How Automakers Abuse Intellectual Property Laws To Force You To Pay More For Repairs

from the it's-all-a-big-scam dept

Back in May, we wrote about the effort to get a Right to Repair bill passed for automobiles:

So far, thanks in part to lobbying by automakers, that bill hasn’t gone very far. Reader MR sends in this article exploring both the bill and how automakers have been abusing intellectual property law to force you to pay more. Basically, as cars become more sophisticated and computerized, automakers are locking up access to those computers, and claiming that access is protected by copyrights. Mechanics are told they can only access the necessary diagnostics if they pay huge sums — meaning that many mechanics simply can’t repair certain cars, and car owners are forced to go to dealers, who charge significantly higher fees.

There is no legitimate basis for this at all. It’s a clear misuse of intellectual property laws — which were never designed for this sort of thing — to prevent independent auto mechanics from repairing newer cars. But it’s the end result of the increasing creep of intellectual property rights, and the growing computerization of everything. It allows manufacturers to extend “IP” rights to physical goods, and create all sorts of new monopolies. In a perfect world, this wouldn’t need a separate law. It would be a clear violation of antitrust laws. But, we don’t live in a perfect world, and for the time being you’re probably paying a lot more money to repair your car because of it.

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Comments on “How Automakers Abuse Intellectual Property Laws To Force You To Pay More For Repairs”

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Ima Fish (profile) says:

To everyone who is against this bill consider this: Do you really want automobile manufacturers to have an incentive to build crappy cars?

That’s exactly what will happen if they have exclusive rights to fix their own products. Manufactures would turn that into a cash cow. You need an oil change? You have to take it to us. You need a new filter? You have to pay us. Every single thing that goes wrong with your car would have to be fixed by the manufacturer or its licensed agent. Without any competition in the repair business, the costs of repairs would skyrocket.

Suddenly, the money made from repairing automobiles would outweigh the cost of selling them.

To anyone who thinks the intellectual property of the manufacturers need protecting, can you answer me this: How would giving automobile manufacturers a monopoly on repairs promote the progress of science and useful arts? Until you can answer that question, shut the frick up.

R. Miles (profile) says:

Re: Re:

That’s exactly what will happen…
Will? It’s already happening. Why do you think they want to lock down maintenance through IP? It’s so you can’t complain about current cars, which would be their incentive not to build better quality vehicles.

Not that it matters anyway. The secondary market to obtain parts to work on ones own vehicles more than makes up for the loss at the dealership. Special pronged tools required for bolts which aren’t standard?

There’s even a beef about OBD codes and how they’re purposely designed to return a generic error. A friend of mine received an error on a light bulb for the air bag system which then disabled the entire air bag system. Over a burned out light bulb?

I smell the return of the horse and buggy whip in our future.

Steaming Pile says:

Re: Re: Re:

Oh, and if you think you’re going to get around this by buying a simple, stripped-down car without such amenities as power windows, power door locks, and other annoying crap that can break down, think again. Go to your neighborhood dealer, and you will only see loaded cars. We got a base trim Toyota Corolla this past February, and it was the ONLY ONE THERE.

zellamayzao says:

Re: Re: Re:

Its over 200 to have a new key made for my V.W. I agree with this premise to an extent. Yes you should be able to take your car to whomever you want to have it repaired at the fairest cost. I work at a dealership so I kinda have to work both sides of the fence. Yes I want people to take their car to the dealership I work at. I want to put food on my plate. But as someone who owns a german car that is not designed to be worked on at any place except for a dealership….I want to be able to access the computer diagnostics myself so i can perform my own repairs. I have a bootleg copy of VAGcomm (scan tool for vw and audis ) but it doesnt do it all. Plus Im not paying 95$ an hour to have them fix something I can do but cant because I dont have the software.

So in conclusion, they need to make the software available to the mass market so there is more people out there able to work on all types of cars and well all know what competition is supposed to do to prices…..Although the manufacturer could just easily void your warranty if you do not have it repaired an authorized dealer……

Paod says:

Re: Re: Re:

Keys are not just keys any more. If you want to buy the “key” that just unlocks the door, it will only cost you a few bucks. New keys have the keyless entry fob built into them, as well as being “chipped” to prevent theft. It is nearly impossible to steal a new car without a key that is programmed for the vehicle.

JG says:

Re: Re: Re:

Do you even know why keys on these vehicles aren’t “just keys” anymore and what benefit they created?

