Autonomous vehicles legal research

Autonomous and connected vehicles (ACVs) are a transformational force for humanity. It is highly likely that some owners of ACVs will circumvent their vehicle software to expose unauthorized functionality, known as “jailbreaking”. This would trigger copyright liability, the extent of which would be dependent upon the copyright system’s various rulemaking processes and common law interpretations. This note explores the world of software “jailbreaking”, with its roots in smartphone unlocking, and extrapolates that to ACVs. Some compelling (and at times dangerous) scenarios are contemplated, and recommendations are made for consumers, technologists, manufacturers, and policy makers.