- The U.S. Copyright Office on Tuesday created an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that says that people who alter the software on their cars aren't violating copyright law, NBC News reported.
- The new rule will protect security researchers looking for vulnerabilities in car software, as well as car owners that wish to modify auto software.
- The Alliance of Automakers objected to a similar move earlier this year.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation praised the Library of Congress (which oversees the U.S. Copyright Office) for acting to promote competition in the vehicle aftermarket and for protecting the “tradition of vehicle owners tinkering with their cars and tractors.”
"This 'access control' rule is supposed to protect against unlawful copying," said Kit Walsh, an Electronic Frontier Foundation staff attorney. "But as we've seen in the recent Volkswagen scandal — where VW was caught manipulating smog tests — it can be used instead to hide wrongdoing hidden in computer code."
But the Alliance of Automakers, which includes BMW, General Motors, Toyota and others, disagrees.
"Many of the scores of electronic control systems embodied in today's motor vehicles are carefully calibrated to satisfy federal or state regulatory requirements with respect to vehicle safety, emissions control and fuel economy,” the group said.
The exemption doesn't go into effect until one year from now.
Software used in automobiles became a contentious issue earlier this year when a hacker was able to infiltrate the system used in a Jeep and control the car while it was being driven.