[mod.mag.fidonet] FidoNET Newsletter, Volume 4, # 3

pozar@well.UUCP (Tim Pozar) (01/21/87)

     Volume 4, Number  3                               19 January 1987
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     Editor in Chief:                                   Thom Henderson
     Chief Procrastinator Emeritus:                       Tom Jennings

     FidoNews is the official newsletter of the International  FidoNet
     Association,  and is published weekly by SEAdog Leader, node 1/1.
     You  are  encouraged  to  submit  articles  for  publication   in
     FidoNews.  Article submission standards are contained in the file
     ARTSPEC.DOC,  available from  node  1/1.

     Copyright (C) 1987,  by the  International  FidoNet  Association.
     All  rights  reserved.  Duplication and/or distribution permitted
     for noncommercial purposes only.  For use in other circumstances,
     please contact IFNA.

                             Table of Contents

     1. ARTICLES
        What ever happened to real BBSes?
        International Informatics Access Conference Announcment
        Shareware Vendor Abuse - Last in an Irregular Series
     2. NOTICES
        The Interrupt Stack
        Bylaws Vote in Progress

     Fidonews                     Page 2                   19 Jan 1987


             What ever happened to real bulletin-board systems?

          First off, I'd like to make it perfectly clear that I cannot
     be  objective in these notes.   These are observations,  but they
     are from  1) a Sysop
               2) a user of 8BBS, the greatest BBS ever evolved
               3) a boy ... who's become a boyish programmer
               4) an old timer....1977 was when I first started
                  using BBS systems.
               5) the author of a BBS system

          If you're expecting objectivity,  then don't bother  reading
     on.   I have a rather unique perspective on the entire BBS scene.
     I've been around since close to the beginning,  and I'm wondering
     what has happened.  Have BBS's gone the way of CB?  Is the entire
     system in a slump?  Is there anything wrong at all?

          I'm  going  to try to present these questions and  show  how
     things have changed...for the better, and for the worst.


          A  long  time ago,  in a city far-far away,  two men had  an
     insight.   Ward Christensen and Randy Suess wanted a way to leave
     notes  and messages to their programmer/engineer  friends.   Back
     then,   modems  were used by field-engineers and some  high-level
     executives  to  talk to their companies computers.   A  300  baud
     modem  was  extremely fast,  as most people were using  110  baud
     TeleTypes.  Ward and Randy devloped the concept of the BBS.  They
     called it CBBS,  for "Computer Bulletin Board System."  CBBS  was
     the  first  of its kind.   It was an enormous program written  in
     8080 assmebly language.   By our standards today,  it was  kludgy
     and bug-ridden, but back then it was heavenly.  Users could enter
     messages and read messages... that was about it.

          CBBS  was a wonderful concept,  but it was localized to  the
     Chicago area.  Ward and Randy were the only ones who were running
     the program.  Then Bill Blue came along and wrote ABBS, which was
     designed  to  "emulate" the CBBS system.   I feel  it  was  ABBS,
     rather  than CBBS which made the real breakthrough.   While  ABBS
     was  much less powerful,  and more difficult to use,  it could be
     run on a "universal" machine:  --The Apple ][--

          Anyone  with an Apple ][ and a D.C.  Hayes MM][ modem  could
     run  ABBS.   This  program  could be installed  in  a  matter  of
     minutes,  and  anyone could have their own bulletin board system.
     Soon after the release of ABBS,  several other BBS programs  (for
     various  computers)  soon followed.   ABBS was the king for  many
     years,  just because there were more ABBS systems than any  other
     BBS program available.

     Fidonews                     Page 3                   19 Jan 1987

          It is this time that I would like to refer to as the "Golden
     age  of the BBS."  It wasn't as golden as you might think.   Most
     Sysops would come home every evening from work to find that their
     BBS  had  crashed because of yet another bug.   Even  back  then,
     user's logged in under false names and left obscene messages.

          The  one  point  that made that age golden  was  the  users.
     Without users,  a BBS is just a program.   With users, it gains a
     personality,  and if I may be metaphysical,  a soul.   The  users
     MAKE  the BBS.   A Sysop may have the greatest BBS program in the
     world,  but without active users,  he just has a computer wasting


          A user would think nothing of spending his Saturday  helping
     "The Sysop" find an intermittant bug in the BBS program.

          A user would not only answer his or HER mail,  but also butt
     into  other people's conversations and throw in his/her two cents

          A user would suggest improvements to make the system  easier
     to use.

          A  Sysop would care for his BBS like a baby.   He'd spend  2
     hours  each night writing messages and playing with modifications
     to the program.

          A  Sysop would NOT restrict conversation to  one  particular
     topic...such as CP/M software.

          A  Sysop  would tolerate kids who were just learning how  to
     use modems.  He'd even give them a hand getting things working.

          A  Sysop would [on his own preference] dilligently weed  out
     obscene or "pseudo-illegal" messages,   -- or -- promote them  as
     he saw fit.

          Users  would  start clubs,  such as the well  known  "Gabber
     Gang"  and  later the infamous "Phone Phriekers" who  figured  so
     prominently into BBS history.

          The  government  didn't try to restrict BBS users.   It  was
     just  "us" against tyranny (at that time  "Ma  Bell").   Although
     most users did not approve of "Phone Phrieking",  everyone talked
     about it,  and was interested in it for curiosity sake if nothing
     else.  [Hard to believe, but true.]

