[Mailman-Users] MM lists on Gmane

Brad Knowles brad at stop.mail-abuse.org
Sun Sep 17 07:32:46 CEST 2006

At 1:25 AM +0000 9/17/06, Jason R. Mastaler wrote:

>  I understand what you're saying, but seriously, who cares
>  if the mailman lists were added without anyone's approval?

I do.  The other listowners do.  Lots of other owners of other lists 
that I've talked to likewise care what's being done with their lists.

>  Gmane is a valuable and useful service and does no damage
>  to anyone.

I disagree.  Among other things, they frequently take away control 
that the listowners have over who is allowed to subscribe to lists 
and who is not (and who is allowed to post and who is not), because 
Gmane doesn't control the subscribership of any of their gated 
newsgroups nor do they limit the posting privileges for most of their 
gated newsgroups.

By rights, the listowner(s) should have the final say as to who is 
allowed to see the archives of their list, who is allowed to 
subscribe to their list, and who is allowed to post.  Period.

Today, Gmane may not be serving up any ads side-by-side with our 
content, or allowing their copy of our content to be taken by more 
unsavoury characters who might then use that as fodder for a spam 
campaign (or otherwise abuse it), but once that control is out of our 
hands then there's nothing we can do to protect our list and our list 

>  You could think of it as someone doing the project a
>  favor rather than something that needs "forgiveness."

In commercial circles, the kind of thing that they're doing is called 
piracy -- they take someone else's content and repurpose that for 
their own benefit and for the benefit of their customers.

Okay, so Lars has a policy that they don't ever take someone else's 
content without their express approval, but we know of multiple 
examples where that policy was not followed.  If they did rigorously 
follow that policy, then what they do could potentially be classified 
under fair use, depending on how they use that and make it available 
to their customers.

Okay, so Lars does not today make a profit running Gmane.  That 
doesn't mean that tomorrow he won't change his mind, or "sell" the 
business to someone else who will.

>  The fact that you have philosophical objections to
>  Gmane shouldn't affect whether the Mailman lists are
>  carried there.  That's unfair to everyone else.

If I and all the other listowners have a philosophical objection to 
Gmane copying and repurposing our content, then that most definitely 
*should* affect whether our lists are carried there -- that's a key 
part of our job.

We're not against other sites carrying copies of our content, if we 
are convinced that they will operate in good faith and will abide by 
our policies (and their own).  We do this today with 
mail-archive.com, who host the official searchable archives of this 
list, among others.

If the Gmane folks had actually come to us first, we might well have 
approved their request to set up a gateway.  But they didn't, and if 
they violate that most basic principle of good operation and good 
netizenship, we have to seriously wonder what other good principles 
that they might accidentally one day occasionally violate.

And you better believe that we're looking into nabble.com, too.  From 
what I can tell, it looks like just another site that takes what they 
think is "free content" and then re-packages that for their own 

As an Free/Libre/Open-Source Software (FLOSS) project, we try to be 
pretty open with our software and all the related content, but there 
are still some boundaries that have to be respected.  Most basic 
among those are copyright (and copyleft).

We get pretty unhappy when others casually violate these boundaries 
and don't show us the respect that we are due.

Brad Knowles, <brad at stop.mail-abuse.org>

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little
temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

     -- Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), reply of the Pennsylvania
     Assembly to the Governor, November 11, 1755

  Founding Individual Sponsor of LOPSA.  See <http://www.lopsa.org/>.

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