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The Internet

NSI Modifies "whois" Agreement 131

drwiii writes "Our good friends at NSI have modified their WHOIS agreement yet again, and it now seems to forbid any repackaging of the results returned from the query, even if your interest is not commercial. Also, notice how the agreement now appears before any results are returned. " I noticed it says "significant portion", but it also never really defines it, either...
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NSI Modifies WHOIS Agreement

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  • The only logical look-ups would be to go to www.nsiregistry.com or use register.com's lookup.

    Besides, now you don't have to wait a couple of years to modify your domain by sending out e-mails that takes months to answer after filling out the forms over at NSI. With Domain Manager at register.com you can change your DNS information yourself without having to wait for two months just to get a confirmation, then another two months to have that confirmation answered. Simplicity. Enter your new DNS info, wait for most DNS servers' cache to reload usually about 4-6 hours and your in business.

    sil@antioffline.com
    http://www.antioffline.com

    sil@macroshaft.org
    http://www.macroshaft.org

    root@regret.org
    http://www.regret.org

    joquendo@register.com
    http://www.register.com

  • # whois yourdomain@whois.register.com

    word of warning about register.com -- They automatically have your MX (mail) records setup to send to their siteamerica.com email hosting "service" They want to charge some ungodly amount of money per year for this "service". Your not currently able to change your MX record with their web based administration tools (they tell me it's coming in a month or so!). So you have to email them. They say to expect a response within 48-72 hours, but are usually much quicker.

    I thought they weren't that great, but from what I'm hearing about NSI, they seem to be the lesser of two evils
  • actually, if you register a domain with register.com, you need to do

    whois -h whois.register.com cooldomain.org

    (and obviously replace cooldomain.org with whatever you're looking up)

    So, i guess in order to get domain contact info, you would need to write a script of sorts that checks each whois host (nsi's and register.com's at the moment -- more to come in the future, i'm sure) until it finds the domain you're looking for...

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Wednesday July 07, 1999 @08:59AM (#1814732) Homepage Journal

    It broke my scripts. All I want to do is find out if a name is taken already before I allow a user to proceed thinking all is well.

    I'll bet that's the idea, only they are targeting the new registrars who might want to automate the process of registration.

    The biggest mistake in breaking NSI's monopoly was that they got to retain the actual root servers and the whois database. IMHO, the whois database should be regarded as a public record like the property records are.

    Each registrar should be REQUIRED to have at least two root servers located on different networks, and a complete copy of the whois database. Whois updates and new DNS entries should be circulated like a newsfeed between the registrars. Each registrar should be assigned a night or nights where they circulate the entire contents of their databases so that consistancy can be checked and maintained. Database feeds should be provided free of charge to any and all who want the feed (provided they have the pipe to handle the data, 1200 baud users need not apply) as a REQUIRED public service.

    This might be an example of what a Geek Union [slashdot.org] would be good for. "We have already cached the root servers. Open the whois databases or we'll all switch to new root servers and lock you out".

  • by db ( 3944 )
    Amorphous (AMORPHOUS3-DOM)
    590 Spring Creek Court
    Marietta, GA 30068
    US

    Domain Name: AMORPHOUS.ORG

    Administrative Contact, Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
    Brooks, David (DB24252) dbrooks@COMSTAR.NET
    770.977.0460
    Billing Contact:
    Brooks, David (DB24252) dbrooks@COMSTAR.NET
    770.977.0460


    ...oops. Does this constitute a majority? Even though this is my own information, am I still forbade to give it out at my discretion?

    --
    Dave Brooks (db@amorphous.org)
    http://www.amorphous.org
  • Register.com is a registrar... they compete with Network solutions (ignore the fact that network solution owns the registry for the moment.. it adds much confusion to the matter)... both of them are registrars.. Network solutions has refused to share thier whois database. So now to find out if a domain is registered you have to do one of the following:

    a> try registering a domain name with Netsol or register.com.. they won't let you if it's registered....

    b> do an nslookup using the rootnameservers (put a dot at the end of the domain) (one of the root nameservers is a.root-servers.net)... this will tell you if a name is currently pointing somewhere.. but won't tell you if the name it's self is on hold... (on hold would be a late payment or tradmark dispute type issue)

    c> go to register.com's whois and it will lookup information in both Netsol and their databases...
    notice the diffrence in information provided between nudesource.org(a domain registered via register.com) and yahoo.com( a domain registered via netsol)

    The most anyoing fact about this is there are lots of free hosting companys that have automated scripts that ONLY utilize Netsol's databases and forms....


    Hope this helps,
    Chris
  • So, if I wrote a script last year that reads, parses, reformats, and republishes whois data -- but I never actually read their terms, would I (and my old program) still be bound by the new terms?

    "By submitting this query, you agree to abide by this policy." hardly seems to apply to a script that can't really understand it... ;)
  • First of it's not set to SiteAmerica. It's set to mail.register.com which we change on demand and it gets change within 24 hours most of the time.

    The MX hasnt been thrown into domain manage because the cgi scripts are still being worked on.

    Picture this for a second as an Admin or Tech Support person in the Internet related field such as register.com

    Customer: Hi, I just purchased WebTV and I want to host my domain on it. Also please set my MX info to l0ser.webtv.whatever.

    --------snip-------

    Currently it is being worked on and if anyone here needs an MX record changed or any other info for that matter I'll stick my foot in my mouth and offer my e-mail where I PERSONALLY will change the info for you. Any spams and I will block you in a heartbeat. Any moronic please redirect my domain to my PalmTop and I'll rm -f it.

    -----end snip-----

    joquendo@register.com
  • I don't think I buy it. The actual wording states,
    Compilation, repackaging, dissemination, or other use of the WHOIS database in its entirety, or a substantial portion thereof, is not allowed without NSI's prior written permission.
    I guess you could argue that "other use" prevents spamming, but that seems unneccessarily broad, especially when coupled with the repackaging and dissemination bit. Specifically dissemination - that means that no-one has the right to redistribute this information without NSI's permission.

