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

GM has joined with John Deere in asking the government to confirm that you literally cannot own your car because of the software in its engine.

Like Deere, GM wants to stop the Copyright Office from granting an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that would allow you to jailbreak the code in your car's engine so that you can take it to a non-GM mechanic for service, or fix it yourself. By controlling who can service your car, GM can force you to buy only official, expensive parts, protecting its bottom line.

As Consumerist quips, GM wants you to know that the car in the driveway is "literally not your father's Oldsmobile."

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.

GM: That Car You Bought? We’re Really The Ones Who Own It. [Kate Cox/Consumerist]

(Image: A.P. Giannini,
Eric E Castro, CC-BY