The FCC and Newsfeeds via THE

Found at: gopher.meulie.net:70/EFFector/effector2.05

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########   ########   ########   |                Newsfeeds via Disk?|
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                       PACIFIC TIME FEBRUARY 19                      |
EFFector Online           February 18,1992         Volume 2, Number 5|

                     THE PIONEER AWARDS:Nominations Deadline    

To date well over 150 nominations for the EFF/PIONEER Awards have been
nterviews and profiles.  Indeed, we're making it a point to put that

There is still time for everyone out there who hasn't nominated the
cyberspace as a pioneering element the birth and growth of this new
medium to have their say.

Remember, the nominations are open and that anyone may nominate anyone
else -- even themselves.  Everyone is eligible except EFF staff members.

There's an entry form at the end of this issue of EFFector Online. If
you know anyone whose a genuine cyberspace pioneer worthy of recognition

Nominations close at midnight, February 19, 1992 -- Pacific Time.

Thank you,


                FCC Proposes to Allow Telcos to Deliver Video;
                          by Andrew Blau
                      (EFF Washington Office)

Should the regional telephone companies be able to enter the cable
televion business?  Should the cable companies of the country be
of benefit to the consumer at the same time.

On October 24, 1991, the Federal Communications Commission announced its
latest proposal for modifying the telphone company-cable television
cross ownership rules. These rules keep telephone companies (telcos) out
of the cable television business.  The FCC enacted these rules in 1970
n an effort to protect the then fledgling cable industry from a range
of anticompetitive practices by telcos seeking to maintain control over

Rather than directly address whether telcos can get into the cable
business, the Commission is proposing that telcos can offer a "video
available on a common carrier basis, that others can fill with video
network that a subscriber purchases in order to fill with audio signals
or data.  This proposal also reflects the Commission's attempts to
enhanced electronic services offered over a single wire.

                      The Commission's Proposal

The Commission's video dialtone proposal was outlined in a three-part

The first part holds the core of the Commission's proposal.  This
carriage under which local exchange carriers (LECs) will offer various
non-programming services in addition to the underlying video transport."
The report suggests that video dialtone will facilitate "the provision
of additional non- programming services and of enhanced video gateways
ncluding detailed menus, information search capabilities, and subcriber

The Commission has two models for how video dialtone might be
mplemented and regulated.  The first approach (which it clearly favors)

Level one is a platform that gives users access to video and non-video
other basic telephone services.  The platform would allow service
basic directory and routing functions.

On the second level, the LEC could provide its own advanced gateway and
other gateways and video services using the platform.

(e.g., picturephone, videoconferencing) provided by either the LEC or
other service providers.  In this single-level model, the LEC would
capabilities, menus and other information to make the gateway easy to

The second part of the report was based on comments received in earlier
of current law.

First, the Commission has concluded that the cross-ownership ban does
not apply to interexchange carriers such as AT&T or MCI, but only to
LECs.  As a result, interexchange carriers may enter the cable business
today, under the same conditions that apply to cable operators.

Second, the Commission has concluded that under a video dialtone model,
neither the telco, the programmer, nor the program packager is a cable
operator, and thus no party is obligated to obtain a cable franchise in
order to provide video service.  (For all practical purposes, this
undercuts the process by which cable operators are allowed to wire
communities and removes the local community from decisions about the
local communications infrastructure.)  By invoking its interpretive
authority, the Commission has chosen a strategy to promote telco
nvolvement in video that relieves it of having to ask Congress to

The third part of the report addresses two additional issues in a more
open-ended format.  First, the Commission returns to the question of
and how the video dialtone model affects the issue.  Second, the
Commission raises questions about whether the policy objectives it seeks
to promote are consistent with the incentives it provides.  In
nvestment in advanced technology.

                          The EFF's Position

underlying principles are strong, but that the proposal needs additional
'debugging' before it becomes policy.

EFF's position is that the Commission's model of integrating video and
non-video services in a common-carriage based framework is an excellent

EFF also fully supported the goals the Commission set for itself in this
communications needs ; and 3) to advance the bedrock First Amendment
value of diversity of information sources.  Finally, the EFF agreed with
the Commission that the video dialtone should be implemented so as to:
facilitate competition in the provision of services, be easy for the
average person to use, and be sufficiently flexible to accommodate new
technological developments.

The EFF's concerns fall into three general categories.  First, EFF
for voice, data and video services at the same time it has an open
nquiry into the potential architectures of advanced intelligent
networks, yet it has not made any arrangements for connecting the two.
As a result, EFF expressed concern that the Commission was going forward
technical capabilities that network planners can already forsee.

Second, the EFF noted that the Commission's proposal all but assumes an
ntegrated broadband network, which is likely to be years away.  The EFF
technology that could achieve many of these goals more quickly than
nterest and demand to develop, thereby avoiding the Commission's own
concern about "governmental edict" becoming the prime driver behind
network development.

Third, the EFF raised questions about whether the Commission's proposal
Although the Commission is interested in ensuring that the video
ease of use for consumers, while ignoring issues facing information
Commission may become a problem depending on how they are set.  If rates
are set on the assumption that the primary users are large commercial
applications, whether it be Prodigy or Paramount Pictures, then smaller
ndividuals with a point of view to express electronically, may find
themselves priced out of the market.  Therefore, EFF suggested that the
Commission consider ensuring low or no-cost access for for
noncommercial, non-profit or individual information providers.

What's Next?

The Commission received formal comments from over 150 parties and well
over 230 letters on the issue.  Next it will accept reply comments
before it turns any parts of its proposal into policy.  There is no time
limit for the Commission to act, however, so that policy may not appear
for some time.


                Usenet on a CD-ROM, no longer a fable
                        by Ian Feldman

The latest tempest-in-a-teacup of hurricane proportions on Usenet is

A company in the USA recently began offering Usenet-on-CD-ROM monthly
not expensive; in fact it is downright cheap all things considered.
Getting a full news feed each day from somewhere - even if from a nearby
friendly service - is bound to cost many times that in telephone charges
alone. On the other hand.... having the full monthly Usenet (ALL OF IT,
from all countries of the world, not solely from the USA) arrive in your
mailbox, even 2 to 4 weeks after the posting date, must be considered an
ncredible and amazing opportunity.

Ah, to be able to peruse all 500+ MB of it at will, at one's
convenience, even without formal access to Usenet. Therefore all kudos
to the initiator, Sterling Software, and may they live long and prosper.
Thanks for that alternative news feed, even if it is a bit slooow. But
then, as someone recently said on the net, "there are few other media
that can beat the bandwidth of a truck full of CD-ROMs." ;-)

Of course, that... feeling of elation, for want of a better phrase, was
not what the storm was about. Rather than accept the service that
Sterling Software offers for what it effectively is, a different form of
the distribution of the net news, the rage was all about (1) them
charging you for the CD-ROMs (the horror! the horror!) and (2) them
nfringing upon real or imagined intellectual property rights of the

Sterling Software, in the words of its spokesman, Kent Landfield, makes
no claims as to the reuse of the public news that they supply. They view
themselves entirely as an alternative transport and archival service
(all those trucks full of CD-ROMs gathering dust ;-)) Thus anybody will
be free to put the contents of the NetNews/CD's up for use with FTP,
mount them for access in local BBS, import them into the WAIS (Wide Area
CD-ROMs continues to be as free as it was in the beginning.

Yet, listening to some of the arguments being passed in the heat of the
apparently is acceptable that UUNET, PSI, and other _commercial_ Usenet
charges to the telephone services themselves, but it is definitely not
acceptable to offer an alternative that's cut in the plastic and
aluminum that the CD- ROMs are made of.

