From: Margie <email@example.com>
Subject: MAPS Subscription Policy Changes
Date: Thu, 12 Jul 2001 16:45:11 -0700
Organization: Internet Software Consortium
Effective Midnight 7/31/2001, all non-subscription access to MAPS services will cease. Anyone wishing to transfer or query MAPS data must have a signed contract with MAPS, and have access enabled in our ACL. There are several reasons for this change:
1) The data in the MAPS files belongs to MAPS and is copyrighted. MAPS, RBL, RBL+, DUL and RSS are all service marks of MAPS. MAPS must have the ability to protect its assets from unauthorized use or disclosure by third parties.
2) As MAPS popularity grew, the demand on our resources grew. We have continually upgraded systems, software, and added servers where necessary. The end result is our systems and connectivity are sufficient enough that providers have no incentive to pay for zone transfer subscriptions. When MAPS began to offer paid subscriptions, we believed that allowing access based on the ability to pay would allow the largest percentage of the net to access the services, while permitting MAPS to sustain itself with subscriptions from the large users of the services. What we have found instead is that we are our own worst "competition".
3) The economic conditions in the industry have hit everyone, including MAPS. MAPS' purpose is to stop spam on the internet. That purpose can only be achieved as long as MAPS can maintain itself as a corporation. Like any corporation, that takes income. There is very little debate about the effectiveness of the MAPS lists. This effectiveness saves its users time, bandwidth and other resources as well as giving them an added value to their customers by reducing the amount of spam the customer sees in their inbox. MAPS can simply no longer afford to foot the bill for the bulk of the internet community.
It is not our intent to put the use of the MAPS lists out of reach of the individual or hobby site. We will still offer some reduced fee or free query contracts under limited circumstances.
As usual, please direct requests for contracts to firstname.lastname@example.org, questions and comments to email@example.com and flames to dev/null. ;)
Margie Arbon Mail Abuse Prevention System, LLC
Manager, Market and Business Development
Here are excerpted reader comments from SPAM-L and nanae which I found interesting:
"...people can no longer pass the buck when it comes to effectively blocking unwanted crap; they will have to now assume the responsibility for handling their own E-mail. I actually think that this is going to be a good thing for the long term." (Sam Varshavchik)
"...and so dies MAPS. You've just cut your own throats. The effectiveness of MAPS always depended on the number of users, which is now going to be a fraction of a percentage of what it was before." (John Oliver)
"I was under the impression that MAPS want a big number of subscribers, in order to have some force behind them when they educate and negotiate with spammers. Isn't that the reason big spamhausen like UUNet were not blacklisted, since many subscribers would stop using MAPS's tools because of too much collateral damage? Now MAPS is reducing its customer base. But perhaps we can now get eBay, UUnet and Qwest blacklisted, since only a small number of administrators will use MAPS tools..." (Karl-Henry Martinsson)
"...if the RBL listees think the RBL is a bitch, let them see what happens when they get dropped into who knows how many individual filters that won't get reviewed for removals until Hell freezes over. I think there is some serious potential for us to ALL gain from this move." (Jim Higgins)
"Anyway, now that the MAPS RBL user base has been reduced by at least a factor of 10, the mainsleaze spambags are not going to even CARE about MAPS. ... So the mainsleaze spambags are going to let loose on the remaining 92-96%. ... The way I look at it, Joe Sixpack is now going to see more spam than he's ever seen before. I think that a lot of Joe Sixpacks are going to get seriously pissed, and a fair amount of them are going to explore ways to effectively spamproof their INBOXes. This is a GOOD thing." ("Sam")
My own prediction: in the long run, this has no big effect on spam either way. Two things will reduce the hassle of spam, more legislation, or supplanting SMTP with a non-broken mail protocol. Costs have to be attached to sending mail to strangers, either micropayments or risk of jail. As long as mail's dirt-cheap to send, spam will be vying for our attention, scurrying-around clean-up crews notwithstanding.
Until SMTP is replaced, the great spam fight is a bunch of Libertarians trying to solve the tragedy of the commons. A pay-per-view clique seems like a suboptimal solution to me.