NSI Bulletin 098-010

Michael Barrow writes:

Who said anything about usage charges? It looks like the proposed work
mentioned by David Holtzman is to control _abuse_ of the whois service.

and Derek Balling writes:

What we had then asked InterNIC for was a means of getting
that data WITHOUT using whois. (We knew it was readily available, and
publicly accessible, but wanted to avoid beating on the whois server to get
it when it came time to generate reports). The people we talked to at
InterNIC essentially told us to pound salt.

Given that NSI is sitting on what Gordon Cook has suggested is "the
motherload of all databases", including full contact information for a
large percentage of all Internet engineers on the planet, NSI has
every incentive to limit access to that database and bide its time
hoping that it will eventually be able to commercially exploit that
database. And this pending legislation...

  > H.R.2652. Collections of Information Antipiracy Act. Creates
  > property right in databases of information, even if public domain
  > information. Introduced by Rep. Coble (R-NC). Approved by House on
  > voice vote on May 19. Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee.
  [ from http://www.epic.org/privacy/bill_track.html ]

will only help that cause. Recent NSI moves to limit "abuse" of
whois, where "abuse" will be defined however NSI finds it convenient
to define the term, could be interpreted as "being Internet-friendly",
or as trying to constrain their operating costs and make more money
for their shareholders, or as a means of maintaining their control
over the collection of information by preventing others from
assembling reasonably accurate replications.

Application of Occam's razor to determine which of these three
interpretations is more likely, given NSI's historical behavior in the
exercise of its monopoly power, is left as an exercise to the reader.

As an aside, we've had similar problems with ARIN, which doesn't make
its database available for ftp (even though APNIC and RIPE do, though
I believe at least one of them doesn't provide the email addresses in
the contact records) and refuses to provide copies. We needed a copy
of portions of the information for a (non-spamming) in-house
application and couldn't get it. But at least ARIN is run as a public
trust with voting members who can choose to adjust policy. Perhaps
they'll start providing copies in the future.

Bruce Hahne
[I don't work for Netcom]