          Uploading and downloading of programs did not exist.

          BBS's  were few and far between.   When I wrote the  OxGate,
     the  two  closest other CP/M based machines were Kelly  Smith  in
     Simi Valley (375 miles away),  and "Jim C" in Larkspur (100 miles
     away).  People tended to congregate on the local system.

     Fidonews                     Page 4                   19 Jan 1987


          1) Program uploading and downloading.
             People just get their programs and leave.

          2) The technical clique's retaliation against "gabbers"
             who just used the systems for personal communication.

          3) Too many BBS systems in one area.
             BBS's are still alive and healthy in low-density areas.

          4) The loss of "anonimity" among BBS users.
             The BBS used to be the place to escape.  Where no one
             had to be "themselves."  Users such as "James Bond"
             and "Captain Scarlet" were given free reign to vent
             their fantasies.  Today, most systems do not allow
             false names so they can keep track of users.

          5) The anti-hacker movement.
             More and more people today think the word "hacker"
             means "phone phriek/computer crasher."
             All it ever meant was "great programmer."  You would
             feel proud if someone labeled you a "hacker."

          6) The press' ignorance of the BBS community.
             By trying to make a scandal out of all of it, they
             ruined a great form of communication.
             In particular, the magazine "InfoWorld" has done more
             harm to the BBS community than other press organization.
             While they actively TRIED to HELP the community, they
             have caused more harm in their mis-reporting of info.

          7) Sysop's ignorance.  Quite frankly, the average quality
             of "Sysop" has dropped.  Sysop's are (on the whole)
             less active and less responsive than 5 years ago.
             More and more of them are technically incompetent, they
             couldn't fix a bug if it bit them in the nose.

     All  of these problems are inter-related.   We can't solve any of
     them  until  all  of them are solved.   From my  descriptions  it
     should  be  obvious that the "golden age"  certainly  wasn't  all
     gold.   People  like  "James  Bond" and "Sam Daniels" had  to  be
     stopped,   but  the  pendulum has swung too far to  the  opposite

     These  observations are very general.   I've noticed this  swing,
     and it has taken place on 95% of all of the system's I've  called
     across America.   It's sad that these problems have stabbed us in
     the back, but it's not too late to try and bring about a change.
     I  don't  have the answers,  but maybe  these  observations  will
     prompt  thought  into  this  death of a  virtual  "art  form"  of

     There is one possible solution to this problem...  the acceptance
     of  children  again.   For too long we've been kicking  off  kids
     (both  phyiscal and "kids at heart").   They've been  disruptive,
     Fidonews                     Page 5                   19 Jan 1987

     and  caused  fights galore.   Many have even tried to  crash  the
     systems  they  used.

          "If there's any hope, it lies with the proles."
                                        -- George Orwell, _1984_

     Perhaps  the thing to do is call a few local Commodore and  Apple
     boards  and  let the users know that they're just as  welcome  on
     your  super-fancy 100mb 2400 baud RCP/M system as any of your so-
     called "serious users" . . . "serious users" who can't even bring
     themselves to answer their own mail.  Saddening.


     Fidonews                     Page 6                   19 Jan 1987

                             MARCH 17-20, 1987
                             DALLAS, TEXAS USA


      Many of us feel the need for more dialogue and cooperation which
     can  lead  to  enlightened  policies regulating and promoting the
     management of information.  Many also feel it important  to  look
     more carefully at existing practical applications of computer and
     communications   technologies  particularly  for  the  developing
     world.  Toward both of these  ends,  a  series  of  international
     conferences  on  information  access is being planned.  The first
     conference of its kind


     is scheduled to be held in Dallas in March 1987.  This event, its
     preparation and follow-up, will provide a forum for policymakers,
     technical staff and those applying informatics to exchange  ideas
     and  develop  plans  of  action.   Preceding  and  following  the
     conference the participants will be accessible to each other  via
     an international electronic network.


      IIA  '87 is the first in a series of biennial conferences on the
     role  of  international  information   exchange   in   developing
     countries.  In keeping with the focus on developing countries:

       *  The  Keynote  speaker  for  each  conference  will be from a
          developing country whose address will highlight that country
          for the development of informatics

       *  All future conferences will be held in Third World countries

       *  Fifty percent of  the  conference  delegates  will  be  from
          developing countries


      The   Planning   Council   will  request  leading  international
     informatics and communications organizations or  individuals  for
     nominations of participants in the following areas:


      These  delegates  will be selected based on criteria approved by
     the Planning Council and based on  the  degree  of  activity  and
     knowledge in the field of informatics.  It is expected that fifty
     Fidonews                     Page 7                   19 Jan 1987

     percent of the delegates will come from  Third  World  countries.
     In addition,  Resource Participants will be invited as conference
     observers. They will be able to attend all conference activities,
     but will have  limited  participation  roles  in  the  roundtable

      A monthly Conference Newsletter will begin publication in August
     1986,  and  will  be  mailed  without  charge  to  individuals or
     organizations who have asked to  be  on  the  conference  mailing
     list.  This publication will keep all interested parties apprised
     of the activities in preparation for the conference  as  well  as
     provide  relevant  information  on  developments  in the field of

      All delegates selected will have an  electronic  mailbox  on  an
     international  communications  network.  The fee for each mailbox
     will be paid for by the conference for three months prior to  and
     six  months  after  the  conference.  This service is provided in
     order that the delegates be in a position to  maintain  the  link
     formed  and  continue the discussions initiated at the conference
     and themselves form a new international network.