    Yeah, this license might have an effect on spam, but its effect on the availiabilty of the information in general is chilling.

  • I qoute:

    Browser Problem I'm sorry, but this site is not viewable with Lynx. Thank you for your understanding.

    Says it all...

  • When you say telnet access, do you mean the *nix whois command? It still works for me.

    But the response begins with their admonition about how not to use it, concluding with the preposterous statement "By submitting this query, you agree to abide by this policy."
  • what do you suppose would be their reaction if everyone reused to honor their restrictions? they can't sue EVERYONE, and maybe they'd just take their ball and go home... ...which looks like it might be their next step anyway.

    what would it take to get a devoted Free replacement available? granted, these buggers have the first-hand information because of their position, but there's got to be SOMETHING that can be done about their attitude....
  • This strikes me as part of NSI's attempt to retard competition in the registrar arena while proclaiming all the best intentions.

    Speaking of competition, has anyone had success with one of the alternate registrars yet?

  • by pudge ( 3605 ) <[ten.egdup] [ta] [todhsals]> on Wednesday July 07, 1999 @07:56AM (#1814746) Homepage Journal
    Every large ISP perpetually repackages and disseminates substantial portions of the WHOIS database, no matter what your definition of "substantial".
  • Naw.. they can't sue everyone... All they have to do is sue a few people... get a few of the key players in court, and everyone else will be too scared to do anything about it...

    Of course, if anyone comes up with an idea of what to do to the creatins, let me know... IANAL, but what if everyone took the whois information from a few sites, and put it in another database? That way, no one person is replicating a "substantial portion" of the database? Who knows.. just a thought

  • That's ok, I didn't submit that query, I submitted a different query, and got this result.

    That's what this is anyway, a result, not a query. Is NSI trying to make us think results are queries now?

    Now, if I submitted the result as a query, then I'd be 'agreeing' to their little request. But how many of you go around submitting those results as queries anyway?

    Not that I agree with their request.

  • Try a step into 1999 [netscape.com].
  • Not because they didn't want it. The courts ruled long ago that phone directories are public domain info. They don't have to help others access their data, but they can't stop other parties from keying in phone book data & repurposing it.

    Not sure what the legal basis of this decision was, but I'm sure it can & will be used as a precedent if & when NSI decides to sue someone.
  • Bullshit, *I* didn't agree to anything! And you didn't either. Don't let them make you believe otherwise.

    Their claim is invalid for the following reasons:

    • I didn't agree to anything. They can't unilaterally impose conditions on me.
    • As some have pointed out, this statement only comes up after the query.
    • As others have pointed out, people with domain names never agreed to this. It's their information, and they're ostensibly paying NSI for a service.
    • NSI is a regulated monopoly, supposedly in place to serve the public. Any changes they make are probably subject to regulatory review. And they're already in trouble with the government.

    Any one of these would invalidate their claim, even if they fixed the others! (Remember this, in case they fix any.) I don't think their claim could ever stand a chance in court.

    So does anyone want a CGI script that's a whois gateway? Install it on your site to automatically violate NSI's claim. It would force them to either openly ignore you or take you to court, where they'd have no case. If anyone wants to snub NSI like this, ask me and I'll write a simple whois gateway for you.

    On another front, it really seems to me that if all the sysadmins are pissed off at NSI, we could all start pointing our DNS's to an alternate root DNS server (maybe in addition to NSI). What, exactly, is stopping us from doing this? Even if only half the sysadmins did it, the others would follow suit so as not to lose access to all those alternate domains.

  • Agreed...the new format fits perfectly. I count
    22 lines from start to finish of the actual form
    for a domain with 3 backup NS's.
  • When NSI last modified the whois "agreement," it said "You agree not to redistribute, etc" - or something to that effect.

    Well, I don't. I still don't. That's why I'm now repackaging, disseminating, and modifying (for HTML) the WHOIS record of my old ISP, Internet Direct. [idirect.com]

    gemini:~$ whois idirect.com
    [rs.internic.net]

    Access to Network Solutions' WHOIS information is provided to assist persons in determining the contents of a domain name registration record in NSI's registrar database. The data in this record is provided by NSI for informational purposes only, and NSI does not guarantee its accuracy. Compilation, repackaging, dissemination, or other use of the WHOIS database in its entirety, or a substantial portion thereof, is not allowed without NSI's prior written permission. By submitting this query, you agree to abide by this policy. All rights reserved.

    Registrant:
    TUCOWS Interactive Limited (IDIRECT-DOM)
    5150 Dundas Street West #306
    Etobicoke ON, M9A 1C3
    CA

    Domain Name: IDIRECT.COM

    Administrative Contact, Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
    Administrator, DNS (LH90) dnsadmin@IDIRECT.COM
    416-233-7150 (FAX) 416-233-6970

    Record last updated on 29-Oct-98.
    Record created on 21-Nov-94.
    Database last updated on 6-Jul-99 08:47:29 EDT.

    Domain servers in listed order:

    NS.IDIRECT.COM 199.166.254.254
    NS2.IDIRECT.COM 199.166.254.4
    CNS2.IDIRECT.COM 207.136.80.18
    CNS1.IDIRECT.COM 207.136.66.20

  • I called NSI (703) 742-0400 and spoke with somebody named Leslie.

    I simply stated the following:
    1. That my information was now under a new policy that seemed to discourage it's dissemination.

    2. That I was not pleased about this "business decision" of theirs.

    She was most entirely uninterested in listening to my points. I've spoken with walls and gotten more useful feedback.

    So, I encourage all that can afford a 3 to 7 minute phone call to give NSI a call today, and let them know you don't exactly aprove of their changing their policy with regards to the data we gave them when we registered a domain.

