Re: Caching Servers Considered Harmful (was: Re: Finger URL)

Rob Raisch, The Internet Company (
Mon, 22 Aug 1994 18:07:26 +0200

[Putting his publisher hat on]

Because anyone running a caching server runs the dual risk of presenting
out-of-date information to their users and can be in direct violation of
international copyright law.

The first point is by far the most important in my mind. As more and
more professional publishers come online, you will see this becoming
much more of an issue.

The publisher holds complete responsibility over their product, in
content, presentation, timeliness and distribution. By running a caching
server on my content, you are robbing me of any control I might have over
the timeliness and distribution.

You can provide no guarantee that the versions that you present to your
users are accurate or timely. Further, I have no idea of the number of
consumers who view my content through your cache or what they view, how
and when.

Even assuming that you are acting in good faith, there are many kinds of
information which have value because of their timeliness. Daily news and
stock quotes are two which immediately come to mind.

Of course, I can mark my information as being uncacheable, but will you
honor that request? Your interest is to provide content to your users
with as little impact on your communications resources as possible. I
believe that your goals and mine are not compatible.

The copyright issue is the more difficult one. In light of the previous
argument, you are archiving an original work. This is called "copying"
in copyright law and if it is done without permission, is against the law.

(I'm ignoring any arguments that copyright law must be redesigned in light
of digital distribution. I don't think anyone would disagree with this.
However, I doubt that copyright is going away and in fact, I expect the
body of law will be strengthened not diluted.)

I expect that most professional publishers will not serve content to any
site which caches unless they can enter into a business relationship with
that site. Unfortunately, this presents a very interesting N by N
problem, as publishers and caching servers proliferate.

Of course, I could be wrong. I have only been peripherally associated
with publishers. Anyone from O'Reilly wish to comment?


On Mon, 22 Aug 1994, Fisher Mark wrote:

> Rob Raisch wrote in <Pine.3.85.9408211533.A331-0100000@enews>:
> >This is even a bigger problem than it might be, given the terrifically bad
> >idea of running caching servers. (IMHO)
> OK, I'll bite -- why?
> ======================================================================
> Mark Fisher Thomson Consumer Electronics
> Indianapolis, IN
> "Just as you should not underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon
> traveling 65 mph filled with 8mm tapes, you should not overestimate
> the bandwidth of FTP by mail."