Proposal - Translation of Technical Foreign Language Material,
Computers and the Law - Restrictive BBS Legislation(2 msgs)&
Satellite viewing "freedoms"
From: eug...@AMES-NAS.ARPA (Eugene Miya)
Date: 13 Sep 1985 1209-PDT (Friday)
To: AIl...@sri-ai.ARPA, soft...@mit-mc.ARPA
Subject: Technical foreign language material
Lately, there have been significant technical advances from
non-English speaking countries: Japan and the Continent. How many
know the Japanese equivalent to the CACM? What is the German
equivalent of the IEEE? It is too easy to say that such organizations
and publications are not significant. We have been accused of
parochialism. Our problems in the computer industry are rather unique
as colleagues in other fields such as nuclear fusion report that most
of their colleagues are, for all practical purposes, forced to come to
the U.S. This is not the case with computing
Just as we have file servers and process servers, we have a
distributed system. Our greatest resource are not the machines, but
the people with special skills. To this end I propose the following:
1) to identify individuals who are capable of providing simple
translation. It would help if the Universities could do this.
Perhaps, Universities could get assistance from foreign language
2) Identify various foreign language publications of technical
interest. Quickly identify articles of wide interest. This
information could be posted to general interest Usenet newsgroups such
as net.research and net.mag as well as the special interest groups
such as the AI List, net.lang, and so forth. We should not create
news grops, but work on top of existing groups.
3) Help fund subscription and translations. Perhaps, individuals
without technical translation expertise can get together to pay for
technical translations [commercial], and/or help fund the subscription
of those with technical translation expertise.
Dym...@nbs-vms.ARPA has started an info-japan and a nihongo discussion
group on the ARPAnet, but it would be difficult to get Usenet
participation. I specfically do not want to create new newsgroups.
This structure can be placed atop the existing new group structure.
The Usenet has several advantages for the circulation of this type of
material: 1) it has the links into Japan, Korea, Australia, Germany,
France, and the rest of Europe not on the ARPAnet. 2) since there is
no global authority, industrial companies can participate more easily.
3) There are a diversity of news groups which make news dissemination
easier: net.mag for instance is used for posting the TOCs of various
publications, ideal for this type of dissemination. Other significant
groups include: net.ai, net.cse, net.announce, net.physics, net.arch,
net.math, net.mag, net.research, net.bio, net.graphics, net.wanted,
It appears our most critical needs are in the Eastern Asian languages
such as Japanese, Korean, and Chinese. Other useful work would
include French, German, and the other European languages. We have to
look to the Universities for much of our assistance, but private
organizations and government can also help. We can certainly make
inquires. The Usenet extends into Japan, France, and other
non-English native countries. We must take benefit of these
contributors. Similarly, we can contribute to these countries by
tagging significant English language documents.
I am willing to act as a clearing house for determining finding
individuals and groups, and specific journals. For this purpose, I am
giving my address an ARPA, uucp gateway. Send the mail inquires
there. More in a couple of weeks.
From the Rock of Ages Home for Retired Hackers:
NASA Ames Research Center
Date: Thu 29 Aug 85 10:54:50-PDT
From: Ted Shapin <BEC.S...@USC-ECL.ARPA>
Subject: Restrictive BBS Legilation
FIDO is the name of a BB system that runs on the IBM-PC and unlike
many other systems has automatic message routing over dial-up
long-distance lines in the early AM when rates are lowest. The
following discussion appeared on many FIDO systems and should be of
- - - -
FIDONEWS -- 29 Jul 85 00:00:44 Page 4
BBSLAW01.MSG From Chip Berlet, Public Eye Magazine.
HELP FIGHT BAD BBS LAWS - 01
FEDERAL LEGISLATION RESTRICTING BBS OPERATION DUE SOON!
POST THIS MESSAGE ON EVERY BBS IN AMERICA!
A new federal law that would outlaw some BBS systems
and severely restrict all others could be passed by Congress
in 1985. A mobilization of SYSOPS and BBS users is urgently
needed to ensure we have a chance to speak out on the new
Watch BBS's for messages with "BBSLAWXX.MSG" headers or
"HELP FIGHT BAD BBS LAWS - XX" titles. An ad-hoc group will
be posting these messages on BBS's and the commercial
LAWMUG SYSOP Paul Bernstein and I have learned the law
could be introduced as soon as MID JULY! Although aspects
of the new law have been discussed for months by "experts"
in Washington, NOT ONE SYSOP WAS CONSULTED until a June 20
conference in Chicago which Paul and I attended.
