Some of the biggest auto and machinery companies in the world are fighting to make certain self-repairs illegal.
Many people who choose to invest time in big purchases like cars or equipment like tractors enjoy spending time getting hands on with their toys. Being able to know how to fix minor or major issues can save you money and time that would otherwise go to auto shops and dealerships.
The sense of pride and brand loyalty that comes from these relationships are what make people so dedicated to companies like John Deere. So why are these companies trying to regulate what you can and can’t repair?
It all revolves around the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which was created as anti-Internet piracy legislation in 2000. Now, automakers and other companies are using that same legislation to try and make it illegal to work on your own vehicle.
These companies argue that technology has advanced and use such complicated software that if the owner tries to alter any coding, it could result in dangerous results.
Listing these vehicles or machinery as “mobile computing devices” would make it incredibly difficult for owners to be able to modify anything within their on-board computers. The companies say that these regulations are warranted because those who own the vehicles are only paying for the rights to use the technology and don’t fully own all rights to their purchase.
According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, John Deere has even said that “letting people modify car computer systems will result in them pirating music through the on-board entertainment system.”
Along with John Deere and General Motors, 13 other automakers support the DMCA and these regulations.
Even though this attempt to regulate repairs only affects a small area of the technology within automobiles and machinery, it’s still enough to raise questions as to what an owner has the right to do and not to do. It will be a hard fight against owners to make these changes, and is a gamble in terms of keeping a brand relationship with customers. Part of the connection owners feel with brands like John Deere is created by the experience of owning and maintaining their products. If owners don’t feel like they can completely invest in a product, they might not want to invest in it at all.
The future of these alterations in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is still uncertain, but will likely have a rippling effect within these industries, which may be more negative than positive. Still, owners will have to watch and wait to see what changes occur from this unprecedented move.