Auto Service World
News   March 16, 2016   by CARS Magazine

U.S. urged to side with aftermarket on access to vehicle technology

Aftermarket associations are calling on the U.S. Copyright Office to extend access to software-enabled components to independent service technicians who act as the agent of the vehicle owner.

In response to the Software-Enabled Consumer Products Study released by the U.S. Copyright Office, the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association and the Motor & Equipment Remanufacturers Association pointed out that U.S. copyright laws routinely grant exemptions for those vehicle owners who repair their own vehicles but the increased use of technological protection measures (TPMs) in replacement components threatens the ability of consumers to have their vehicles serviced in the independent aftermarket.

“AASA and MERA contend that service and repair technicians act as the agent of the vehicle owner,” said Bill Long, AASA president and COO. “Creating an exemption for vehicle owners but not for third party service and repair technicians leaves vehicle owners who lack that knowledge or ability no choice but to return to the vehicle manufacturer, often at a much higher cost than going to an independent service provider. When vehicle repairs are more expensive and less convenient, owners may forego frequent maintenance, meaning vehicles may fall into disrepair and endanger the vehicle’s driver, passengers and everyone on our nation’s roads and highways.”

“Vehicle owners must retain the freedom of choice regarding the servicing and repair of their vehicles. This freedom has existed for more than 100 years, well before the employment of TPMs in vehicles,”said MERA president and COO John Chalifoux. “In order to do this, the independent aftermarket must also have the freedom to repair or modify vehicles, which will include access to vehicle software and circumvention of TPMs.”

The AASA and MERA both urged the U.S. Copyright Office to use their study to help shape the future of copyright law while also working to protect the consumers’ freedom to choose who services their vehicles.

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