    I think I'm going to call and see if I can't speak to somebody about how this "business decision" was reached.

    scottwimer
  • by canter ( 43098 ) on Wednesday July 07, 1999 @09:39AM (#1814757)
    You have agreed to turn over all intellectual and physical property to ME(tm). Your clothes, your food, the very air you breathe belongs to ME(tm). Any attempts to move from the spot you are currently situated in will be considered destruction of MY(tm) property and legal action WILL be taken. As your bed or chair is also now my property, you can no longer just lie/sit there either. Lying in bed will be considered unlawful use of MY(tm) property, and legal action WILL be taken. Clicking any button on your computer at all will be considered a binding agreement to this EULA. I have your URL, expect to hear from MY(tm) lawyers shortly.
  • I simply tried '~:$lynx http://rs.internic.net/cgi-bin/whois/whois?moocow. com' and I got a record, and a note to "please" read the disclaimer.

    What ever happened to remebering URL's?

    -------
    Q: What's up?
    A: A direction.
  • EisPick asks, "When you say telnet access, do you mean the *nix whois command?"

    Nope. Our earlier astute observer is referring to another (former) way to get at whois, via telnet. At the prompt, you would type,
    telnet rs.internic.net [internic.net]
    or
    telnet whois.internic.net [internic.net]

    Just like telnetting anywhere else. Once logged in, at their prompt, you'd type,
    whois domain-name.foo

    I just pinged rs.internic.net, and the server responds. But if you try to telnet in--to either subdomain--it just hangs. I successfully telnetted to two other places, so the problem is not on my end. Looks like it's broken on purpose by NSI. Arrogant jerks.

  • The WHOIS database isn't useful for anything these days anyway.

    NetSol's whois database isn't the only one to suffer from lack-of-usefulness.

    After repeatedly being the victim of smurf attacks (yes, there are still many broken networks [powertech.no] out there), I wrote a perl script which analyzed the Netflow export from a Cisco 7000-series router, tested the source IPs' networks for "brokenness," and used whois.arin.net to get contact information for those networks. Much to my dismay, I was getting stuff like...

    150.174.97.255 52 Virginia State University (NET-VSUNET)
    "Grey, Michael" vsuars@VCUVM1.BITNET
    161.223.245.0 32 Indian Health Service (NET-IHS-BNET)
    "Jaramillo, Valentino" [No mailbox]
    192.48.125.0 33 Solar Energy Research Institute (NET-SERI-2)
    "Powers, Chuck" [No mailbox]

    ...in the logs. This makes it really hard to do automated "your network is broken, here's how to fix it" mailings.

    Some of these organizations have had their IP allocations since the mid-1980s and apparently haven't updated their contact information in all this time. (BITNET? Can we say "way of the dodo"?) Of course, since there's no "enforcement" to keep the contact information up-to-date, things won't be changing anytime soon. (At least the .nu registry [www.nic.nu] has strong wording in their policy [www.nic.nu] regarding valid contact information...)

    "[No mailbox]" shouldn't be allowed as a contact e-mail address, in my opinion. With the abundance of free/near-free e-mail services out there ( HotMail [hotmail.com], Net@ddress [netaddress.com], etc.), there is no excuse for not having a valid, working e-mail address. If you don't have an e-mail address, then you probably don't need to have IP addresses, either...

  • c> go to register.com's whois and it will lookup information in both Netsol and their databases...

    Unfortunatly, apparently not.

    [sjames:~]$ whois yahoo.com@whois.register.com
    [whois.register.com]

    No match for "yahoo.com".

    Get your domain name at http://www.register.com

  • The basis for the decision was that the telco couldn't claim a copyright on the data, since it was merely drudge work, and not creative work. Since the telco distributes the telephone book in paper format without a license, the only right they could claim over it was copyright. The Supreme Court (in Feist v. Rural Telephone) said that alphabetizing names was not creative enough to warrant a copyright. There is now a bill in Congress trying to change this by permitting "database rights" for the work of creating the database of information.

    As a side note, since the whois information is not freely distributed, NSI claims not copyright but licensing agreement right. So this argument wouldn't work for them.
  • Unfortunately, they can enforce this. After all, the courts have held shrinkwrap software licenses legal (the license you find in your new software you bought at Fry's that's on the inside of the package and tells you that by opening the package you just agreed to something.)

    But, I do agree. Ignore it. Just know a good lawyer who doesn't mind fighting it out with NSI.

  • May I suggest that any domain registration site that requires a graphics browser is broken, by definition.

    Jerry
  • by Thorsett ( 5255 ) on Wednesday July 07, 1999 @10:01AM (#1814766) Homepage
    It appears that NSI is no longer asserting ownership of the individual records, but only
    of the database as a whole: "Compilation, repackaging, dissemination, or other use of the WHOIS database in its entirety, or a substantial portion thereof, is not allowed without NSI's prior written permission."

    The restriction that NSI began attaching in May said: "You agree that you will not reproduce, sell, transfer, or modify any of the data presented in response to your search request, or use of [sic] any such data for commercial purpose, without the prior express written permission of Network Solutions."

    So in fact this seems to be a step back towards open records. Now, whether their claim that use of the entire database is "not allowed" has any legal force is something a lawyer would have to answer. They don't explicitly claim copyright, except with the "All rights reserved" statement and my memory is that the phone companies failed with similar "compilation copyrights" on white pages in the past.
  • I'm kindof doubting that this would actually hold up in court of NSI tried to bring someone up on charges -- This amounts to a contract with the user, but there's this one phrase that causes problems:

    > By submitting this query, you agree to abide by this policy.

    ... but to _see_ this license, you have to submit a query, which automatically means you've agreed to the license! This is like taking a contract, sealing it in an envelope, and giving it to someone, with a clause in the contract that reads "By opening the envelope in which this contract was contained, you agree to abide by its terms."

    Granted, this would be a bit harder to make fly if you did enough queries to get "a substantial portion" of the database, but still definately an issue.
  • If I recall, when NSI tried to move whois access from the main page to a subpage (this was awhile ago), they were forced to move it back by the government. Perhaps someone could tell their local, technology-aware senator/congressperson (I live in CT, so not a chance :).

