1994-04-04 - Re: This List–Public, Private, or Other?

Header Data

From: jim@bilbo (Jim Miller)
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: 3df108604677914f641ec63448fd82952b9f24437ed3dfd0bb01220dbb06ba26
Message ID: <9404042140.AA02237@bilbo.suite.com>
Reply To: N/A
UTC Datetime: 1994-04-04 22:30:32 UTC
Raw Date: Mon, 4 Apr 94 15:30:32 PDT

Raw message

From: jim@bilbo (Jim Miller)
Date: Mon, 4 Apr 94 15:30:32 PDT
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Re: This List--Public, Private, or Other?
Message-ID: <9404042140.AA02237@bilbo.suite.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

Who owns the games of volleyball played in my backyard?  Since it's  
my backyard, I could tell everybody to go away, but then the games  
would also go away.  The games could start up again in another  
backyard.  Do I own the games?  Effectively, no.  The problem is with  
the term "own".  I merely control the existence and character of  
games within the space of my backyard, but I can't control the  
existence or character of all games everywhere.  I also cannot  
control the migration of a specific game from my backyard to another  
backyard.  Sure, I can make sure the players don't use my volleyball  
or my net, but they can get other volleyballs and other nets.

What is a volleyball game?  Is it a volleyball court, a net, and a  
ball.  No.  Is it a group of people?  No.  Is it a group of people  
standing in a volleyball court with a net and a ball?  No.  Is it a  
group of people playing in a volleyball court with a net and a ball?   
Maybe.  It depends on what they exactly they are doing with the net  
and the ball.  A volleyball game only exists when they are playing  
volleyball.  As soon as they stop, or are prevented from continuing,  
the specific game dissipates.

A volleyball game emerges from specific interactions between the  
people and the items they manipulate (court, net, and ball).

Can anyone own a mailing list?  What is a mailing list?  Is a mailing  
list a collection of hardware and software?  Is it a bunch of people?  

Is it one message CC'ed to a group of people?

A specific mailing list emerges over time from the specific  
interactions between an dynamic collection of people and the  
equipment used to support the interactions.

Someone can own the equipment used to support a mailing list.  They  
might also be able to "own" the name of the mailing list (copyrighted  
mailing list names?),  but the name is not the most important  
characteristic of the list.  They can also attempt to control the  
character of the list as long as the list is hosted on their  
equipment.  However, the people who participate on the list can  
migrate the list to another host.

Conclusion:  You cannot own a mailing list because you cannot own the  
collections of people and interactions that define the mailing list.