Tuesday, December 19, 2006
My take on the powder keg that is the MSF lawsuits
Several of you have been asking me questions about what's happening within the MSF lately, specifically regarding the lawsuits recently filed by them against some of their sponsorships. I'm going to fill you in to the best of my knowledge, and for the first time, publicly voice my criticisms of the MSF in this matter. Why, you ask? Because it's a matter of principle. I don't feel right expressing my otherwise strong opinions on everything else in the American motorcycle culture, while at the same time going tight-lipped with regard to these potentially volatile MSF issues. Understand that I am probably risking my instructor certification by doing so.
In a nutshell, all this legal posturing may be a precursor to what many believe is a covert plan by the MSF to eliminate state-run programs and sell private franchises, which would be very, very lucrative. Under current 501 non-profit rules, all the MSF has to do is take their profits and give them back to their sister entity, the MIC (Motorcycle Industry Council), which in turn perpetually funds the MSF. Basically, it's a way to establish total control while remaining classified as a seemingly benevolent NPO.
In the meantime, the MSF course curriculum (which they've always shared openly with training providers) is suddenly being snatched away from those who refuse to play the MSF's game. The result is the lawsuits MSF is currently filing against those who teach the curriculum without so-called "permission". Winning these suits potentially puts the MSF in a position to take over as sole owners of the courses. The problem is that much of the curriculum is not copyrightable. After all, how can one claim intellectual property rights on braking or swerving a motorcycle, simply because they've placed it in a certain context? This comon-sense concept isn't phasing the MSF, however, as they begin entrenching anyone who attempts to go it alone in deep, expensive, legal quicksand.
"There are indications that California might already be a trial balloon for franchises. According to an anonymous source with intimate associations to the MSF, Kevin Krasner, the MSF State Program Coordinator, has prepared a list of alternate sites for every current training site in operation. Krasner allegedly told the source that [MSF/MIC Big Wheel] Tim Buche ordered him to do so before the MSF took over the state. With additional sites already lined up the MSF could then take over any territory with less than two weeks interruption in training." - Motorcycle Consumer News
If the MSF simply wanted to go private-sector/for-profit, then more power to them. But that's seemingly not their goal. Many assert that they're trying to underhandedly eliminate their potential competition along the way, and in doing so, they lose my support.
For more reading on this subject, click here.