Hoist your wrenches into the air, folks. As of today, October 28, you can now hack, repair, and conduct security research on your own car—or tractor!—without risking jail time for copyright infringement. If you’re wondering what car repair has to do with copyright law—believe me, you’re not the only one. People have been repairing, modifying, and tinkering with cars ever since we left horses in the dust. But cars have changed a lot since Henry Ford rolled the first Model Ts off the assembly lines just over 100 years ago. Cars aren’t just pistons and pumps anymore—they are giant computers on wheels. And the software that tells those computers what to do is (you guessed it) copyrighted.
a new exemption to the decades-old law known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act quietly kicked in, carving out protections for Americans to hack their own devices without fear that the DMCA’s ban on circumventing protections on copyrighted systems would allow manufacturers to sue them. One exemption, crucially, will allow new forms of security research on those consumer devices. Another allows for the digital repair of vehicles. Together, the security community and DIYers are hoping those protections, which were enacted by the Library of Congress’s Copyright Office in October of 2015 but delayed a full year, will spark a new era of benevolent hacking for both research and repair.
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