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North American Network Operators Group

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Re: Director Database Marketing (Herndon VA US) (

  • From: Owen DeLong
  • Date: Thu Sep 03 12:28:50 1998

> And, what makes you think that NSI doesn't have intellectual property
> rights to the whois database.  Again, please frame your answer in the
> context of the applicable Federal law and regulations, probably the
> FARs and the contract or cooperative agreement between NSI and the NSF.
Under both common law and various federal regulations, NSI has posession
of that data because of a federal contract supported and (previously)
paid for by taxpayers.  As such, at least that much of the data is, by
law, in the public domain.  Additionally, it is not hard to draw a parallel
between NSI using that data for competitive advantage or marketing purposes
and the DMV selling off the information on drivers licenses and vehicle
registrations.  At least in most state with which I am familiar, this
is not permitted.  In fact, worst case, it would be like the DMV simply
using the database as a contact list for a mail-order or other business.
This, too, is not permitted under law in most states.

> And, even if NSI doesn't "own" rights (either copyright or trade secret) to
> the whois database, what makes you think that NSI must provide the 
> database to anyone else?  And, if NSI is obligated to provide the database
> to another party, (e.g., the U.S. Government), what makes you think that
> that party is permitted or obligated to provide it to another party?
Not having read the particular cooperative agreement, and not knowing what
the current agreement between NSI and the IANA/IAB/IETF/whoever is, I don't
know what obligations are actually spelled out.  What I do know is this:
If the people who contracted with NSI had half a clue, the document should
have been written such that all DNS and WHOIS information was to be treated
as a work for hire, and that copyright and title should rest with the
public trust of the internet, either in the form of the IANA/IAB/IETF/...
or in the public domain.

> I don't know that the answers are to these questions, but I haven't met
> anyone who I thought had a clue either.
I welcome your judgements.

> -tjs


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