chipping 3B's

Brett Dikeman brett at
Mon Mar 31 18:38:09 EST 2003

At 2:47 AM -0800 3/31/03, Mihnea Cotet wrote:

>The chip itself barely costs 5 bucks a
>piece when you buy them 1 piece at once but the
>contents are much more expensive, especially if you
>buy it from someone who developed it himself...

As stated by others, you're paying for a lot more than just the physical chip.

As seen with the early S4tt chips that caused overspun turbos, it's
not something any old yahoo can do.  There's considerable R&D
involved.  Some tuners/chip makers/whatever even go to the effort of
getting their modifications emissions certified and stuff.

>A tuner never modifies the actual firmware part of a
>chip, only the lookup tables, and thus he couldn't
>ever claim any intellectual property on a chip's

If their work is determined to be a derivative work of Bosch's- so
will yours, right?  So then it's Bosch coming after you(and the
tuner).  If it is a legitimate, original work- then it's the tuner
who will come after you.  Mind you, there's a pretty loose standard
for what 'derivative work' is.

>So basically, nothing except your morals could ever prevent you from
>making and selling copies of someone else's chips

History's against you on this one- the details are sketchy and
shrouded in myth(and probably a fair heap of rumor), but the
proprietor of Total Audi Performance supposedly spent time(6mo I
think?) in a UK prison for fraud- ripping off another tuner's chip
and selling it as his own.

You certainly are risking business, but not from loosing customers-
more from getting your pants sued off.  If you hold such a publicly
cavalier attitude towards the IP of other chip makers, how are they
to know you didn't, in fact, rip off their tables, or base your work
significantly off theirs?

   I am -not- implying that you DID rip anyone's code off, but..if you
ran down the street with a gun screaming "MURDER IS GREAT!  ETHICAL!
WONDERFUL!", you should not be surprised if some folks take a great
interest in digging up your back yard and poking around in your

   What I think -would- be interesting is to inquire with the various
original chip makers, and ask if they would be willing to in essence,
open-source their chips for the I-5's, considering how old they are;
somehow I doubt any of them are making money hand over fist on the
I-5 mods.  In fact, we're seeing more and more tuners dropping the
older Audis completely.

   A similar request could be made to Bosch- request permission to
disassemble the ECU's programming and produce derivative works solely
for the same ECU.  I doubt Bosch could really argue that anything in
a 10+ year old ECU is still a trade secret or has commercial value,
so there wouldn't appear to be any harm to them in releasing some of
the rights.

As others have pointed out, it's still fairly involved to perform the
service of programming the chip and installing it, so I still see a
place for 'tuners' to make their money.  Further, I would argue the
market couldn't justify continued go-it-alone R&D; I would think even
a few hours on a dyno wouldn't be recoverable for most.
Collective/community R&D, however, is another matter entirely- and
the tuners would have something better to sell.

"They that give up essential liberty to obtain temporary
safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Ben Franklin

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