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Sat May 23, 2015, 08:30 AM

GM: That Car You Bought? We’re Really The Ones Who Own It.

Congratulations! You just bought a new Chevy, GMC, or Cadillac. You really like driving it. And it’s purchased, not leased, and all paid off with no liens, so it’s all yours… isn’t it? Well, no, actually: according to GM, it’s still theirs. You just have a license to use it.

At least, that’s what an attorney for GM said at a hearing this week, Autoblog reports. Specifically, attorney Harry Lightsey said, “It is [GM’s] position the software in the vehicle is licensed by the owner of the vehicle.”

GM’s claim is all about copyright and software code, and it’s the same claim John Deere is making about their tractors. The TL;DR version of the argument goes something like this:

Cars work because software tells all the parts how to operate
The software that tells all the parts to operate is customized code
That code is subject to copyright
GM owns the copyright on that code and that software
A modern car cannot run without that software; it is integral to all systems
Therefore, the purchase or use of that car is a licensing agreement
And since it is subject to a licensing agreement, GM is the owner and can allow/disallow certain uses or access.
http://consumerist.com/2015/05/20/gm-that-car-you-bought-were-really-the-ones-who-own-it/

28 replies, 5571 views

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Arrow 28 replies Author Time Post
Reply GM: That Car You Bought? We’re Really The Ones Who Own It. (Original post)
dixiegrrrrl May 2015 OP
hobbit709 May 2015 #1
jberryhill May 2015 #4
hobbit709 May 2015 #6
jberryhill May 2015 #7
In_The_Wind May 2015 #2
surrealAmerican May 2015 #3
jberryhill May 2015 #9
Chan790 May 2015 #24
dixiegrrrrl May 2015 #10
Exilednight May 2015 #15
ck4829 May 2015 #5
jberryhill May 2015 #8
rickford66 May 2015 #14
dixiegrrrrl May 2015 #21
rickford66 May 2015 #27
Chan790 May 2015 #25
foo_bar May 2015 #11
NuclearDem May 2015 #17
MohRokTah May 2015 #12
uncle ray May 2015 #13
NuclearDem May 2015 #16
Octafish May 2015 #18
RoccoR5955 May 2015 #19
Auggie May 2015 #20
dixiegrrrrl May 2015 #22
Auggie May 2015 #23
darkangel218 May 2015 #26
dixiegrrrrl May 2015 #28

Response to dixiegrrrrl (Original post)

Sat May 23, 2015, 08:32 AM

1. In that case when it breaks call GM and tell them to fix it.

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Response to hobbit709 (Reply #1)

Sat May 23, 2015, 08:58 AM

4. That's the point

 


They will be quite happy to fix it, and to own a monopoly in repairs.

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #4)

Sat May 23, 2015, 09:02 AM

6. As long as they fix it to their cost.

If they own it then they are responsible for maintenance and upkeep.
Here in TX as the owner then they are responsible for the insurance too.

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Response to hobbit709 (Reply #6)

Sat May 23, 2015, 09:03 AM

7. Uh no

 


They don't own the car.

They own the exclusive right to modify the software in the car.

You are reading too much into a simple-minded headline.

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Response to dixiegrrrrl (Original post)

Sat May 23, 2015, 08:44 AM

2. Well. That truly sucketh.

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Response to dixiegrrrrl (Original post)

Sat May 23, 2015, 08:58 AM

3. If I buy a book, it's protected by copyright ...

... but I am still free to highlight passages, cross things out, write in the margins, or cut it up and re-arrange the words if I want to. What GM is asking for is well beyond copyright protection,

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Response to surrealAmerican (Reply #3)

Sat May 23, 2015, 09:06 AM

9. Can you sell edited copies of that book?

 

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #9)

Sat May 23, 2015, 11:40 AM

24. Within certain parameters you actually can.

 

You have to be using it to create original content which is not wholly-derivative and which consists in total of a substantial work of which the derivative work is only a portion. (I realize that sentence is unwieldy; there is not really a better way to parse and phrase it.) If the work is in the same medium as the original work, you must also include citations. Working artists are generally well-aware of these legal limitations and opportunities.

For example, I can take entire pages out of my copy of 50 Shades of Gray (or even the entire book if I was feeling ambitious and wanted to paint something on the scale used by Chuck Close (very very large...sometimes the size of billboards)), highlight specific passages relevant to the derivative work, papier-mâché them onto a piece of backing-board and using water-colors or gouache paint a bondage scene in grayscale. I can then sell the resulting painting.

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Response to surrealAmerican (Reply #3)

Sat May 23, 2015, 09:06 AM

10. The difference between real books and e-books.

If you buy a book for your Nook or Kindle, it comes with warning that you cannot share it with anyone else.
And, you do not "own" it...Amazon can and HAS taken someone's book back from their Kindle.

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Response to dixiegrrrrl (Reply #10)

Sat May 23, 2015, 09:53 AM

15. Yes, but Amazon must also provide a refund equal to what you paid.

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Response to dixiegrrrrl (Original post)

Sat May 23, 2015, 08:59 AM

5. If they really own it, then tell the mechanic to just send them the invoices

Would this also make GM responsible for collisions?

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Response to ck4829 (Reply #5)

Sat May 23, 2015, 09:05 AM

8. The headline is an oversimplification

 


Do you own your computer? Yes.

Are you allowed to modify your copy of Microsoft Word installed on your computer? No.

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #8)

Sat May 23, 2015, 09:46 AM

14. I can delete the code if I want.

I have the right to install my own code if I wish.

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Response to rickford66 (Reply #14)

Sat May 23, 2015, 10:58 AM

21. aahhh..yes, BUT

#1, they would know because today's cars talk back to GM, in a manner of speaking.
#2, you would instantly void all warranties.