      There will be four principal addresses  during  the  conference.
     The  addresses  will  focus  on  the  current issues in the areas
     of:policy,  technical and network  applications  in  informatics.
     Each  will a focus on the integration of traditional and emerging
     technologies.  The keynote speaker will address the issues of the
     potential  for  informatics  in  the  context  of   international
     development and understanding and how this technology can be used
     for  the  betterment  of  society.   Each  presentation  will  be
     followed by delegate roundtables to discuss the address  as  well
     as to bring pertinent information from personal experiences.

      A conference Resource Guide guide is being developed to maximize
     the  contributions  of  the  IIA '87 delegates to the conference.
     This  guide  will  be  published  as  a  special  edition  to  an
     international  journal  and  distributed  to  delegates one month
     prior to their arrival.

      The Planning Council will also publish a Conference Proceedings.
     This will include the speakers'  texts,  and  comments  from  the
     roundtable discussions and will serve as a point of reference for
     organizations    and   individuals   interested   in   developing
     multinational electronic linkages.  This  publication,  like  the
     Resource  Guide,  will be published by as a special edition of an
     international journal.


       *  To prepare and disseminate  a  comprehensive  guide  of  the
          current  activities  of groups involved in the promotion and
          exchange of informatics skills/technologies for  development

       *  To   initiate   intense   discussion   on  the  relation  of
          informatics to development and the  policy,  technical,  and
     Fidonews                     Page 8                   19 Jan 1987

          programmatic issues in this field.

       *  To  develop  a  "roadmap"  for  organizations  interested in
          exchange of informatics skills/technology  for  development,
          in   order  to  expand  and  initiate  priorities  for  such


     IIA '87 will have four types of participants:

     Policy Delegates (12) - Individuals involved in the senior  level
     decision-making  process with regard to informatics in developing

     Technical Delegates (12) - Individuals who have expertise  and  a
     knowledge  of  the technical systems deployed to meet informatics

     Networker  Delegates  (26)  -  Individuals  who  are  now   using
     informatics within their work environments.

     Resource  Participants  (15)  -  Individuals  selected from major
     international organizations  who  can  serve  as  a  resource  of
     information   on   policy/technical   and   network/user  issues.
     Resource Participants will  be  able  to  attend  all  conference
     activities,  but  will  have  limited  participation roles in the
     roundtable sessions.

     Important Delegate Selection Deadlines

     November 30, 1986
     Completed Delegate Nomination Forms Due

     December 31, 1986
     IIA '87 Delegate Selection Committee Invites Delegates


      Baylor  University  Medical  Center   has   a   state-of-the-art
     conference  center  located on the 17th floor of the new A.  Webb
     Roberts Hospital.  This center has a large  reception  foyer,  an
     auditorium  that seats 155,  a large banquet room that seats 150,
     several small  dining  rooms,  three  classrooms  and  the  Boone
     Powell,  Sr.  Management  Library.  Staff of the A.  Webb Roberts
     Center for Continuing Medical Education  will  be  available  for
     facilitating the conference.  In addition,  volunteers from local
     microcomputer  users  groups  or  people  with  an  interest   in
     telecommunications  will  be  available  to assist in hosting the


      English is the official conference language.  The Plaza  of  the
     Americas  does have a multi-multilingual staff available and will
     be  able  to  assist  with  hotel  needs  and  Dallas  sites  and
     Fidonews                     Page 9                   19 Jan 1987

     attraction information.


      The Plaza of the Americas combines restaurants, shops and office
     towers  in  the heart of downtown Dallas.  The prime business and
     entertainment districts and the new Dallas Museum  of  Fine  Arts
     are  a  brief  stroll  away.  Trusthouse  Forte,  one of Europe's
     grandest hotelier,  operates the 442-room hotel.  A  multilingual
     staff,   foreign  currency  exchange,   and  telegram/cable/telex
     services are a few of the amenities provided by the Plaza of  the
     Americas.  The  hotel's  Plaza Suite will serve as the conference
     Hospitality Suite throughout the conference.


      All on-site conference costs will be provided by the conference.
     No registration fee will be charged.  Meals (with  the  exception
     of  Friday evening),  transfers (with the exception of the return
     to the airport), and conference materials, etc.  will be provided
     by the conference.

      Conference participants will be responsible for travel and hotel
     accomodation  payments.  Tower  Travel  Agency will work with the
     delegates in coordinating these arrangements and will be able  to
     offer  conference  discounts.  In order to offer these discounts,
     all travel and hotel arrangements must be handled by Tower Travel
     using the conference hotel and airlines.  The  conference  has  a
     very  competent  agent assigned and she will have an EMAIL box on


     SERVICE                           ID
     WHOLE EARTH LECTRONIC LINK [WELL]  hmg  [Harry Goodman]
     UUCP                               hplabs!well!hmg
     ARPA                               well!hmg@LLL-CRG.ARPA

      This meeting is for you!

