AASA and MERA urge US copyright office to protect consumer choice

The Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA) and the Motor & Equipment Remanufacturers Association (MERA) say that the independent aftermarket should be allowed a greater access to software- enabled components and parts; and the U.S Copyright Office must play a bigger role in protecting these interests.

As a response to the ‘Software-Enabled Consumer Products Study’ of the U.S. Copyright Office, AASA and MERA noted that even though copyright laws currently grant exemptions for those vehicle owners who repair their own vehicles, there are other previsions that severely limit it. Consumers who wish to have their vehicles serviced and repaired with the software-enabled component of their choice – whether new aftermarket or remanufactured – in the independent aftermarket do not always have this opportunity.

“The independent aftermarket has seen a growing number of replacement parts redesigned with sensors or micro-computers with alleged technological protection measures protection for vehicles 5 to 10 years old,” said Bill Long, AASA president and COO. “These are components that consumers may need to replace over the life of their vehicles. The U.S. Copyright Office should encourage policies that protect consumer choice and ensures convenience, affordability and a competitive market,” he explained.

“Vehicle owners must retain the freedom of choice regarding the servicing and repair of their vehicles. This freedom has existed for more than 100 years, well before the employment of TPMs in vehicles,” said John Chalifoux, MERA president and COO. “In order to do this, the independent aftermarket must also have the freedom to repair or modify vehicles, which will include access to vehicle software and circumvention of TPMs.”

“AASA and MERA contend that service and repair technicians act as the agent of the vehicle owner,” Long continued. “Creating an exemption for vehicle owners but not for third party service and repair technicians leaves vehicle owners who lack that knowledge or ability no choice but to return to the vehicle manufacturer, often at a much higher cost than going to an independent service provider. When vehicle repairs are more expensive and less convenient, owners may forego frequent maintenance, meaning vehicles may fall into disrepair and endanger the vehicle’s driver, passengers and everyone on our nation’s roads and highways.”

In the statement, AASA and MERA urged the U.S. Copyright Office to use this Software-Enabled Consumer Products Study as an opportunity to develop a future direction for copyright law that does not create roadblocks or rescind the freedom of choice for consumers to have their vehicles serviced and repaired as they deem appropriate.