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SBC/Pacbell To Filter 90% Of alt.binaries Groups

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the no-more-exotic-butterfly-pictures dept.

The Internet 253

An Anonymous Coward writes: "I received an email from PacBell.net (Pacific Bell's ISP), stating that they're transitioning their usenet services to Prodigy. They're making a few changes along the way." He excerpts from the email: "In addition, after evaluating possible copyright infringement issues, newsgroup usage and the cost of providing newsgroup access, we will no longer offer some alt.binary newsgroups. For a list of alt.binaries that will no longer be offered, please refer to our FAQ at http://global.pacbell.net/usenet_update.html.' Note that the link currently doesn't go to the right place. After telephoning SBC, I was informed that upwards of 90% of the alt.binaries.* groups are going to be blocked."

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253 comments

Filter this! (-1, Troll)

ubertroll (153053) | more than 12 years ago | (#2242894)


* g o a t s e x * g o a t s e x * g o a t s e x *
g g
o / \ \ / \ o
a| | \ | | a
t| `. | | : t
s` | | \| | s
e \ | / / \\\ -- \\ : e
x \ \/ --~~ ~--| \ | x
* \ \-~ ~-\ | *
g \ \ .--------.__\| | g
o \ \_// ((> \ | o
a \ . C ) _ ((> | / a
t /\ | C )/ \ (> |/ t
s / /\| C) | (> / \ s
e | ( C__)\__/ // / / \ e
x | \ | \\__// (/ | x
* | \ \) `---- --' | *
g | \ \ / / | g
o | / | | \ | o
a | | / \ \ | a
t | / / | | \ |t
s | / / \/\/ | |s
e | / / | | | |e
x | | | | | |x
* g o a t s e x * g o a t s e x * g o a t s e x *

Re:Filter this! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243102)

how do you do it? you are amazing!! keep up the good work!!

bummer (2, Interesting)

CodeMonky (10675) | more than 12 years ago | (#2242897)

we had to do the same thing at our University connection simply becuase the newsfeeed was using a ton of our bandwidth trying to keep up with the alt.binaries.* group. Sucks that upstreams are doing the same thing though.

Uncensored newsgroup access (5, Informative)

Jish (80046) | more than 12 years ago | (#2242900)

I realize this story is about fighting censorship and arguing about how big business is taking away our freedoms...

However, a good alternative for newsgroup access I have used for a while is:

uncensored-news [uncensored-news.com]

The upgrade regularly and I have never had problems accessing them or finding a group. And now they have a special server just for multimedia and binaries...

Just a thought for any of you who want a solution other than an uphill battle with your ISP...

Josh

Re:Uncensored newsgroup access (5, Informative)

great throwdini (118430) | more than 12 years ago | (#2242976)

Interesting licensing terms [uncensored-news.com] over at uncensored-news [uncensored-news.com] :

17. ACCEPTANCE

"Bookmarking this web site shall constitute an implicit acceptance of the foregoing terms herein set."

Having dragged the link from the parent post [slashdot.org] onto my desktop, I somehow managed to accept terms to a service about which I had not even read. We do live in strange times, don't we? :\

Seriously though, no refunds, hostile chargeback policy, etc. It's being run as an 'adult service' but if it nets me a better feed of the rec.games.roguelike groups, maybe I'll...

Re:Uncensored newsgroup access (2)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243000)

Interesting licensing terms

yeah, I was thinking the same thing. pulling a gig a day at $35/mo seems ok - but their TOS seems to prohibit running suck-like programs.

and the worst part is that they will append a tag-line advert. to all posts. hey, if I'm paying for service, I don't want to have any edits done to my posts. and that includes appending.

This is cute, too (4, Insightful)

TomatoMan (93630) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243004)

From their benefits page [uncensored-news.com] :

By the act of entering this site, I agree to the terms set forth in the terms & conditions

Well, I'm glad you do. And when you can provide an airtight definition of what "the act of entering this site" means, and some explanation of how users can agree to something they haven't seen, then maybe I'll think about agreeing too... or not.

By the way, your reading this post constitutes your agreement to immediately pay $100 into the TomatoMan Gets A New G4 fund. Thank you for your contribution.

Re:Uncensored newsgroup access (2, Informative)

acceleriter (231439) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243013)

If you're going to pay for news, consider Easynews. They (unlike your description of Uncensored News) don't come off like assholes, have customer support reps available by phone, email, and ICQ (!), and charge a reasonable price for their service. I have no affiliation with them except as a satisfied customer.

If you just want to read text groups, I imagine (though haven't personally checked) that groups.google.com has a fairly complete feed. The downside is that you can't use a traditional NNTP client. However, their web-based threaded reader isn't all that bad.

Re:Uncensored newsgroup access (2)

DickBreath (207180) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243143)

So if I just remember the URL and type it in everytime, am I agreeing to anything? Is it bookmarked in my brain?

What if I start typing the URL and my browser completes it for me?

Re:Uncensored newsgroup access (2)

Jish (80046) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243160)

Blah...

This is one thing that irritates me about slashdot... everybody is posting "oh my god I found this horrible thing on line 126144 of the TOS"...

Whatever, I pay $10/month and get NNTP access to some 90,000 groups and have never had a single problem... period.

So yeah, somebody in their legal department put some shitty things into their terms of service... but if it never actually means anything to me as a user then I can let it slide...

Josh

Re:Uncensored newsgroup access (2, Informative)

tiny69 (34486) | more than 12 years ago | (#2242995)

Yes but, .... that's not free. The monthly fee I pay my ISP includes access to their news servers. I wouldn't want to pay more just to access USENET.

This also sets a bad precedent. If one ISP filters newsgroups in an attempt to stop possible Copyright violations, how long will it be before others follow suit? How long will it take before the RIAA starts threatening ISP's with lawsuits because they allow their users access to forums known to violate Copyright protections?