Each key is coded electronically to the particular to prevent theft – there is no “master key” that thieves can get cheaply. The result has been that auto theft like it used to be in the 1970s and before has largely disappeared. Now, of course, auto theft still occurs by towing the entire vehicle or by carjacking but the number of thefts even with these methods are a tiny fraction of what they used to be in the US. Also now, theft doesn’t result in selling or using the vehicle but as fodder for “chop shops” which sell the pieces or for transshipment to developing countries without strict property law enforcement or networking into the US law enforcement systems.

Maybe you want to go back to the 1970s levels of auto theft. I don’t.

Craig (profile) says:

Re: New car key cost

Amen to that, a-dub. I had to replace a key for my Chrysler car, and the “regular” key was C$68, while the one that had the remote for door locks, trunk, and panic button was around C$300. Imagine my surprise when my C$68 key was over C$130 when I picked it up! The key was 68 and “programming it” was another 65! WTF??

C$130 to start up my car. If I use it to unlock the car, the alarm goes off.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I probably wouldn’t, if I had a choice… Except that both mine and my fiance’s cars are hand me downs from relatives. We’re students- we haven’t got the money for even a cheap used car ourselves, so we drive what my parents gave us when they bought new cars.

Also, it’s getting to the point where in a couple of years, even if you’re buying a used car, you’re probably going to have to deal with this type of key. All the major manufacturers use them now, and have for several years. Both our cars are nearly 10 years old- it’s not a new thing.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

Re: Re:

intellectual property is designed exactly to allow evil people to enrich themselves at public expense.

It wasn’t always that way. Copyright was intended to protect “science” and “useful arts.” That included maps and charts not literature, music, and paintings.

The problem with having a government granted monopoly is that your entire existence is outside the realm of reality and economics. You don’t have to compete, because the government granted you a monopoly. You simply ask for the monopoly to be extended to eliminate your competition. You don’t have to work harder to earn more money, you simply have the government tax radio stations and blank CDs and give the money to you. When the government gives you a free ride, no one even thinks about getting out and pushing.

So you’re right, IP as currently implemented “is designed exactly to allow evil people to enrich themselves at public expense.”

Samarami says:

Re: Imagine...

“The more illegal it is the better it tends to work…”

DMNTD: Absolutely. The “Black” market is the only “free” market left. All other markets are “regulated” by the most vicious, graft-ridden gangsters in town — “Your Country”.

I support no bills, because I support no government. I expect NO employees of civil government to “protect” (or “serve”) my local mechanic. If she can’t fix it, I ain’t buyin’.


Ima Fish (profile) says:

Re: You have a choice

Vote with your wallet.

You free-marketeers are so freaking funny. Yep, the magical market will solve everything. If corporate america is trying to screw you over, simply spend your money somewhere else. If someone is trying to break into your house to steal your TV, simply buy a new house in a safer neighborhood. And if your 6 year old daughter is being raped, simply buy her a high quality chastity belt. Yep, the market can solve all of our troubles. There’s simply no point in even having a government, is there?

Dennis Wilson (user link) says:

Re: Re: You have a choice

“You free-marketeers are so freaking funny. Yep, the magical market will solve everything. If corporate america is trying to screw you over, simply spend your money somewhere else.”

HEY! It DOES WORK! Both GM AND Chrysler failed because we spent our money elsewhere!!

“If someone is trying to break into your house to steal your TV, simply buy a new house in a safer neighborhood.”

HEY! That works also!! So do alarm systems and 12 gauge shotguns.

“And if your 6 year old daughter is being raped, simply buy her a high quality chastity belt.”

HEY AGAIN! Dial 911, (and cry) or teach her how to use firearms, like the girl in Montana who saved herself and her brother.

“Yep, the market can solve all of our troubles. There’s simply no point in even having a government, is there?”

Indeed. There is no point. And nothing “magical” is needed either. All you have to do is be responsible for yourself instead of a little lamb being led to slaughter.

Bill says:

Re: Re: You have a choice

Thats the most retarded argument against free markets I have ever heard in my entire life.

You should be ashamed of yourself for allowing your mind to rot in such stupidity.

While I agree with the premise that manufacturers should not be allowed to lock their computers so the average joe mechanic cannot access them, that doesn’t mean that free markets are bad.

In fact, the idea that they can lock up the computer is very anti-free market. If someone can make a fix on a vehicle cheaper, it should be done, and I hope they make bukoos of money undercutting the manufacturer. Maybe they will lower prices to be more competitve in response, like any free marketeer would?

