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Is Paris a Model for New Internet Governance? Let’s Hope Not.

Paris wants your domain name if it has Paris in it.

As the U.S. cedes more control of ICANN to foreign governments, many people are worried about what happens when censoring countries like China get a role in internet policy oversight.

Few people would ever think that countries like France would be a threat. But it appears that way, at least if the thinking of leaders in its capital are any indication.

Earlier today Domain Name Wire wrote about three domain disputes the city filed against owners of generic domain names, including WifiParis.com.

It turns out this isn’t the first time the city of Paris has tried to use its muscle in domain disputes. Back in 2006 the city threatened the owner of Paris.com, demanding that it turn over the domain name, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in August, 2006. The lawsuit also says that the city of Paris contacted Register.com, threatening it with legal action in France if it didn’t transfer the domain name and cut off all access to the domain within 15 days. According to the lawsuit, the owners of Paris.tv and Paris.info were also threatened.

The lawsuit was eventually dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. That’s ironic, given that the city wanted to sue the owner of the domain in its own jurisdiction.

The city of Paris was also sued in 2007 over a trademark issue, but the documents in that case have been sealed.

Case law has long held that city names aren’t treated as trademarks, and that anyone can own a city .com domain name.

We’ve seen similar land grabs from other governments over the past several months, requesting that ICANN reserve all country and regions in both top level and second level domain names.

If this is what happens when other governments start to meddle in internet governance, you should be afraid.

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  1. Anthony says

    Andrew, speaking of city governments … Do

    you think ICANN is helping them rezone the

    internet by eventually taxing the left side of

    the dot while leaving the right side of the dot

    free to do what it wants ?

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