The sad part is the RIAA will do this all in the name of the DMCA! Which means the ISP's will have no choice but to comply or face an ugly lawsuit...

If this keeps up, the DMCA will make it illegal to even access the internet!!

Re:Uncensored newsgroup access (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243156)

There are plenty of for pay news servers out there, like giganews, easynews, etc, but the real question is, how long until they too start filtering out copyright violating newsgroups? Or worse yet, turn over your credit card info (and your name and address) to the authorities, if you have have downloaded one too many warez posts.



If that happens I think there would be a mad clammer of people to IRC and P2P services. Then when they start filtering IRC, well, not sure where you would go then. Maybe start up internet based bbs's with membership based on trades or something?

Good thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2242904)

There's blatant copyright violation going on in these groups. Someone has to stop it.

Re:Good thing (4, Insightful)

Lobsang (255003) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243059)

I Agree!

Let's also trash out all the Xerox Copiers, since they can be used for Copyright Violation. Better yet, let's destroy all tape recorders since they can be used for Music piracy! Oh god! The VCRs! We almost forgot them! Let's destroy them too! Oh yes, no CDRs will be allowed of course...

This is just ludicrous...

oh no!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2242908)

we will lose access to gigabytes of pirated software and kiddie porn!!

In fact... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2242915)

There is a constitutional right to pirated software and kiddie porn. You just have to mumble the magic words "freedom of speech".

Re:In fact... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2242940)

When I grow up, I'm going to France to become a journalist so I can interview president Jeb but I'm going to shout to him: "You die now, you American pig-dog!! Vive de Gaulle!!" and if they arrest me I'm going to say -"freedom of speech"- heehee that's my plan to troll the usa ;-)

Regarding newsgroups and ISP's (5, Insightful)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 12 years ago | (#2242910)

Although I agree that a big, fat news server does make an ISP more attractive...

when I buy internet service, I want IP routing, PERIOD. I don't *want* to pay for whatever wierd services they think they need to run. I'll do my own mail, dns, everything else.

If tehy don't want to waste resources (legal or technical) in carrying some newsgroups.. fine. I guess it sucks for their customers who like it....
but I've been paying for access to news-servers separately for years now. It just makes sense. They are far less likely to change policies and rip you off when it's their sole business.

Re:Regarding newsgroups and ISP's (4, Insightful)

treat (84622) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243041)

I'll do my own mail, dns, everything else.


You're lucky that you're allowed to. Increasingly, ISPs are not allowing this, wanting to charge 5-10 times as much for business rates for customers that want such simple things as an e-mail address that will never change.

Re:Regarding newsgroups and ISP's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243127)

Right. That's the real issue. Why I can't get 2 static IPs as private person and run my own servers including dns, mail and everything else is beyond me. It shouldn't cost more than anything around $30.00 to $50.00 flat fee a month. Period.

Conduit/Content (4, Interesting)

Satai (111172) | more than 12 years ago | (#2242911)

The idea of filtering based on content is what is important here. I was under the impression that as long as the ISP "only provided the lines" - that is, was merely a conduit to the Great Big Internet - they were allowed to get away with lots of illegal stuff going on; but as soon as they began to make value judgments based on legality, they were responsible for all further illegal activity. I could be wrong, but that's the impression I was under (sounds reasonable to me, to be honest.)

Filtering based on bandwidth isn't a new thing - this is why we have such a proliferation of Usenet Providers [yahoo.com] . Lots of ISPs filter to keep down the cost for such a relatively small 'payback' in user satisfaction/use.

But, again, I'm curious - does this make them liable for the illegal content that does get through, since they are now officialy filtering based on legality?

Re:Conduit/Content (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2242919)

Where have you been the last 3 years?

Re:Conduit/Content (4, Informative)

Amoeba (55277) | more than 12 years ago | (#2242979)

At an ISP I once worked at I was involved in establishing newsgroup policies and the possible legal consequences and this is my take based upon the legal advice and discussions I had at the time. Unless there have been some changes in the past few years that I've missed, the minute an ISP changes their terms of service to explicitly block access based on the legality of content they technically lose their "common carrier" status protection and can be held liable etc.

Unfortunately these kinds of cases never get to court in any way that would force a change of this type of crap because of the purposefully vague and specious language describing what exactly you're paying for in that same damned ToS.

Basically it still boils down to whether your lawyer(money) can beat up their lawyer(money), though the size of the ToS "backdoors" & loopholes can help :)

Re:Conduit/Content (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243022)

Unless there have been some changes in the past few years

DMCA, Napster et al.

Things have changed, brother. Common carrier status don't mean jack anymore. If you can restrict the flow of copyrighted materials, you are legally bound to now.

NO! Don't talk about GARY CONDUIT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243005)

They talk about him enough on TV.

Re:NO! Don't talk about GARY CONDUIT (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243024)