    This is obviously to stop register.com and the like, but anyone who's dealt with NSI before shouldn't be surprised.
  • looks like they blocked it at their routers

    # nmap -sT -p23 rs.internic.net

    Starting nmap V. 2.2-BETA4 by Fyodor (fyodor@dhp.com, www.insecure.org/nmap/)
    Interesting ports on rs.internic.net (198.41.0.6):
    Port State Protocol Service
    23 filtered tcp telnet
  • lynx http://www.register.com

    Register.com - Domain Name Registration Services
    Browser Problem.
    I'm sorry, but this site is not viewable with Lynx. Thank you for your understanding.

    This is lightyears ahead??

    ---------------
    On /. preview before you submit. So why is the submit button first? Hmm.. Rob must be evil. Clinton will not give any money to /. until Rob is removed from it's leadership. -- Just my two cen... forget that... I'm broke from my last comment.
  • Wrong port. The whois.internic.net server runs on port 43 now, and as far as I know it has for a while.

    It still works for me:

    $ telnet whois.internic.net 43
    Trying 198.41.0.6...
    Connected to rs.internic.net.
    Escape character is '^]'.
    slashdot.org
    Access to Network Solutions' WHOIS information is

    ....

    etc
  • They can say I can't pick my nose too, it doesn't make it true. The sooner someone nukes NSI off the face of the planet the better we'll all be.
  • They do, at least Bell Atlantic does.
  • I'm not a lawyer, but read the wording of the second to last sentence in their "agreement" carefully:
    By submitting this query, you agree to abide by this policy.
    The only trouble is, you see that statement after you've already submitted the query! I may be picking nits here, but when I first read the notice on the /. front page, I went to one of my open ssh windows and did a whois on eudora.com. Then I read the "agreement". How could I have possibly agreed to it before I read the terms?!?

    So what, you might say. So I have scripts -- like many other people -- that use the whois db info in a "repackaged" format. And most run without my intervention and have been for a while. So am I now in violation of their agreement? Hell, I may not even know where some of those scripts are anymore! (Possibly a slight exaggeration, but you see the point.)

    All I'm trying to say is that their "agreement" seems spurious and can't possibly be binding. I mean, who is agreeing to the terms of the "agreement" if the whois db info is being slurped by a script? The author of the software? Yeah, right. Try that one, and I'm suing MS for a mint. OK, maybe the user account that the script runs under? I'd love to see NSI try to sue nobody@lazlo.qualcomm.com. They going to sue my company? I hope they have a lot of lawyers and a lot of money; there's got to be plenty of companies doing the same thing.

    The hell with NSI, I say. Seriously, what is wrong with people these days?

    -B

  • I'm fed up with this B.S. and NSI's mediocre service. Anyone know how to transfer existing domains to register.com?
  • 2-minute quick fix.

    This is taken from a diff that makes Whois.pm work again. It is against Whois.pm 1.13. Insert these lines after line 200.

    (There's a variable ($text) that gets the info from a socket. Just substitute null for the whole disclaimer phrase with a regex assign.)



    201,205c201
    my $disclaimer;
    $disclaimer = EOF;
    Access to Network Solutions' WHOIS information is provided to assist persons in determining the contents of a domain name registration record in NSI's registrar database. The data in this record is provided by NSI for informational purposes only, and NSI does not guarantee its accuracy. Compilation, repackaging, dissemination, or other use of the WHOIS database in its entirety, or a substantial portion thereof, is not allowed without NSI's prior written permission. By submitting this query, you agree to abide by this policy. All rights reserved.
    EOF
    $text=~s/$disclaimer//;
  • To unconditionally agree to all of the above conditions, press any key.
  • Ah damn. Just go here. [iqgroup.com]

    I can't make the code format correctly in a reply.

  • I never had a problem with NSI before this whole split up registration services except for them being slow... I think there pissed that there not the only ones... Slightly off-topic question:
    does any one know of any site with the followiing description
    • A site with a huge list of search engines and ther simalar links, the site included a link to a site the created a wav file with a computer generated spoken voice of the word you typed in ...does any one know of a program that can do this..?
    • Where you can search with key words for untaken domian names...
  • hey, i have an idea. i'll follow their lead and mail out a bunch of letters saying:

    By opening this envelope and reading this
    letter you agree to pay me $100. You
    have one week to reply before I call
    my lawyers.
    Thank you.

    seems legally identical to me.

  • The NSI whois database is no longer authoritative. It only contains information on domains registered through NSI. I registered a domain through register.com, and when it didn't show up in NSI's database, I questioned register.com about this. Apparently each registrar will now be responsible for maintaining their own whois database. In order to determine if a domain is taken, you will need to query the database of each registrar, or try to register it and see if you get rejected.

    NSI's new terms seem aimed specifically at keeping someone from building a comprehensive whois database from the individual databases. I distinctly remember being able to query NSI's database from http://www.register.com/ [register.com], but that link seems to be gone now. I never really hated NSI until now.

    FYI, register.com's whois server is at whois.register.com.

    Woogie
  • by ewe2 ( 47163 )

    forget boycotting the whois database - provide an alternative! why should we rely on NSI for this information?

    and somehow, i dont think we'd succeed in boycotting the root servers, either, unless someone is going to donate the machines and we can convince the rest of the world to follow us.

    but the whois database could be better implemented anyway. and it should be free.

    my $ 0.02 :)

  • Joquendo:

    Not to belittle your anti-NSI sentiments, for I think NSI are generally right bastards, but you *could* be perceived as a trifle biased, since you do work for register.com. :)
  • Posted by stodge:

    It's like having a license on the software packaging that says "by reading this license you agree to abide by it"......

    good point
    Come one! Moderate the guy up!!

    Maybe we could all submit millions of queries simultaneously to their servers?!

  • Try their web interface at http://www.register.com instead.
    ---
  • Hit 'o' and change the user agent to 'Not L*ynx - we DON'T give you our understanding because we DON'T understand why' or some other silly message like 'EvilBrowser 1.666'.

    Then their server will let you in :)
  • A modern httpd has nothing to do with it. Some admins (like myself) would much rather use Lynx on a site that ought to be text-, rather than graphics-intensive. Yes, we won't be able to see all the pretty buttons from all their advertisers. I personally prefer to be able to set things up quickly and efficiently.
  • #define RANT_MODE

    This information is my information. I paid for it to be entered into this database. As did many others. Meanwhile, the folks at NSI have been buying a new Lexus each year instead of improving their service. They've gotten fat and ugly on the spoils of their monopoly or so it seems.

    #undef RANT_MODE

    So I think I want to have this information `at my fingertips' without these silly ever-changing lawyertalk-addendums. So I'll just create a modified whois-client which filters out the crud and gives me what I paid for... Anyone interested just mail me...

    Cheers//Frank
  • Posted by Synsthe:

    In other words, "bug off, spammers". May I point out that I have not received one piece of spam to my whois contact email addresses since NSI added this agreement to the whois record. May I also point out that I would get about two or three spams a week (if not more) sent to my whois address as recently as last fall, before NSI added the agreement.

    Can I just say one thing? BS. =) Not only have 10 other people atleast said this exact thing, so I'm not sure why you're repeating it in the first place, but honestly, do you think spammers really give a damned about an extra few lines in the whois database? They don't.

    1) If they did, these same people would abide by ISP AUPs that state spamming is not to be done through their mail servers on their domains, etc etc. They've never cared about that, why should it be different for something imposed by NSI?

    2) Do you honestly think you could prove that the spammer got the info from NSI? You couldn't. Therefore why should they be worried about a legal implication such as this?

    I think you're just imagining things about receiving less spam.

    --
    Mark Waterous (mark@projectlinux.org)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    They've decided that the current domain name system suck and they've decided to piss off enough open source programmers by making an itch of themselves that someone will scratch them and come up with a better solution. Preferably a non-centralized one. Really, this is a stroke of genius on their part...
  • There was an article on Wired News ( Publisher Must Lay Down the Law [wired.com]) that seems to deal with this very issue.

    For those who don't want to read it, the Supreme Court (United States) in refusing to hear the case, upheld a decision by a Federal court saying that West, the people who publish all those law books, does not have the exclusive copyright on publishing laws and judicial issues (court decisions, etc).

    In addition, others will now also be allowed to use West's page numbering system which has become so standard in the legal system, it's almost a second language.

    My argument is this: If domain names are like "page numbers" (indicators of where to find something, such as an IP address), and their registration information is public domain information (as are court opinions. the REASON I SAY THIS is not to usurp privacy concerns, but my contention that WHOIS is like a phone book, hence your "information" is public), then doesn't this mean that NSI does not have copyright protection for this information and database collection, and, hence, its' "restrictions" are invalid?

    Now, this might not have held before other registrars were allowed, but since they are, this is more a shared system than ever, and so is more like a phone book than a private listing of customers.

    #include " its_all_about_the_pentiums.wierd_al [kinet.org]"

  • The exact wording of the agreement is as follows:
    Access to Network Solutions' WHOIS information is provided to assist persons in determining the contents of a domain name registration record in NSI's registrar database. The data in this record is provided by NSI for informational purposes only, and NSI does not guarantee its accuracy. Compilation, repackaging, dissemination, or other use of the WHOIS database in its entirety, or a substantial portion thereof, is not allowed without NSI's prior written permission. By submitting this query, you agree to abide by this policy. All rights reserved.
    In other words, "bug off, spammers". May I point out that I have not received one piece of spam to my whois contact email addresses since NSI added this agreement to the whois record. May I also point out that I would get about two or three spams a week (if not more) sent to my whois address as recently as last fall, before NSI added the agreement.

    NSI is doing the right thing my making spammers legally responsible if they use WHOIS information to harvest spam addresses.

    - Sam

  • To add insult to injury I had MORE FSCKING spam from them tonight.

    URG
  • Then why is NSI spamming me?

    (sigh)

    There is no honor among government monopolies.
  • I guess you could argue that "other use" prevents spamming, but that seems unneccessarily broad, especially when coupled with the repackaging and dissemination bit. Specifically dissemination - that means that no-one has the right to redistribute this information without NSI's permission.

    Yeah, this license might have an effect on spam, but its effect on the availiabilty of the information in general is chilling.

    Thinking this revised "license" will help stop spam is a pipe dream -- Network Solutions routinely sends spam to the contact e-mail addresses in its database. And since when has licensing or law stopped spammers?

    Does anyone remember the last time Network Solutions tried acting in the customer's best interest? Information about domains' last-updated dates was removed from the whois database. Woo, that really stopped the domain hoarding, didn't it? Of course, they must have figured out it didn't do squat -- the information is back. If Network Solutions really wanted to help "the problem," they'd require payment before domain activation. That would at least curb hoarders who register a domain, sit on it for a month, let it be dropped for non-payment, and start the cycle over. That's akin to holding a domain hostage -- the hoarder hasn't paid for it, and it wastes NetSol's resources. You'd think they'd act in their own best interests on this one...

    Anyway, my guesses about the new license:

    1. Network Solutions figured out they have a vast database of e-mail addresses of people who have registered one or more domains and will probably register again. ("Hey, maybe if we spam our existing customers they won't defect to those rogue registrars! It's not like they like us, anyway...")
    2. Network Solutions now has competition. It would really suck if one of those other registrars could freely use the information in Network Solutions' "proprietary" database, wouldn't it? ("We're not going to be outdone by these new guys... They're not even U.S. Government-sanctioned monopolies!")

    The writing has been on the wall for a long time. The big change that should have tipped everyone off was when www.internic.net [internic.net] was essentially replaced with www.netsol.com [netsol.com], a site where Network Solutions can also peddle its domain parking/web hosting/e-mail services. I'm sure a bunch of clueless upper-management types go there to register a domain, see all the stuff about foreign terms like "nameservers," "DNS," "content hosting," etc., and then see where Network Solutions can handle it all for them! (For a fee, of course.) Just then, the sound of a cash register ding can be heard at Network Solutions' office, and an angel gets set on fire.

