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KTM Legal Dept. asks me to Stop it!

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Hi, I just curious what you guys think. I've had an RFS section on my web site for a few years now with tech info and such available for download... today I got this email from KTM Legal Dept:

Kevin, This is a friendly warning from KTM North America, Inc. You are infringing upon KTM's intellectual property, by posting illegal copies of KTM wiring diagrams and KTM technical literature for download at: http://slorider.com/KTM/. Please stop using our registered trade marks/copyrighted material. Thank you for your cooperation! Best Regards, Viola Mader, Legal Coordinator, KTM North America, Inc. CC: Viola Mader

The odd thing is, over a year ago Ms. Mader contacted me to request I remove the engine service manual from my site, which I did immediately. At that time I asked her if anything else was a problem and she said no. I don't have a problem complying with any valid request, but I'm really surprised they are now concerned about some wiring diagrams and various small documents. I don't even think any of the say "copyright" anywhere.

Anyway, I'm just wondering if anyone else feels the same way I do about manufacturers keeping information secret from customers? Also, if anyone thinks the information currently on my site is unreasonably infringing or harms KTM in any way?

It's really frustrating to be in the dark on a bike you own! I've had a bike in the shop now for over 60 days and the dealer will barely talk to me except they are splitting the case for a water/oil leak. They treat it like a proprietary "black-box" that I am not allowed to know what's going on inside the engine... I can't complain too loud because it's probably going to be a warranty thing to some degree.

Here's my reply back to Viola:

Hello again, Ms. Mader!

If you recall, I removed some materials from my web site at your request over a year ago. I have not added or changed what is available on my site since then; therefore, I am surprised you did not point out these concerns at that time. In fact, I recall speaking with you via telephone whereupon I specifically inquired if there were points in question with any other assets I had posted. Your precise answer was there were no other difficulties at hand.

As a proud KTM owner and fan, it concerns me that KTM and other manufacturers seemingly covet secrecy of technical know-how, thus making it difficult for owners to obtain information about their equipment. Myself, and many KTM owners have benefited greatly from the information I have been able to collect over time. Some of it has prevented costly breakdowns and dissatisfied ownership experiences. I share this information at my own great expense for internet bandwidth and server maintenance and make no commercial gain.

Dozens of owners in the KTM community continually thank me for making information available to help diagnose and avoid problems with their bikes. I feel KTM is a wonderful brand, and, even now I am lining up to purchase a KTM 250 XCF which I am very excited about. I have swayed many opinions with my site and contributions to forums such as KTM Talk and ThumperTalk. On dozens of occasions I have posted photographs or researched technical details in order to assist these communities. Some individuals I have communicated with--and friends--I am certain would not have purchased a KTM without the high recommendations from myself and others. Certainly, the fun and exciting photos I have published on my site also contribute to interest in KTM's products and motor sports in general.

I have taken my time to actively attend public hearings and have written many letters in defense of dirt-bike recreation as a responsible and productive pursuit. Locally to myself, Oceano Dunes State Beach is under irascible attack and is in danger of closure. I have sponsored the non-profit organization 'TreadLightly!' on my site which espouses responsible, environmentally conscious recreation, and provided stock photographs for their educational materials. The latest TreadLightly! sand-dune brochure features myself riding a KTM 525 EXC on the cover. That is excellent advertising for your company (and a very exciting machine)!

When selecting assets for my site I have used caution to avoid posting documents that are clearly marked as copyright. The wiring diagrams and engine specifications you mention are so not labeled, and it is difficult for me to conceive that a dealer would charge for copies of a few pages that are critical to bike ownership. These materials are not highly technical, obscure service procedures; they are part of the everyday need for information that owners must endure. Some of these documents are even available freely from KTM sources.

Another area of concern are the technical bulletins. On more than one occasion I have visited local KTM dealers out of mechanical concerns to find out if any recalls or factory warnings existed pertaining to my equipment. Owners should expect licensed KTM dealers to have such information and be able to advise whether a bike is in need of service. To my dismay, I have more than once provided my technical bulletin copies to the dealerships! It is exactly this lack of communication that keeps owners in the dark and leads them to denigrate KTM's products when problems arise that they otherwise could have been aware of or prevented!

I encourage and implore KTM to consider a culture of strong communications with their customers. In this age of Internet forums, withholding information will only cultivate sharing of rumors, misinformation and negative experiences. Capable owners wanting to perform repairs or preventative maintenance should not be neglected on easily correctable issues, nor should they need to suffer suppositions or speculations garnered on the Internet from those equally in the dark.

Please consider: The more information KTM makes available, the less that alternative information sources will flourish. This clearly places KTM in control of information dissemination. Why does KTM not have a community Internet forum moderated by helpful experts? What a great way to support your customers, advertise new products, and enhance your dealer network!