It's "Condit," without the "U." But rest assured that if you or I were associated with a young woman who disappeared and got caught lying about an affair with her, our ass would become a conduit.

~~~

Re:Conduit/Content (5, Informative)

DennyK (308810) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243008)

If they were actually filtering *traffic* based on content, that might leave them liable for all kinds of fun lawsuits. But in this case, they are not filtering traffic, they're just refusing to offer some newsgroups on their own news server. Essentially, they're only changing what content they are offering on their own server, not what kind of content passes over their lines...and no matter what the reasons, that should not affect (legally) their responsibility for general traffic. I'd guess PacBell/SBC customers can use any other news servers out there and still be able to access groups that aren't carried on Prodigy's.

Thank goodness RoadRunner still offers most, if not "all", of the alt.binaries.* tree... ;)

DennyK

Re:Conduit/Content (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243080)

The slashdot headline is misleading. They could not care less about what constitutes the traffic in these groups. They are simply saying the traffic is too high, so they are choosing not to carry these groups. I guess that the ones they will carry are those with a large readership.

Ok... (2)

BiggestPOS (139071) | more than 12 years ago | (#2242913)

People are going to download this stuff regardless. The advantage to having your own news server is that IT downloads the content, then basicly caches it for all your customers on YOUR network so they don't have to go over your $$$ backbone connection (well its more expensive than bandwidth traveling on your own network) to get to supernews or whatever. Filtering like that is just stupid.

Re:Ok... (1)

acceleriter (231439) | more than 12 years ago | (#2242973)

Next, they'll TOS the customers using {Easynews|Supernews|Giganews|whatever}, since it's really all about bandwidth--the copyright stuff is just a smokescreen.

Re:Ok... (2)

Andrewkov (140579) | more than 12 years ago | (#2242980)

Except most users don't know what Usenet is. I would guess that the bandwidth used by the news server would far outweigh what users would use downloading the same stuff elsewhere. And since it's only a small segment of an ISP's customers who uses Usenet, it's not going to piss off too many of their customers if they discontinue it all together.

Several years ago I was a fan of Usenet (for conversations and getting information, not download binaries), but it's been ruined by the spammers. I havn't used it in quite some time now.

Re:Ok... (1)

Kenyaman (458662) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243171)

My ISP doesn't carry any newsgroups. This is the basic reason they cited for not carrying newsgroups: only a very small percentage of users will use them, and those users will each only use a small percentage of the groups. They said it didn't make sense for them to download gigabytes of data, only to have a few dozen meg actually get used. I use a third party Usenet server now.

Now my ISP is a fairly small local ISP. It seems to me that a large, nationwide ISP might have a different situation. I don't actually know, however.

The 'net has moved on (2, Interesting)

Dr. Prakash Kothari (314326) | more than 12 years ago | (#2242916)

I can't say that I blame PacBell for filtering alt.binaries newsgroups. At one point in time, around ten years ago, newsgroups were the pinnacle of the digital age. Scholars from colleges and universities from around the globe could virtually congregate, and dissiminate a vast wealth of knowledge almost instantaneously.

If PacBell were filtering newsgroups ten years ago, I would be upset, and cry "Censorship", but sadly, in more recent times, the quality of content in newsgroups has gone straight down the crapper. The only content you'll find nowadays is Get Rich Quick spam, bomb recipes, and pr0n. There's no worthwhile content to protect.

I say, let it die peacefully. The intelligent people left newsgroups a long time ago and the only remaining denizens are the pornographers and anarchists who don't deserve a voice in the first place.

Re:The 'net has moved on (5, Insightful)

rknop (240417) | more than 12 years ago | (#2242926)

I say, let it die peacefully. The intelligent people left newsgroups a long time ago and the only remaining denizens are the pornographers and anarchists who don't deserve a voice in the first place.

Sort of a pity, realy, since NNTP is a protocal designed for distributed discussion groups. Now, instead, we're all stuck with web-based messaging systems, like this one, which, in a word, suck. Oh, some are better than others, but to my view, using a web browers for a discussion board is like using a hammer to drive screws.

Think about it: we're all stuck with the interface that the server has decided to implement. Whereas, with NNTP, we can each choose our own newsreader client, and yet still all communicate.

A pity that the Web Browser has become such the "killer ap" that now everybody uses it even when there are far better longstanding tools out there.

-Rob

Re:The 'net has moved on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2242949)

I think this isn't necessarily a bad thing. I suspect the "censoring" is more about punting a resource hog with limited customer appeal than giving in to the DMCA crowd.

Let's face it, if you want to steal software or digital content, there are MUCH more efficient ways of doing it. Having servers all over the planet cache local copies of uuencoded binaries and tying up their bandwidth shoveling it to all their leaf sites is just really inefficient.

Ok, so I'm a coward. Sue me.

Re:The 'net has moved on (1)

Cantor (7419) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243009)

Hum. You can read slashdot via pseudo-NNTP interface. I suggest getting Gnus :)

Re:The 'net has moved on (2)

rknop (240417) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243055)

Hum. You can read slashdot via pseudo-NNTP interface.

What is pseudo?

Can you point to a page that documents this?

-Rob

Re:The 'net has moved on (1)

3141 (468289) | more than 12 years ago | (#2242942)

I say, let it die peacefully. The intelligent people left newsgroups a long time ago and the only remaining denizens are the pornographers and anarchists who don't deserve a voice in the first place.

Why would any group of people "not deserve a voice"? Perhaps you didn't mean it literally, but no matter how inane the average content from any group of people may seem, they still should be entitled to say what they have to say.

Re:The 'net has moved on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2242955)

I disagree. Because it is not you that is deciding about this, it is a company. Again if you don't like the newsgroups today then move on.

Re:The 'net has moved on (1)

Cantor (7419) | more than 12 years ago | (#2242972)

Mostly I agree with you - many nerds will
probably present seemingly very good reasons why *this is so wrong*, but what would probably bother them most is the lack of porn. What makes me sick very easily is how porn is often defended by claiming that we deserve free speech, free expression.. for these people I suggest how their future wives will feel for their addictive habit, think the correlation between pornography and faithfullness, and I wonder if they'll recommend porn for their future children (which they'll probably have at some stage).


It's only too bad that most of the porn is now on the Web instead of Usenet, and Usenet isn't filled with rubbish only. I subscribe to seven Usenet groups; two of them deal with Xemacs or Gnus, three with Perl, one with Adom RPG :) and one is our local Linux newsgroup (local to Finland). These groups have been of great value to me (perhaps with the exception of r.g.r.a), and it'd be sad to see them disappear. But then again, none of those are binary groups, and I hope that ISP's will take away pr0n groups first before other binary groups.

Re:The 'net has moved on (1)

Master Bait (115103) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243044)

What makes me sick very easily is how Perl is often defended by claiming that we deserve free speech, free expression.. for these people I suggest how their future wives will feel for their addictive habit, think the correlation between Perl and faithfullness, and I wonder if they'll recommend Perl for their future children (which they'll probably have at some stage).

.....if the shoe fits...

Re:The 'net has moved on (1)

A_Non_Moose (413034) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243116)

