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The Year: 1997. The Issue: Web-site Linking. The Status: Does Not Compute - Morgan Dawn Livejournal:The Here And Now
The Here And Now
The Year: 1997. The Issue: Web-site Linking. The Status: Does Not Compute
In 1997, fans who posted their Star Trek stories to some Usenet newsgroups would automatically be archived in the alt.startrek.creative archives unless they indicated otherwise. To give context, Usenet was about as public as you could be online with millions of people reading and posting. But because the alt.startrek.creative's website design was older and pre-dated graphical websites, finding those stories was difficult, so a fan (like fans from the beginning of time) created an index to the stories with this strange technology called hy-per-text-links - online pointers that linked to the story.

This was called  copyright violation, plagiarism and unauthorized archiving  by some fans and there was a robust debate that the indexer should have obtained permission before linking to stories.

Even those fans who agreed with the indexer thought the "polite" thing to do was to get permission to link to the stories:
"Linking to a story that's already there on the net is not wrong, any more than telling people where to go to get the story
would be. it's *polite* to ask, but if you don't, you are not a  plagiarist or a theif (sic); you're jsut (sic) rude."

A few fans seemed to have an glimpse of where the Net was heading, and argued that it was OK to link - unless the owner of the website objected.  "So at least for me, the question is not an ethical one.  The Net _is_ its programming; that defines the media.  And so... in this media, to link is acceptable unless the *maintainer of the site* (not the writer of the file!) says otherwise." 

But the right to untrammeled linking  without regards to laws and morals and etiquette and without permission was still beyond the conceptual horizon for many fans.  Because that way lied  lay madness.

The issue was settled when the archivist  (the one who was archiving the alt.startrek.creative stories with permission) explained her position (and then put the issue up for a vote): "Folks, this is a non-issue. If you maintain a set of links to other people's works *that are available on the web*, it is *not* the same thing as putting something on your own site. All material at the ASC archive is intended for people to read. Period. It doesn't matter if they read it because they clicked on a hypertext link from Stephen's index site, or they read it because they clicked on a hypertext link from Kattz's site. The physical story, the file, is sitting out there on a public domain server waiting to be linked to. That is what the net is all *about*, folks....THE INTERNET IS A PUBLIC RESOURCE.  Anything on the internet is *PUBLISHED.* You have no more right to say "You can't link to my story" than you have to say "You can't tell people what book to buy my story in!" Now, you do have the right to tell anyone that they can't *publish* your story-- they cannot have a local copy of it at their site, they can only link to it at a remote site. But you have no right to tell them they can't *link* to it. Jeez!"

Luckily bits of this wacky experiment in hy-per-text-linking still survive to be goggled at on the WayBack machine here.

And I could have sworn that the person  who posted this in 1997 was my (LessEvil) NetTwin:

"But none of that changes the fact that:

1. she has every right to put up links to anyone's stories, although common courtesy would recommend that she ask

2. she has volunteered to take over a difficult and often thankless task

3. she tries to perform a positive service to the group, even if she has  all the tact of a barracuda when she does it

4. anyone who doesn't like her attitude and doesn't want her as Index  maintainer is free to say, "Hey, Stephen, I'll do it! Yes, I'll put in hours and hours of my free time to help this group"

Sadly it is hard to link to an entire thread on the new Google Groups (which is where some of the older Usenet newsgroups posts are now stored). This hy-per-text-link goes to page 2 and collapses the comments so you may need to do some navigating. Also, because it is Google you may be expected to log into your gmail account to read. The link is again here
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seagull2eagle From: seagull2eagle Date: April 12th, 2013 09:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
That sounds horribly familiar... -_-
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