The U.S. Copyright Office Tuesday issued a ruling that appears to leave car audio and auto repair shops in limbo.
The Office ruled favorably for car owners, that they may modify their cars without fear of prosecution under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. But it failed to provide the same exemption to retailers and repair shops (third parties) who diagnose, repair or modify a vehicle on behalf of the vehicle owner.
The Copyright Office concluded that exempting third parties so they can modify cars, requires a legislative amendment by Congress.
To make matters worse, it said that access to a vehicle’s entertainment or telematics system was also excluded from the exemption, according to SEMA.
To explain; every three years the Copyright Office reviews the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to determine what is exempt from it. It’s a 1998 copyright law that can apply to computers, smartphones, video games and cars and the fine line between hardware and software.
This year, prior to the ruling, a dozen automakers argued that the software code in cars falls under the protection of the DMCA. They claimed that consumers should not tamper with the software code in their cars and should be restricted in working on their cars, as should retailers, by extension.
So again, the ruling Tuesday retains the right of consumers to work on cars, but it seems to leave car audio retailers in limbo.
We’ll bring you more information on the ruling as we learn more.
This is what the Copyright Office said about NOT exempting retailers from prosecution for copyright infringement: