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MAPS disabling free access

  • From: Anders Andersson < >
  • Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2001 06:20:50 +0200 (MET DST)
  • Cc:

Some of you may already have seen this, but I didn't notice until
just now: MAPS will only serve paying subscribers from August 1.
See <URL:> for
the Slashdot view on the matter, including the announcement from
MAPS (which was appearantly posted when it was already Friday the
13th in Europe):

     Path: ...!!!not-for-mail
     From: Margie margie@localhost
     Subject: MAPS Subscription Policy Changes
     Date: Thu, 12 Jul 2001 16:45:11 -0700  
     Organization: Internet Software Consortium
     Message-ID: nidsktsnci3cat0blc31qtanprifmek97v@localhost
     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 
     subscription-request@localhost, questions and comments to
     margie@localhost and flames to dev/null. ;)
     Margie Arbon Mail Abuse Prevention System, LLC
     Manager, Market and Business Development 

While this is unquestionably their right to do, and they have
never claimed their service would remain free of charge forever,
I wish they had been more straightforward about their plans from
the beginning, and that they had given us more time to adjust to
the changing conditions.  Three weeks is a little short for us to
arrange a subscription (if we decide we want one), especially as
most everybody here is on vacation in July.  I expect to enjoy a
pretty rough ride myself when I return to my office in August.

Also, I have nominated more than 200 open relays to MAPS RSS,
the most effective of MAPS' services, if you ask me.  I have
considered that my way of contributing to a common good.  Now
I learn that my contribution has become such a valuable part
of MAPS' intellectual property that I have to pay to ever see
it again.  I have no legal basis to ask to have it back, as it
was a voluntary, unconditional contribution, but I'll surely be
less inclined to contribute to a paid subscription service in
the same way.  Why should I spend my time improving a service
everybody, including myself, has to pay for?  My contribution
constitutes a negligible part of the MAPS RSS anyway, and I can
just as easily block the open relays I discover myself, without
telling MAPS about them.  I will even offer my supplementary
blocking list to the Internet community, free of charge, if
there is any interest.

I haven't discussed this with our university lawyer yet, but it
could be that I'm not even allowed to use university resources
to contribute to the commercial assets of a foreign corporation,
if this is not clearly to the benefit of our university or to
the educational community at large.  Just like it's not my job
to help a spammer improve the quality of his mailing list by
telling him which e-mail addresses don't want his ads, it's not
my job to help a company build a proprietary database of known
open relays.  When we buy proprietary software, we don't spend
government money implementing improvements which our software
vendor can include in his next release.  Instead, we tell him
what our requirements are, and expect him to do the job before
we pay him for it.

Even if we decide to subscribe to MAPS, I can no longer endorse
it any more than I endorse all the Microsoft software we use.
I should have known better than to endorse it before, when it
was still free of charge.

Copyright � 2001 Anders Andersson.
Produced with the financial support of Uppsala University.
This message may be freely redistributed in its entirety,
except that it must not be imposed on unwilling recipients.
These conditions are guaranteed not to change in the future.

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