      Baylor University Medical Center has been involved in developing
     an electronic network linking several medical research centers in
     Latin America with the Latin American Cancer Research Information
     Program  sponsored  by  the  Pan  American  Health  Organization.
     Issues   encountered   in  the  development  of  this  electronic
     application are the same issues facing each of us as our networks
     develop.  The exchange of ideas between  individual  participants
     at  IIA  '87  will  allow  each of us to return to our respective
     countries and organizations with ideas and concepts which we  did
     not bring to the assembly.

     Fidonews                     Page 10                  19 Jan 1987

      We  would  be delighted to have you join us and we invite you to
     participate in IIA '87 by returning the Nomination Form.


     Additional information may be obtained by writing to:

     c/o Baylor Research Foundation
     3500 Gaston Avenue
     Dallas, Texas, U.S.A.


     Harry Goodman
     Harry M. Goodman & Associates
     1739 Bridgeway, Suite A
     Sausalito, California, U.S.A.

     UUCP: {apple,hplabs,lll-crg,ptsfa}!well!hmg
     ARPA: well!hmg@LLL-CRG.ARPA
     BIX: harryg
     CIS: 72267,2572
     WELL: hmg

     Nominations are due by November 30, 1986.


     The IIA '87 Planning Council


     Fidonews                     Page 11                  19 Jan 1987

         Shareware Vendors: Last in an Irregular Series of Articles

                               Mark J. Welch

     [Preface:  three earlier articles detailed my problems (and other
     Shareware   authors')   with   various  Shareware  copyright  and
     distribution concerns. As in the past, I will briefly repeat some
     portions of the earlier articles for the  benefit  of  those  who
     might not have seen them.]

     Tying up loose ends:

     First,  I'd  like to correct an error in an article I wrote a few
     months ago.  At that time,  I thought that I had not provided PC-
     SIG  with  a  copy  of  my  program  (the  Generic Adventure Game
     System),  nor with permission for them to distribute it,  and  at
     that  time  PC-SIG had indicated that this was a possibility.  In
     fact,  my records show that I did provide PC-SIG with a  copy  of
     GAGS  very  early  on,  and  though  I  did  not give them formal
     permission to distribute it at that time,  I don't  believe  they
     acted  in  bad  faith  when  they  began distributing the program
     thereafter. I'd like to apologize to PC-SIG for this error.

     Second,  I'd like to invent a term:  program-disk  vendor.  Firms
     like  PC-SIG,  Public  Brand  Software,  and  the like,  all sell
     Shareware and public domain software programs  on  floppy  disks.
     Since  no  "generic"  term  has  been established to refer to the
     growing legions of such vendors,  I'll  call  them  "program-disk
     vendors" in this article.  I'm not going to take a position as to
     whether or not the  category  of  "program-disk  vendors"  should
     include non-profit users' groups.

     Next,  I'd  like  to  update  my  dispute  with PC-SIG.  After we
     exchanged several letters and phone calls,  we finally  sat  down
     and  discussed the matter last October,  and decided at that time
     that the ideal disposition would be for PC-SIG to write a  letter
     clarifying  its  policies  and acknowledging its awareness of the
     fact that Shareware authors have expressed concerns over some  of
     its  activities.  As  I stated then,  my goal in obtaining such a
     letter is to prevent PC-SIG from later  claiming  to  some  other
     Shareware  author that he was the first to voice a complaint.  At
     that meeting,  Mr.  Petersen also provided me with a partial copy
     of  a  revised  version  of  the  letter  he  is  now  sending to
     competitors whom he believes are violating  his  firm's  property
     rights,  and  this  revised  version  does  not make the broad or
     general claims that were in the earlier letters.

     In essence,  PC-SIG and I have agreed to be nice to  each  other,
     and  PC-SIG has stated (as clearly as they believe they can) what
     their policies will be.  My understanding is that they intend  to
     use  reasonable  efforts  to  determine  that  they  are properly
     Fidonews                     Page 12                  19 Jan 1987

     distributing authors' works, and will shortly contact the authors
     of programs in their library to let  them  know  what  PC-SIG  is
     doing. In exchange for PC-SIG's letter, I've agreed not to pursue
     any legal claims against the firm for what I believe was improper
     distribution of my program on CD-ROM.

     Rather  than  paraphrase PC-SIG,  however,  I'll simply provide a
     complete copy of the letter I  received  from  Richard  Petersen,
     president and owner of PC-SIG:

          Dear Mr. Welch:

          I am writing this letter to you to clarify for you how we
          interact with authors. I am taking the time to do this
          because I believe you when you say that you are only
          intereted in seeing that PC-SIG and organizations like
          ourselves in the business of distributing user-supported
          programs behave in a way which is not contradictory to a
          program author's interests.

          PC-SIG does not claim to own copyrights to the programs
          in its library. Each author of a Shareware program
          retains copyright ownership, but has granted PC-SIG a
          non-exclusive right to distribute the program. Authors of
          Public Domain programs have abandoned all claims to those
          programs, and the programs are not copyrighted.

          PC-SIG does not pay authors any fee or royalty for the
          distribution of the author's programs. What we do do and
          will continue to do is strongly encourage donations to
          authors of programs. We recognize that it is through the
          efforts of shareware authors that we have been able to
          create PC-SIG. It is our hope and belief that we have
          also had a beneficial effect toward legitimizing the
          shareware concept and increasing the revenue received by
          program authors.

