Violation of Copyright Law to Work on ECU

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http://autos.aol.com/article/will-copyright-law-stop-you-from-working-on-your-car-in-the-near/?icid=maing-grid7%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl28%7Csec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D572844 Intersting and more big brother stuff!
 
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Boston, MA
Copywrite laws don't prevent you from altering something you OWN that has a copywrite, it prevents you from SELLING something containing material is a violation, playing your own version in your own home is not. People who hack ECUs for money are in an interesting grey area.
 
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I have always done recalibration on my Harley ECM's....it's really the only way to modify them and get them to run right.
 
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It would only violate copy right law if you build an ECU and then copy the software over, as in if Dorman build a new ECU with the same parts and load the original firmware on it. Most of the ECU in the future would be signed / encrypted to prevent hacking for liability reason (i.e. if someone got into your blue tooth and then hack your engine control to crash your car), making "fixing" an ECU by hacking impossible anyways.
 

djb

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Note: 'Copyright', not 'Copywright'. It's easy to remember: it is the right to make a copy. The law is clear this topic. There is no restriction on modifying something that you own. The court rulings are far less clear. And since you aren't going to be drug before congress, but into court, it's the court rulings that are a problem. Most aftermarket ECU ROM chips (including EPROM etc) are pretty clearly a violation of the copyright. They take the original code and modify the original maps/tables, writing both components onto an EPROM that they sell you. Objectively the bulk of the value is in the original code, and their contribution is trivial. But since the modified ROM is pretty much usable only on the original ECU, this copyright violation is almost never pursued. All modern ECUs use 'flash' memory, which is re-writable in place. Re-flashing those with an update is a legal gray area. Updated tables are a derivative work, but just the tables are probably not eligible for copyright protection. Modified code is more complicated, but since the process doesn't create a new copy (except incidentally, which is the legal standard) you could probably win the case with only moderate to mild bankruptcy. The situation could be worse. Last year the U.S. Supreme Court unexpected ruled in favor of Kirtsaeng in Kirtsaeng v. Wiley. That confirmed that the First Sale doctrine. As part of oral arguments, the justices discussed the possibility that eventually cars could never be legally resold without the buyer explicitly paying for new software licenses. That would make reselling many goods economically impossible. The Kirtsaeng case cost many millions of dollars. It left the defendant deeply in debt, even with major legal contributions from the EFF and other public interest groups. We own them all our thanks for pushing back the insanity.
 
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It's already a violation of EPA law to modify the computer or any other emissions component. It's interesting though that applying copyright law makes them more likely to get you... in a civil suit. It's like shutting down pirate radio stations not for violating FCC rules but for not paying ASCAP/BMI license fees for the public performance of their music.
 
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Originally Posted By: djb
Note: 'Copyright', not 'Copywright'. It's easy to remember: it is the right to make a copy. The law is clear this topic. There is no restriction on modifying something that you own. The court rulings are far less clear. And since you aren't going to be drug before congress, but into court, it's the court rulings that are a problem. Most aftermarket ECU ROM chips (including EPROM etc) are pretty clearly a violation of the copyright. They take the original code and modify the original maps/tables, writing both components onto an EPROM that they sell you. Objectively the bulk of the value is in the original code, and their contribution is trivial. But since the modified ROM is pretty much usable only on the original ECU, this copyright violation is almost never pursued. All modern ECUs use 'flash' memory, which is re-writable in place. Re-flashing those with an update is a legal gray area. Updated tables are a derivative work, but just the tables are probably not eligible for copyright protection. Modified code is more complicated, but since the process doesn't create a new copy (except incidentally, which is the legal standard) you could probably win the case with only moderate to mild bankruptcy. The situation could be worse. Last year the U.S. Supreme Court unexpected ruled in favor of Kirtsaeng in Kirtsaeng v. Wiley. That confirmed that the First Sale doctrine. As part of oral arguments, the justices discussed the possibility that eventually cars could never be legally resold without the buyer explicitly paying for new software licenses. That would make reselling many goods economically impossible. The Kirtsaeng case cost many millions of dollars. It left the defendant deeply in debt, even with major legal contributions from the EFF and other public interest groups. We own them all our thanks for pushing back the insanity.
The map is just calibration data, modifying it would be just like copying a new file on top of your existing hard drive, and therefore unlikely to be a copy right violation. Now if someone sell a replacement chip, instead of writing on top of the existing one, that would probably be in a gray area that can draw lawsuit. The easiest way to get around it is to just ask people to send in the ECU / chip to be reprogrammed instead. Most code and data are separated enough (file based, memory address based, etc) that they can easily modify the map without touching the code at all (except checksum or encryption related values). I can see a lot of complain if someone is modding a playstation or xbox to play pirated games, but I don't see any party would want to complain about a modded ECU as long as they can void the warranty for any liability or damage.
 