Vague language in another telecommunications law
already introduced in Congress might also restrict BBS
We urged the Congressional aide involved in that legislation
to exempt BBS systems until we could let SYSOPS and lawyers
study the language more carefully. We must also monitor
The law restricting BBS operations was prompted by
panic over the possibility that children (minors) might read
pornographic material, and by the wave of publicity
regarding the malicious hackers and illegal credit card and
phone information posted on BBS's by electronic graffiti
Among the ideas SERIOUSLY DISCUSSED for the new federal
law restricting BBS's are provisions which would require:
* Registration of all BBS's as a public utility.
* BBS users to log in with, and post their legal names.
* SYSOPS to keep a log of all names of users.
* SYSOPS to keep a log of all messages & access times.
* Criminal penalties for SYSOPS whose BBS's have
illegal messages posted on them - even if the SYSOP
was not aware of the message and had not been
informed the message was there nor given a chance to
While the law is currently only being discussed, there
is much pressure to restrict and regulate BBS's. A good BBS
law could protect BBS's and SYSOPS. A bad law could destroy
BBS's in their infancy as a telecommunications phenomena.
BBS's put the individual back into mass society in the
age of telecommunications. BBS's encourage information
sharing and remove barriers to discussion posed by social
status, wealth, class, race, sex, physical size, and many
physical handicaps. BBS's encourage the democratic process
and are a powerful new communications system which deserves
Constitutional protection and First Amendment Rights.
NO LEGISLATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION! There will be
differing views of wording, law, and tactics; all should be
given a chance to be heard. Congress should delay passage
of any BBS legislation until BBS users and SYSOPS have a
chance to discuss the legal issues and make their opinions
known in a series of Congressional hearings. Our discussion
must start immediately and we must organize to block bad BBS
legislation until our voices are heard.
We share the responsibility. Time is short. Spread
the word. It is the electronic age. We are all Paul
FIDONEWS -- 19 Aug 85 00:02:15 Page 9
How FidoNet Can Help Fight Against Federal Legislation
Restricting BBS Operation
After reading the article in the July 29th issue of
FidoNews by Chip Berlet on the new federal computer laws
being proposed I decided to follow up and see how we could
pool our resources in order to support the efforts of those
individuals or groups that represent the majority of our
bona fide BBS users and sysops. The only formal group that
I found was the National Association of Bulletin Board
Operators started by Chicago attorney Paul Bernstein who
also runs a BBS for lawyers called LAWMUG. This is a
relatively new group that currently includes Paul and a
number of other Chicago residents. They are against federal
efforts restricting bulletin boards and are currently
soliciting support via messages on several bulletin boards,
as well as the Source. If you would like more information
or would like to send contributions their address is:
National Association of Bulletin Board Operators
c/o Paul Bernstein
600 N. McClurg Ct.
Chicago, Ill. 60611
I also contacted the office of Senator Paul Tribble and was
sent a copy of Senate Bill 1305. For those of you that may
not be familiar this is a Bill to "establish criminal
penalties for the transmission by computer of obscene
matter, or by computer or by other means, of matter
pertaining to the sexual exploitation of children, and for
other purposes". Exchanging information pertaining to sexual
crimes is not prohibited under current law. The problem with
this Bill is that it doesn't stop there. Quoting from the
Bill "any obscene, lewd, lascivious, or filthy writing,
description, picture, or other matter entered, stored, or
transmitted by or in a computer" will constitute a crime.
I'm no lawyer, but I'm certainly not in favor of
governmental efforts that force me to ensure that nothing
illegal occurs on my system. With Fido we have all the
checks and balences to keep our boards clean without
intervention. The ACLU opposes the Bill because it
infringes on First Admendment rights. I would like to hear
the opinion of others on this matter as I may be asked to
testify on some of the positive aspects of bulletin boards.
(Fido in particular). The hearings are scheduled for late
September or early October. If you would like to comment or
know more about this matter you can contact:
Paul S. Trible,Jr.
United States, Senator
Darren S. Trigonoplos
Legislative Assistant for Senator Trible
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
The Senate Bill 1305 is called the Computer Pornorgraphy and
Child Exploitation Prevention Act of 1985. It is currently
under study in the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Justice.
SYSOP Fido 100/22 or 100/51
From: tanner <@csnet-relay.arpa,@ucf.CSNET:tan...@ki4pv.uucp>
Date: Fri Aug 30 11:33:46 1985
Subject: Re: HUMAN-NETS Digest V8 #27 (porno BBS's -- against law?)
