave me the energy to continue on.

             

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Paul G, May 21st, 2009 @ 10:36am

      Re: DooM

      OMG! It must have taken at least a minute before I stopped laughing enough to type this.

      Award = Best comment seen on the Internet today (or maybe this week).

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      B, May 21st, 2009 @ 11:35am

      Re:

      Bonus points for the Doom reference

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2009 @ 10:17am

    @Paul Brinker: "vary" != "very"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2009 @ 10:18am

    the point of OBDII is to make sure that your car runs well, runs cleanly, and has emissions in line with the standard for that car. The check engine light is for when the computer detects a failure within the system.

    Autozone and others can read many systems, and will tell you what is wrong, and you are free to tinker. Nobody stops you from taking a wrench to your car. But the current systems are honestly too complex for a shade tree mechanic to play with. Engine modifications will just lead to full time check engine and reduced performance, not increases.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Eldakka, May 21st, 2009 @ 11:38pm

      Re:

      So?

      If I want to drive around in my car with 4 flat tires destroying the rims, getting less mileage etc, isn't that my right?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2009 @ 10:20am

    Yes, we should put all special tools and test equipment in the hands of shops like "Bubba's Bugati to Yugo Auto Repair". Bubba reads Chilton and is ready to jump right in there and make your "baby purr like a kitten".

    The days of the old VW Beetle are long gone. Higher end new autos have engine components occupying almost the entire volume of an engine compartment. "Drive by wire" is just around the corner. Only the Good Lord knows what new electronic doo-dads are being incorporated into autos.

    Perhaps this makes sense for autos that are fast approaching the limits of their warranty (and perhaps warranties should be freely transferrable when an auto is sold as used to another purchaser). But seriously, is anybody whose auto is under warranty really going to trust their "investment" to Bubba?

    Since all of us apparently collectively "own" Chrysler and GM, maybe this proposed legislation should be limited accordingly. Otherwise I would leave well enough alone.

    As an aside, I have personally not noted any significant difference in pricing between a dealership and Bubba's. Moreover, I do have to wonder what impact such a law might have on new car pricing since so much of what a dealer hopes to earn is directly tied to future auto service. Cut that umbilical and then tell me prices will remain the same. I think not.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2009 @ 11:30am

      Re:

      My '08 Honda Fit is throttle "by wire". I doubt very much that we will ever see brakes "by wire". As safety standards get more and more strict, I think it is likely that some physical stopping mechanism will always be present.

      I feel that locking your customers out of the diagnostic systems is a poor choice of actions. If I were an auto maker, I would simply write in to the warranty a clause requiring all repair to be done by shops certified by my company. I believe that Kia already does this. That way people are free to tinker and fix as they see fit, but it will void the warranty.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Jason, May 21st, 2009 @ 12:12pm

      Re:

      That's not the point, Coward. The point is that the owner should have the right to tinker with anything they want on their car.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Chronno S. Trigger, May 21st, 2009 @ 12:52pm

      Re:

      "Yes, we should put all special tools and test equipment in the hands of shops like "Bubba's Bugati to Yugo Auto Repair". Bubba reads Chilton and is ready to jump right in there and make your "baby purr like a kitten"."

      So, you say that people are too stupid to choose a trustworthy mechanic?

      "Only the Good Lord knows what new electronic doo-dads are being incorporated into autos."

      Oh lord I hope not.

      "But seriously, is anybody whose auto is under warranty really going to trust their "investment" to Bubba?"

      The issue occurs after the warranty runs out. Shouldn't it be up to the owner of the car to decide who he wants working on it? In 50 years, where are you going to find a dealer that is willing to (or can) work on it?

      "As an aside, I have personally not noted any significant difference in pricing between a dealership and Bubba's."

      Now even I think you should stop going to Bubba's. Find a trustworthy mechanic. One that's dependent on repeat (loyal) business and isn't payed on commission. Then you will see the difference in price.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2009 @ 11:41am

      Re:

      Yes, we should put all special tools and test equipment in the hands of shops like "Bubba's Bugati to Yugo Auto Repair". Bubba reads Chilton and is ready to jump right in there and make your "baby purr like a kitten".