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Newark NJ
Originally Posted By: HerrStig
Copywrite laws don't prevent you from altering something you OWN that has a copywrite, it prevents you from SELLING something containing material is a violation, playing your own version in your own home is not. People who hack ECUs for money are in an interesting grey area.
I always thought that if someone has a CD, for example. The music on it does not belong to them. You merely have the "right" to play it for yourself, and on your devices. But the music or song itself is not your property. I can still download music for free. Youtube, and a file sharing site. Both ways are likely technically illegal. But I do not want to shell out money to, say, Apple, just for music. I am aware my actions probably cost someone money. I simply question if it is the artist. Is ECM code property of the manufacturer?
 
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Michigan
Originally Posted By: MalfunctionProne
I always thought that if someone has a CD, for example. The music on it does not belong to them. You merely have the "right" to play it for yourself, and on your devices. But the music or song itself is not your property.
You are correct. You don't "own" the music. That remains the property of the artist or publisher. By purchasing the music, you are given the right to personal use. You are also allowed to make a fair-use copy for personal use, so long as you don't circumvent any copyright protection in doing so. This is why ripping a CD into MP3s is legal, but doing the same to a DVD is not. DVDs are copyright protected, CDs (most of them, anyway) aren't.
Originally Posted By: MalfunctionProne
I can still download music for free. Youtube, and a file sharing site. Both ways are likely technically illegal. But I do not want to shell out money to, say, Apple, just for music. I am aware my actions probably cost someone money. I simply question if it is the artist.
No, they're not *technically* illegal, they are both outright illegal. It goes back to fair-use copying for personal use. Neither of the instances qualify as a fair-use copy. In the case of file-sharing, you're not the one who made the copy, but being part of a torrent makes you a seeder, if only for a short time, and that makes you culpable in the illegal distribution of copyrighted material. Plug, ignorance of the law (you know you're effectively stealing copyrighted material) doesn't hold up very well in court.
Originally Posted By: MalfunctionProne
Is ECM code property of the manufacturer?
Unless it is explicitly open source/free license or falls under some copyleft license (like GNU General Public License), all code is the intellectual property of the developer. Try using some of Microsoft's source code in your newly developed OS. A cease-and-desist letter from their attorneys will follow shortly after you begin distributing it.
 
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A lot of fresh hope and sunshine here. To tell the manufacturer's side of it, the moment you copy the binary image of the ECM on to your computer, even before you modify it to reload, you've violated their copyright, because you've copied it, and that's outside of their terms of use. Court decisions about this are mixed, even for personal use without redistribution.
 
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Jupiter, Florida
Originally Posted By: eljefino
It's already a violation of EPA law to modify the computer or any other emissions component. It's interesting though that applying copyright law makes them more likely to get you... in a civil suit.
Not true on a federal level. The US Constitution does not grant the government the authority to regulate what you do to something you own. The authority to "regulate commerce among the several states" is the so called "commerce clause". The commerce clause is the authority with which the federal government regulates MANUFACTURERS and emissions. The owner of a vehicle is bound by state laws, not federal laws. It may be a distinction without a difference in some states (CA comes to mind) .
 
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ME
Originally Posted By: Cujet
Originally Posted By: eljefino
It's already a violation of EPA law to modify the computer or any other emissions component. It's interesting though that applying copyright law makes them more likely to get you... in a civil suit.
Not true on a federal level. The US Constitution does not grant the government the authority to regulate what you do to something you own. The authority to "regulate commerce among the several states" is the so called "commerce clause". The commerce clause is the authority with which the federal government regulates MANUFACTURERS and emissions. The owner of a vehicle is bound by state laws, not federal laws. It may be a distinction without a difference in some states (CA comes to mind) .
Quote:
Secondly, subsection 113(a)(2) contains a provision for direct federal enforcement of an implementation plan against "any person" until the state satisfies the Administrator that it will enforce the plan. This section applies to situations where violations of the plan are so widespread that the state appears to be delinquent in its enforcement efforts.
http://www.law.du.edu/documents/transportation-law-journal/past-issues/v08/clean-air-act.pdf Interesting reading. Wonder if it's one of those things where they warn you it's a violation of the law but they don't have a clear way of enforcing it.
 
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I've heard rumors that the guys that created O2 sims for the OBD2 BMW's have all gone to jail, and are apparently still there. I cannot find any confirmation of this, but I know you cannot buy them anymore. These days there's no need to, as the people who do this sort of thing can simply turn off the self checks in the DME for the rear O2's.
 
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