    Just business as usual with "the dot screw-the-customer people."

  • Try a step into 1999.

    For a domain registrar, you would think they'd would ensure their Web site is viewable by as many browsers as possible. That's just good e-commerce (ugh, I hate that word) sense...

  • NSI seems to be striking back at everyone for the hacking that was done last week on their ns2 machine that pointed everyone to www.icann.org

    NSI served notice (as I understand) to the large domain hosting firms hours before the change in the whois was made. However, as there was no way to test their script modifications, most found they had useless scripts Wednesday morning.

    They are definitely striking back at Register.Com as well. Take for example a domain modification. If you simply send in a modify template without checking first to see if the domain is a regular domain, a WhirlNick domain or a register.com domain and it turns out to be a WhirlNick domain you receive email telling you how to modify the domain. If it is a Register.Com domain you are told the domain name isn't registered. Totally bogus answer aimed at causing confusion.

    Perhaps ICANN should serve hours notice on NSI and Register.Com that they will, effective immediately, provide a consolidated whois server and both companies are required to send their daily updates to ICANN's server.

    Remember, NSI no longer sets the rules. ICANN is in charge. NSI is subject to ICANN's wishes which if we all get involved translates into OUR wishes.
  • Putting that statement at the top of a whois query without prior knowledge is akin to putting a software license agreement that states &quot;by opening this package, you agree...&quot; INSIDE the package, making it impossible to read before opening the package.

    Their statement is completely unenforceable.

    --j

  • by j c s ( 49663 ) on Wednesday July 07, 1999 @08:02AM (#1814810) Homepage
    They also seem to have disabled telnet access to the whois database.
  • Yep. I used Register.com [register.com] two weeks ago and was well pleased. They also offer a host of links to other sites to help a budding business (like incorporating, trademarks, etc.) I think their site is more customer oriented.

  • You know, CmdrTaco is in violation of the message as stated. And it's silly. You can't agree to something that you haven't seen yet, as is the case here (you agree by submitting the query).

    It would be nice if it wrapped properly on an 80 column terminal, too. *sigh*

  • by apilosov ( 1810 )
    This change means that many scripts that rely on whois to get contacts for domains for various purposes might break. NSI strikes again, without notice.
  • by dattaway ( 3088 ) on Wednesday July 07, 1999 @08:15AM (#1814816) Homepage Journal
    I didn't pay NSI $70 for my address to become their property. I wanted a service to distribute my information in a freely available manner. When I submitted my information to them with credit card number, in no way did they claim it was their property and they would restrict its availability. This negates the whole rationale behind my domain name. What we have here is a monopoly and they should be bypassed. But, who has the servers and money to handle their capacity? Its evil and needs to be stopped.
  • Basically, they are saying, "We supply this database, but it is illegal for anyone to use it." Of course none of this will stand up in court, but it sure lines the lawyers' pockets!
  • Jim Rutt is a long-time acquaintance of mine from the Well. When he was hired out of Thomson to run NSI recently, I hoped things there would turn a corner.

    Instead, it's getting worse. As has been pointed out, NSI is basically announcing its claim of compilation copyright on the whois database. This is the same greedy crap that West Publishing does with court rulings, and that many an online service does with the postings of its members.

    This is evil and must be stopped.

    Jim Rutt is a smart guy. I advised him to drop the claims on whois and get to the business of fixing their broken customer service system. So far he is heading in directly the opposite direction.

    Yesterday ICANN announced [icann.org] that 15 candidate registrars have been approved to add to the five existing ones. There are 37 more awaiting certification. Probably 5 to 10 will survive as more than mere niche players. Let's insist on better customer support, service, reliability and lack of greed, and may the best registrar win.

    It won't be NSI, though.

    --------
  • Send in the lawyers!

    [rs.internic.net]

    Access to Network Solutions' WHOIS information is provided to assist persons in determining the contents of a domain name registration record in NSI's registrar database. The data in this record is provided by NSI for informational purposes only, and NSI does not guarantee its accuracy. Compilation, repackaging, dissemination, or other use of the WHOIS database in its entirety, or a substantial portion thereof, is not allowed without NSI's prior written permission. By submitting this query, you agree to abide by this policy. All rights reserved.

    Yahoo (YAHOO-DOM) YAHOO.COM
    yahoo.com (DUZEN3-DOM) DUZEN.COM
    yahoo.com, jcarr (JY2887) jcarr_10@YAHOO.COM
    303-843-2121 (FAX) 303-843-2221
    yahoo.com, trisdog (TY1503) trisdog6@YAHOO.COM
    303-571-4930 (FAX) 303-571-4911
    yahoo.com, trisdog (TY1504) trisdog6@YAHOO.COM
    303-571-4930 (FAX) 303-571-4911

    To single out one record, look it up with "!xxx", where xxx is the
    handle, shown in parenthesis following the name, which comes first.


    There. I repackaged it into this page. Come get some!


    --
  • Try their web interface at http://www.register.com instead.

    Yep, that works perfectly. I do wish the ehois worked though, It's a little nicer to parse in a script than web returns.

  • $ cat whois.sh
    #!/bin/sh
    whois $1 | grep -v "portion thereof"

    $ alias whois=whois.sh

    -jwb
  • Perhaps I missed something, but isn't NSI nothing more than a federal contractor? They don't "own" anything if that's the case, it's not theirs to say what can be done with the database.
  • Anyone who uses lynx as their sole browser and expects others to cater to their needs is lightyears behind. So, I'm sorry they left you in the dust. The WWW is catered to the visual. You want text? Gopher it!

    JOhn
  • This is lightyears ahead??

    Actually I think it is because they use a secure server to register domains. Remember how lynx doesn't support https?

    Alert!: This client does not contain support for HTTPS URLs.

    I spidered the first page of www.register.com port. It [styx.net] reads well with lynx, so it must be some other reason. Why don't you write to them and complain?

