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From Brian Behlendorf <>
Subject Re: mod_pics_simple
Date Thu, 31 Oct 1996 20:35:54 GMT
On Thu, 31 Oct 1996, sameer wrote:
> > would be a good thing as well.  So, I guess I'm saying I'm interested in
> > hearing about the "cons" of PICS.
> 	The basic problem with PICS is that it's been created within
> the threat of government coercion. It is true that PICS can be used
> for much more than net-nanny, but it was created to be used for
> net-nanny in the context of a government threat of censorship.
> 	The MPAA move ratings are a similar parallel. They are
> "voluntary" only in name. They were created because the government
> essentially created a threat: "censor yourselves or we will censor
> you." So the ratings were setup, and X movies didn't show anywhere, so
> producers would make sure that their movies didn't get the X rating so
> it wouldn't be a kiss of death, dumbing down the movie industry. NC17
> was created to attempt to fix that, but NC17 turned out just like
> X. Those of us living in SF may not think the movie industry is in bad
> shape due to ratings, but SF is a bit of an exception, I would think.
> 	So I think the jury is still out on whether or not PICS is a
> good thing. I don't think we should explicitly endorse it by bundling
> with the server.

I guess this is more a protest against the notion of self-rating (PICS also
describes third-party ratings, remember) than it is against PICS.  I, too,
would vigorously protest any government action or law which said that web
content had to be labeled according to specific PICS categories, and the
content publisher would be responsible for adhering to those standards.  I
think the situation is different on the internet, however, because the
distribution channels are not anywhere nearly as controlled as movie theatres
are, and web content is much more fluid and numerous than feature films.  

I can't think of a system which would permit third-party ratings (the best
kind - let people choose for themselves what they like or don't like, or choose
to trust other folks' ratings) which would not also facilitate self-rating
(could be abused by governments who decide to pass laws requiring them).  Thus,
I don't really see any better alternative to PICS; in fact the only
functional alternative I see are more laws like the Communications Decency Act.



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