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Barney Eaton

SOME SAD NEWS

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I was just contacted by the www.reatta.net webmaster that GM is pulling approval to host the Reatta service manuals and other copywrited materials.

He is going to close off access to them very soon. I am waiting on the details of why he can no longer offer this free service, but it appears that there are other

sources that sell the manuals and GM gets a $$$ from them but not from reatta.net.

GM apparently is looking for every dollar they can get and because people are out there reproducing parts for 5-6-7 Chevys and Corvettes, they think it will hurt their bottom line to allow Reatta owners a free ride.

If I knew who to write...... we could start a write-in campaign.

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That is sad news. It's a sign of the times unfortunately. Less about honor, less about honestly and more about grabbing the cash. I feel sorry for the kids growing up now, they are in a different world that we grew up in.

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The paper FSM is still available from Helm (GM's contract supplier) though 91 is the only one sold as an original print last I checked (quite a while ago). 88-90 were apparently a print on demand type service, so I guess they run an unbound copy to put in a 3 ring binder on a laser printer if you order one. I've not looked into the details on this.

Of course, this is stupid. How much can they really think they will make by pulling the free PDF format manuals? I'll guarantee you this will result in only a small increase in sales of manuals from Helm, if that. It will drive up the price of existing copies on ebay (big surprise there).

As far as wanting to protect intellectual property, this is quarter century old service data and they (GM) don't care about these cars any more. In fact, they would much rather these old cars go away so they can sell new, overpriced (due mostly to mandated trinkets) cars subprime financed to ridiculous terms of 7 years now by the look of things. I understand they are in business to sell cars and make money on that, and I don't begudge them that.

However, having a 25 year old manual for maybe some 40,000 surviving cars (if you include Rivi's, otherwise many less than that) online doesn't affect that part of their business in any way, so this is just the typical corporate "kiss off" to those they can afford to poke in the eye without fearing any real backlash. In short, they do it because they can.

It's not like this will result in any substantive bad PR for them. Yeah, a few people will gripe here and that will be the end of it. And it's not like they do much to support these cars anyway. Factory parts are nearly non-existent now (save for common things supplied under the AC/Delco brand) so this is just taking away another resource that is of less value IMHO than a critical part like cradle bushings, just for example.

Which, I might add, they no longer supply and in so doing have caused major aggravation for many owners of scores of FWD cars across 15+ years of production. Sure, we figured out an aftermarket solution but we were 100% on our own to do that. And still, if you go to a GM dealer seeking assistance on this, you will be told you are outta luck (read: you need to buy a new car) But again, they don't care. Goodwill is an obsolete concept in modern big business so nobody should be surprised by this.

As far as reproduction parts like we see made for classic Bel-Air and Corvette restorations, if they wanted the money from this business they would establish a division to make and sell those parts and make the money from it. Clearly there is a market, but they choose not to avail themselves of it. So it falls to aftermarket outfits who fill the need.

This is tangentially related to the argument that copying an old album that is long out of print and was never resissued on either CD (or now in digital downloadable form) is wrong. Ok, there is a copyright on the material. If people want to respect the copyright holder by buying a legal copy, then reissue the recording and make the money selling it to those who want it. If the copyright holder says "too bad, we won't make it available" (translation: we are stubborn, recalcitrant SOB's who just don't want to play ball even though there is money in it for us) then people will bootleg it. And you know what? I don't have a problem with that. If someone is too stupid or stubborn to profit from selling copies of a song, book, or movie they own the rights to then I will get it by other means, legit or not. They had their chance and blew it. Tough. They could've had the sale but wanted to cop an attitude. I still got what I wanted and they get...NOTHING. well, except a snort and a chuckle from me for their self-defeating lack of business accumen.

I guess the overall point is I don't really care. First, because I already have hard copies of all the service data that I purchased.GM didn't profit from those either, incidentally, as I bought them from other sources. Second, because them pulling the license won't affect me nor will it persuade me go out and buy something from GM in response to this stick and carrot approach. At most, I will view this as just another example of corporate whoredom where they could have done the right thing (which was easy enough in this instance) but chose not to. I expect that these days, and such instances are duly noted by me and will probably influence my willingness to do business with them (or more likely not) in the future.

From the official proverbs of KDirk, volume 1:

You catch more flies with a dead squirrel than you do with honey. Yet the question is: who wants flies anyway?

Seemed fitting.

KDirk

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I hate to hear that GM has decided withdraw permission to allow us to use the service manuals for free. This may have an impact on Reatta Owners Journal tutorials. Many of the tutorials use illustrations from the service manual to help explain repair procedures. I have always felt the limited use of the illustrations from the service manual met the "Fair Use" requirements in accordance with U.S. Code Title 17, U.S.C., Section 107, for non-profit use for the purpose of teaching and research. However, if I'm asked by the copyright holder to remove any copyrighted information from ROJ I will comply.