    Did you ever try to write to NIS and hope for a response that wasn't totally stupid or ignorant?
  • This license violates German (and European) law, and is therefore invalid (nichtig).

    So - can i happily download the FULL database and use it as a source of a free replacement ?!?
    (i dont know if this is covered by an older/other license term which does not violate german or european laws [note: ALL microsoft license terms have parts that violate german law - even the german versions of these licenses... especially those "you agree to this license before you get the chance to read it" is completely invalid and can be happily ignored in germany])

    --
    Jor

    --
  • Nailed me too. I'm going through the source of Whois.pm trying to figure out where to start. I will let you know if I get somewhere.

    Why do I always seem to be fixing stuff that other people break?

    Oh wait... that's my job.
  • Microsoft does it with some of their licenses (the VB5 CCE in a textbook being one of them), open the packaging and want to take it back? poof, it's your new Gucci albatross. TFBFY.

    NSI has learned from the masters: whether it's enforceable or not, they're doing their best to delay the transition, those annual reg fees are lifeblood. They know someone will take them to court over this, and even so, win or lose, the court costs won't be coming out of the salary budget, that's for certain.
  • Well, that is all fine and dandy, but what about someone that really does want to switch NOW? I can understand that register.com (or any other registrar) would be reluctant to take on new customers without getting any money, but they need to think long-term. If I switch now that means I'm more likely to stay with them when it comes time for me to renew my domain. I'd rather show NSI that I'm not happy with their service and the way they treat MY information than have to wait around anywhere from a few months to 2 years.
    ---
  • by sjames ( 1099 )

    The problem is gathering the data. It's easy to determine if a name is active, the hard part is determining that a name is on hold or just registered (Newly registered names don't seem to become active as quickly as one might hope). Of course if the current DNS system is replaced, the NSI whois is worthless anyway since it would no longer reflect the true state of the DNS.

    As for the root server issue, the load doesn't have to be huge if the new 'underground' system is planned properly. Caching servers could help a lot. Currently, we have root servers a-m (or at least my named.ca does) Why not go from A - ZZ instead? Then define a 'hub' server and several designated alternates to coordinate the updates.

    Once the load is balanced and reasonable, now comes the matter of getting the servers. There is a good business case for providing a server to the cause. Since the system is meant to replace NSI's monopoly, it stands to reason that reasonable fees (certainly not more than is currently charged) could be imposed on registration, and that those fees would be divided amongst the owners of the root servers. (or, a simple rule. Root servers are all authoritative to register a domain name.) The new registrars might even get involved to protect their business interests and investment in becoming a registrar.

    In my spare time, I'm thinking about a usenet like distribution system for DNS. The only real problem to solve is the issue of collisions for new registrations. Perhaps a simple database of new registrations with a simple locking mechanism. Every night, the contents of the database could be dumped into the DNS feed to the root servers. As soon as every 'ring 0' server says it's got it, the record is dropped from the new regs database.

    In that sort of system, whois would be a two step process. First query a random root server. If no result, query the new regs database. The new process could be hidden so that the whois output looks just like it does now (minus the legal babble).

    Simply having a CONTINGENCY plan for all of this would probably bring NSI into line. After all, if it were ever implemented, they're instantly bankrupt (and subject to a bazillion refunds and/or lawsuits). It would be the world's fastest buisness failure. Simple rumblings wouldn't have the same effect, it must be an actual plan with actual willingness to implement it.

    A final note: The above is NOT a hijacking maneuver!! That has been (foolishly) tried before. It is simply a perfectly legal end run.

  • And where pray tell did you get this information? Something you overheard in a chat room? How bout some facts folks.
  • Nor did I pay Microsoft $199 to only "rent" some of their software, but unfortunately that is the case nowadays with Software licenses. They still own the license, and if I want to sell the program, I have to get their permission.

    God you all whine a lot.
  • I use NSIRegistry.Com which is the old plain vanilla Whois that used to be at InterNIC.Net. Here is a sample: Whois Slashdot.Org [nsiregistry.com]. Maybe I should post this as a story!
  • I agree with most of what you said, with the exception that having multiple registrars is making the process more difficult.

    The only reason that this issue is becoming increasingly unworkable and highly unstable is due to the passive and active resistance by NSI to the privatization and redistribution of their monopoly.

  • In addition didnt a lot of this information come either from the Federal Government and/or a company that was paid to collect it by the government?

    If so doesnt that mean they can't put such a restrictive use on it?

    And what about company info that is pre-NSI (e.g. Apple info, DEC info etc.)
  • knocked the finger gateway cgi into a whois gateway... does this [88.net] count?

  • I'm not sure I understand what point you are trying to make, but I do agree the whois does not work on a standard 80 column terminal. Apparently, they fired all of the experienced hackers and hired a bunch of green people who promised a bunch of profits --I don't know. It looks real ugly.
  • Yeah. We use exclusively register.com now, and have registered quite a bunch of domains there.

    Strong points of register.com:
    • Instant payment option.
    • Good service (took 25 minutes to get a personal response to a query -- quite unheard of from NIS).
    • Web interface for changing DNS information, contact info, etc. Instant changes. Also keeps contact information for registering new domains.

    Negative aspects:
    • No way of setting DNS info upon registration. You need to edit the settings first, which implies two e-mails and a trip to a URL to verify.
    • No information in e-mails or webpages about which domains have been registered.
    • Doesn't cater very well to ISPs who register large amounts of domains.


      • All in all it's lightyears ahead of NIS, and I'm quite happy.
  • by eyeball ( 17206 )
    I'm surprised the telco's don't have a similar message when you dial 411...
  • The WHOIS database isn't useful for anything these days anyway. I registered several domains a few weeks ago at register.com. None of them shows up in WHOIS. So there isn't any way any more to reliably determine technical contacts for a domain, or any other information. Frankly, I'm kind of glad, because I get a TON of junk mail from domains I've registered at Internic.