I have been reading a lot about what puters can do in cars, how they are used, how they communicate info back to GM ( and to your insurance company)
and while the idea of puter generated roadside assistance in neat,
it does give me pause at how much control of the car is not longer up to the driver.

Tis the single most important reason I still hold onto my '93 Toyota.

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Response to dixiegrrrrl (Reply #21)

Sat May 23, 2015, 12:56 PM

27. Wouldn't own GM

Would never have a car where someone can eavesdrop without my knowledge. I can, as I said, delete the code if I want. Voiding the warranty is a joke. The auto companies hardly cover anything anyway. They make it hard to find out what they do cover. People are still getting killed due to the GM ignition switch problem. I'm building a 65 Mustang and it can't talk to anyone.

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #8)

Sat May 23, 2015, 12:00 PM

25. Actually yes to both and a bunch of other stuff you have not thought of.

 

Microsoft lost that lawsuit when they tried that with IE and coding both the OS and browser so it would break the OS if you attempted to uninstall it or any other Microsoft-installed peripheral piece of software not actually necessary to the operation of the OS. They also lost when they attempted to use chipsets to make it impossible for people buying a PC with a Microsoft OS installed to replace it or delete it...even when they attempted to subsequently-argue it was an anti-piracy measure.

Probably most-relevant to the case in question, all software is extension-open by law. You're not allowed to make your programs unalterable by third-party software unless that software illegally uses your code within it's own code. For example, I cannot make a program that modifies my copy of Microsoft Word to take parts of Microsoft's code and use it to create an unrelated application, nor to break it's copy-protection, nor can I write a program to work with my copy of Microsoft Word which contains any code copyrighted by Microsoft. (It's not necessary to do so to modify the original program however...and if it were, the law would likely void their copyright.) There is nothing they can do to stop me from writing a program that alters my copy of MS Word to allow me to use macros or keystroke-shortcuts to enter commonly-used text into my documents, nor can they attempt charge me or the publisher a fee (licensing or otherwise) for the ability to do so. Their right to prevent reasonable user modification of their software ends the second they install it into a consumer device.

GM is going to get spanked on this unless some Federal court decides to rewrite a lot of case law...and basically bring the entirety of computing and the internet to a halt.

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Response to dixiegrrrrl (Original post)

Sat May 23, 2015, 09:08 AM

11. it's like that "if Microsoft built cars" joke

I bet you can't even sell the car without violating the EULA.

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Response to foo_bar (Reply #11)

Sat May 23, 2015, 10:01 AM

17. "It looks like you're trying to parallel park."

 

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Response to dixiegrrrrl (Original post)

Sat May 23, 2015, 09:15 AM

12. This has been the case with software since DOS.

 

You never own software. It is always licensed.

This is much ado about nothing. If you have a problem with GM's code, write your own.

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Response to dixiegrrrrl (Original post)

Sat May 23, 2015, 09:40 AM

13. the title is a misrepresentation of what they are claiming.

they are basically claiming ownership of the software, you can still do what you like with the hardware, as is the case with pretty much any electronic product. there is not a mechanic on the planet that has any business messing with code to make a routine repair. tuners have been able to work around this constraint for years already. the aftermarket has adapted well to tuning modern cars. a typical method is using a tuner box, which simply plugs inline between the cars computer and other devices, sensors, etc. and tweaks the data being passed around between devices. it wasn't long ago hot rodders were up in arms about the introduction of OBD, it would be the end of modifying late model cars many said, yet now cars perform better than ever, are cleaner than ever, and ironically enough, are easier to tune and modify for higher performance.

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Response to dixiegrrrrl (Original post)

Sat May 23, 2015, 10:00 AM

16. DMCA really is the gift that keeps on giving.

 

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Response to dixiegrrrrl (Original post)

Sat May 23, 2015, 10:15 AM

18. GM did similar thing to people who wanted to buy their EV1 electric cars.

"Too bad. So sad. We own it." And refused to honor promises to customers renting EV1s who wanted to purchase the cars, opting to junk the 1,000 vehicle fleet, instead. Oil companies were happy.

http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/223/

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Response to dixiegrrrrl (Original post)

Sat May 23, 2015, 10:47 AM

19. It's the same thing with computer software

 

They license you to use it. Unless you use open source software, GPL software, and run GNU/Linux OX.
They own the software, and you basically lease it. The same with the firmware (software that is embedded on the chips in your computer) in most devices that you have. You own the device, but you are licensed to use the software.
I think that Google is coming out with a phone that is GPL.
In the meantime, you don't own any of your gadgets, the software companies do.

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Response to dixiegrrrrl (Original post)

Sat May 23, 2015, 10:53 AM

20. *sigh*

"It's ugly, but it gets you there"

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Response to Auggie (Reply #20)

Sat May 23, 2015, 11:05 AM

22. Woot! I had 3 of those, sequentially.

And do miss them.
The newer VW was not as good of a car, IMHO.

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Response to dixiegrrrrl (Reply #22)

Sat May 23, 2015, 11:22 AM

23. Upkeep couldn't be simpler. Maybe I'll get another, some day.

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Response to dixiegrrrrl (Original post)

Sat May 23, 2015, 12:02 PM

26. Oh, screw this shit. And GM, if thats how they treat their costumers

 

I miss old fashioned cars.

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Response to darkangel218 (Reply #26)

Sat May 23, 2015, 03:44 PM

28. I predict that someday in the near future

somebody...or somebodies....are going to make a comfortable living by repairing and selling pre- year 2000 cars.

Not the antique Model A types that people show off now but pre computer controlling cars.
and pre-computer other things, too.

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