Model 3

Who owns the software in our Model 3 vehicles?

edited November 2018 in Model 3
I am assuming that we all own the hardware that composes our cars, but do we own the software?

Or is it more of a use license?

I could not find anything in the MVPA I signed or in the manual.


  • edited November 2018
    I guess my question would be does that matter? Tesla continues to update it at no additional cost.

    I have found one video where someone finds a "back door" to it and hacks in, but why?

    Linux is open source, so I would assume there are programmers who can have their own way with it once getting in, but then again, why?
  • edited November 2018
    You could ask the same question of any car on the market today.
  • Oh brother.
  • edited November 2018
    I have not been able to find a software license agreement for Tesla vehicles. I know there are a few restrictions, but haven’t seen any recent restrictions on reverse engineering the vehicle.

    If you look at the Tesla Legal and Privacy page, you can see its long list of patents available for your fair use and its list of GPL contributions for the system software.

    I don’t understand the eyerolling to this question, as it is a good one. Nobody wants a vehicle whose software may be disabled after 6-8 years, because “oops, sorry, license terminated”. And if Tesla ever goes under, you want a healthy hacking community to continue developing or at least maintaining the system software.
  • edited November 2018
    Nobody sells software, except in very rare cases for very big bucks. Even open source always comes with a license. So while I don’t recall agreeing to a license with Tesla specifically, I just click by them all anyway. I am certain we are licensing the software.
  • edited November 2018
    Tesla owns the software. If I owned the software, Ford could buy one Tesla and then start selling cars with modified Tesla software. Note: you also don't own the software in your Ford.
  • edited November 2018
    Agree with joe and Pacey. Its definitely a license. Tesla is changing it constantly. Did they steal version 8 from you when they updated you to 9? Do you have a right to keep a copy of version 8? No. Unless you're a programmer, you probably don't own a single piece of software on any of your devices. You have a license to use the software.
  • edited November 2018
    It is very similar to .. "who owns the operating system in your phone ?"

    They are not selling you software they are selling you the car and its features.
  • edited November 2018
    I think this is a good question. I am not as much worried about the s/w license being terminated, but what happens to major updates? Will Tesla soon start charging for the latest and updated s/w, just like how the rest of the s/w industry works. If you have a Windows 7 computer, you have to buy Windows 10, it is not free (generally). Or will Tesla charge a maintenance fee for s/w updates.

    Basically folks, Elon has made the car, as s/w platform (amongst other things) and the possibilities are endless.
    Perhaps, he will just keep it simple and once you buy the car, the s/w updates are for free, perpetually.
  • edited November 2018
    I also have software support questions. If I own my car 25 years, does Tesla support the software for the life of the car? It is years off, but many of these will be the classic cars of tomorrow.
  • edited November 2018
    @Garyeop, great question. I think, most likely, they will keep updating the s/w and keep all cars 'in synch'. However, a day will come (far out in the future), where the h/w won't support the new release of s/w, then what? Time to buy a new car or upgrade the mother board?
  • edited November 2018
    Even if Tesla stops updating cars, the cars will still work, just like an old phone.
  • edited November 2018
    As long as it's not Google, Amazon or the company who owns WeatherBug, I don't mind the software being owned by Tesla and licensed to me. I don't mind it for my iPhone and the dozens, if not hundreds, of other software-licensed products we own.
  • edited November 2018
    I do agree that there is a risk with such an expensive piece of hardware being dependent on a company for its software, but it helps that it is a publicly-traded company so that a single owner can't just disappear with the technology and/or brick our cars. As far as the cars just continuing to work if Tesla stops updating, that isn't always the case since there can be bugs that have a date-sensitive bug that can cause serious issues without updates. Also, having the vehicles with Internet connectivity inevitably require security updates to protect from hackers. With all that said, I think that Tesla owners are in better hands with the software than legacy car makers that have the same issues and less responsiveness to software vulnerabilities.
  • edited November 2018
    I will say that it's likely more complicated that the discussion would indicate so far. There are copyright laws, implied consent for use, etc.... You buy a CD with music on it, you can rip the files, copy and play them etc.... so long as you do not try to profit from their use or extend that use to beyond the boundaries of implied consent. There is a license of sorts, but it is not time limited.

    So you can own the software in your car, but that ownership does not allow action s like the Ford example cited above.

    Of course this is all based on the logic of "the reasonable person", but if there is nothing else stipulated in the MVPA I will wager its the same as buying music, MicroSoft Office, etc.....
  • edited November 2018
    Just like on your computer or your phone...

    You own the hardware but you own a transferable LICENSE for the software on your car, which transfers with the car when you sell it
  • edited November 2018
    When you buy EAP, do you sign a separate agreement?

    Assuming a third party can safely and correctly get rid of the nag on Autosteer, and such a removal of nag wouldn't interfere with future updates to EAP from Tesla, is it legal for a owner to do so since they own the software?

    Can Tesla punish the owner the doing so (other than voiding the warranty)? Could they refuse to send your car OTA updates in the future? Do we as owners have a vested right in future OTA updates?

    Thanks for the discussion so far. Very interesting
  • edited November 2018
    Pretty sure the consumer does not own the software. They possess a license to use it within certain parameters of owning the car (ie. you can't extract that software and put it in another vehicle.). I am pretty sure the agreement would say you are forbidden to make your own modifications voiding warranties and subjecting yourself to fines, etc.
  • edited November 2018
  • edited November 2018
    @Calvin.... your statements and opinions are reasonable. Is that spelled out anywhere in writing?
  • edited November 2018
    @Red... It would be helpful if you added a page number to your comment
  • edited November 2018
    Better to teach where to fish than hand someone a fish.
  • edited November 2018
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  • edited November 2018

    La times article from back in 2016

    "Do you own the software that runs your Tesla?"

    "Although few if any of us ever bother to read these agreements, there is one consistent message in nearly all of them: Software isn't sold to you, it is merely licensed. From your copy of Microsoft Office to the code embedded in your Tesla, SmartTV, or even the latest Barbie doll, these license terms insist that you don't own the copies of code that make your devices work. You've just been granted temporary permission to use them, even if you paid the same price that you used to pay to own these items outright, and sometimes even more."
  • edited November 2018
    @ Magic.... thanks. I did read that, but my understanding of CA law would require an affirmative opt in (like when you download software on your phone or computer) and click that little box. Maybe there is an exception for software attached to a motor vehicle. I do not know.

    @ Calvin.... Thanks for the article. But where is the agreement that you agreed to? In the manual?
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