The concern has led the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation to ask the U.S. Copyright Office to create a specific exemption for home mechanics under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which could otherwise be construed to prevent such home maintenance.
“That American tradition of tinkering with your vehicle in your garage is threatened by copyright law, of all things,” says EFF attorney Kit Walsh. “Let’s say you replace the cylinder. But you need to calibrate it and torque it right, or it’s not going to work. To do that, you need to change variables in the software.”