Yeah, have to agree, it is not like pornagraphers deserver free speech, eh? People vs Larry Flint, anyone?

No, I think Usenet is more of a "it is there if you want it" kind of thing versus "here's a dozen pop up/under ads for your viewing frustration, while you are looking for ".

It is GET (usenet) vs PUSH (we all know how well that went).

Moose.

My 2cents 2day = 4 now

Re:The 'net has moved on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243026)

pornographers "don't deserver a voice"? I sincerely hope you are just trolling. You might as well be saying "women don't deserve a voice", "blacks don't deserve a voice" or "jews don't deserve a voice". "if we don't believe in freedom of speech for people we despise, then we don't believe in it at all".

Use the web (1)

drsoran (979) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243032)

You're right. Usenet has degenerated into spam and worthless content. Sure, there are groups that still have decent content in them but they are few and far between the groups like alt.fan.suck-your-moms-dick and alt.john.sucks.deep.ass.rammer. Once that stuff started to appear I think it was the beginning of the end. Besides, the pornographers have really moved onto the web. They don't need to spend their days trawling newsgroups to download the 600 individual posts to recreate that image of goatsex. I say filter the entire alt.binaries heirarchy and be done with it. That would leave more content and longer retention times for the rest of us still reading the few newsgroups out there that are worth reading.

bullshit (3, Interesting)

unformed (225214) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243034)

i can see dropping binaries, simply because 90% of it is illegal and it's taking 90% of the bandwidth ...just like the "5% of society own 95% of the wealth"

However, of the actual discussions, newsgroups are still very useful. I've used various alt.comp.lang.*, microsoft.vc.public.language, to help fix problems in my code

i've used rec.skydiving and rec.aviation.hang-gliding to find information on both sports (r.s gets at least a hundred ON-TOPIC posts a day)

and i've used various other discussion groups to get a quick answer to something that i couldn't google.

newsgroups -are- still useful. Sure, 90% of it is crap; there's a lot of spam going through them. Just take about ten minutes of your day, and apply a few kill-filters.

And the discussion groups that I regularly visit get very little to no spam at all.

Right on, Doc (0)

MatthewLovelace (465003) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243037)

Dr. Kothari is right: the content on Usenet is a depraved joke. Spam of all varieties, skanky pr0n, willful ignorance, blatant stupidity -- you can find it all on Usenet.

It seems that Usenet has degenerated to the level of an AOL chatroom

Re:The 'net has moved on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243117)

Are you saying pr0n isn't worthwhile?

No, seriously. I'm not trolling. My ISP's usenet server has one of the biggest and most reliable selection of binary groups I've ever seen. Every night through my unmetered DSL connection I can get a gig of high-quality images of Japanese schoolgirls with a good binary-oriented newsreader. (Agent, Pan, and the like.)

Where else can one get that kind of service? The web? Don't make me laugh. Only amateurs get porn on the web. Us true porn connosieurs know that a good usenet server is the best porn source. Long live alt.binaries.*!

Anything useful in alt.binaries.*? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2242918)

Other than porn and warez that is?

no worries, I get all my porn form... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2242920)

...gnutalla type P2P file sharing networks.

I have noticed a disturbing trend of embedding a remarkable amount of javascript/active-x crap in rich media that does some rather remarkable things. One particular video even manages to spam you without being network connected, which, at the time, seemed particularly remarkable.

comcast@home already censors (2)

treat (84622) | more than 12 years ago | (#2242922)

Comcast@home already censors USENET, both binary and non-binary groups, removing those which they deem inappropriate. I imagine other ISPs are doing the same. It doesn't really surprise me that they would expand this.

Re:comcast@home already censors (1)

drsoran (979) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243101)

How is that censorship? They're just not subscribing to certain groups. They have a right to do that in the same way my cable company has a right not to offer Playboy, Spice, and other adult-oriented channels. Sure, it sucks big time but there are alternatives (DirecTV) and in your case, the web.

They're not blocking content... (3, Insightful)

Basje (26968) | more than 12 years ago | (#2242946)

... they just don't offer the service anymore. Please consider that offering the alt.binaries newsgroups costs a lot of money: it's a lot of data, which has to be stored, and there's a lot of possible legal implications, which costs a lot of money too, in the US of A.

As far as I see it, everybody is free to go to another news server, with all the binaries you could want. They're not about to block that. They just won't offer it anymore.

Re:They're not blocking content... (1)

Master Bait (115103) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243081)

Back in the olden days, Pacbel was the 'backbone' of Northern California uucp, which served mostly email and usenet. Funny how they have become a rinky-dink internet service and even exist as an ISP only because they have a (soon to be) monopoly on DSL.

It's been a long way down for Pacbel to think they can do better by farming out their usenet services to an outfit like Prodigy.

What about roadrunner? (2)

unitron (5733) | more than 12 years ago | (#2242947)

Anybody know if Time-Warner Cable puts any restrictions on their ISP customers that your average dial-up $20 a month all you can eat ISP doesn't?

Re:What about roadrunner? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2242971)

I haven't seen or experienced any restriction other than how fast some of the newsgroups turn over, but that isn't too suprising, they can't keep _everything_ around for long.

I guess that makes business sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2242948)

free porn is harder to get, which means companies broadcasting porn for profit, will make the profit for the companies like AT&T...

Re:I guess that makes business sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243040)

Free porn is only harder to get because you bastards won't share your collections! What we need is Pornster or something.. err.. wait a minute.. I guess someone already thought of it: http://www.pornster.com [pornster.com] Sheesh, amazing what you find these days by typing random stupid words into your browser. :-)

Who's shocked? (1)

Brad Wilson (462844) | more than 12 years ago | (#2242950)

alt.binaries.* makes up the lion's share of Usenet bandwidth. Cutting it out can mean that, with the same amount of storage, you can usually hold articles 5-10x longer. Plus with DMCA, who wants to be the one taking the risk with copyrighted software (not to mention porn).

Third party news hosts may be in order for those who are going to miss the a.b.*. :)

so does google (2, Informative)

dobratzp (155212) | more than 12 years ago | (#2242958)

Of course the alt.binaries groups contain a lot of warez/pr0n and gernally questionably legal material. However, there is the occasional alt.binaries.calc-ti, but even google [google.com] doesn't have the alt.binaries.* hierarchy. This is probably because of it's massive size yet thorough lack of textual information.

Yeah so I'm nitpicking.. (3, Insightful)

Amoeba (55277) | more than 12 years ago | (#2242994)

This is probably because of it's massive size yet thorough lack of textual information.

...but technically it's all textual information. Ain't my fault you never learned to uudecode and do the compile in your head.

Heathen.

Install a Usenet Proxy (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2242959)



Hell, this is inconvient, but getting around it is very easy. You just need to install a NNTP proxy [128.121.12.52] and you can get all the alt.bin groups you want. I use it to get a bunch of bin groups @home doesn't carry.

Re:Install a Usenet Proxy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2242992)

STILE PROJECT LINK IN PARENT

Sometimes it's nice being stuck at 56K; saw the name resolve and never saw the "content." I was just interested in how someone thought running an NNTP proxy could magically give one access to a server carrying the banned groups. (Hint, it can't.)

