Some good news came out of the Kentucky domain hearings yesterday.
Internet Commerce Association, which defends the rights of domain owners, sent Executive Director Michael Collins to Kentucky for the “Domaingate” hearings. You can read his synopsis on the ICA’s web site.
The most interesting news is that Network Solutions appeared to be the only registrar to send representatives to fight the illegal and unprecedented transfer of domain names to the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Although other representatives may have been in the court room, only Network Solutions’ representatives addressed the court. Whereas some registrars just handed the domains over without a fight, and others later acquiesced, Network Solutions is making the effort to fight it. That’s a smart move. If this seizure goes forward, domain registrars are going to face mounting legal bills in the future from registrants who’s domains are handed over based simply on ill-founded court orders.
Other interesting points from Collins:
– Plaintiff’s counsel argued for the position that a domain name/website is subject to jurisdiction anywhere in the world from which it can be viewed. He said domain names are virtual “propertyâ€ and that they are anywhere and everywhere. (Note: This is an absurd position and contrary to US case law.)
– Defense argued that the domains are not in Kentucky and that they are not property, that they are just letters and numbers that enable people to find websites, like the letters and numbers that make up the address of a house. Taking away the address doesn’t take away the house or the ability for someone to visit it to gamble.
– Lawrence Walters addressed one of the most important issues to most of our members, since I don’t know of any ICA members are operating gambling sites. He addressed the fact that many of the domain in the seizure order were not operating gambling sites, but were being seized only because they contained advertising for online gambling. He characterized this use as constitutionally protected commercial speech that this seizure is in violation of First Amendment rights. By the way, I have long admired Walter’s domain name, FirstAmendment.com.
The judge said he’ll need seven days to decide whether to move forward with the seizure.