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First off, I thank you all for your continued support over the years - all of you have made a positive difference to the Reatta community.

Honestly, although most of the data on reatte.net is "stale", it continues to be a historical reference among other, newer information and web sites, which adds to the collective Reatta "brain-trust".

Topically, since 2004, the GM "LICENSED WORKS" were renewed every ~5 years by me.

Sadly, when I recently reached out to my GM contact (SPX), she spoke to the GM licensing department with the follow email return:

------------------------------------

(31 Mar '15)

Hello Tom,

I met with GM this morning.

Since the execution of your original agreement, the GM licensing program has changed. Also, GM has now put a value on all of their intellectual property. GM recommends that enthusiast clubs now purchase manuals from a company that have the rights to sell GM manuals.

Without an agreement, no one has the rights to use GM's intellectual property. At this time GM is not interested in renewing your agreement.

Below are companies that have GM rights to sell original manuals.

R & B Holt

David Graham

Faxon Auto Literature

Jan

------------------------------------

Although GM has taken what I believe is an unfortunate shift in "good will" for their customer base, I must abide by their copyright laws and mandates.

I personally and deeply feel that the information provided here (LICENSED WORKS, to include service Bulletins etc) were valuable to our entire group, had no real value to GM, let alone support from that organization.

However... "it is what it is".

I'm sure that you all will understand and respect both GM's decision, as well as my mandated closing of the Documentation area on reatta.net.

Other areas of the web site remain open and free to all.

Again, my sincere apology to the entire Reatta group.

--Tom

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The note above is from Tom Jenkins, owner and webmaster of www.reatta.net he did not mention that in his post but some of you figured it out.

Tom contacted me way back around 1996 and offered to host the Reatta Database. Since I know little about computers, I was suspicious, but could not figure a reason not to send the data to him.

Over the years, Tom has sold his Reatta, moved from Hawaii, to PA, to Florida and continues to host the web site and the Reatta Database.

Tom has also worked on other things to help sort out Reatta information and just yesterday volunteered to help me further with some Reatta data that I am working with.

I want to be the first to thank him publicly for his 20 years of Reatta support......we have communicated all that time but never met.

Thanks Tom

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Is interesting and would like to point out that members had to scan the information into its current .pdf form, GM never provided them. So GM may own the intellectual party but the execution belongs to those who scanned it.

OTOH GM can afford lotsa lawyers but we can spam ithe internet (GM forces enthusiast website to remove specific marque material hosted for over a decade).

Personally think they are making a big mistake that could really backfire on them.

Tom: could I put a journalist friend in touch with you if he is interested ?

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Appreciate the offer, but perhaps it's best to move on?

I can't let me personal thoughts and feelings interfere with the right course of action on my part.

After all, you said it best:

"..OTOH GM can afford lotsa lawyers..."

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Interesting being one of the newcomers here I was quite impressed with the freedom of information from GM for this orphan car. Oh well.......

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Well I have downloaded everything and at least the Chrysler Crossfire group still has service and parts manuals posted...

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I think GM has actually hurt their sales by doing this. IF they aren't already there, cd copies for $9.99 will be on eBay in no time.

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Ronnie,

Too late already. I've been seeing bootleg CD's of the FSM on there for a while, with scanners and cd burners now ubiquitous anyone with the time and inclination can rip a manual and sell a CD. I Imagine a lot of these are just copies of a CD the seller bought from another ebay seller and copied for their own redistribution to get some easy money. They didn't even have to scan the 3000 tissue paper pages themselves. After all, who wants to work for their money.

KDirk

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I know its not much but none of my family, friends, and the dozen other folks who ask me for car advice GM is off my list. The first car I remember was a 1960 Buick station wagon. We have always been a GM family, in fact when I bought the last model year that Ford sold the Yamaha 6 cylinder engine SHO I got grief on how could I buy a Ford product. I realize that GM doesn't give a **** about what one family buys, or even 20,000 families buy. But I feel better.

Richard Dalkran.

PS. This takes a lot of the pain from selling my 1971 Buick Skylark convertible. Maybe a 71 or 72 Sebring plus or Roadrunner.

Edited by Richard D (see edit history)

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I recently found this site that has lots of Buick Service Manuals...... they keep bugging you for donations and it is not quite like the printed service manual but it is better than nothing.

http://workshop-manuals.com/buick/riviera/v6-231_3.8l_vin_l_sfi/relays_and_modules/relays_and_modules_accessories_and_optional_equipment/accessory_delay_module/component_information/diagrams/diagram_information_and_instructions/

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There are some on Ebay also but they are not cheap...

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I recently found this site that has lots of Buick Service Manuals...... they keep bugging you for donations and it is not quite like the printed service manual but it is better than nothing.

http://workshop-manuals.com/buick/riviera/v6-231_3.8l_vin_l_sfi/relays_and_modules/relays_and_modules_accessories_and_optional_equipment/accessory_delay_module/component_information/diagrams/diagram_information_and_instructions/

I just can't seem to get much useful information from that site. Some of the diagrams might be handy but there doesn't seem to be any repair instructions like a manual should have. Maybe it's there and I'm not finding it.

