[linux-elitists] IP: NYT: (Microsoft's) High-profile anti-Unix siteruns UNIX (FreeBSD) (fwd)

john spurling synec@nakedlunch.org
Mon Apr 8 15:39:40 PDT 2002

On Mon, Apr 08, 2002 at 02:54:23PM -0700, Aaron T Porter wrote:
> On Mon, Apr 08, 2002 at 09:41:18PM +0000, john spurling wrote:
> > the key idea here is that nyt can do whatever it wants, and so can
> > we. some people surf through proxies that are meant to remove banner
> > ads, so are those people thieves too for undermining websites'
> > business models? some people turn off javascript so they don't get
> > popunders. hell, lynx users don't see graphical ads at all; surely
> > those people are criminals too. 
> 	So how far does your philosophy stretch? Bookstores put those
> magnetic strips in their books to prevent theft. They're fairly easy to
> find and remove. Is it your right then to circumvent their anti-theft
> devices and shoplift? The NYT website isn't some public resource they're
> restricting you access to that you inherintly deserve -- it's a commercial
> service! If you don't like their terms, don't use the service -- or better
> yet start your own... write for indymedia... whatever. But "doing whatever
> we want" to obtain unfettered access to their resources is in my mind
> immoral. I do think that you have the right to practice civil disobedience
> and provide such a registration, but acting as if the New York Times is
> the "bad guy" in the situation definately hits a nerve.

selling a physical book (or newspaper, for that matter) is *obviously*
different from lying on a form required for access to content. and
it's also obviously not stealing if nyt isn't charging for its
content. if nyt started charging for access to their content, and i
wrote a script to suck down the articles and post them on my website,
i would agree that that's theft. i'm not saying that nyt is doing
anything wrong at all; i'm merely saying it's my prerogative to go
around it. and i agree: it is a "commercial service," but it's not a
business in the same way burger king is. mass media is certainly a
business, but it's... special. society view mass media as a way to
communicate on a large scale, which is why there are laws that
regulate how mass media operates. examples: the emergency broadcast
system and the requirement of a certain percentage of canadian artists
played on canadian radio stations. whether or not you agree with the
laws that control the content of mass media on an individual basis,
you must concede that it's not just another business like starbucks or
a commercial service like aol.

> 	On the subject of blocking ads & popups -- I do think it's very
> shortsighted to undermine the business model of an online resource that
> you obviously find valuable. I do however make a personal ethical
> distinction between turning off all pop{up,under} ads in Mozilla and
> actively providing false or misleading registration information for a
> commercial service.

let's agree to disagree on this point. i feel that it's my right to
avoid advertising techniques that i don't like and still use a free
service. sure, these businesses can do "anything they want," but the
smart ones will try to find ways to make money without annoying their
customers too badly. case in point: google. they have ads, but they're
very non obtrusive and don't affect the search hits. is it a
commercial search engine's right to make ads affect the search hits?
sure, but that sucks, and so when a decent one came out that didn't
have ads affect the search hits, everyone and their brother started
using it. getting even further off topic, it's also google's right to
take xenu.net or anything else out of the index, but if any crackpot
cult can have a lawyer send a nasty letter to get them to change their
index, you can be sure that there will be an opening in the search
engine market for one whose index isn't as easy to compromise.

-john spurling

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