Occasionally, very mechanically competent owners are held hostage to "just ordinary" dealership mechanical skills or less-than-meticulous work by the same. This, because dealerships are the only entities that can perform warranty work, and, certain other work due to information or special tool availability. Sometimes these competent owners must re-work part of the job already performed to meet personally high standards. Likewise, those knowledgeable and caring mechanics who share their expertise via telephone and Internet forums surely have better uses for their time than fighting mis-information and fielding questions from frustrated owners expecting free advice. One of my bikes is currently being held hostage (for the past two months) due to dealership exclusivity--and that dealer won't even comment on the work performed to date!

I am happy to comply with KTM's request to remove any intellectual property so identified from my web site. Would you please identify and specifically enumerate to me those assets on my site that KTM deems to be infringing. Not having professional legal expertise, I would also appreciate a brief, friendly explanation as to why KTM considers documents not an any way identified as copyrighted material to be IP or otherwise threatening. I would also like my comments herein to be passed to corporate policy makers. I feel this is an important issue.

The goal of SLORider.com is to increase and showcase the excitement and value of dirt-bike recreation, increase knowledge and share information with fellow bike owners, and certainly increase the reputation and exposure of the KTM brand. Of course, the real satisfaction is the extent of fun and number of friends I encounter along the way!

I am sorry that KTM feels certain items on SLORider.com to be threatening or a liability to KTM's image, profits or growth. While I defer to KTM's right to control their brand and destiny, I heartily disagree with the noumenon of information secrecy. I certainly wish that KTM North America had the same interest in communicating to me when I encountered customer support concerns.

I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

Respectfully,

Kevin P. Rice

SLORider.com

San Luis Obispo, CA USA

(805) 544-1306

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Sounds to me like they got :applause: about the fact that information that is in their service manuals is online for free-they do like to get paid for the manual, instead of us all getting the info for free.:applause:

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It seems to me that as long as you dont charge people to look at the info, or make them buy it, then they cant do anything about it. I could be wrong though. :applause:

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It seems to me that as long as you dont charge people to look at the info, or make them buy it, then they cant do anything about it. I could be wrong though. :applause:

If it is copyrighted materials (I'd bet it is, everything is copyrighted, trademarked, etc these days) then they can do something about it. Remember all those kids sharing music on the internet for free? That was also copyrighted materials, too.

Hate to say it, but it sounds like KTM could have a case if they wanted to be :applause: .

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Technically speaking, in order for copywrited material to be “copywrite protected” it needs to have the copywrite logo with the current year somewhere on the documentation. If you bring a picture to CVS that was taken by a business and it is stamped “copywrite” then they can’t copy it, no copywrite no problem.

So wherever you are getting the info from if it is not “copywrite protected” then you can do what you like with it even if it is KTM’s material.

Also chicken made a good point about the music. The problem with that was that napster was getting the music from copywrited CDs.

I didn’t see any copywrtie info on some of the literature I looked at quickly on your site.

The sad part about this is that in court “he with deeper pockets will win” even if your right.

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dude...get rid of that stuff..bottom line is ktm has a lot more money than you and you would go broke defending yourself...is it worth it?

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Sounds to me like they got :applause: about the fact that information that is in their service manuals is online for free-they do like to get paid for the manual, instead of us all getting the info for free.:applause:

And to add...they don't want you to know how to do anything but put fuel in the bike. Just like in the automotive industry. If you can't get the info, you have to take it to the dealer, meaning they will always have a source of after-sale income.

The dealer is always going to act dumb...they don't want to answer your questions. It's taking money out of their pocket...:lol:

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Of course I'm not going to fight KTM. I love the company, first of all. But, come on! I think the tire pressure sticker on my car is probably copyright under KTM's definition--would they be upset if I gave out copies of that?

Isn't anyone concerned that KTM wants to keep you from sharing a few simple technical documents like a wiring diagram? Seems overboard to me. I think manufacturers are fighting against their own interest here. Times have changed, and with Internet forums owners are going to share info no matter what. Do they want a bad reputation for a bike that breaks down, or happy users?

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"Remember all those kids sharing music on the internet for free? That was also copyrighted materials, too."

Because money was being lost. There is technically no infringment if money is not being lost, or you are not affecting the value of a product.

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...another option: if you modify SLIGHTLY an original KTM material without impacting the contents of it (let's say graphics, wording, sequence etc), so it does not look EXACTLY like KTM product you should be OK. For instance, like in the movies when producers do not wish to pay for the use of any particular copyrighted logo/name/material they simply make one or few little changes: a letter, an image detail, or color. But everyone still understands clearly what it is. For instance, many independent enterprises use Harley Davidson bar and shield, but it's NOT exact HD bar and shield, but slightly modified....therefore HD can not press legal charges against what's not copyrighted and patented as theirs: it has to be specifically, precisely like the contents of the relevant patent. Hard to apply this to kid's music though...

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I had heard they jumped on KTM talk some time back. They certainly have the right but I think they are missing the real issue, if more riders had the info to make their bikes right they would sell more bikes. Husky has all its manuals online for this reason. KTM does a lot of stuff right, this aint one of them

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Online use of copywritten material is pretty sticky, you dont have to place a stamp but it is the users responsibility to figure it out.