~~~

Its just a waste of badwidth (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 12 years ago | (#2242960)

Binary groups either contain legitimate data that has a minority of interested parties, or are illegal.


If the data is illegal, then the organisation has no reason to supply it. Get it from a less reputable source. If the data is legal, then it will be available virtually everywhere else as well, so you haven't lost anything.


And these groups take up a LOT of bandwidth. If everyone who wants the data were to download it, the net usage would probably be sufficiently lower, especially if they use a decent cache on their network.

The bad URL mentioned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2242961)

When trying to grab http://global.pacbell.net/usenet_update.html with wget, I get a "302" (moved temporarily) message. So they must be updating the page.

Re:The bad URL mentioned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2242988)

The URL is fine. SBC redirects outside request to customer pages, likely because they don't want potential customers or critics to see these policies. Will a karma whoring SBC customer please get the page and post it in its entirety?

~~~

Re:The bad URL mentioned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243089)

Important newsgroups update

On July 24, 2001, your Usenet Newsgroup server will change from Swbell.net.net (e.g., news.dallas.swbell.net) to SBCglobal.net, supported by Prodigy. To continue using Usenet Newsgroups after the final transition date of August 24, you'll need to update your newsgroup software with new server information.

Your new server will again depend on your region. For example, if your server was originally news.dallas.swbell.net, your new server will now be news.dallas.sbcglobal.net. You will exchange "sbcglobal.net" for "swbell.net" in your current settings. If you are unsure of your city or region abbreviation, refer to the Access Numbers section of Member Services.

For answers about the upgraded newsgroup service, visit our frequently asked questions [slashdot.org] page. Need help updating Netscape or Outlook Express? Follow the simple instructions below:

Netscape 4.x [slashdot.org]
Outlook Express [slashdot.org]

In addition, after evaluating possible copyright infringement issues, newsgroup usage and the cost of providing newsgroup access, we will no longer offer some alt.binary newsgroups. For a list of alt.binaries that will no longer be offered, please refer to our Usenet Update FAQs. [slashdot.org]

The new Usenet newsgroup service will require authentication with your ID and password. If you are not using Netscape or Outlook Express, be sure to enable authentication on the newsgroup client you are using.

If you have newsgroup questions, or if there is a newsgroup you'd like added, just post a message on prodigynet.help.tech.newsgroups.

Usenet / Newsgroups Frequently Asked Questions
Regarding Newsgroup Changes in Pacific Bell Internet Services

July 18, 2001 - As a part of SBC's strategic relationship with Prodigy, Pacific Bell Internet Services (PBIS) will migrate its DSL Internet and dial-up customers to Prodigy-hosted newsgroup servers. Our newsgroup users will see greater reliability with this migration. While these immediate changes affect only a small percentage of our customers - those who regularly access Usenet - our agreement with Prodigy will eventually bring many exciting features and benefits to all PBIS customers at no additional cost. Those features and benefits will include expanded information and entertainment channels; personal information management tools such as Bill Pay; CyberPatrolä to protect children; SpamShieldä to reduce junk e-mail; Prodigy Instant Messagingä and a 15MB personal home page.

Customer FAQ

What is Pacific Bell Internet Services doing to its newsgroup service?

Pacific Bell Internet Services will migrate its DSL Internet and dial-up customers to Prodigy-hosted newsgroup servers. As part of this change, PBIS will no longer offer some binary newsgroups. Groups that will not be offered are alt.binaries with some combination of the following suffixes: sounds, mp3, cd.image(s), movies, multimedia, warez, vcd.

How do I change my newsgroup settings?

Customers will need to change their server settings by opening up their Web browser's news reader. The new server name will depend on their region. For example, if the original setting was news.XYZ.123.net, the new server will be news.XYZ.123.net. They will exchange "sbcglobal.net" for "PBIS" in their current settings. This information is also accessible at http://global.swbell.net/usenet_update.html.

Why are you limiting access to certain newsgroups?

After evaluating our customers' newsgroup usage patterns and the cost of providing the service, and in combination with the threat of copyright infringement liability, we decided not to offer some alt.binary newsgroups.

Which newsgroups are being eliminated?

Groups that will not be offered are alt.binaries with some combination of the following suffixes: sounds, mp3, cd.image(s), movies, multimedia, warez, vcd. Due to their nature, these are the groups that contain multi-part postings of digital files that are likely to contain copyrighted material.

could backfire on them (5, Insightful)

sessamoid (165542) | more than 12 years ago | (#2242963)

While cutting down on their news server costs considerably, this move could backfire on them. If a significant number of their customers actually like and use the alt.binaries groups on their news server, they'll go elsewhere for news service.

The problem with this is that since the news is no longer kept within their own network, that all that traffic is going to have to pass through their mian connection to the internet. They could end up having to spend quite a bit more on bigger pipes as a result of this.

Should be interesting to watch.

Re:could backfire on them (1)

analog_line (465182) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243125)

The only thing this'll really do is boost business for the independent news providers. The constant bandwidth consumption of a newsfeed is generally far less than the relatively few people who use the service.

And to respond to the people crying censorship, they're not filtering anything. They're just not drawing some newsgroups through their newsfeed. If they stopped the news port at their border, then you might have a complaint.

Besides, if you want to download shady stuff, you really ought to be using an independent news service anyways.

alt.binaries... (1)

seebs (15766) | more than 12 years ago | (#2242964)

