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From: Lauren Weinstein <lau...@vortex.UUCP>
Subject: Usenet, Inc. -- The Saga Continues...
Message-ID: <77@vortex.UUCP>
Date: Thu, 28-Jul-83 17:20:22 EDT
Article-I.D.: vortex.77
Posted: Thu Jul 28 17:20:22 1983
Date-Received: Fri, 29-Jul-83 13:10:15 EDT
Organization: Vortex Technology, Los Angeles
Lines: 192

Lauren here.
Let's reply specifically to Brad's points...

Start of edited transcript

Posted: Tue Jul 26 00:20:14 1983
From: bstemple...@watmath.UUCP (Brad Templeton)

Lauren says the net is not broken, so don't fix it.  At the end of
the message, he lists problems (BTW for example) and alternate solutions
to usenet inc.  I think you must agree, Lauren that the question of a
broken (or breaking) net is not that clear cut.

	I said that the net, "in general", was not broken.  The
	"problems" I cite are not indications of a general breakdown,
	but are very specific to user education and patterns of
	usage.  Using "Usenet, Inc." to try cure those problems would
	be like trying to kill a fly with a sledgehammer.  My opinion
	is that the exact same problems would continue to exist
	under Usenet, Inc., except then people would be explicitly paying
	for them.  "Surgical" solutions to the specific problems,
	not a wholesale reorganization, is what's really called for.
	We don't need Usenet, Inc. to solve such problems.

I do admit the bureaucrat problem could be big.  To solve that, i would
suggest articles for USENET inc that forbid what we do not want.  Sort
of a constitution or Bill of Rights.

	"Forbid"?  Sounds more like a declaration of martial law
	than a "Bill of Rights" to me...
Anyway, I maintain this would not be a big problem.  In the beginning,
USENET inc could operate exactly as things do now, just as another node
that centralizes database connection.  It would talk only to rich sites
that could afford it and those rich sites who are paying for the net now
could continue to do this by feeding to others.  Things would only
change if people wanted them too, ie. paid for them.  This is the
same democracy you have both spoken of.

	What this actually does is create a formal "rich vs. poor"
	framework, and would eventually result in many small
	sites withering away.  Why?  Because administrators, faced
	with paying the bill for "Usenet, Inc." are hardly likely
	to sanction "charity" on top of that bill (in most cases).
	I see absolutely no advantage to the proposed scheme over
	what we currently have in this regard.

(The current system where anybody can spend the money of the rich
companies which support usenet regardless of their financial status is
nothing but socialism, of course, which I never thought was a common
philosophy on the net.  Not that socialism is necessarily invalid for
a net, mind you, but I am not a socialist myself.)

	Sounds like part of the argument used to break up AT&T. 
	We're all starting to see exactly how *that* wonderful fiasco 
        threatens to affect local phone rates.  I don't want to see the same
	sort of thing happen to Usenet.  Socialism and Capitalism
	should have nothing whatsoever to do with this situation.

I am not sure on the legal questions.  Surely the precedents in
forwarding and transport companies are clear.  Does Telco take legal
liability for what is said on the phone?  Does Telenet or Tymnet?
Does Federal Express?
No, only editors could take this burden, and in this case that's fine
because they will be sure to not allow libel or slander to be posted,
as is their duty under the laws of our society.

	The precedents are decidedly UNCLEAR.  I believe that there
	have indeed been lawsuits against "transport" companies
	and utilities for harrassing and undesired mail/calls.  
	By extension, this would seem possible for "electronic mail"
	companies as well.  You haven't seen this yet since the
	industry is so young and most usage (up to now, at least)
	has been heavily "business"-oriented with little 
	informal communications taking place on a large scale.
	I expect to see the first lawsuits (against some
	firm(s) in the electronic mail business) within the next few years.

	It is also not always clear what "libel" or "slander" really
	are, which tends to cause organizations with possible
	legal liability to err in the direction of conservatism,
	rejecting material which might even *possibly* be *considered*
	to be offensive.

Will the rich sites do all the posting?  This is the socialism question
again.  My solution is the same as Lauren's, namely moderators and digests.
Except usenet inc provides a very easy framework in which to put such
moderators.  This includes a central site for them to be on, and somebody
to pay for insurance against any legal problems.  The idea is that
everybody takes collect (just like today) what the moderators sends, because
they trust it (just like when they pay for a magazine) and know they will
not see 30 expansions of BTW.  If a site elects to act just like today
(this is just as much democracy as anything else) they can accept all
things collect.  If somebody sends something that the moderator refuses,
then I see nothing wrong with forcing them to pay to send it.