And remember, if you are so against this, consider who you voted for. Democrats have a majority in Congress, and a President in the White House. Hmmm… thought they were for the little people? Guess not…

What the sheeple need to recognize, is that its not about the Republican’ts and the Demogogues. It’s about two incredibly corrupt political bodies that dominate American politics. They all need to go out.

If America had a true free market, as it should by design, health insurance would be cheaper, and more competitive across state lines, and we would not have had the mortgage crisis that imploded the real estate, banking, stock, and job markets that we have experienced over the past year or so.

It’s time for the sheeple to wake up and start electing leaders, instead of con artists. And that goes for the left, and the right. Wake up people.

Anonymous Coward says:

There is no such thing as intellectual property. Property is tangible, how can an idea be just that? Once it’s out of your head, it no longer belongs to just you. No one steals the idea, at the point, because you gave it away.

Patents were designed to protect ideas so that you have the first chance to profit from the idea before others. The idea does not belong to you, rather the you have the first right to benefit from it. This was, originally, conceived to aid in innovation, not litigation.

Copyrights were designed to protect works so that the person who created it can protect himself, and maintain his credit in the creation of the work and the first right to copy it. Copyright also gives the copyright holder rights to grant rights to others for copy and distribution.

Patents, copyrights, and trademarks were designed to protect original ideas and those who came up with them, not to punish everyone else. It’s so sad to see it twisted and used for greed rather than innovation.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Actually, neither patents, copyrights, or trademarks protect ideas. Patents protect processes and improvements thereof. In other words, it does not protect the mere idea of making a non-stick cooking utensil. It would only cover the specific process that actually worked in covering the pan with teflon. The idea was easy, actually getting teflon to stick to the pan was hard.

Copyrights do not protect ideas, but specific fixed expressions. For example, the idea of a TV show about an innocent person running from the law each week was done in Renegade, The Hulk, the Pretender, and of course the Fugitive. Copyright never protected the idea, only the fixed expressions thereof.

Trademark is a consumer protection issue. Trademark should not even be lumped in IP at all because its purpose is entirely different. The purpose of trademark is not to protect Coke. Its purpose is to protect consumers from being confused by inferior third party products. So that when you buy a “Coke” product marked as such, you know you’re actually buying a product made by Coke Inc., and not some rip off.

transmaster (profile) says:

Here we go again

If you will recall 16+ years ago there was a similar trick when the first digital cars came out. the On Board Dignostics One system OBDI was different for each manufacture, Ford’s firm ware was different from GM, from Toyota, and Nissan. So you had to have a special code reader for each make. The problem was these Car companies would not let anyone get the codes for their OBDI systems. So in order to fix them you had to go to the dealer. This had the effect of freezing out the non-factory service centers from working on these cars. Washington DC got smart amd mandated that all diagnotic firmware be the same thus came OBDII. With OBDII the same access computer could work with all brands. Now I see the various companies have developed a way around this regulation, what’s next?

Pele (profile) says:

Re: Here we go again

OBD2 has not been a very firm standard. There are several standards of communication: SAE J1850 PWM, SAE J1850 VPW, ISO 9141-2, ISO 14230-KWP2000, and ISO 15765-CANbus. After 2008, all vehicles require the latter. Some diagnostic equipment may not have all or any of the functionality on an incompatible vehicle.

But this is the reason I buy older used vehicles (Aside from the fact that I do not see the point in spending a lot of money on a value depreciating asset. If a $2400 vehicle lasts me two years, that’s $100 a month. Where can I find financing for that?!)

I always scout out any of my relatives vehicle purchases before recommending for or against the purchase… Can I get at all the maintenance items without special dealer tools. (Spark plugs, fluids, filters, etc.) and will it require me to remove engine mounts to get at belts and crap or drill holes in the firewall to get at the spark plugs…

There are bad designs from all manufacturers, foreign and domestic and there are bad designs dating all the way back to the 80’s… This isn’t a new issue.

Anonymous Coward says:

NO! Patents SHOULD NOT protect processes. Patents protect inventions, NOT discoveries. Processes are discovered, not invented.

Example: Making toast

Forget about prior art for a moment, lets pretend this is something new. So in this example, what is patentable?

Buttered bread is patentable.
Toast is patentable.
A device that applies butter to the bread is patentable.
A device that toasts the buttered bread is patentable.

What is not patentable?