Good for them. If you want to distribute files, put up a fucking web page or an ftp server. Usenet should be a discussion medium, and the reason good, broad, news servers are rare is that alt.binaries dwarfs the bandwidth of the entire rest of the feed.

Re:alt.binaries... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243084)


Fuck you. Not everyone has the resources to put up a server, you fucking elitist. Usenet is a good way to distribute files for people that otherwise can't. I hate this "it's a discussion medium" bullshit. It's a medium that has evolved and updated itself for the times. I hope you never send an attachment through email; it should be for text only! Crist, don't use your modem on a phone line - it's voice only! Don't hook up a Playstation to your TV - it's for broadcast only! People adapt existing technology to do new things - uuencoded usenet is just an example of this. It's easy enough to avoid large posts if you want to.

Re:alt.binaries... (1)

sufiswirl (453697) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243123)

It's easy enough to avoid large posts if you want to.

And apparently SWB wants to do just that.

Stephen King, author, dead at 54 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2242965)


I just heard some sad news on talk radio - Horror/Sci Fi writer Stephen King was found dead in his Maine home this morning. There weren't any more details. I'm sure everyone in the Slashdot community will miss him - even if you didn't enjoy his work, there's no denying his contributions to popular culture. Turly an American icon.

This is not such a big deal (1)

klykken (310263) | more than 12 years ago | (#2242967)

IMHO, USENET is for news and discussions, not file transfers. I've been on USENET since early 1992, and I have seen the growth and increasing fillup of crap in most newsgroups.

I really, really hate that ISP's block certain newsgroups that some people might find objectionable. Censorship is a very bad thing. But I have no problem with them refusing to carry the alt.binary.* hierarchy, we can't demand that they retreive these high-volume newsgroups as that would make the total cost for the service much higher than carrying only conversation-based newsgroups.

Gosh (-1, Flamebait)

TheLinuxWizard (518907) | more than 12 years ago | (#2242970)

Does anyone even USE usenet anymore? (no pun intended :P). I never saw what was so great about USENET, especially since we have great forums like slashdot and stuff.

Re:Gosh (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243060)

That is because you are a hopeless newbie who never experienced the Internet before the web was invented. Sad really.

Re:Gosh (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243065)


Hell yeah. I live by usenet. I hate forums ... sure, I use them because you pretty much have to. But by using news I have thousands of forums, one interface, one username & pass.

I used the binary groups to get mp3 before p2p really took off. I use the support groups for various OSes all the time. The gaming news groups are great - whenever a new game comes out, *someone* is sure to be stuck at the same place you are. They're a good place to get popular opinion; I've avoided some real stinkers.

The movie review groups are great. The Playboy bin groups are very active. The Suvivior group has some great conspiracies going when it's in season.

Granted, I've watched the level of traffic decreas since the early 90s. Especially since the GUI Generation has taken over. But it's still the fastest and best place to get, well, news. And bins of your mom.

Bandwidth Capped on Newsgroup Access (3, Informative)

PhotonSphere (193108) | more than 12 years ago | (#2242974)

It seems to me that SBC has been looking for a reason to cut access to binary newsgroups for some time now. Nearly a year ago, they decided to cap d/l rates for their DSL customers to 128k, a far cry from the speeds of 1.5Mbps advertised as the overall speed of the service. This came (to me at least) with no warning and seemed to go against the quality of service I had been promised.


This is an ugly trend...and (hopefully) may help pave the way for alternate ISPs and grassroots movements such as Guerilla Nets and FreeNets.

Re:Bandwidth Capped on Newsgroup Access (0, Flamebait)

drsoran (979) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243070)

Don't blame SBC, blame the losers who spend all day flooding their DSL line downloading porn and warez from alt.binaries groups. Usenet is for discussion groups, the web is for porn and warez.

Is "filter" the correct word? Nope... (3, Insightful)

tswinzig (210999) | more than 12 years ago | (#2242975)

They are not FILTERING anything. They are just not offering some high-resource-using binary newsgroups any more.

If they were really filtering alt.binaries.* newsgroups, you would not be able to access them from other 3rd party usenet providers.

Its all the DCMA... (2, Funny)

DaPhoenix (318174) | more than 12 years ago | (#2242986)

Exec #1: Watch it.. posts on alt.binaries might violate the DCMA...

Exec #2: Well... what if we just dont let them read the groups at all?

Exec #1: Sure... why not... if we stop next to all access then we'll be safe..

Exec #2: Its not like anyone actually reads or posts there anymore...

Exec #1: Exactly.... So whats next on the ajenda?

Exec #2: Hookers?

Exec #1: Lets go..

Is it just me or is this similar to implimenting manditory removal of the human voicebox so that we cant potentially SAY anything bad... *sigh* DCMA...

Re:Its all the DCMA... (1)

DaPhoenix (318174) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243003)

...and yes i meant to write "agenda" and "...implementing mandatory..." - damn my brain and its tequila hangover...

Re:Its all the DCMA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243006)

did you also mean DMCA?

If filtering, responsible? (1)

no_such_user (196771) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243002)

I've heard that once an ISP starts filtering content, they're open themselves up to liability for the content they ARE letting through. For example, if someone posts underage pornography to a group they're not filtering, they could be held liable because they, essentially, should have and didn't.

On the other hand, as /. doesn't edit or delete posts, they're not held liable for what might get posted here.

Quite obviously, IANAL... but I'd like to hear from a lawyer or someone who has some real knowledge about this. By squelching ANY newsgroup, are they responsible for what gets posted?

It's a good thing (5, Insightful)

martin-k (99343) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243012)

Though they have ulterior motives, I applaud the move. Anything that rids Usenet of the binaries is inherently good.