      What a bigot.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    DaveP in Ohio, May 21st, 2009 @ 10:38am

    My son just started driving. I bought him a remote so he can lock and unlock the car without setting off the alarm... but my 2000 Saturn requires a dealer scan tool to program the remote. This function isn't included in the ODB tool that you can buy over the counter. Hopefully this kind of thing can be eliminated with this type of legislation. I can program my 2002 Blazer keyfob with the turn of the key and pressing the power door lock button in a prescribed sequence.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Scott Gardner (profile), May 21st, 2009 @ 10:46am

    Another possible implication?

    Would this law also require that the code in the car's ECU (Engine Control Unit) be unencrypted?

    If so, this law would be a boon for the aftermarket performance companies. Right now, much of the information in the ECU like fuel maps, ignition curves, and the algorithms to modify the fuel & ignition settings based on engine sensor data is encrypted, so it's difficult to modify the ECU to optimize it for modifications like larger turbochargers or bigger fuel injectors until the ECU has been "cracked".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    DJ, May 21st, 2009 @ 10:53am

    All I know is that with most cars (maybe not the ones made in the past two years or so) you can simply go to an auto parts store and ask to use their computer reader. Some will do it for you, others will let you do it yourself; either way, it's free.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2009 @ 10:55am

    I am an asstard

    don't you think so?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    zellamayzao, May 21st, 2009 @ 11:28am

    hate to say it but most people who own a car do not need to be attempting to work on it themselves. But if they feel like they can attempt a repair on their fancy german automobile then be my guest. Luckily (or unluckily) I own a VW and there is a great little company called ROSStech that has supplied an over the counter program for the VW's that are OBD II. Its a complete kit that is like 200 bucks. Install cd, USB to OBD II cable and install instructions. It gives me the exact same information as my VW dealership can give me since its the same tool just about 1800$ cheaper.

    So its not like that stuff doesnt already exist. Its just available for every car on the road.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      DJ, May 21st, 2009 @ 12:55pm

      Re:

      "most people who own a car do not need to be attempting to work on it themselves"

      Didn't grow up in the 70's/80's did ya?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2009 @ 11:46am

      Re:

      over the counter program for the VW's that are OBD II.

      Most on-board systems now go far beyond OBD/OBDII. Those are what are being discussed. Please try to keep up.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Mark Blafkin, May 21st, 2009 @ 11:43am

    Actually, there isn't a need for a new law

    As Mike suggest, car manufacturers are abusing the DMCA (if they actually use it in these cases, a point that is not clear in the article) by attempting to use it in this way. The interoperability exemption in the DMCA creates a clear opening for anyone who wants to circumvent these ridiculous locks. Additionally, the locks need to be protecting copyrighted content in order to be protected by the DMCA. I don't see how that would be the case here at all.

    Given all this, I don't see the need for this law. Unless I'm missing something, circumventing these locks are likely legal already.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2009 @ 11:54am

    Well, can't Obama just take care of the issue? He owns them doesn't he?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    SRS2000, May 21st, 2009 @ 12:09pm

    Ugh.. I'll say this as its own thread and not as a reply.

    ALL cars sold in the USA have OBD II now. Previously they had OBD I. "On Board Diagnostics"

    This is basically limited to only EMISSIONS information.

    What this article is referring to are much more in depth sensors and diagnostics that are NOT OBD II. You can get information on every single thing that is monitored by the car. Depending on the car this can be a HUGE supply of information.

    On some cars you can set a ton of options for the car. How long the interior lights stay on, how long the headlights stay on after you turn off the car, airbag information, just more information than you would believe.

    NO ONE is saying you can't use a scantool to get OBD/OBD II information.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    zealeus, May 21st, 2009 @ 12:13pm

    another perspective

    For an interesting discussion, I suggest checking out this Metafilter post. Specifically, check out Jon-o comments as he actually works in the repair industry and has an insider persective on the whole issue. Of interest is his claim (which I haven't seen refuted) that repair shops do in fact has access to the diagnostic equipment- it's just really expensive now because you have to go through certain channels. Thus, your mom & pop shop can't repair your car because they don't have access. They just don't want to specialize or spend the money.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2009 @ 11:52am

      Re: another perspective

      Of interest is his claim (which I haven't seen refuted) that repair shops do in fact has access to the diagnostic equipment- it's just really expensive now because you have to go through certain channels.

