NANOG and ARIN Friends,
14 Years ago, at the suggestion of Jon Postel and some of the early participants in NANOG, we developed the GeekTools Whois proxy to make it easier for *us* - network security and abuse techs - to deal with the expanding number of gtlds and registrars and the varied whois servers that were appearing. The service had both a CLI and web interface.
The service also led directly to the creation of whois-servers.net, which now seems to be part of a number of *nix distributions.
The service has been up for 14 years, and over that time we have fulfilled the requirements of all of the whois server operators in regards to minimizing and stopping abuse of the GT whois proxy by domain scrapers, spammers, etc, while enabling the security folks to do their jobs. In some cases we have even written code to pass the ip address of the requestor to the whois server registry operator when they wanted to manage quota's directly. We think we have a really good relationship with all of the whois server operators, and I think we provide a useful service to the community, and is widely used. And in 14 years we have never been tarred as an enabler of abuse of "the whois" system.
There has obviously never been any kind of charge or fee for using the proxy, or any of the other tools on GeekTools. In about 2002 we started placing a banner ad on the web interface page to offset some of the costs for the bandwidth that the proxy consumes. An average of about $70 a month for over the last 10 years. Actual bandwidth costs are higher than that of course, but it was a thought in 2002 that we had frankly forgotten about until recently.
Two weeks ago RIPE-NCC, who provide the whois data for IP addresses in the RIPE region, informed us that based on decisions by their members, as of January 1st 2013, tomorrow, they would no longer provide whois proxy query response services to GeekTools unless we ponied up $1,800 a year for RIPE membership.
I don't work very well above layer 7. It is what it is. So I wanted to let you know that as of midnight tonight, apparently, you won't be able to use GeekTools for RIPE related queries. If you have automated scripts, and you are one of the users who has expanded access to GeekTools, you'll need to find an alternative for RIPE queries *today*. My guess is that you will be able to query RIPE directly, once you have worked out that the address space is within RIPE's assignments.
I think its wrong to have to pay for whois data that is part of a community resource . So I won't do it.