	I don't believe it.  You sure as hell don't need
	a central authority to set up digests and/or moderators.
	I don't want the editorial decisions of such persons all 
	tied in with one company, nor do I want them concentrated
	on one machine (or group of machines).  The moderator/digest
	concept will work fine within our current distributed 
	framework, without centralizing (which can only cause problems
	if the "central sites" are down or having other difficulties)
	and without putting all control in the hands of a single entity.
As long as the moderators are subject to censure for mistakes, we will
be in the clear.  Thus the usenet inc bill of rights would allow any
user to insist the moderator post their article with disclaimer and allow
the community at large to support or censure the moderator.

	How does *this* work?  If any user can INSIST that
	his/her article will be posted, then any legal protection
	against slander/libel is completely lost.  If The Corporation
	is going to protect itself, it will be *forced* to firmly
	reject many articles.  A "disclaimer" does not necessarily
	protect you from lawsuits related to slander, libel, etc.
	You are STILL responsible.
	I might add that, legally, I can imagine the GREAT time that
	The Corporation would have in court trying to explain
	that, "well, you see, *this* article was direct to Usenet,
	and *this* one was through one of *our* moderators, so we're
	not responsible for the first."  Good luck.  Anybody who
	sets themselves up as a central administration site on the
	network in this way is setting themselves up to be responsible
	for all traffic when someone is searching for an entity to blame.

If they support the moderator, the poster pays, if they censure, the
community pays and considers firing the moderator.

	And just how do we determine what "the community" really thinks?
	Online vote?  We've tried that before.  Or perhaps only the
	"paying" customers of Usenet, Inc. would get a vote?  That would
	certainly be a much smaller group of people and easier to poll.
	Totally unfair of course, but easier.  Let's forget about this
	"poster pays" nonsense once and for all.

The biggest problem with the whole thing is the "Usenet as a seperate item"
problem.  Currently a lot of usenet is supported by hiding the costs in
large corporate phone bills, duping the people who are paying the money.
This is just plain dishonest, but if you approve of it, that is your right.
At this site, we do pay the usenet bill as a seperate item, and any
cost reduction due to economy of scale would probably be welcome.

	"Duping"?  "Dishonest"?  Strong words.	I don't believe
	that many administrators are completely oblivious to 
	the size of phone bills related to Usenet.  If a site is
	spending enough money that way to make a real difference,
	those bills will be noticed.  But there *is* a difference
	between money spent for "informal" communications with other
	computers (which is our current Usenet) and paying a "bill"
	to some profit-making corporation.  In the latter case, you
	can be damn sure that administrators are going to be MUCH more
	carefully scrutinizing the money being spent, and will probably say
	something like, "Well, we're paying that company for network
	materials, so we don't also want to spend money for that
	"uncontrolled" material we're getting" (that is, the materials
	not coming through The Corporation).  The result: the 
	non-Corporation network withers away, and we're left with
	all significant traffic being directed through, and controlled
	by, Usenet, Inc.  Sites that couldn't afford Usenet, Inc. or
	disagreed with their policies would be simply out of luck.
	Bye bye network.

End of edited transcript

The single most important step we can take RIGHT NOW to improve the
overall functionality of the network is to implement moderated newsgroups
to replace some of the more verbose standard newsgroups.  We can handle
the technical problems in various ways -- but this single step will
probably do more toward ensuring the continued viability of the net than
any other course of action, and with by far the fewest negative


P.S.  I'd like to take this opportunity to collectively thank those
      of you who expressed support (via direct mail) for the views
      in my original "Usenet, Inc., etc." message.

      It's nice to know that I'm not standing (er, uh, sitting)
      here alone.


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Path: utzoo!watmath!bstempleton
From: bstemple...@watmath.UUCP (Brad Templeton)
Subject: Usenet, Inc. -- The Saga Continues...
Message-ID: <5586@watmath.UUCP>
Date: Sat, 30-Jul-83 13:18:41 EDT
Article-I.D.: watmath.5586
Posted: Sat Jul 30 13:18:41 1983
Date-Received: Sat, 30-Jul-83 23:58:29 EDT
Sender: bstemple...@watmath.UUCP
Organization: U of Waterloo, Ontario
Lines: 88

Well, I must not be expressing my points well, because there is more
opposition to this sort of company than I thought.

What makes you think that the usenet isn't paying a profit making
organization?  What is the Bell System?

My original suggestion for usenet inc. was to form a company that acted
as little more than a transport mechanism (like phone lines), software
supporter, database maintainer and mail router.  The idea here is that
the usenet inc machines would be on telenet or tymnet so that almost all
sites could reach them by a local call, and the transmission charges
would be reduced by the use of this data network.  This would mean that
as long as the central machines had the capacity, any site could join
usenet for less, and without having to seek a megacorporation for a mentor.