A full newsfeed is 200 to 250 *GBytes* a day, of which only around 5% is text-based discussion. Just by dropping binaries and keeping the same amount of disk space, a news provider increases retention time for *real* discussions immensely. If I had to decide whether I want my ISP to serve incomplete binaries to alt.fan.britney-spears.blow-job or have six months retention for comp.lang.*, I'd prefer the latter (others might have different preferences, though ...)

Get used to it: If you want binaries, pay for it. It's not that bad: 10 bucks a month, and you're in business. Go to Newsguy, Giganews, Supernews, uncensored-news.com, newsfeeds.com but don't expect your ISP to provide everything.

-Martin

Re:It's a good thing (1)

satsuke (263225) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243062)

Problem is that USENET is still arranged very much like pipe connections were setup in internet days of yore.

One service provider sets up a peering relationship with another service provider for usenet traffic. Among the large ISP's & universities there is still a large amount of traffic being relayed back and forth.

When one provider cuts it's feed - it cuts it's feed for that arm of the branching tree .. it has impact outside of just SBC.

Just to prove this .. hook up to your ISP's usenet server and pull a header list for a binary newsgroup .. alt.binaries.test is a decent example.

download 1 message that correctly made it to your server.

Turn off header suppression .. you will see the path the article took to get to you.

As far as $10US for a commercial usenet provider .. good luck ..

The ones I've looked at have a $10 per month service plan .. but it's only for 2-4 gigs of transfer per month ..

Keeping up with even a small subset of groups will blow this away without any problem. try alt.binaries.anime and alt.binaries.multimedia.anime .. most digital fansub groups seem to end up here when they release new non-commerial anime material .. for example .. this group can push 1 gig a day .. just because a single episode of a show in VCD format is around 220 megs for 22 minutes of video..

$10 just doesn't cover it ..

Satsuke

Re:It's a good thing (2)

martin-k (99343) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243159)

Any news admin that provides only for a single feed for certain newsgroups ought to be shot. By using multiple feeds, the flow won't be interrupted if a single source fails.

The only thing that will be missing is Pacbell customers who cannot upload warez and porn through their ISP's newsserver (that is, until they find out that by crossposting to alt.test, they can even post to uncarried newsgroups ... shhh!)

Regarding $10 services, I am quite satisfied with Newsguy. They have a cap of 500 MBytes a day, so for you VCDoholics that's quite a limitation; for me, it's more text-based groups than I could ever possibly read.

-Martin

This is nothing special... (3, Interesting)

RKloti (517839) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243017)

My ISP (Cablecom/Swissonline, a Swiss cable ISP) stopped carrying ALL binary groups a while ago, since they taking up too much bandwidth. AFAIK all the text ones are available including practically all of the national and supranational heirarchies - uk.* de.* fr.* it.* ch.* at.* africa.* , and some specific heirarchies, like gnu.*, as well as some commercial ones too, like microsoft.*, intel.*, corel.* . I'd guess their newsfeed is pretty large - not all of these groups are really that relevent. In fact, most of them are filled with spam, which sadly seems to have been the fate of Usenet.

This has been a long time coming (4, Informative)

satsuke (263225) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243025)

I dumped SBC* services months ago explicitly because of usenet service.

And it wasn't because of alt.bin* style groups. Just plain discussion groups were affected to.

Here is a short timeline of SBC / PACBELL usenet service.

Once upon a time SBC operated several usable usenet servers.

Each one had acceptable retention times and a good varity of groups to see.

news.swbell.net
news.pacbell.net
news.flash.net

There was also a server in prodigy-land that had a horrible retention rate and skipped articles left and right .. this was the one I never used.

Than SBC instituted rate capping at 128K down .. there was a lot of activity in the swbell support newsgroups about this .. most along the lines of talking about class action lawsuits stemming from a rate cap on a service that was explicitly guaranteed at 384k for DSL service

SBC than noticed that customers were leap frogging from server to server. In order to pull together each and every single piece of a multipart binary this was required sometimes.

Up until this point the service was still relativly stable .. even though with the rate caps I had to start downloading stuff before work and finish up when I got home

Than there was some large crash .. all of the indexs were corrupted and no usenet service for several days. Tech support knows nothing about usenet

After his point there was barely a single multipart article that came across properly.

So they're service became unusable and at that point I left as soon as my contract expired.

Now I'm using RR in Kansas City .. 45K upstream .. around 2 meg down and a usenet service that is usable enough to follow discussions and follow binaries without spamming groups with repost request.

This cut of content is just par for the course for SBC. Although I don't think it will affect many people though .. everyone I know who is still on SBC moved on to commercial usenet providers a long time ago.

oh .. and Time Warner KC / RR jacked they're prices up to $45 .. now that SBC has backed off a bit from advertising they're service.

funny thing .. my SBC DSL connection has been disconnected since March .. but when I turn the DSL modem on I still get ATM / DSL link contenuity .. must not be to awful busy if they can left former customers still take a port on the DSLAM>

Satsuke

The email announcement (5, Informative)

acceleriter (231439) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243057)

From: support@swbell.net
To: deleted@swbell.net
Sent: Friday, July 27, 2001 11:20 AM
Subject: Attention Usenet Newsgroup Users - Important Information


Dear Southwestern Bell Internet Services Usenet Newsgroup Member,


If you are currently using Southwestern Bell Internet Services Usenet
Newsgroups, we have very important information for you. As you may know,
Southwestern Bell Internet Services has teamed with Prodigy®, a leading
national Internet service provider, as the Southwestern Bell Internet
Services preferred source of Usenet Newsgroups and other Internet related
services.


On July 25, 2001, your newsgroup server, which is currently hosted by