The popups requesting donations are annoying. Donations are what keep a lot of small websites going but I think the popups ruin that website. I would rather shut my website down than put popups like that on it.

Edited by Ronnie
grammer (see edit history)

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Related, but off topic:

While this is an irritating development, there is something far more concerning afoot regarding "intellectual property" as it relates to cars and big companies like GM. I was already aware of this, and it was covered in a recent article in Wired magazine (though not my first choice of a source to cite, it is pertinent).

The issue is the relatively recent developent of the idea that since your vehicle contains firmware (in the myriad computers employed therein) that the manufactuer is "granting you" a perpetual license to use that firmware for the life of the car. John Deere is now also doing this on new tractors. This works much like the infamous EULA that all non-open source commericial software is now subject to.

The issue I have with this is that legally speaking, it effectively dilutes ones ownership of the vehicle, depsite the fact they paid for it with their own money (well, excepting financing until one is paid in full). In essence, you are now buying the car but a portion of it is not owned by you (depsite your "buying" the car) but effectively leased indefinitely. Ultimately, this can - and probably will - be used a some sort of "gotcha" to justify who knows what sort of infringement on person and property. I can easily see this impacting the ability to resell the car in a private individual to individual transaction. Much like you cannot legally resell many pieces of software, depsite your having purchased them new, since they are encumbered by restrictions in the EULA; there may come a point where the same applies to cars. This would be a whole new level of forced obsolescence. The ability to freely exchange or sell one's property - legally purchased and owned - is at risk with the development of such caveats.

Now, this sort of model may have made sense with commercial software on commoditized PC platforms as a means of combating software piracy. However, the firmware for the embedded system in an electronic stability control module (just for example) is not something that is easily copied and knocked off, nor is there much reason to do so, certainly not by end users.

Corporate espionage type reverse engineering may be a concern, but no licenseing restriction will stop that anyway. Thus, this recent practice of licensing the firmware within the cars various modules is unnecessary and bogus. It is simply another provision for the abuse of power by those who can wield it, with the expectation that we just have to accept it.

This, along with the proliferation of black box data recorders is rife for misuse by both private companies and various busy bodies who wish to involve themselves in every facet of existence. That this is not causing a lot of noise and blowback disappoints me, but doesn't surprise me anymore. I've come to realize almost everyone will lay down in the face of such abstract indignities, some even argue in their favor. Only when there is a literal gun in their face will they react in their own self interest, and many not even then.

Admittedly, I have no plans to buy a new GM vehicle (or any other make for the matter) nor a John Deere tractor, but how many people will give this a mere moments consideration when buying one, much less scuttle the sale because of it? I think we all know the answer to that, and therein is the true issue. It chaps my rump to see people mindlessely accept this stuff without even giving it a thought. Forget about gift horses.They can lead a sheep to the water, look in it's mouth (and elsewhere) and then force it to drink, and all for its own good. Pfft.

Edited by KDirk (see edit history)

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I as well agree with KDirk. I don't want to buy any new GM product, BUT they may eventually produce something I like again, so it stands to reason that we should oppose the new copyright propositions if there's any chance that any of us ever buy a new car again.

I don't like how the new stereo heads are integrated to the body computer, in such a way as to be non replaceable. If every control on the car is integrated to the BCM through the dash and the BCM firmware is on DCMA lockdown, any modification to the function of the vehicle is essentially illegal.

I've been much happier anyway staying out of the newer stuff, I love my old cars. The supply of old cars is drying up though, and we'll all eventually be buying a car with chilling effects copyright warnings pasted all over it. We'll probably eventually see pirated ECU flashes and expensive yet illegal aftermarket parts.

GM could probably make a little more money if they started designing cars people wanted to buy instead of trying to force people out of their old cars.

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I view GM this way; my tax dollars helped to keep them from going down when the economy was really tough. Their general corporate attitude is not about keeping the GM customer happy or satisfied. A prime example, look at the GM Heritage Center, a place where the general public and most of their customers are not wanted. GM is now just all about the money. How sad.

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Just an observation but as long as there has been soft/firmware there has been reverse engineering (I used to a lot of decompling of viruses and trojans and worms). No big and you own the hardware so there is nothing stopping you from loading your own code, that is what tuners do and they are the ones who would benefit from such restrictions.

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When I finish this post, I will send the BCA office a note as they were going to check with their GM contact about the possibility that the service manuals could be used on the BCA (Reatta div) web page. GM allows us to use Buick logo, names etc without copywrite permission approval each time they are used.

In the footsteps of the theme of the last few post here, check out this article about John Deere and their heavy hand when it comes to modifying the new tractor you just purchased....

http://www.wired.com/2015/04/dmca-ownership-john-deere/

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