Alberto Gaitan on 17 Feb 2001 00:31:36 -0000

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Re: <nettime> Usenet archives sold?

-:=====  On 15 Feb 2001, Tiffany Lee Brown wrote:  =====:-
> i like the idea of applying a public license. in the case of 
> Google/Deja/net news, it's too late. you can't retroactively apply 
> any kind of license, not unless you can find each and every person 
> who's every posted to Usenet and get their permission.

I think that the Bern accord (1984?) protects anyone's 
writing/image by default, without the author having to claim it or put 
the copyright symbol on it. Usenet complicates that matter 
because almost anyone can post as anyone else (natural or 
engineered). Still, if you can prove that you wrote it (and good luck 
with that, on Usenet), you can seek damages if someone steals it.

Are we saying that just because our writings, mostly proffered 
without much hope for remuneration (of the magic green ticket 
variety), have been archived, and that that archive has been sold, 
that we're being stolen from? Is the alternative a pay-as-you-play 
searchable archive with Byzantine rights-management systems 
overlaying it? 'cause lawmakers are already forging public license-
like solutions, one of them mentioned in my previous post: 
basically archive all you want, but keep the content free that was 
once free.

As I mentioned before, in the case of Google/Deja it'll probably boil 
down to giving them database copyright, *not* content copyright. 
That, combined with their search engine patent(s) make them a 
viable, self-sustaining business. This is *kinda* like what many (me 
included) would like to see happen with the Human Genome 
(another icky story, but here also we have archivers, at work on a 
public resource and threatening to patent whatever they find).

The corporations, ugly or beautiful, that put up their capital to 
archive intellectual property that is otherwise being given away by 
its "owners," need to be able to make a few bucks too. The only 
way they can do that is if they can sell tools/services to analyze it, 
and to be able to sell the archive to anyone as a database, not as 
piecemeal quotations from it.

Posting on Usenet was never about making a few bucks from 
publishing. It was about cred, and, at its most idealistic, about 
expecting attribution in perpetuity, and expecting faithful quotation 
for as long as a thread was alive. These quotations were just as 
often factually wrong as they were correct. Archivers like Google 
allow us to accomplish sophisticated searches to cull out the 
bullshit from the goodshit. They deserve something for their trouble. 

Freely searchable online archives are as necessary to writers as 
libraries. In the absence of a publicily funded archive (which we all 
wish, in retrospect, 'someone' had instituted) we've been stuck 
depending on deja for our freely searchable Usenet posts. [And 
that has only included text posts. Think of all those binaries that 
are forever gone.] Should these entities make no money from their 
efforts? And, again, I'm not talking about making money from 
piecemeal quotations a la LEXIS-NEXIS but rather for the care, 
feeding and landscaping of the archive.


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