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<nettime> Re: Altern.org shut down
Patrice Riemens on 17 Jul 2000 15:05:06 -0000


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<nettime> Re: Altern.org shut down


The whole affair around the (hopefully temporary) closure of Altern.org is
a very vexing one. As far as Valentin Lacambre (Altern's founder and sole
employee) is concerned, it is simple and fair enough, as Christine has very
well explained. He is tired, he is fed up, and he is alone. We should all
admire him for keeping up the good struggle for so long.

So no, it is not a question of playing the 'victim card' (however, that can
be a valid method too: Liberation asked (rhetorically?) whether he was not
'blackmailing' the public to have the law changed). 

Background to this unfortunate developments - which were, again, very well
outlined by Christine in her posting - is the incredible imbroglio
surrounding the law position and juridical status of the on-line domain,
not only in France.   The difficulties are indeed exacerbated in that
country due to a propensity to regulate, compounded by an equal propensity
to litigate. The same issues obtain for instance in the Netherlands too (cf
xs4all's various tiffs with all sorts of parties), but are usually resolved
'pragmatically'. Yet the basic fact remain that the hybrid position of
'expressions' on the Net, in between personnal communication (which is
free) and publication (which is regulated), has still not been properly
formulated in law. This would entail, for instance, a serious discussion of
the right to anonimity, which some people think is God-given (it is not),
and others would want to abolish altogether (God forbids!). But instead,
legislation is introduced where none is necessary, since previous law was
quite clear (cf hackers issues, copyright, etc) whereas fundamental
problems concerning eg the upholding of basic liberties are dodged. This
all smacks of a hidden political agenda. 

Meanwhile, it would be probably very good if some sort of international
successor to Altern.org would come up, to take over the burden that
Valentin was shouldering almost alone. But it might be even better, I am
afraid, to start thinking seriously about communication and publication
alternatives to the Internet itself... 

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