          PC-SIG's policy is to distribute Shareware and User-
          Supported programs with permission of the author. PC-SIG
          presently checks disks being added to the PC-SIG library
          to make sure that we have received permission directly
          from the program author. If not, we attempt to contact
          the author directly for permission to distribute their

          PC-SIG does not claim trademark rights to the names of
          the programs in its library. PC-SIG has the non-exclusive
          right to use the name to identify the author's work if it
          is included in the PC-SIG library.

          PC-SIG also claims copyright ownership of its printed
          catalogs and newsletters, of its catalog disks, and of
          custom written text files or programs included in the
          disks distributed by it. PC-SIG claims to own copyright
          to the overall collection of disks, as assembled, and to
          the numbering system used to identify the disks.
     Fidonews                     Page 13                  19 Jan 1987

          We apologize for the impression you got from our
          September 1986 Newsletter that the typical Shareware
          author earned over $40,000 per year per program. This
          figure is very misleading. It was based on a very small
          sample of the more successful authors which is not
          necessarily representative of what the majority of
          shareware authors receive. It should be remembered that a
          few authors have done very well, earning well into the

          As part of our new directory project we are sending out a
          mailing to all program authors (which we have addresses
          for) confirming our new directory listing for disks which
          they are on and asking for any updates they may have both
          for the new directory and our next release of the PC-SIG
          Library on CD ROM. We plan to do periodic mailings of
          this type in the future. We welcome suggestions from
          program authors about how we can better serve them.

          As part of my understanding with you, you have agreed to
          distribute an apology to PC-SIG for accusing us of taking
          your program without your permission. We expect that you
          will distribute this through all of the same channels you
          distributed your original accusations.

          Richard Petersen

     [letter reproduced with permission]

     [the rest of the article is by Mark Welch]

     As I stated in my earlier articles, my concerns have been to make
     Shareware  authors aware of the problems being created by vendors
     who distribute Shareware, and the response has been quite varied.

     First,  I was surprised (but shouldn't have been) to  learn  that
     many  authors  make a substantial portion of their income through
     distribution of  their  programs  by  PC-SIG,  with  one  authors
     claiming  that  more  than  half  of the payments he receives are
     based on purchases from PC-SIG.  On the flip side, one author was
     inspired  by  my article to contact PC-SIG and for the first time
     discovered that his utility programs were  being  distributed  by
     the  firm.  I  was  not  surprised  at the negative (anti-PC-SIG)
     opinions that came my way,  since I was aware of earlier problems
     that Shareware authors and others have had with PC-SIG.

     At  one  point,  a  fellow  called me to encourage me to start an
     aggressive publicity  campaign  against  PC-SIG  in  the  popular
     press.  I  didn't do that,  and don't believe that such a move is
     appropriate,  because I don't believe that what PC-SIG has  done,
     for  the most part,  has been substantially against the interests
     of Shareware authors. As I stated to Mr. Petersen, I believe that
     PC-SIG has made a substantial  contribution  to  the  success  of
     Fidonews                     Page 14                  19 Jan 1987

     user-supported software, and I believe that if PC-SIG were driven
     out of business, the Shareware business would suffer as a result.

     I  believe  that  PC-SIG  has made a strong effort to convince me
     that they have the best interests of Shareware authors  in  mind,
     and  that  they do not wish to harm Shareware authors in any way.
     This does not reduce my belief  that  PC-SIG  has  taken  several
     actions  that  have harmed Shareware authors,  the worst of which
     were its intimidation of its competitors  (innocent  and  illegal
     alike),  its unauthorized distribution of programs on CD-ROM, and
     its reckless comments about the "average" profits of a  Shareware

     As  the oldest and best-established of program-disk vendors,  PC-
     SIG has a duty to aggressively study each disk in its library  to
     make sure that it can properly distribute the programs on it.

     I'd  like  to  suggest  some guidelines that I believe PC-SIG and
     other  program-disk  vendors  should   evaluate   and,   ideally,

        - Each  vendor  must  carefully  study  the  "Shareware rules"
          (actually a license to distribute) included on the disk with
          each Shareware program,  to make sure that its  distribution
          of the program is legal.  Each author has slightly different
          conditions,  and it is (and ought to  be)  the  program-disk
          vendor's duty to make sure that he is not violating U.S. and
          international  copyright laws by improperly distributing the
          work.  When a program-disk vendor desires  to  distribute  a
          program  using a method not explicitly invited by the author
          (such as CD-ROM), it should obtain written permission before
          doing so.

        - Even where the "Shareware  rules"  or  license  terms  allow
          program-disk vendors to distribute a program without written
          permission,  the  vendor  should  notify the author that the
          program is being distributed by the vendor. This enables the
          author to  provide  update  notices  (including  lurking-bug
          fixes)  and  to promptly assert any complaints if the author
          believes the vendor's distribution is improper.

        - Program-disk vendors  should  bear  the  cost  of  obtaining
          updates  to  disks,  at least by providing a disk and return
          mailer when programs are updated.  Certainly, when a program
          is  updated once a week,  a program-disk vendor is justified
          in updating its library less frequently, and the vendor also
          cannot be expected to provide updates if the author  doesn't
          notify the vendor.