    That said, does anyone know of ANY way to reliably tell if a domain has been registered now? WHOIS doesn't tell you, you can't just do an nslookup, etc. Could the boneheads... er... powers that be have not thought of this problem? I seem to have no way of knowing if a domain is registered without going to a website of one of the registrars and hoping their info is accurate.

    Seems this multiple-registrars thing has made stuff more complex, not simpler like you'd expect any intelligent group of people to do. Its B.S. that I can no longer reliably get information about who to contact in a domain, and that said data isn't 100% public domain.
  • Ooops... I repackaged the query in a TCP stream.

    Ooops... I did it again. The TCP stream was repackaged into IP packets.

    Oh bother. My IP packets were repackaged into ATM frames on the backbone.

    *sigh*

    Time to start wiring up the direct serial link from my dumb-terminal to their database. Oh wait, that won't work. The serial port will repackage the bytes by inserting parity and stop bits.

    Aw, hell, I'll go grab the yellow pages instead.

    --Joe

    --
  • First off: Unfortunately you WILL have to go through NSI to make the change. www.networksolutions.com/makechanges/

    When you fill out the form (hosting) they will send you a confirmation to the original e-mail address you used to register it. You have to reply to the confirmation. (HAVE TO) It normally takes about 3-4 weeks or more depending on when they decide to answer there damn e-mail. Be advised they do take a while. Until then no one over at register.com can do anything to force them to move it, or speed up the process.

    Renewals: Being that the domain in question was more than likely registered through them, when renewal time comes around, you will have to have them release the domain back into the registry pool in order to re-register it. I'm sure you are aware that there is like a 90 day grace period they give the original owner to renew their domain. But since you wouldn't wanna wait, about a week or two before it expires contact NSI and tell them you have no intention to re-register with them and have decided to register the name elsewhere. They'll be pissed and probably will give you some mumbo jumbo response, but until the name is freed up you wont be able to just re-register it through register.com when it expires.

    joquendo@register.com
  • jsm writes:

    On another front, it really seems to me that if all the sysadmins are pissed off at NSI, we could all start pointing our DNS's to an alternate root DNS server (maybe in addition to NSI). What, > exactly, is stopping us from doing this? Even if only half the sysadmins did it, the others would follow suit so as not to lose access to all those alternate domains.

    check out name.space (www.namespace.org) [namespace.org].

    You can set your pc's nameserver to one of namespace's, and get to sites such as http://black.hole, http://acronym.soup, http://b92.radio, http://babe.cam, and http://sperm.bank (as well as the boring old .coms, .nets, .edus et cetera.)

    These new TLDs form a kind of half-there web underground. name.space has registered hundreds of new TLDs (Top Level Domains)... excessive quantity, maybe, but a cool idea.

    Interestingly, their policy is to protect "whois" information of their clients.

    From the "about us" page of their site ( www.namespace.org/about/ [namespace.org]):

    The Name.Space project was begun in 1996 by a group of artists and net-workers who were concerned about threats to privacy and free speech, and increasing access costs brought about by the Network Solutions, Inc. monopoly control over the Domain Name System, and the general commercialization of the net.
    Name.Space set out to provide fast, inexpensive domain name registration, and to set up new toplevel domains (TLDs) to increase choice and free expression that was otherwise lacking in the legacy monopoly situation, dominated by NSI. As a result, Name.Space implemented the first truly self-service and fully automated domain name registration system with secure online account management and client access to domain name data, and the first to allow "unlisted" domain information (billing contact is not disclosed, and other info may be restricted to protect the domain holder's privacy).

    I found them one day when I idly typed " www.alternic.net [alternic.net]" into netscape, and found a link to name.space. (the alternic page is currently "down for construction")

    A fascinating idea, many small registration services. What it (possibly) destroys, is the idea that ALL domain names (and therefore internet resources) are accessible from everywhere, because of this monster global database (interNIC). The formation of many unregulated and unorganized registration services is the fragmentation, in some sense, of the internet, into many little niches and cliques. These many name spaces (to borrow name.space's name) might overlap, but still seem very distinct. Perhaps, however, this is necesary-- it would in many ways model other media and facets of society; perhaps this is a good thing, when the web is growing at the fantastic rate that it is.

    Very interested in the ideas of the Slashdot Cyber-Futurologicists.

    rh

  • "Alert: misrepresentation of user agent may be a copyright violation"????

    death to all copyright crap!
  • Sheesh! I wasn't even complaining. I merely made a comment that while being "lightyears ahead" they don't even support lynx.

    I will give them credit, however, for a tailored message.

    I use lynx at work, since my only internet connection is because of a shell account I have on another's SunOS box. The proxy allows his machine to go through, and only on port 80. My job puts me on the phones, so I have a lot of free time to read on the Internet. And for that, lynx is great. (Except that /. comments are a bit squished together.) I don't expect register.com to support lynx. But at least mentioning who they are, and other material should be availible IMHO.

    I just thought that a "good company" would cater to all people browsing their site. Keeping lynx out of the secure parts is fine. Out of reading material is a bit too far. I have the time _now_ to read it. When I go home, I'd rather just do whatever it was that I could not do here. Whatever. Again, I wasn't complaining, just commenting.
  • And of course we aren't to use the information from the whois database for marketing purposes. And yet NSI does. Most recently was a spam from Doug Wolford today which was sent to tech contacts attempting to sell us on their ecommerce solution I think. Trashed it of course.

    Since the rules don't apply to them, they don't apply to anybody else.

    And remember the old days when a .net, .org or .com meant something? At one time, NSI would check the .net and .org registration templates to make sure the company met the qualifications much as is done with a .edu but I believe the excuse given is it is no longer possible with the volume. Not possible to do the job right. Not possible to live by the rules.

    And .... seems they fixed that long message on the whois display by adding line feeds. Bet that broke a few scripts again today.
  • I kind of like that the silly legalese is at the top of the query now. It makes it a lot easier to ignore as it scrolls off the top of my xterm. :)
  • Any single posting wouldn't be a "substantial" amount of the database.

    Perhaps the whole board might qualify, but there are faster ways of "stealing" that information.

    James

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