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Domains in court – DNW Podcast #378

A look at recent domain-related court cases and legal aspects of NFTs and fractional domain investing.

Image that says DNW Podcast #378 and "Domains in Court" with John Berryhill

Attorney John Berryhill joins us today to talk about recent court cases involving domains, such as pocketbook.com and circus.com. We also discuss some of the legal shenanigans going on with NFTs and things to know about fractional domain ownership. And if you want to sponsor John’s upcoming Pan-Mass Challenge ride, make a donation.

Also: Russia backlash, premium domains, pricing psychology and more.

Sponsor: Sav.com domain transfers

Subscribe via Apple Podcasts to listen to the Domain Name Wire podcast on your iPhone or iPad, or click play above or download to begin listening. (Listen to previous podcasts here.)

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  1. Lars says

    Let me insult people in the industry, then I’ll go and ask them for a donation for my charity ride. What could go wrong with that plan?

    Clearly he shouldn’t be offering business advice to anyone, like he says in the interview.

  2. J.R. says

    France.com is the greatest administrative domain name theft in Domain history.

    Will be interesting to see where the NFT hype machine is in Q4 2022.

    Thanks for this discussion.

  3. Steve says

    NFTs and fractional domain interests:

    Two sides of the same flim-flam coin. Heads you lose. Tails you lose.

    As those old anti-drug commercial used to say:

    Just say no.

  4. bhartzer says

    I’d like to hear more legal discussions about stolen domain names and whether or not UDRPs should be filed when a domain name is stolen. Obviously we have the recent case of Patterns(.com) that was a stolen domain name and it was returned via UDRP (you reported recently on it).

    Domain theft is on the rise. No one really talks about it, but it’s happening more and more. There’s no real legal solution (other than UDRP) to get a stolen domain back to its owner.

    • Todd Ryan says

      We discuss this issue and others every Tuesday on Domain Name Law Show on Clubhouse. I co-host with Jeff Neuman and David Michaels. Come join the discussion and learn more DNLTV.com.

  5. anonymous says

    I like John and respect his thinking (might even hire him if need be one day), but I don’t understand why the negative outlook on many of the topics.

    For one, fractional ownership is nothing new, so why for a valuable domain asset his comments were relatively negative or considering it borderline absurd… for his “gold” example, yes if someone can’t afford a full bar of gold but speculates that the price of gold is going to go up by a lot, then owning that fraction of the gold bar can at least bring some potential profits…. didn’t understand the “negative” stance on it when the same is applied for liquid / obvious value domains.

    For the NFT part is understandable that there’s a lot of gray or unclear legal areas, but if someone says you basically have the rights to you NFT for commercial use also, then if you do enter into a commercial transaction and then decide to sell your NFT, then that should be part of the contract you do with the person buying it… Once you buy your NFT then the rest is on you what you do with it or the deals you make. Why would it have to do with the issuer of the NFT…
    It felt like the argument was more about owning fractional ownership vs full ownership instead of discussing the validity of fractional domain specific ownership.

    Again, John brings up very good points worth discussing, but Andrew I wish you would’ve countered many of the points for more specificity using traditional asset examples as comparables, to truly understand what the major issues / limitations are when it comes to NFTs and Domains.

    Just because something it’s legally complex, doesn’t mean the Idea is a bad one… Maybe a show specifically on the legal issues of NFTs, Fractional ownership or specific complex domain UDRP / Court decisions would be interesting. The nitty gritty details instead of general glance over.

    Thanks for the interviews to both!

    • Andrew Allemann says

      Fair points. I think I countered on the fractional ownership. I think this is a good thing but people need to understand what they are actually buying.

      Regarding NFTs, my overall takeaway is that NFT creators aren’t doing basic things like hiring a lawyer for their agreements. So as an NFT buyer you might not have the rights you think you have.

    • John Berryhill says

      My comments were directed to specific misrepresentations being made by the people selling them. For example:

      >For one, fractional ownership is nothing new, so
      >why for a valuable domain asset his comments
      >were relatively negative

      First off, you are not buying “fractional domain ownership”. You are buying a share in a company which owns the domain name, and with very limited actual rights in that company. I agree with you that “fractional ownership is nothing new”, however some promoters are making statements which are not consistent with what they are actually selling.

      “For the NFT part is understandable that there’s a lot of gray or unclear legal areas”

      No, there aren’t, and that’s the problem.

      “if someone says you basically have the rights”

      That is not how one obtains a transfer of rights which the very black-and-white, clear law will recognize. Again, people think they are obtaining, for example, copyrights in artworks merely because some website has a vague and contradictory statement saying so. That is not how copyright assignment works, and there is nothing gray or unclear about how to assign or license a copyright.

      In the case of Paradise Trippies, which was one of the examples, their FAQ is outright contradictory, saying:

      “Do I own the commercial rights to my NFTs

      Yes. They are free for you to use under a non exclusive license.”

      If you have a license in something, you do not own that thing. So, right off the bat, this was written by someone who does not know what they are talking about, or simply does not care. And that’s leaving aside whatever it is that is supposed to be meant by “commercial rights”. You mean, you don’t have any non-commercial rights? It makes no sense.

      On top of it making no sense, the actual terms of this “non exclusive license” are nowhere to be found. So the FAQ is not only hopelessly vague and contradictory, but it is also misleading, unless you happen to know where the terms of this “non-exclusive license” are located.

      Again, it’s not about being “negative on NFT’s”. People are free to buy what they want. What is concerning is that people who are selling them are saying things which are either deliberately untrue or so cavalier that it is clear they do not care. When someone asks “Do I own this?” then “Yes. You have a license I won’t show you.” is not an honest answer.

  6. anonymous says

    Much appreciated for the further details John! I definitely understand better the specific red flags you’re referring to.

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