        - Program  disk  vendors should be especially vigilant against
          improperly including illegal or dangerous programs in  their
          libraries.  Like any BBS sysop, a program-disk vendor should
          recognize  obvious  "trojan  horse"  programs   whose   main
          function  is to wipe out a hard disk.  Likewise,  the vendor
          should recognize that a cleanly-polished  commercial-quality
     Fidonews                     Page 15                  19 Jan 1987

          program  with  a name like "Zaxxon" or "Program Shift" isn't
          really public domain,  but is actually a pirated and  hacked
          program.  Program-disk  vendors,  like  BBS  sysops,  should
          refuse to distribute complex programs if they don't  contain
          valid author-contact information.

        - Program-disk vendors also have a duty to make sure that they
          are distributing complete and (reasonably) current programs.
          A  program  without needed documentation,  or a program that
          works only with DOS 1.1, should be clearly marked as such or
          removed from the vendor's catalog.

        - While vendors can't  be  expected  to  test  every  possible
          configuration  and use of a program,  no program-disk vendor
          should ever distribute a program that simply doesn't work on
          *any* hardware configuration.

        - Every program-disk vendor  should  be  aware  of  copyright,
          trademark,  and  unfair-competition laws in the juridictions
          it sells in.  Vendors should expect that any  violations  of
          these  laws  will result in lawsuits by shareware authors or
          competitors,  with possible penalties of up to  $50,000  per
          program illegally distributed.

        - Every program-disk vendor should make a reasonable effort to
          encourage   its   customers  to  register  Shareware  (User-
          Supported) programs.  Any vendor who actively or  recklessly
          discourages  such  contributions  should  expect  prompt and
          aggressive responses from both authors and consumers.

     The above guidelines also put some duties on authors, who already
     have a number of responsibilities:

        - Program authors should  provide  clear,  precise  rules  for
          distribution   of  copyrighted  programs.   Where  possible,
          authors should not choose terms or rules that are  radically
          different  from other Shareware authors' terms,  and ideally
          Shareware authors should develop similar terms.

        - Authors must provide reasonably prompt  notice  of  upgrades
          (to vendors and registered users alike).

        - Authors who do not plan to update the program, or who decide
          to  switch  from  Shareware to another distribution channel,
          should let vendors (and  registered  users)  know  of  those

        - Authors should be aware of copyright,  trademark, and unfair
          competition laws in the  jurisdictions  their  programs  are
          distributed in,  and should take the proper steps to protect
          their works by registering them.  Shareware  authors  should
          be  careful  to  properly identify their programs' status to
          avoid having the works fall  into  the  public  domain,  and
          should  particularly  check to make sure that their programs
     Fidonews                     Page 16                  19 Jan 1987

          and documentation do not identify the work as being  "public

        - Authors  should  also  be aggressive in notifying vendors of
          improper distribution of their programs,  and  taking  legal
          action  (alone  or  together  with  other  authors)  to stop
          willful continued violations by program-disk vendors.  Where
          possible,  authors  should  also  advise  other  authors  of
          improper activities that affect them.

     Sometime in February,  I will cease to be a  bona-fide  Shareware
     author, because, like many other authors, I am releasing the next
     version  of  my software as a commercial program,  rather than as
     Shareware.  I  will,  of  course,  notify  registered  users  and
     vendors.  I  will  allow  program-disk  vendors  to  continue  to
     distribute earlier versions of GAGS,  and registered  users  will
     have a very generous upgrade path.

          [Last-minute note 1-7-87:  version 2.00, the "international"
          version, is now ready. I'll post a note in FidoNews when the
          manual is rewritten and printed (it won't  be  available  on
          disk). The Mac version should also be available within a few

     Despite  my  escape from the immediate Shareware market,  I still
     believe that Shareware authors should stick together and keep  in
     touch with each other.

     While  I  don't  believe  any  "trade  organization"  or tightly-
     organized group is necessary, I do believe that Shareware authors
     should share whatever resources they do have,  including good and
     bad  experiences,  written  policies,  legal advice,  and mailing
     lists where appropriate. If a program-disk vendor, online service
     or end-user should violate a number of  authors'  rights  through
     the  same  actions,  the affected authors should band together to
     defend their rights using whatever means are available.

     Another goal for Shareware authors might be some sort of  unified
     numbering system for Shareware and public-domain programs.  I had
     believed that PC-SIG's numbering system was available  for  other
     firms  to  use until it began sending its nasty nine-page letters
     to its competitors last year;  until then, its catalog (available
     at   one   time   even  through  bookstores)  provided  a  useful
     arrangement of disks.  Now that PC-SIG has asserted its ownership
     of that numbering system,  I hope that a group of authors or some
     enterprising  individual  creates  a  Library-of-Congress   style
     numbering  system for the available program-disks,  with a cross-
     index  indicating  what  alternate  sources  those  programs  are
     available from (for example, providing a cross-reference into the
     PC-SIG  numbering  system,  just  as  auto  parts vendors provide
     tables of compatible parts).  Such a catalog system should enable
     new vendors to enter the market more easily,  reducing the prices
     of Shareware and public domain program-disks, and thus increasing
     the availability of the programs.
     Fidonews                     Page 17                  19 Jan 1987


     Last,  but not least,  I'd like to provide a list of  the  people
     whom  I've  contacted  (and  been contacted by) since I wrote the
     first Shareware-abuse article in  FidoNews  last  year.  While  I
     currently don't plan any further activities or articles regarding
     this  issue,  I  hope my exit from the Shareware market won't end
     the discussions I've sparked.

