August 25, 2000
2:03 PM   Subscribe

Oh shit, oh piss, oh dear. Judge rules domain names are not property. We had enough problems with this in the last decade with 800-numbers. <sigh>
posted by baylink (12 comments total)
oh my god. That Judge is an idiot. The domain was stolen with faked faxes and faked email. How is that not outright theft of property!?!
posted by mathowie at 3:06 PM on August 25, 2000

Because it's not "property". *That* is the crux of the matter. I was *so* hoping we wouldn't see precedent on this one, in light of the problems that the 800 number people had.
posted by baylink at 3:21 PM on August 25, 2000

This really makes me livid. Who does that judge think he is? He probably has no idea the amount of work
webmasters and admins put into thier babys.
Mine, is like my child not just my property.
posted by Fidel at 3:31 PM on August 25, 2000

So, if I was to steal the Judge's birth certificate and get documents made up to support that I was actually him, I wouldn't be thrown in jail, right? This, just like the scandal would (and should) be charged as identity theft. If a domain is not property, then what am I paying for?
posted by 120degrees at 3:54 PM on August 25, 2000

The reasoning here, just so it's not lost amid the outrage, is that Network Solutions is weaseling out of responsibility by defining the domain as a service which is the product of a contract. As the article points out, this is really a matter for legislatures to decide, and in the US, the trend is definitely in that direction based on the two most recent relevant statutes.

What this case is hinging on is the question of whether NSI is liable when a domain is transferred fraudulently. In the narrow sense of conveyance law, this ruling says "no". Under current NSI contracts, also, they're fully indemnified in these kinds of cases -- which is where ICANN wants to go, to get registrars out of the middle of dueling would-be domain owners suing each other.

The case may have gone an entirely different direction had Kremen sued Cohen, the fraudster, instead of NSI.
posted by dhartung at 4:09 PM on August 25, 2000

Between this and the DeCSS decision (which ruled that even linking to "illegal" material is against the law), some clueless judges are setting some really dangerous precedents for the Net...
posted by wiremommy at 4:16 PM on August 25, 2000

So why didn't Kremen sue Cohen, then? If Cohen actually committed the fraudulent act, isn't there some kind of case there? Is that even in dispute?

I'm missing something, aren't I?
posted by chicobangs at 6:09 PM on August 25, 2000

Okay, so does this mean that now all of us should move our domains to companies outside the USA with companies such as Gandi or the Aussie co. that ranks as the best by Would that sort of circumvent this situation or would it make no difference?If you think about it in terms of radio/t.v., it's like someone blocking your broadcast, and broadcasting their own signals on your frequency and getting away with it.
posted by riffola at 8:12 PM on August 25, 2000

Actually, Chico, there are two suits. They're just proceeding completely separately.

Riffola, if it's .com/.net/.org, NSI is still the owner of the root nameservers. By the way, and using your call sign. Actually, I have to think about that. Call sign law would probably have some useful precedents here (e.g. the consonance between "WLS-AM" the callsign, which is a unique registration key with the government, and "WLS-AM" the corporate entity.)
posted by dhartung at 8:36 AM on August 26, 2000

Riffola, if it's .com/.net/.org, NSI is still the owner of the root nameservers.

Nope. Let's clarify here. NSI Registry -- that's the service bureau people who take registrations from all of the currently certified registrars -- build the root zone for the GTLD nameservers, and operate most (if not all) of those nameservers, *

The root nameservers, on the other hand, provide the *pointers* to the name servers for .com, .net, .org, .edu, .cx, .cc, .uk, .au, and all the other top level domains; about 250 or so of them.

Those nameservers and the associated zone, on the other hand, are run by ICANN, who inherited the job from IANA (RIP JBP). So, no, neither part of NetSol owns the roots.

(Oh, and just by way of some Saturday afternoon pedantry, you'll hear people say that the root of the DNS is ".", that last (usually missing) dot at the right hand end of names like "".

They're wrong.

The *root* of the DNS is the null name to the *right* of that dot. The dot, itself, is merely a separated.

This has been a recording. :-)
posted by baylink at 10:48 AM on August 26, 2000

Here's a foreign perspective on another domain name dispute.
posted by tamim at 12:18 PM on August 26, 2000

i may be wrong, but from the looks of it, we may all need to TRADEMARK our domain names in order to protect ourselves. if some jerk steals, matt is not protected. but if metafilter is trademarked, perhaps matt would be protected.

i guess we should see what happens with the digital divas case.

i don't mind the idea of trademarking A List Apart (though it seems absurd and counter to the spirit of ALA) but i find the idea of trademarking my own name a bit ridiculous.

basically we were f*cked the moment network solutions declared that we don't own our domains, we merely rent them.
posted by Zeldman at 11:33 PM on August 26, 2000

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