|THIS IS PUBLISHING
The internet is so new that few legal precedents exist. An analogy is offered which may be useful as a reference in disputes, particularly regarding the obligations of the various agencies.
- The host provides an allocation of space on a hard disc, a piece of real-estate on which to place web pages. Buying webspace from a web hosting company is equivalent to buying or leasing a plot of land.
- A website is a house, built on that plot of land, with the various pages of a website being equivalent to the rooms of the house.
- If a visitor doesn’t like what they see within the rooms of that house, they shouldn’t be there. They are invited to enter and are free to decline.
What exactly constitutes publishing varies according to country, but in a famous British precedent a betting shop was deemed to have published when it placed a notice in its window facing outwards. Had the staff of the shop placed the notice facing inwards, that would not have constituted publishing, presumably because:
- A person must enter the shop to read the notice;
- Certain restrictions apply as to who may enter the shop;
- The notice would not have been visible to the general public.
The analogies with the internet are obvious; for example in 2., only those who have access to a computer may view a website.
- Registering a domain name is like arranging a special bus service to run directly to the door of the house. Rather than the people who want to view a website having to type in a long, complicated name (walk a long distance), they catch the bus. To avoid confusion, and people ending up at the wrong destination, each domain name (bus route) is unique.
- The naming agency is the bus company, which arranges the routes.
- The internet service provider (ISP) is the bus itself. It carries passengers to many different destinations, allowing them to view many different houses.
- The telephone company provides the roads on which the bus runs.
A parody of the Terms and Conditions some web hosting companies seek to impose appears within the World Church of Xion sub-site.