The WHOIS database has a long history traced back through several
generations of managers to the early days of ARPA, DCA, IANA, SRI.
I don't think anyone really has clear title to claim 'ownership'
of the data.
The database has been transfered several times already from one
contractor to the next. SRI transfered it to GSI, and then to NSI.
The database has been split several times. Such as when .MIL was
split off, when .GOV was split off, when ARIN was split off. Usually
these splits have ended up screwing up the NICHANDLES of those ancient
individuals on the net.
Giving NSI the benefit of the doubt, I assume NSI will transfer the
database to whatever the successor organization (or organizations)
is, as NSI has previous done with the .GOV data, and NET-BLK data.
As far as the only supported interfaces for retrieving the data from
NSI being the WHOIS port and the anonymous FTP zone files, if you look
at it in the best light, I would refer back to the cooperative agreement
with NSF. As much as I dislike SPAM, I do not think concern about the
use of the data for marketing purposes is a good justification for NSI
to unilaterally block individuals from accessing the WHOIS data.
I would be interested in knowing why a couple of sites have found the
need to query the WHOIS data so heavily. And once we knew their need,
perhaps finding a better solution. But the NSF cooperative agreement
didn't really say much about finding new ways to efficiently distribute
the WHOIS database. But, as folks around the beltway like to say, its
not NSI's bailiwick.
If NSI is looking for a nice off-site storage facility to store a backup
of the database in case something happens on the east coast (see
http://nic.ddn.mil/DNS/root-server.html) I know of a nice centrally