The biggest reason folks get these letters has nothing to do with copywritten material but more so branding which is a very hot issue on the internet these days. ICANN can take your Domain if you cant prove certain things about your site. It sucks but the big companies have done this to protect their brands on the internet.

Good places to start researching this is:

http://www.icann.org/general/idn-guidelines-22feb06.htm

http://www.iana.org/

I have had to deal with this from a corporate level it aint fun believe me. Typically you loose unfortunately.

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...another option: if you modify SLIGHTLY an original KTM material without impacting the contents of it (let's say graphics, wording, sequence etc), so it does not look EXACTLY like KTM product you should be OK. For instance, like in the movies when producers do not wish to pay for the use of any particular copyrighted logo/name/material they simply make one or few little changes: a letter, an image detail, or color. But everyone still understands clearly what it is. For instance, many independent enterprises use Harley Davidson bar and shield, but it's NOT exact HD bar and shield, but slightly modified....therefore HD can not press legal charges against what's not copyrighted and patented as theirs: it has to be specifically, precisely like the contents of the relevant patent. Hard to apply this to kid's music though...

Not a chance, in some cases this is worse. If you use the Harley model you mentioned you will find most of those guys have written permission from Harley to do that and if they dont, their day will come. Ask all those folks that have tried that with Lucas Films and Star Wars crap, you cant sell a homemade gun holster without getting a nice letter from them, eBay is great at working with the companies that have those trademark rules and it doesnt matter if it is free or not.

The "copy" is the same as branded material, trademark or copywritten items. As an example if another web site takes your "copy" and uses it you can in theroy sue that company you copy infringment. Welcome to the world of the internet not being a free and opensource environment.

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I have found that KTM is a very arrogant company, while other manufacturer supply very good documentation with their race bikes, KTM suppresses this kind of information to force people to use local dealers. Most people who race motorcycles have the ability to repair their motorcycles. But information is needed and should be supplied or available for purchase. This is the kind of reason that I put KTM on "purchase hold" from 1996. I had problem with my 360EXC (Stanley steamer) and never got any help or information from 1. Two different local shops, 2. Factory riders that I happened to spend some time with, 3. Registered letter to KTM USA or what ever they called themselves then) 4. Emails (3 total) to customer service at the factory (never got any acknowledgement back). The ONLY response I got was "take my motorcycle to the dealer". Through research I found that KTM used the same cases for a 250,300, and 360, only the 360 had a different crank, which caused too much lower end compression. Design flaw they knew about but still wanted me to spend money at a dealer. I sold that pig and have not looked back since. KTM is the single most arrogant factory I have ever dealt with. I think they are trying to force their customers to the local shops for anything other than maintenance.

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I heartily disagree with the noumenon of information secrecy.

Noumenon, that should slow their legal department down some. :applause:

Your response was excellent. KTM is benefiting from the information you provide. I fail to understand their issue with it.

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Noumenon, that should slow their legal department down some. :applause:

It makes my day that you caught that one! :applause: I think it's the crown jewel in my letter.

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...another option: if you modify SLIGHTLY an original KTM material without impacting the contents of it (let's say graphics, wording, sequence etc), so it does not look EXACTLY like KTM product you should be OK. For instance, like in the movies when producers do not wish to pay for the use of any particular copyrighted logo/name/material they simply make one or few little changes: a letter, an image detail, or color. But everyone still understands clearly what it is. For instance, many independent enterprises use Harley Davidson bar and shield, but it's NOT exact HD bar and shield, but slightly modified....therefore HD can not press legal charges against what's not copyrighted and patented as theirs: it has to be specifically, precisely like the contents of the relevant patent. Hard to apply this to kid's music though...

you try bringing out a company called m'c dewels and have a big red "M" for the logo...you would think that what your saying is true but m'c donalds have proved that they made the letter M and no one else has a right to it.

we all know this isn't true but they win anyway!

little people loose big companys win, they just know people don't have the money or time to fight it.

KTM should know better they have a muti million dollar company and alot of faithfull joe blo's buying their bikes, they bring shame to themselves by such letters

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Sounds like their marketing dept. needs to give their legal dept a smack upside the head.

This kind of viral marketing does wonders for business that far outweighs any revenue lost by a few online manuals.

When will companies learn.

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you try bringing out a company called m'c dewels and have a big red "M" for the logo...you would think that what your saying is true but m'c donalds have proved that they made the letter M and no one else has a right to it.

we all know this isn't true but they win anyway!

little people loose big companys win, they just know people don't have the money or time to fight it.

KTM should know better they have a muti million dollar company and alot of faithfull joe blo's buying their bikes, they bring shame to themselves by such letters

I really don't have any respect to HD myself, true embarrassment for USA and the entire motorcycle industry. I just couldn't help to notice various cases of use of their logo (which aggravates me personally- c'mon! be creative- make your own logo!). I am just a bit aware of some patent issues, since I have my own business.

Got to read a bit before fighting or publishing to know your rights so as your limitations.

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