GM says you don't own your car, you just license it

If the modern age is your idea of a dystopia, you must see most of the history of mankind to be a total nightmare.

I hope that GM and John Deere lose because otherwise we will no longer be owners but merely licensees.

It’s often the case that GM and John Deere don’t develop the software in-house, but rather they license it. I think your problem is with proprietary software in general. In a way GM and John Deere are victims as well. I’m sure they would like to be able to buy one copy, make some changes to it, and distribute it far and wide for free. But they can’t because the developers who made the software want to maximize what the are paid for it and they do that by licensing rather than selling their work (and the license isn’t an open source license).

If it’s wrong for software makers to copyright their work, then perhaps musicians and film makers shouldn’t be allowed to do so either.

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First there was the “Oops we need to recall a bunch of our cars because they’re killing people” issue that GM had a while ago. I was contemplating looking past that because I really like the Volt. I would appreciate some other car company making a car like the Volt because now I’m really not buying anything from GM.


I’m now imagining a truly open-source car. The Local Motors Rally Fighter is close, but it has a GM engine and transmission.

Perhaps some kind of Lotus Seven clone? No electronics beyond what’s required to make it street-legal, and that should be open-source.


I believe you’re looking for this.


Devil’s advocate here …

Of course you own the car. You just don’t own the software that runs on it.

How is this different from owning an iPhone, but licensing iOs?


Seems reasonable.

I’m also protected from repo men cuz it ain’t ma prapprdy fer ya te repozess, fella.

neither will it



good luck regulating what people do in the privacy of their own garage.

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GM owns a lot of brands, and formerly owned a lot more. Its entirely possible you owned a GM product without realizing it at some point. Also probably you didn’t. But the company in question here isn’t just cars with a big GM on the front grill.


You mean like installing a loud, low flow muffler? Or totally blacking out the windows? Or running slicks? Modifying the software is just one more mod that can expose you to fines if you are caught running it.


I replaced my car’s software with a string of characters binary-encoded using a proprietary encoding. I hold the copyright for both the string and the encoding. It just so happens, however, that this string, when interpreted by my car’s hardware, is isomorphic with the manufacturer’s original binary executable. Thus, I can continue to drive my car assured that I am its sole legal owner.


Just more evidence that copyright must be fixed. Replace “software” with “camshaft” in the above article, its the same thing but not subject to copyright. Or is it? A camshaft could be interpreted as prose on a medium that the engine reads, but camshafts are not copyrightable, only patentable. As a programmer, mechanic and ex-farmer, I have a serious problem with the idea that code is copyrightable. Sure, it can be a form of expression in its source form but as soon as you use a computer to process that code all of that is lost. Your comments, quirky variable names, and in jokes are ruthlessly stripped by the interpreter and your creation is no more (or less) than a camshaft.


If you’re in the US or a similar jurisdiction, DMCA and its anti-tampering rules may screw you anyway…

Project proceeding as per plan! :wink:


Pretty much, aye. It occasionally looked like it was getting better now and then, but hey.


notice that i mentioned nothing about annoying your neighbors. if you want to annoy your neighbors with a loud low flow muffler, i’m inclined to think that you get what you deserve


A natural progression of the DMCA. In fact, I clearly remember the argument DMCA would prevent you from changing your bulbs, if GM decided to put a poem inside the housing and a cheap lock on the access port.

But, people insisted it would never happen…Cue example thread from 2004.


Two thoughts

  1. Never going to give GM any money in the future whether through a purchase or “licensing agreement”. Seriously, Fuck GM
  2. Anyone who does/has entered into such an agreement with GM, whether knowingly or not, really needs to speak with the vehicle’s owner about their outrageously late payments for the upkeep and maintenance of said vehicle. They own it, they should pay to maintain it. Right? Oh, and it’s time for a tune up!!

It would be naive to assume that all mods would be detrimental. Just as it would be to assume that GM or other companies would naturally know what is best - at least, for any but themselves.


Exactly. The issue is not that the code is copyrighted, it’s that modifying it for your own personal use — something that copyright allows — becomes legally impossible because doing so requires you to bypass GM’s “security measures,” which is a DMCA violation.