Southwestern Bell Internet Services, will begin a transition to Prodigy. To
continue using Usenet Newsgroups after the final transition date of August
25, you must update your newsgroup software with new server information.


For instructions on how to change your Usenet software, please visit
http://global.swbell.net/usenet_update.html. After August 19, your current
settings will no longer be available.


In addition, after evaluating possible copyright infringement issues,
newsgroup usage and the cost of providing newsgroup access, we will no
longer offer some alt.binary newsgroups. For a list of alt.binaries that
will no longer be offered, please refer to our FAQ at
http://global.swbell.net/usenet_update.html.


For Southwestern Bell Internet Services customer support regarding Usenet,
please call:

* 1-800-NET-HELP for Dial-up Access Customers
* 1-877-SBC-DSL5 for DSL Internet Customers

Thank you for using our service and for your attention to this matter. See
you on your new Usenet Newsgroup service!


Sincerely,

The Southwestern Bell Internet Services Team


Copyright 2001 Southwestern Bell Internet Services, Inc All rights
reserved. Southwestern Bell and Southwestern Bell Internet Services, Inc.
are registered trademarks of SBC Communications Inc. or its subsidiaries.
Prodigy is a registered trademark of Prodigy Communications L.P. Other names
may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

The Real Issue Here (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243061)

The reall issue here is that they've offered a service, then gone out and reduced it, while not reducing their pricing. Basically it feels like they're violating my contract.

Good (4, Insightful)

Masem (1171) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243069)

I wish more ISPs did it this way as well. USENET is not a file-transferring medium; it's meant for discussion in plain/text and nothing else. My current ISP doesn't filter anything, and when the newsgroup goes flakely, a good number of subscribers b&m about poor speeds and lack of multiple connections at high speeds, missing parts, poor retention, and groups not subscribed to. Of course, supporting what these users want is way more than I would expect any reasonable ISP to offer.

I would love to see the lameness ratio of USENET decrease due to lack of users that were using it primarily for binary transfer, and back to the state it was before the Endless September, and wish more ISPs took this route.

Re:Good (2)

Glytch (4881) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243148)

USENET is not a file-transferring medium; it's meant for discussion in plain/text and nothing else.

Who are you to decide that? Usenet is whatever an individual Usenet user decides to do with it.

Re:Good (1)

praedor (218403) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243167)

Err...if it says "binary" or "binaries" in the name, it is NOT only for discussion. It is for trading/posting binaries (like nice porno pics or apps - if you are dumb enough to use the posted apps, though, you deserve the viruses).

alt (0, Offtopic)

ColdGold (472258) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243093)

anarchists lunatics terrorists

Specialization vs Censorship (4, Insightful)

stuccoguy (441799) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243112)

I am the last person that would ever condone anything that smelled even remotely like censorship, but from a customer perspective I think this move makes sense.


When I contract with an ISP I want to be connected to the internet at the highest possible speed and reliability. If the ISP is spending time and money subsidizing usenet or free home pages it makes it even more difficult for them to provide me with the level of service I require. I want my ISP to focus their resources on the service I am paying for and that is connection.

At the same time, I subscribe to a commercial usenet service and I want them to focus their resources on article completion and retention. If my news service suddenly started offering connectivity to its subscribers without charging additional fees, the news service itself would suffer. Most people would find that unacceptable and yet they expect their ISP to offer commercial quality news service at no additional cost.


I realize their is a historical backdrop against which most ISPs offer email, home pages and news groups along with connectivity. But the internet market place is evolving and maturing into a more service oriented place. Some things are worth paying for and if you truely value usenet you will subsidize its existence by paying for a premium service.

On the other hand, if SBC is continuing to offer some binary newsgroups and not others than their move cannot be seen merely as a move to improve quality of service for their customers, but must be seen to some degree as censorship. After all, they had to use some criteria other than cost or quality of service to decide which groups to offer or not.

Under these circumstances I think that their motive should not be applauded even though it will almost certainly allow them to increase service levels.

On a closing note, I used to use SCB/PacBell and their service is horrible anyway.

Simple solution (2)

Mr. Neutron (3115) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243140)

clealy, sir, the solution is to create stealth binaries groups.

alt.fan.oksana-bayul.small-tits is a good example.

This is also why people who do bin-cancels are total fuckheads.

Look who they're marketing to (1)

EDinWestLA (453682) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243142)

Considering that SBC/Pacbell are marketing to a bunch of internet newbies to buy their service at, I can see where they're going. Most newbies have no idea about Usenet and its history. So alot of them will have no idea what they're missing, good or ill. So SBC/Pacbell would think it's no big deal to them if binaries are killed or not. Oh yeah, they stay out of the DMCA zone at the same time.

Holy crap! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243152)

I didn't even realize Prodigy [prodigy.com] was still around!

The Source is still dead, right?

this is what some of us are paying for (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243163)

So we'll switch to an alternate provider or just start swaping on some of the other non-binary groups.

Note that they also dropped bandwidth to user (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243166)

I have a 1500kbits/sec dsl but will only be able to access the new servers at 128kbits. Note that there is no reduction in my monthly fee. These folks suck!
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