Applying butter to bread.
Toasting buttered bread.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Crustless Sandwiches

QUOTE: Re-read it. Crustless sandwiches were patented, not the making thereof. In any case, it’s a stupid patent with a crapload of prior art.

I think my childhood friends mother would take issue with that. He always had
to have is sandwiches without the crust. This was in the mid 60’s. I claim prior art.
The patent office has gone off of it’s original mission. It now caters to corporations at all costs and they get paid handsomely for it in the fee’s charged.

NullOp says:


Auto repair IS and always HAS BEEN a huge ripoff. The majority of people that walk into a shop can be told anything and the customer will get it “fixed.” Mechanics in one of the shops I worked in used to joke about cars coming in for a valve job and the mechanic would clean the rocker covers, change the oil and charge $400.00. No kidding!

When I was in the business, one of the jobs I did was to prep new cars. I caught Hell for actually wanting to fix the things that were wrong with the car before putting it on the lot! We took delivery of cars that were probably unsafe to drive. But, Hey, no problem, put it on the lot!

There are good, honest mechanics in business but its really hit or miss finding them. Often a long-time mom-and-pop shop is the way to go. I definitely recommend avoiding the dealerships at all costs! Some of the worst repairs I’ve ever had came at the hands of the dealership.

Samarami says:

Re: Rapair

“Auto repair IS and always HAS BEEN a huge ripoff…”

Nullop, you can say the very same thing about almost every service industry in the marketplace. How about the medical establishment? If I can’t fix it it’s probably because I don’t know much about it (or don’t have the special tooling).

You are right: there ARE good, honest mechanics with excellent reputations for expertise and fairness.

Don’t get the ULTIMATE crooks involved with some “bill” or another. Leave government the hell alone and look yourself up some honest folks to deal with.


jorshw says:

New Car costs etc

I can only think of one or two cars made in the past 10-15 years that I could afford and would be interested in owning/driving. First, they are ugly, huge on the outside small on the inside, and require tools that are not practical for me to purchase as a single car owner. Add to this the fact that many new cars can be “totaled” by a 5mph crash due to hugely expensive components (like $2500 headlight modules) and it is easy to see why new US car sales have fallen form ~17 million units in 2000 to only about 10 million units in 2009.


Just recently the head of Toyota was scolded and dropped for failing this mantra so hopefully we will get some better cars soon… (From NYT article)
“At the headquarters in Japan, Katsuaki Watanabe was replaced as president by Akio Toyoda, grandson of the company’s founder, but not before being publicly run through by Shoichiro Toyoda, the company’s 84-year-old honorary chairman. Before a stunned audience of 400 executives, Mr. Toyoda asked Mr. Watanabe, “How many times have you made a mistake?” and said that Toyota’s addiction to big, pricey cars and trucks reminded him of, well, G.M. and Chrysler.

zellamayzao says:

Re: New Car costs etc

Insurance companies are also part of the reason cars are totaled so easily now a days. Its easier to replace it than it is to fix it. Be it with entire cars or parts for cars. (obviously some parts cant be fixed) But most insurance companies will total a car if the cost of repair is 60% of the actual cash value of the vehicle.

The extent of the damage may not be that severe with as you said with the expensive parts it is easy to wrack up high repair costs even though it may be just a lot of cosmetic damage. Insurance companies were hard pressed to total a vehicle just a few years ago but now we see a lot more being totaled in the shop where I work. We used to see estimates worth 100 hours repair time now we are surprised when we see them for 60 hours.

Rick says:

What about Apple?

How is this different from Apple requiring you pay them $50 to swap out a battery on an iPhone that only they can sell and install?

It’s not and both should be illegal. This Bill should not be soley focused on automobiles. If a person buys something, they own it and should have every right to have it fixed without any hinderence from the manufacturer – UNLESS they manufacturuer is providing the repair services FREE OF CHARGE…

SashaJo says:

Re: What about Apple?

Ummm…. If you don’t like Apple’s practices, you’re free to buy something else. I have a number of Apple products and have been exceedingly happy with the service and the products. To me, that’s worth paying a bit for. And yes, I’ve had PCs and other non-Apple products. Most have ended up costing me even more for service, replacements, etc. Gimme a break.

colinnwn (profile) says:

Re: What about Apple?

I’m no fan of Apple. But there are many websites that sell iPhone batteries and instructions on how to replace them. It isn’t a fun process. But I really don’t think Apple makes it hard to make more money on battery replacements. I think they do it because they want to make the phone as thin and attractive as possible without exposed connectors like screws. It wouldn’t be my priority, but it is very indicative of the Steve Jobs design philosophy.