      It's really expensive and you have to go through "certain channels" because the manufacturers keep the interface information locked up to keep it that way. That's the whole problem.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Bettawrekonize, May 21st, 2009 @ 12:44pm

    Back in the old days people used to be able to repair their cars. Car companies probably lobbied the EPA to ban all sorts of non intellectual property parts and designs under the pretext of smog (and fuel efficiency) so that they can be replaced with more expensive patented products and to add patented smog devices. Perhaps this really does help the environment but with the incentive for skewed data because car companies want a monopoly on car designs it's more difficult to know the true effects that patented designs have on the environment. Similar things happen in the agricultural business as well (ie: Monsanto tries to restrict scientists from publishing studies regarding the effects of their genetically modified products on our health and the environment without their prior permission. This, of course, is absurd and demonstrates how much our intellectual property system is costing society).

    http://www.ronpaulforums.com/showthread.php?t=192541

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    zealeus, May 21st, 2009 @ 12:53pm

    Car companies probably lobbied the EPA to ban all sorts of non intellectual property parts and designs under the pretext of smog (and fuel efficiency) so that they can be replaced with more expensive patented products and to add patented smog devices.

    Probably? Seriously? If you're going to do some massive conspiracy hand-waving, can we at least have some evidence or first-hand experience?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2009 @ 1:46pm

      Re:

      "Probably? Seriously? If you're going to do some massive conspiracy hand-waving, can we at least have some evidence or first-hand experience?"

      I don't expect them to make data available on their lobbying efforts to do so. They're not stupid to make it obvious.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2009 @ 1:47pm

      Re:

      and I don't buy the notion that such conspiracies are too impossible to ever occur. Conspiracies do happen.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        zealeus, May 21st, 2009 @ 3:03pm

        Re: Re:

        I don't disagree that conspiracies can occur. It's the jumping from "can occur" to "probably" with absolutely nothing to back it up other than a completely unrelated industry example I was commenting on.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2009 @ 3:13pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          The point is that patents give incentive for this kind of corruption and the incentive exists within the auto industry because many parts and designs are patented while one is not really allowed to build a car only using an older unpatented (or no longer patented) design and older unpatented (or no longer patented) parts because of environmental laws don't allow it. This is exactly what we would expect to be the case if these corporations with patented parts and smog devices and so forth are lobbying for such things.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2009 @ 8:26pm

        Re: Re:

        Except in this case you are knocking on the wrong door.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2009 @ 3:26pm

      Re:

      Try building a car out of completely unpatented parts without breaking the law. It's very difficult because the laws make it difficult. Why should agencies create these barriers? Well, it very well could be the environment or safety, etc... but it could also be that these car companies lobby to create obstacles and to have the environment and safety used as a pretext. Heck, freeon was only banned after the patent expired and it got replaced with a patented product. Not saying freeon isn't bad for the environment just that politics plays a role as well.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Bettawrekonize, May 21st, 2009 @ 11:29pm

        Re: Re:

        (btw, the previous post, the one I'm responding to, was by me, I forgot to put my name there).

        I find it difficult to believe that what's best for the environment just so happens to be in the best interest of car manufacturers with patents.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2009 @ 8:35pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Ummm...what do you mean by this? As is extremely well known, car manufacturers have done just about everything in their power to delay implementation of gas mileage and emissions rules, and continue to lobby heavily. So, where to patents come into play here?

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2009 @ 8:33pm

        Re: Re:

        And the industries that used freon managed to delay banning by years. They also complained that there were no alternatives available (there were none at the time the ban was discussed, and then a time table was set up). Again, to find conspiracy over freon is the wrong tree. The companies that used freon and the companies that made freon did everything possible to keep a ban from being implemented, but environmentalists put on a full court press using a ton of political pressure. Blaming the banning of freon on patents is like blaming food for making people fat (when it is people's decision on what and how much to eat that does that - to be clear).

