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I dimly remember some discussion of this before, but I don't have time
right now to try to track this down in the archives at SAIL.

I think it was specified that the file had to be open in order for
File-Length to work because a number of operating systems can't do it
any other way, so in portable code you can only count on the open-stream
case.  There's no reason why non-brain-damaged systems like Spice could
not extend this call as you propose, or provide some alternative call
that as a non-standard extension.  (The latter would make it easier to
catch non-portable usage, but users would have to remember two different
calls that do roughly the same thing -- confusing at best.)

-- Scott