I don’t think there is any way to legislate “hindrance of repair.” There would be too many conflicting opinions of what that entails. Is using a torx screw rather than a phillips “hindrance”? There are some good reasons to use torx over phillips, though drivers are harder to find. I’d rather see a law requiring companies to supply their repair service manuals to customers at only duplication cost, and publish communication protocols required to repair their device, so other companies can build and sell those service tools without reverse engineering.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: the pros, the cons, and the uninformed masses

Photoshop doesn’t drive any hardware. Microsoft doesn’t make hardware. Apple does, but its all standard more or less. You also don’t need Apple’s or Microsoft’s OS to fix computer hardware. Everyone already knows how they work. The same cannot be said of cars. The lockdown of the code in those cases prevents or makes very difficult the diagnosis and repair of the hardware. There’s a huge difference.

The Anti-Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: the pros, the cons, and the uninformed masses

It’s all anti-competitive behavior. If you are going to force car companies to expose all of their code and effectively open source their material, you should do the same for any other company making proprietary software of any sort.

All the code used to run a graphics card? Open source.

All the code in an OS BIOS? open source.

All the code to run a router, or any other piece of network gear? 100% open source, even the bios code for those too.

Basically, as software always has to run on something (it is useless just as a pile of print outs), all software should be open source and free.

Yeah, good idea.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: the pros, the cons, and the uninformed masses

“Good idea”? Heck, great idea. Secrecy is overrated anyway. Besides, we live in a utopian world where share and share alike should be the rule. Imagine, if you will, all the innovation that will transpire once the hard work of others can be copied at will.

Of course, it would be necessary to mandate the sharing of all know-how, show-how R&D results, business plans, etc. Otherwise, the original creator would have a leg up on the competition, and as we all know that is a bad thing if the goal is to encourge and facilitate copyring (my bad, I meant innovation).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: the pros, the cons, and the uninformed masses

That IS a good idea, actually. But not really necessary. People are already developing their own software already to run these devices. Hell, how do you think people use them on Linux?

That aside, from what I gathered from the bill doesn’t require car makers to reveal their source code, but not obfuscate the diagnosis information and such. Completely different. In all the software you listed, none of the hardware makers do that. Error codes and such are all pretty well documented and open. Interoperability. That’s a good thing. The auto makers could have avoided all this if they simply wrote their code in a way that didn’t purposely lock everyone out from even interpreting the output.

Daemon_ZOGG (profile) says:

"How Automakers.. Force You To Pay More For Repairs"

..Hacking, Cracking.. It’s all the same to me.. WOOPS! Did I say that out loud?! HEH!
” };> ”
Look what happened to DVD/CD encryption, GSM, and WEP. The more you lock it away, the harder you make it for the common citizen will be the undoing of your scheme. Your security will not last long….. Human nature demands a good challenge now and again.. ;D

:) says:


Hack the BIOS and install something you like.

Take the openzipt project that takes a $40 dollars hardware used to send emails and turns it into a smarphone(skype) gaining root.

Is fine for wardriving as it has wifi and run linux and have Doom 🙂

How long until carshops start partnering with geeks?
Then the question will be how long until car makers will sue someone for unlocking the system?

Two such projects.

You don’t need to copy the software that the companies gives you, people can make their on and in the interest of safety car makers should make specifications info free for everybody.

Or else people should start installing new processor in the car they buy that will give them the freedom from those bad bad people.

Else buy

JOR says:

You have a choice

Anarchy is inescapable. We’re in it now. The government is the monolithic corporation, of which all the other so-called private corporations are mere branches.

Since in the anarchy in which the monolithic corporation exists it does not, in fact, send stormtroopers to kill critics’ entire bloodlines, it’s likely that in the anarchy in which the monolithic corporation does not exist (which is what most people mean when they talk about anarchy favorably), it won’t be killing critics’ bloodlines.

Michael Price (profile) says:

Is this irrational?

Is it just me or could a car company make more money in the long run by making repairs cheaper? Think about it, the cheaper it is to repair a car the more it’s worth to buy the car in the first place. If we assume that the cost to repair a car becomes well known fairly quickly then the increase in sales price should more than compensate for loses on selling overpriced repairs.