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2009 @ 8:26pm

      Re:

      Especially since the car companies moaned about smog devices and did everything possible to avoid complying with the gas mileage rules, including lobbying former President Bush to delay implementation of certain rules, rules which Obama has decided will be enacted. If you want to look at who lobbied for decreased emissions and improved gas mileage, start with the environmentalists.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Adept-Slacker, May 22nd, 2009 @ 1:41pm

    When it comes to vehicles, I'd like to see more standardization and less of their stupid proprietary, super-secret systems. I should at least be able to have access to the meanings of any error codes/other info in my vehicle's systems, even if I don't have the knowledge or resources to fix a particular problem. It's my damn car!

    I like to know how things work. I hate that I can build, repair or modify a computer easily and cheaply, but when my check engine light comes on, I'm helpless.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Bettawrekonize, May 23rd, 2009 @ 9:18pm

      Re:

      Intellectual property is supposed to solve this problem. Allegedly, the point of intellectual property is that you tell us your secret, we give you a temporary monopoly. Apparently it's not working. Not only do they have government sanctioned monopolies but they still hide things from us. So why even have intellectual property?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Bettawrekonize, May 23rd, 2009 @ 9:20pm

        Re: Re:

        We have an intellectual property system and it is not doing what it's proposed to do. It's supposed to encourage companies to reveal secrets but not only has it failed but it's also granted these companies government sanctioned monopolies. What a scam.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2009 @ 8:37pm

        Re: Re:

        Except, trade secrets are a type of intellectual property. You are probably thinking of patents. However, no one forces anyone to obtain a patent, and if trade secrets are perceived as being more valuable, which they are more and more frequently, then guess which one a company will go for?

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Bettawrekonize, May 23rd, 2009 @ 11:35pm

    Even when it comes to software intellectual property has not really encouraged any companies to reveal any secrets. Microsoft Windows is copyright and has intellectual property encouraged them to reveal source code? NO! If anything it hinders people from reverse engineering the code in fear of breaking intellectual property laws which only hinders the distribution of "secrets". Routers often have software and hardware that's copyright and patented and they are not open source or open platform (and intellectual property prevents people from reverse engineering it in order to fix problems or sell spare parts). Heck, if anything, intellectual property has prevented the distribution of information about products to the public domain. Entities are afraid of reverse engineering products and distributing that information because they might break intellectual property laws. Monsanto has even tried to prevent scientists from studying the effects (on the environment and human health) of their patented genetically modified food and publishing it without their permission. Often times software that is open source is free (ie: under the GPL) of intellectual property. Machines used to come with technical manuals (back before most of it was intellectual property). Often times companies stop manufacturing a product and they stop manufacturing parts for that product. Due to intellectual property no one else is allowed to reverse engineer and manufacturer parts for that product. So if a part of a product breaks (I know people who have had issues with this before) people often have to buy a whole new product (ie: if an LCD component breaks people must buy a whole new monitor). This only hinders the distribution of "secrets" that intellectual property is supposed to encourage companies to reveal to the public.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Bettawrekonize, May 24th, 2009 @ 12:28am

    "We Need A Freedom To Tinker Law"

    Or maybe even a freedom to tamper.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Bettawrekonize, May 24th, 2009 @ 1:00am

    Heck, the WRT54GS (by linksys) router is an open source router and it's released under the GPL (ie: no patents). Most of the routers with copyright software and patented hardware are closed source and closed platform. So it seems that intellectual property has the opposite effects of its alleged intended effect, instead of encouraging companies to reveal more information to the public it's encouraging them to conceal information from the public.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2009 @ 8:39pm

      Re:

      You are confused. Patents exchange a limited monopoly with disclosure. Trade secrets, another type of intellectual property, do not. Copyrights also do not require registration and disclosure.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Bettawrekonize, May 24th, 2009 @ 10:22am

    Not to mention that Most DVD's (and Bluerays) with copyrights have regional locks/encryption which does nothing to promote transparency (it does the opposite). The only thing intellectual property does is make it illegal for others to decrypt which only hinders transparency.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This