     The following  people  and  organizations  haven't  asked  to  be
     included  in  this  article,  and as a result I'll try not to get
     anyone  in  trouble  but  will  still  try  to  make  connections

     1) Richard Petersen                     Thomas Caudill
        owner/president                      Attorney-at-Law
        PC-SIG (Personal Computer            (PC-SIG's attorney)
          Software Interest Group)           1025 North Fourth St.
        1030D East Duane Ave.                San Jose, CA 95112
        Sunnyvale, CA 94086                  (408) 298-4844
        (408) 730-9291

        PC-SIG's  letters  threatening  its  competitors  with massive
        lawsuits,  and its distribution of my program on CD-ROM,  were
        the  two  sparks  that led me to address the issue at all.  In
        addition to Petersen and Caudill,  I've been in touch with Tom
        Yarr  (VP/Marketing)  and  Tom  Smith,  who  is  in  charge of
        contacting authors and verifying that new programs are  OK  to
        add to the PC-SIG library.

     2) National Public Domain Software Rental Co. & PJS Company
        Paul Jones
        1533 Avohill Drive
        Vista, CA 92084
        (619) 749-0322

        PC-SIG  filed  an unfair-competition lawsuit against this firm
        (docket number 605640,  filed in Santa Clara Superior Court on
        June 24, 1986).  I have a multiple-generation copy of a letter
        from Jones,  stating that the firm has gone  out  of  business
        because  of  the legal action,  and referring its customers to
        the Public Domain Software Interest Group in  Nevada  (see  4,

     3) Harold Babylon
        Software Club
        4811 Myrtle Avenue
        Sacramento, CA 95841
        (916) 334-2161

        Software  Club  was the first program-disk vendor to notify me
        that it had received PC-SIG's nine-page letter  threatening  a
     Fidonews                     Page 18                  19 Jan 1987

        lawsuit.  As a result of the letter, Software Club asked for a
        confirmation of my previously-given permission  to  distribute
        GAGS,  since  PC-SIG's letter seemed to claim exclusive rights
        to programs in its library.

     4) Public Domain Software Interest Group (PD SIG Inc.)
        2400 S. Santa Rita Dr.
        Las Vegas, NV 89104
        (702) 732-0169

        Other than the reference by Mr.  Jones (see 2, above),  I know
        nothing  about  this  firm.  I  called  and  received PD-SIG's
        catalog,  which offers titles from the PC-Blue and other  disk
        libraries. (See also 8, below.)

     5) Pink Panther Data Systems
        Richard E. Andrew
        P.O. Box 271098
        Escondido, CA 92027-0732
        (619) 741-7779 (voice)
        (619) 941-8680 (BBS)

        I  bumped  into this program-disk vendor at two computer shows
        in Silicon Valley,  and discovered that it took more than  one
        request  to  convince  Mr.  Andrew that I was serious about my
        repeated insistance that for-profit program-disk vendors  must
        obtain writtern permission to distribute GAGS.  He elected not
        to request my permission, and thus the firm may not distribute

     6) U.S. Soft Club
        a division of Bi-Tech Enterprises, Inc.
        Thomas E. Vande-Stouwe, director of software selection
        10 Carlough Road
        Bohemia, NY 11716-2996
        (516) 567-8155 (voice)
        (800) 645-1165 (outside NY)
        CompuServe: 70007,1767
        MCI Mail: BiTech
        BBS: 516-567-8267 (24 hours)

        In November, I received an interesting letter from Mr.  Vande-
        Stouwe,  and  spoke  with  him on the phone for nearly an hour
        (burning my "Budget Gourmet" frozen dinner to  a  crisp).  His
        firm  plans  to  offer  some  very  interesting (and tempting)
        benefits to Shareware authors who elect to have U.S. Soft Club
        distribute their programs,  but apparently the exact terms are
        confidential, so I'll not repeat them here.  However, I'd like
        to encourage Shareware authors to give him  a  call  and  look
        over  his proposal;  I chose not to participate,  but I'm sure
        others will think differently.

     Fidonews                     Page 19                  19 Jan 1987

     7) Public Domain Software Copying Company
        Don Johnson
        33 Gold St., Suite 13
        New York, NY 10038
        (212) 732-2565  800-221-7372

        This program-disk vendor sells disks from the PC-Blue library.
        Mr. Johnson also received a letter from PC-SIG threatening his
        firm with a lawsuit unless he altered his business' operation.

     8) PDSSIG, Public Domain Software Special Interest Group
        (formerly PD-SIG, Public Domain Software Interest Group)
        full name: Robert Allen Plimley
        3515 San Felipe Road
        San Jose, CA 94135
        (408) 270-4085 (BBS)
        also, Bob Allen
              3124 Pan Mure Court
              San Jose, CA 95135

        This one gets confusing.  I don't  even  remember  whether  he
        called  me  or I called him first.  PC-SIG sent Mr.  Plimley a
        letter [to "Bob Allen" and "John Lawrence"]  asking  that  the
        firm's  BBS  cease  using  the  name  PD-SIG  because  it  was
        confusingly similar to PC-SIG's name.  Mr.  Plimley advised me
        that he does not sell disks individually,  but runs a BBS from
        which  callers  may  download  programs  and  also  sells  the
        programs  on disks,  mostly in large sets to other sysops.  He
        said he received the letter from PC-SIG  after  he  registered
        the name PD-SIG, and planned to fight PC-SIG's claims until he
        learned  that  another  firm was already using the name PD-SIG
        (see 4, above).

