October 19, 2000
9:47 AM   Subscribe

Deja.com is putting its archive of Usenet news, covering a period from 1995 to the present, up for sale. As you might have noticed, for some months now Deja's archive of older (pre-1999) news has been unavailable. They had claimed the situation was temporary, but now it appears to be permanent. This leaves me with something of a sick feeling. While much of late-1990s Usenet is junk, it has both practical and historical significance. The notion that archiving Usenet is not commercially viable does not bode well for saving other parts of the Internet's history.
posted by tranquileye (12 comments total)
it seems that salvaging and maintaining the usenet would be a nice project for some of the web's non-profit groups (the ones dedicated to standards, etc)

it seems like the internet is kind of going back in time, as the things people actually use are still the simple ones that deliver information efficiently. I'm not well schooled in the usenet's history, but how did Deja.com come to "own" the postings, anyway? I don't remember seeing them associated with the system until 1997 or so.
posted by s10pen at 9:54 AM on October 19, 2000

DejaNews was started in early 1995 and was primarily dedicated on Usenet search. I'm not sure if Deja "owns" the articles (if Google archives a MetaFilter page can they go sell their cache of archived pages?).

The notion of creating a goofy e-commerce site out of a Usenet search site might not be comemrcially viable.
posted by tomalak at 10:23 AM on October 19, 2000

Deja owns their database of Usenet news, not the actual postings themselves.
posted by cCranium at 10:54 AM on October 19, 2000

I think Deja "owns" Usenet posts insofar as no one else has yet to step forward to claim ownership of them. It's like scrap metal.
posted by rschram at 10:59 AM on October 19, 2000

The closest thing to title in a written work is it's copyright. Each individual owner owns their copyright in their Usenet postings, unless explicitly renounced. Deja might assert a compilation copyright on the collection, but I don't think that's pertinent here.

The physical disks are another story.

And have they been *keeping up with it*?
posted by baylink at 11:15 AM on October 19, 2000

I think the question isn't whether Deja "owns" the posts. Of course they don't. But who else has five years worth of Usenet stored on hard drives? Deja doesn't want to pay to make that available, but they're also not going to just give away all the data they spent a lot of money collecting.
posted by daveadams at 12:00 PM on October 19, 2000

OH pleasepleaseplease, let Google buy it!

I think that's the only decent hope for a good buyer.

posted by beth at 12:05 PM on October 19, 2000

Am I the only one who wouldn't mind seeing some of his old Usenet posts dissapear into the aether?


posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 12:17 PM on October 19, 2000

Nope CUJ, but fortunately some of us have had more than one 'net incarnation since 1995 ;-) - phew!
posted by Markb at 3:43 PM on October 19, 2000

Does anybody know how much they want for the Usetnet archives? Are we talking millions? Or do you have to buy the whole company? (The article seemed a bit unclear to me.)

I'd definitely contribute to a group to buy the postings and house them somewhere.
posted by Georgina at 4:13 PM on October 19, 2000

Make yourself heard. There's an online petition which covers this subject. Go here to sign it.
posted by shinybeast at 7:58 PM on October 19, 2000

Good freaking Lord, USENET is a distributed article system. By posting on USENET you agree to distribution everywhere from news servers to e-mail LISTSERVs to web gateways to tape archives.

And while there's clearly no need to save alt.binaries.pictures.homunculi.autofellatio, perhaps a bit of comp.* might prove useful.
posted by dhartung at 8:25 AM on October 20, 2000

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