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About this Website

The website you are looking at is quite different from any other you are likely to have encountered. First, it is a Libre Service. And second, it is part of the By* ("by-star") family of services.

About Libre Services

Libre Services are a radically new, non-proprietary model for delivery of Internet services.

Libre Services are an extension of the principles of free software into the Internet services domain: they are Internet services that can be freely copied and reused by anyone. Any company or organization can reproduce and host any Libre Service, either for its own use, or for commercial or non-commercial delivery to others. The Libre Services model exists in relation to the proprietary Internet services model of AOL, MSN, Yahoo, and Google, in an analogous way to how GNU/Linux exists in relation to Microsoft Windows.

The website and service you are now interacting with is Libre. It is based entirely on patent-free protocols, and implemented exclusively in 100% free software. The entire functionality of this service has been implemented without using a single line of proprietary code.

So why does this matter?

It matters in two important ways. It matters in terms of service functionality—what the service itself is actually doing. And it matters in terms of policy—what the service provider is doing.

Regarding service functionality: existing proprietary services such as Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, and virtually every other service—these are strictly controlled assets of their owning companies, heavily defended by patents, copyright and trade secrecy. The software that runs the service is closed, so that the true service functionality is unknown. This means that the user of the service—you—have no knowledge of what the service is actually doing behind the scenes. For example, you have no knowledge of what the service is doing with your personal information. Every item of information you provide to the service, either implicity or explicitly—every communication, every search query, every website visited, every mouse click—can be used by the service provider for unknown purposes, without your knowledge or consent.

Regarding policy: in principle, the service provider's actions are constrained by the Service Agreement (Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, etc.) between the provider and user. However, these agreements are drafted by the provider's corporate lawyers, consist of sophisticated legalese that few users read, and are heavily biased towards the interests of the provider. In particular, they are drafted without any formal representation or advocacy for the interests of the user.

Proprietary services are operated by corporations whose actions are driven purely by profit. This is the single ultimate purpose of the proprietary service provider, to which all other considerations come secondary. In particular, both functionality and policy are dictated wholly by this purpose, with no concession towards the interests of the individual user or the general public welfare, beyond what contributes directly or indirectly to profit.

This closed, profit-motivated and -dominated Internet services model represents severe endangerment to critical civil liberties such as privacy, freedom of information, and freedom of speech.

How Libre is different

The Libre Services model is fundamentally different in every respect.

In terms of ownership, there is no ownership: Libre Services are a communal public resource, with no patent, copyright or secrecy barriers to free access and usage by anyone.

In terms of functionality, the software is open, so the services are completely transparent in operation. This transparency allows professional oversight by the engineering community, to verify the integrity of the service, ensuring that it in no way violates the interests of the user or the general public welfare.

And in terms of policy, operation of the service is governed by a social contract, drafted with full representation and advocacy for the individual user and the general public welfare.

The Libre model thus fully guarantees the critical civil liberties that are endangered under the proprietary model.

To learn more about the Libre model and why it matters see the article titled Libre Services: A non-proprietary model for delivery of Internet services.

If you would like to participate actively in the Libre Services movement, you can find information and resources at the Libre Forum, the central location and resource center for collaborative development of Libre Services.

Proprietary vs. Libre Services
Proprietary Service Libre Service
Ownership Strictly proprietary; patents & copyright None; a communal public resource
Functionality Closed software; unknown functionality Open software; transparent functionality
Oversight for integrity None Professional engineering oversight
Policy Drafted by provider Defined by social contract
Public advocacy None Full public representation
Motivation Profit only General public welfare
Civil liberties Endangered Guaranteed

About the By* family of services

This website is also part of the By* family of services. By* is a coordinated set of services, providing users with a comprehensive, all-encompassing Internet experience. By* includes services for individual persons (Byname, ByAlias, ByMemory, ByFamily, ByNumber), services for businesses (BySMB/ForSMB), and a comprehensive set of services for interaction and social networking among persons, businesses, and things (ByWhere, ByEvent, ByTopic, ByInteraction, ByLookup, ByHookup).

This is very different to existing Internet services capabilities. The Internet landscape of today has arisen in a highly disorganized, unstructured way, driven by a multitude of uncoordinated commercial ventures. The existing services capabilities have been built in a completely ad hoc manner, based on immediate business expedience, rather than any sort of coherent design. The result is the Internet Services industry as it appears today: a multiplicity of functionally isolated, incompatible services. And while this may not be apparent to the everyday user, having never experienced anything different, this limits the capabilities of Internet services in many ways.

By* is the model for a new generation of unified Internet services, far superior to the uncoordinated mishmash of services that exists today. It is designed for consistent, uniform interoperability across all types and manners of service usage. By* is the Internet services industry, done right.

Join us: an invitation to participate

The Libre Services initiative is big in scope and ambition. It is about an entirely new paradigm for Internet service deployment and usage. It isn't about just another technology or service—it is a movement.

Something of this scope requires involvement and participation by multiple constituencies throughout society, including the engineering community, the business community, and the public at large. To enable such participation we have established a comprehensive framework for participation by all relevant constituencies. We invite you to join the Libre movement and participate in the role that suits you best. In particular we invite:

  • The engineering community: To expand the Libre Services infrastructure, and to build more and better Libre Services.
  • The business community: To deploy and deliver Libre Services in a commercial context.
  • Grantmaking foundations: To provide non-profit sponsorship and funding for Libre Services development projects.
  • The investment community: To finance commercial deployment of Libre Services.
  • The academic community: To provide analysis and critique of the radical new Libre engineering and business models.
  • The media: To publicize the concept, promote debate, and educate the public.
  • The public at large: To use the By* Libre Services. To refuse to accept proprietary, and demand only Libre.

Learning more

  • The By* concept. To learn more about the By* services and how they are different from other services, see the article titled The By* Concept: A Unified Model for Internet Services.
  • The By* family. To learn more about the individual services within the By* family, visit the central By* information site at
  • Getting an account. If you would like to join the community of By* Libre Services users, you can create your own ByName account and try the services out for yourself at
  • The business dimension. The By* Libre Services model has a very significant business dimension. The business model is described in detail in the Neda Open Business Plan.
  • Becoming a By* service provider. If you are interested in becoming a By* service provider, a description of how you can rapidly do this is provided in the article titled, The By* Family of Libre Services for Network Service Providers.
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