WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Librarian of Congress released the sixth triennial set of exemptions to the prohibition of circumvention of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Circumvention, in the context of the DMCA, refers to the bypassing of technological measures employed by or on behalf of copyright owners to protect their works.
In regard to automotive repair, the document recognizes the growing need for technicians to be able to access and sometimes alter vehicle software. The final exemption would allow repairers to modify programs that are:
“… contained in and control the functioning of a motorized land vehicle such as a personal automobile, commercial motor vehicle or mechanized agricultural vehicle, except for computer programs primarily designed for the control of telematics or entertainment systems for such vehicle, when circumvention is a necessary step undertaken by the authorized owner of the vehicle to allow the diagnosis, repair or lawful modification of a vehicle function.”
Under the exemption, the circumvention must not constitute a violation of applicable law. The new circumvention exceptions are set to take effect in 12 months.
The Automotive Service Association’s (ASA) leadership has expressed some apprehension about the telematics language in those exemptions, in that it excludes third-party access to “telematics and entertainment systems.” ASA has been very involved with vehicle technologies and telematics, hosting aftermarket and automaker forums, educational sessions and meetings with congressional and administration policymakers. ASA will continue to review the latest ruling.
The Automotive Service Association is the largest not-for-profit trade association of its kind dedicated to and governed by independent automotive service and repair professionals. ASA serves an international membership base that includes numerous affiliate, state and chapter groups from both the mechanical and collision repair segments of the automotive service industry.