The site would maintain the central mail routing database, and suddenly
mail would become much more reliable and easy to handle.  Sites who connected
to this computer could be only 1 site away from the most central node on
the net, if this is important to them.

At no time have I suggested censorship or control of what flows through
the net by this transport company.

What I have just said could be all the company does.  Since Bell, Berkeley
and Dec in a way have already dedicated machines to unix networking, this
could easily be enough.  But I have also had ideas that can exist on top
of this structure.  I am getting comments (some - some +) on them now.
They are:

1) Using the central company as a base for moderators.  Our net is currently
distributed, and Lauren thinks this is not barrier to moderated groups.
I differ, as I think speed of reply is important.  If the moderator is several
hops away (and some net hops insert delays of days) then it could be a week
before my submitted article makes it back to my half of the net.  This is
the situation we had before we merged the arpanet digests with net groups
at sri.   Something fairly central will reduce this a great deal.  You could
even have alternate routes for messages marked time critical. (You could
do this now, but the massive number of sites involved would make this
a very nasty task)

2) The sender paying for mail.  This is the way just about everything else
works in the communications industry.   As long as you allow people to accept
collect mail, this should not cause too many problems.  It does solve the
junk mail problem.  Done right, the cost for the average electronic mail
message should be less than what the post office charges.

3) The sender paying for news rejected by a moderator.  Again this is
an analog of the real world.  If the editors of a magazine refuse your
story (ie. you can't get the recipients to pay) you can publish it yourself.
A fair bit cheaper on the usenet.  I estimate with current net size we are
looking at about $4 to post a 1K byte article.
Postings where people feel it is obvious the poster should pay would also
be charged in this way.  I refer to commercial product announcements,
job ads, that sort of thing.

4) Active links to other nets and machines.  Usenet inc. would go after
connections to "The Source", "Compuserve", perhaps an official CSnet or
ARPA (unlikely) connection.  Also to the millions of microcomputer users
out there.

5) Links to the postal services.  Currently the post office will accept
electronic mail, print it in a remote city and deliver it for you.
Usenet inc. could provide this link so that you could send postal mail
from your terminal.  This would be a big boon in border crossing mail,
which is usally verrrrrry slllloooooowwwww, not to mention expensive.
Compared to the one-day services, there would be no beating electronic mail.

6) Unix consulting.  In a central position, this company could offer
unix consulting of all sorts, from expert consulting to answering user
questions via fast net mail.  A site without a guru could consider a direct
usenet inc. connection as a substitute for one at a fraction of the cost.

I hope this clears things up.  If this company gets of the ground without
the backing of some giant like AT&T, it is clear that it will only implement
what the most customers want.  That's business, folks.

And now to some of Lauren's points:
1) By "Forbid" in the bill of rights note, I meant that the COMPANY would
not be allowed to do things (like certain forms of censorship, for example),
not that the customers would be barred.

2) You suggest big sites would not connect to further sites because they
have no charity?  How does the net run now, then?


	Brad Templeton - Waterloo, Ont. (519) 886-7304

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Path: utzoo!linus!decvax!tektronix!ucbcad!ucbvax!cbosgd!mark
From: m...@cbosgd.UUCP
Subject: Re: Usenet, Inc. -- The Saga Continues...
Message-ID: <154@cbosgd.UUCP>
Date: Sat, 30-Jul-83 21:03:18 EDT
Article-I.D.: cbosgd.154
Posted: Sat Jul 30 21:03:18 1983
Date-Received: Mon, 1-Aug-83 07:09:01 EDT
References: <77@vortex.UUCP>
Organization: Bell Labs, Columbus
Lines: 10

For what it's worth, I would love to find a way to make money from
Usenet.  But I am convinced that the net is a lot better place
right now than it would be if it were run as a service from some
company.  And the prevailing opinion on the net is clearly that
the current situation (mixed quality stuff with high phone bills)
is better than the proposed change (high (in one person's opinion)
quality stuff plus moderate phone bills and service charges).
I just don't think Usenet Inc would fly here.

	Mark Horton

			  SCO's Case Against IBM

November 12, 2003 - Jed Boal from Eyewitness News KSL 5 TV provides an
overview on SCO's case against IBM. Darl McBride, SCO's president and CEO,
talks about the lawsuit's impact and attacks. Jason Holt, student and 
Linux user, talks about the benefits of code availability and the merits 
of the SCO vs IBM lawsuit. See SCO vs IBM.

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