Here are some things for domainers to consider now that the Kentucky case has been overturned.
The Kentucky Court of Appeals has overturned a trial court’s ruling that the state could seize domain names associated with online gambling. The Court of Appeals ruled that domain names weren’t “gambling devices”, which was part of the statute used to justify seizing the domains.
As Michael Berkens pointed out, this is a narrow victory. Electronic Frontier Foundation writes that the ruling suggests to the Kentucky legislature that it can change the definition of “gambling device”, but it still believes the case will be without merit because “In addition to this type of domain name seizure still raising serious First Amendment, due process, and other constitutional problems, Kentucky courts (as pointed out in our joint amicus brief) also lack the authority to directly order out-of-state registrars to turn over customer domain names.”
The Kentucky domain seizure case prompted a lot of cries to move domain names to domain name registrars located outside the United States. As I’ve written before, I don’t think this is a good idea. For a number of reasons, I think the United States is one of the safest places to keep your domains. In fact, U.S.-based Geo domainers who own foreign city and country names will keep the domains under the ownership of a U.S. company and lease them to a foreign subsidiary. And it seems that foreign interests in ICANN are mostly concerned with whether particular domain names and new TLDs are “moral”.
To be sure, there are some countries that may provide more protection for your domain names. If nothing else, these countries will stall efforts to seize domain names.
If you’ve been thinking about moving your domain names (or other aspects of your business) offshore, you should consider going to Domainer Mardi Gras next month. The entire agenda is about risk mitigation. I will be on a panel about moving offshore.