     Some  other  people  interested  in  Shareware  and  the   issues
     addressed in my earlier articles, along with a number of program-
     disk  vendors,  are  listed below,  in the same random order they
     appear in my notes:


     More program-disk vendors:

     Domain::Generics                The Public Domain Exchange
     P.O. Box 4408                   2074C Walsh Ave., Dept. 75
     Stanford, CA 94305              Santa Clara, CA 95050
                                     (408) 496-0624
     Ron Chadwick                    Orders: (800) 331-8125
     15735 Camino Del Cerro          Shareware Express
     Los Gatos, CA 95030             31877 Del Obispo, Suite 101
     (408) 358-2353                  San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
                                     (714) 240-1322
     Dynacomp Inc.
     Fidonews                     Page 20                  19 Jan 1987

     1064 Gravel Road                Public Brand Software
     Webster, NY 14580               P.O. Box 51315
     (800) 828-6772                  Indianapolis, IN 46251
     (716) 671-6160                  (317) 856-1001
     (716) 671-6167                  (800) IBM-DISK [800-426-3475]

     MicroCom Systems                P.C. Soft Share
     P.O. Box 51657                  Mike Bowers
     Palo Alto, CA 94303             24365 San Fernando Rd. #154
     (415) 325-6500                  Newhall, CA 91321
                                     (805) 255-7072

     The Public (software)  Library,  Nelson  Ford,  P.O.  Box  35705,
     Houston,  TX 77235-5705,  (713) 721-6104,  (713) 721-5205 (latter
     number  for  orders  only).   (This  is  apparently  a   separate
     enterprise  run  by  Diskcat  author  Nelson  Ford,  who  is also
     connected in some way with the Houston Area League  of  PC  Users
     (HAL-PC).)  The  firm  issues  a monthly newsletter commenting on
     many of the programs in the library and providing  some  news  of
     interest.  HAL-PC  will sponsor a convention for PD and Shareware
     authors on February 21, 1987 in Houston.

     BBS Mailorder Software,  P.O.Box 17868-B001,  Irvine,  CA  92713-
     7868.  (Their  catalog-request form,  which I picked up at a swap
     meet 1/3/87,  says "BBS now carries the complete PC-SIG  and  PC-
     Blue  libraries,"  and "BBS has been recently acquired by Caltech
     Institute, a non-profit organization.")

     Computer Bin, 371 Wilkerson St., Suite H, Perris, CA 92370, (714)
     657-7821.  (I just discovered [January  3]  that  this  firm  was
     selling  GAGS  without permission at a Swap Meet;  they agreed to
     pull the disk  until  they  request  and  receive  permission  to
     distribute it.)


     Ted Lester,  P.O.  Box 8404,  Santa Cruz, CA 95061.  (Mr.  Lester
     apparently called me and asked for information about  my  dispute
     with PC-SIG.  My notes are sketchy,  so I'm not exactly sure what
     interest he had in the matter.)


     James P.  Morgan,  5226 Via Hacienda  #115,  Orlando,  FL  32809,
     (305) 859-5658 (Mr. Morgan is a Shareware author.)


     San Francisco PC Users Group
     3145 Geary Blvd., Suite 155
     San Francisco, CA 94118

     Charlie Vella, Software Librarian, 415-387-2315
     Phillip Jacka, Software Library Editor, 415-648-1012

     Fidonews                     Page 21                  19 Jan 1987


     Sacramento PC Users Group
     P.O. Box 685
     Citrus Heights, CA 95610
     (916) 332-1944

     Tony Barcellos, software librarian and editor, SacraBlue
       (newsletter), 916-756-4866


     TRS Nybblers
     "MS-DOS TRS CP/M Users"
     25555 Hesperian Blvd.
     Chabot College, Hayward, CA 94545

     (This user group exhibits regularly at many swap meets and
     computer shows in Silicon Valley).



     Mark J. Welch
     P.O. Box 2409
     San Francisco, CA 94126
     (415) 841-8759 (voice, Berkeley)
     Fido 161/459 [SEAdog, private node]
     BIX: 'mwelch'

     (Author of the Generic Adventure Game System,  formerly available
     as Shareware;  formerly an editor at BYTE magazine  and  reporter
     for InfoWorld;  now a freelance writer,  contract programmer, and
     law student in Berkeley, California.)

     [This  article  may  be  reproduced  and   distributed   in   any
     publication of a non-profit organization, and may be re-posted on
     online  services  and  electronic  bulletin boards.  If possible,
     please send the author a copy of  any  newsletters  that  include
     this article. Thanks. -mjw]


     Fidonews                     Page 22                  19 Jan 1987


                          The Interrupt Stack

     17 May 1987
        Metro-Fire Fido's Second Birthday BlowOut and Floppy Disk
        Throwing Tournament!  All Fido Sysops and Families Invited!
        Contact Christopher Baker at 135/14 for more information.

     24 Aug 1989
        Voyager 2 passes Neptune.

     If you have something which you would like to see on this
     calendar, please send a message to FidoNet node 1/1.


     The CPA is now tallying the votes on the IFNA  bylaws.  With  any
     luck,  we  hope  to  have  a  final tally in time for next week's
     edition of FidoNews.