Pornography is defined by the supreme court as "anything that offends
the local authorities"; this is known as the "community standards"
Pornographic BBS's, as all other BBS's (and all other publishing, both
electronic and paper) are protected by the first amendment. This does
not apply in more conservative areas of the country of course.
Date: Thu, 29-Aug-85 10:14:01 PDT
From: vortex!lau...@rand-unix.ARPA (Lauren Weinstein)
Subject: Satellite viewing "freedoms" (long)
I think there's rather a lot of misconception floating around
regarding this issue. Part of my work is in the satellite
communications area so I track these issues pretty closely.
There have been a number of different legal events and laws regarding
this area, and I'm not going to try specify them, but rather just
explain the backround and outcome as I understand them.
First of all, the oft-quoted old Communications Act doesn't really say
you can listen/watch to whatever you want. It essentially says you
can receive "broadcast" signals so long as you don't divulge the
contents nor receive "benefit" from them. Interpretations of this law
have long held that intercepting point-to-point telephone microwave
transmissions can be construed as wiretapping, by the way. I'm
simplifying to some extent regarding the Act, but you get the idea.
Now, "benefit" can be defined in different ways. On one end, you
might say you benefit only if you sell the signals/info you received
and make money. On the other hand, it might be said that you benefit
simply from enjoying the signals!
In practice, the current legal view has been shifting from a strict
interpretation more like the former view towards a different concept.
More and more, "benefit" is being viewed as being able to receive
something for free that other people have to pay a fee to receive.
There are numerous complexities and exceptions. For example, if you
scramble your signal, the current view is that you're not really
"broadcasting" but really trying to do a multipoint feed to particular
people. If you intended the signal for general reception, you
wouldn't scramble. Laws now generally protect scrambled transmissions
as being essentially "non-broadcast" entities. A recent California
appeals case convicted someone of viewing unscrambled microwave
MDS--but this case seems a bit cloudy and runs contrary to the general
pattern--it may yet be overturned (MDS cases are often tricky, but I
won't go into the details of this case here).
Now, back to satellites. The people who transmit the popular cable
services say they are not broadcasting to the public--that they are
providing a service for their cable system affiliates only. This view
was somewhat difficult to support given that the public ended up
watching these signals in great numbers on cable systems. The
situation was complicated by the fact that many people did not have
access to cable and had no alternative to receiving the signals
directly if they wanted to see them. This wouldn't have caused much
trouble if the services had, by and large, been willing to deal with
individuals. But most of them flatly refused to deal with other than
cable entities, claiming the administrative hassles of dealing lots of
individuals was too great. Of course, many people indeed bought
dishes simply to avoid paying for cable, even when cable was
For a number of reasons, this restriction was eventually rejected by
Congress. The decision was made (as I understand it) that most
unscrambled satellite transmissions were indeed fair game to receive,
but that the public viewing these indeed DID receive benefit from
receiving them, since their counterparts who subscribed to cable had
The end result was the concept that you could watch pretty much
whatever unscrambled transmissions you wanted, but if the signals were
offered for sale to the general public at a fair and equitable price
then you must pay for them. In other words, if a satellite service
WERE WILLING to deal with you as an individual, and charged you an
equitable fee in comparison to cable subscribers, you need to pay the
fee since you are receiving benefit from the transmissions. If the
service were unscrambled and refused to deal with you, then you were
free to receive the service.
In practice, there are other issues involved also, and this is just my
own interpretation of events--take it for whatever value you will, but
I think I'm pretty close to the bottom-line facts. Right now there is
some hangling between some satellite services and congressmen who
supported the bills in questions over the matter of pricing. There
are some claims that the fees being charged to individuals are much
higher than the fees charged per subscriber to cable systems... but
the services claim that this is equitable given the administrative
overhead of billing and record keeping for individuals. This issue
has yet to be fully resolved. Issues of scrambled vs. non-scrambled
transmissions are also still somewhat hazy in areas.
Finally, I might add that I doubt very much that there would be a
public outcry to repeal such restrictions. If anything, most people
would probably support tighter restrictions. Most people don't have
their own dishes, and pay for cable services. I suspect that most of
these people (rightly or wrongly) detest the people who they perceive
as getting for "free" what *they* have to pay for. In fact, if you
brought it to a vote, I'll bet that the population would happily vote
in many other restrictions on spectrum listening--such as law
enforcement transmissions, portable telephones, etc. The mood of the
country is generally conservative on these issues, so I suggest that
you think carefully before trying to get the public at large involved
in such telecommunications matters.
Please note that I'm not expressing an opinion one way or another
about these particular issues, just passing along my understanding of
End of HUMAN-NETS Digest