No, sireee, the latter is "publishing," therefore constitutes criminal
unauthorized infringing upon use of _their_ words which may not be
embossed in stone unless they get paid for it. Well, that's roughly how
the argumentative posters feel. At times it was outright funny, but
chiefly left me with a feeling of very limited and narrow minds now
trying to butter up the importance of their own egos, the written end
fashion to the net. Please observe that I claim full intellectual
undersigned. I waive that right for use by TidBITS and Sterling Software

The above was, of course, a bit sarcastic. But it illustrates well where
claim Sole Rights[tm] to Any Expression Whatsoever[tm]. Fortunately the
company in question has had the guts to face up to the potential
lawsuit-trigger-happy netters by, effectively, taking the legal grounds
for a suit out of their hands. In a recent message on the net they offer
every individual among those bent upon not allowing own contributions to
be distributed in plastic and aluminum to register with them on an
ndividual basis, asking them to remove any future posts of his or her
from the data mass prior to each monthly pressing of it. Fortunately the
CD-ROMs' contents are prepared by a special software that filters such
complicated. One registered letter to the Sterling Software and they're

the current "I Post Therefore I Exist" submitters (it sounds even better
n Latin!) to consider twice whether or not to risk being an eternal (or
at least the life of a CD-ROM) subject of ridicule for posting offensive
or stupid stuff, an activity that up to now has largely been an
unpunishable offense.

the NetNews/CD effectively changes the rules of the game; from now on

The whole issue of the NetNews/CD is too vast and too important to be
try to read the relevant articles by visiting the /usr/spool/news/misc
at the earliest opportunity. Alternately, send email to the company
(addresses below) to be added to an administrative (cdnews) or a
being admitted AT LAST to the Real World[tm], where there is TOO
MUCH[tm] of practically everything; trust me,


"I've been working toward a consistent set of policies and a consistent
to get out of the business. As soon as the government stops funding the
t's the users who become responsible for appropriate use."
                                         --Stephen Wolff, who oversees 
                                           the Internet for NSF


                        CALL FOR NOMINATIONS
      (Attention: Please feel free to repost to all systems worldwide.)

knowledge, freedom, efficiency and utility.  Along the electronic
frontier,this is especially true.  To recognize this, the Electronic
Frontier Foundation has established the Pioneer Awards.  The first
annual Pioneer Awards will be given at the Second Annual Computers,
Freedom, and Privacy Conference in Washington, D.C. in March of 1992.

All valid nominations will be reviewed by a panel of outside judges
chosen for their knowledge of computer-based communications and the
technical, legal, and social issues involved in networking.

There are no specific categories for the Pioneer Awards, but the following
   1) The nominees must have made a substantial contribution to the
   2) The contribution may be technical, social, economic or cultural.
   3) Nominations may be of individuals, systems, or organizations in the
   4) Nominations are open to all, and you may nominate more than one
   5) All nominations, to be valid, must contain your reasons, however
brief, on why you are nominating the individual or organization, along
anonymous nominations will be allowed.
   5) Every person or organization, with the single exception of EFF

You may nominate as many as you wish, but please use one form per
nomination. You may return the forms to us via email at:
You may mail them to us at:
             Pioneer Awards, EFF,
             155 Second Street
             Cambridge MA 02141.
You may FAX them to us at:
             (617) 864-0866.

Just tell us the name of the nominee, the phone number or email address
at which the nominee can be reached, and, most important, why you feel
the nominee deserves the award.  You can attach supporting documentation.

We're looking for the Pioneers of the Electronic Frontier that have made
and are making a difference. Thanks for helping us find them,

The Electronic Frontier Foundation

              -------EFF Pioneer Awards Nomination Form------

or via surface mail to EFF 155 Second Street, Cambridge,MA 02141 USA;
or via FAX to USA (617)864-0866.


Title: __________________________________________________________________


Contact number or email address: ________________________________________

Reason for nomination:___________________________________________________











Your name and contact number:____________________________________________


Extra documentation attached: _______

              -------EFF Pioneer Awards Nomination Form------


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Gordon's Restatement of Newman's Corollary to Godwin's Law: 
Libertarianism (pro, con, and internal faction fights) is *the* primordial 
netnews discussion topic. Anytime the debate shifts somewhere else, it must
eventually return to this fuel source. 


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