Craig DeForest says:

The problem is judicial error

Microcode and object code in ROM have long been held to be copyrightable, but that breaks the intent of copyright — object code is functional, not expressive. Therefore it should be subject to patent law, but not copyright law.

Copyright law is for things that communicate to humans — expressive works. Historically, “expressive” has been interpreted rather broadly (there was a big fight about player piano rolls, for example, about 100 years ago), but IMHO the train came off the rails somewhere in the 19890s, when functional object code embedded in physical objects (e.g. programming in smart toasters) started being treated as copyrightable. It plainly breaks the intent of copyright.

sodhammer says:

this is not the only industry doing this

I believe HP is using this same process to ensure you only place HP supplies in their printers. The place a chip in the toner cartridge which has a code in it that is copyrighted. If you make a compatible cartridge (IE has the same code in it so the printer will accept it), you are guilty of copyright infringement.

you don't want to know says:

This is why for many things I prefer to BIMS ( Build it Myself)

Go to any repair shop for anything anything at all and they charge you absurd fees. My friend went to the big blue box to get a wonderful laptop, which came with an upgrade from windows vistuck to windows 6.66 I mean 7. They would only authorize geek squalor to install the OS without voiding the warranty. I read and re-read the warranty on his laptop. Nope not there at all I could have done it in 20 minutes for free. I guess they were just greedy bastards. They charged $45 and kept his laptop for 2 days since they said it would take that long. Worst part is I found a legit copy of windows 7 on Craig’s list for $30 and it only took 25 minutes to do the upgrade from vistuck on another friend’s system. I will stick with the tried & true XP, or Linux! I will never again pay someone to work on my computer either. Especially since last time I did they wiped the every single hard drive on my computer not just the one with the OS on it to do a reinstall. Wiped everything. I hadn’t backed it up I’d have been screwed. Not to mention the ensuing argument over why it was necessary for them to do this in the first place. In any case I build my own crap whenever possible and for things like cell phones I tend to kill them in the warranty period anyways by pushing their limits (without voiding it they tend to fry easily and are poorly built too).

My point is this whenever possible get a second opinion, and whenever possible read reviews from multiple sources. Older technology usually won’t violate any IP laws, and I have seen several older cars where parts could be found with minimal ease and little to no cost.

On another note has anyone noticed that things like cell phones get flimsier and flimsier??? Yes having a thin cell phone is nice, but since my first cell phone 3 & 1/2 years ago I have never had a phone go more than 8 months without having something on it break (i.e. the slider, the screen stops working, the main board on the phone cracks after dropping it once when the phone’s casing wasn’t even scratched).

In the end it will come back to bite the companies in the ass, when they realize that everyone will be buying from the guy who sells it cheaper and sells more because of it, as long as it is reliable, easier to use, and costs less to maintain and repair.

Joseph Potvin (profile) says:

DRM Erodes Competition, Private Property Rights, and Privacy

The following is from my submission to the recent public consultation in Canada on proposed Copyright legislation:

“What private citizens have a right to do with their private property, if that property depends in any way on a computer program, would have been affected by Bill C-61. The bill would have taken away each Canadian’s right, for example, to take his or her car to anyone but officially-sanctioned mechanics for diagnosis or repair, if the independent garage they go to would need to circumvent any type of computer program lock put in place around a component computer program by the original equipment manufacturer precisely to restrict competition from other suppliers and from independent garages. Such a power would render useless other initiatives in the public interest, such as the “Right to Repair Bill”(Bill C-273 ) Thus Bill C-61 would have provided legal protection to anti-competitive practices if those practices are implemented via computer programs. This would have fundamentally changed the legal environment across the entire economy. To continue the example, at present it is perfectly legal for any mechanic to take apart and modify any car’s components in order to proceed with any diagnosis, repair or modification, even if this requires circumventing a digital lock attached to the product so that he can gain access to its internal operations. Bill C-61’s exclusive delegation of power to original equipment manufactures would strengthen anti-competitive practices, particularly in market segments with one or a small number of dominant vendors. A good overview of this issue is provided by Bruce Perens, former executive of Hewlett-Packard: “Is DRM Just a Consumer Rights Issue?”

Enforcement of the rules described in Bill C-61 would have also required intrusive questions about what people do with their private property, and thus would raise the fundamental issue of privacy itself. Indeed the Privacy Commissioner of Canada said on his blog on 23 June 2008: “The privacy commissioners of Canada, Ontario and British Columbia have also said they have privacy concerns over digital rights management — the media companies use to monitor and control access to copyrighted material.”

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