Judge Allows Kentucky To Seize Domain Names

from the bad,-bad-news dept

Last month, we wrote about a judge allowing Kentucky's governor to seize 141 domain names that were somehow associated with gambling sites under a bizarre interpretation of Kentucky law. Pretty much everyone involved admits that this is just Kentucky's governor protecting local gambling establishments who supported him in the election. No one is even hiding the fact that this is purely about protecting the governor's political supporters from any sort of competition.

However, what's scary is in how the seizure is incredibly broad and far-reaching. None of the sites are based in Kentucky. Many of the sites are nothing more than holding pages, rather than actual online casinos. And, the law itself interprets these sites as "illegal gambling devices" which seems like a big stretch. There was some pushback, as people explained to the judge what an incredibly bad precedent this ruling would set -- as it would effectively allow any local law to be used to take possession of any website.

Apparently, the judge doesn't care. Late last week, the judge upheld the original ruling, giving one small out to the various sites. If they implement filters that block access to any IP address in Kentucky, they can keep their domain names. That's backwards. It shouldn't be the responsibility of a website that is just online to use geocoding techniques to comply with every single local law. If that were the case, the internet would ground to a halt, as any website would face so many different liabilities from so many different jurisdictions to make it impossible to comply -- and in each lack of compliance, face a potential seizure of the domain name. This is a bad ruling by any stretch of the imagination, made even more bizarre by the judge's unilateral ruling before a hearing was even held. The whole thing sounds quite questionable, and hopefully will be dumped on appeal.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Thomas, Oct 20th, 2008 @ 7:02am

    Wonder how much they paid the judge for the ruling? He must owe the governor something.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    shmengie, Oct 20th, 2008 @ 7:27am

    good, old tyme politics!

    makes me think of phrases like "mob boss," "judge in his pocket," "incriminating photo of judge on all fours taking a dildo up the butt," etc.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    hegemon13, Oct 20th, 2008 @ 7:27am

    Not concerned

    This will be appealed. Once it goes beyond the state level, it will be reversed, no question about it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Daves2K, Oct 20th, 2008 @ 7:30am

    ORLY?

    I wonder what would happen if they then asked the judge to give them a list of all the IP addresses in the state of Kentucky? You know, so they can be sure they are blocking all the right ones.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Clarence, Oct 20th, 2008 @ 8:31am

    Ignorance?

    This also could be the judge's ignorance of how the internet works. Which makes it e ven more sad that such stupid people are interpreting laws that affect many more people than they have a right. If this affects people outside of Kentucky, then certainly its OUTSIDE of his jurisdiction. What if the sites are outside of the country? Ignorance is bliss... even if it makes you look like FOOL!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Shohat, Oct 20th, 2008 @ 8:50am

    No, this isn't an Ignorance issue

    Judges are supposed to be ignorant to some extent, especially to such new technologies such as the Internet and domain name issues. There is no problem in that.


    But point is, if Kentucky can do this, so should be able every single country in the world, to any site in the world.

    They should not block sites, but just punish Kentucky visitors. Jail time.
    Problem solved

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 20th, 2008 @ 8:56am

    How about if we ban sites like jimbeam.com (a KY company) because drinking is banned in some areas of the country?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    Duane (profile), Oct 20th, 2008 @ 9:23am

    Re:

    Actually, I think that is a very good idea. I like the thought of a Web Armageddon of that type.

    The judge in this case doesn't appear to be particularly stupid or corrupt (determined by a quick review of other cases)so something else is at work. Maybe Steve Bashear just needs to realize this sword cuts both ways. Pissing off the alcohol lobbies would be just the thing to ensure he doesn't get elected again.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 20th, 2008 @ 9:24am

    Sounds like this judge's law license needs to be revoked. What a moron. Kentucky's governer should be fined heavily for wasting so much money and time on such a stupid topic.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    NullOp, Oct 20th, 2008 @ 9:28am

    Ruling...

    Judges know little if anything about the internet. They have no idea the effects of such a ruling.

    Have some fun with this. Write the gov and tell him since you've learned of this you are relocating your or, better yet, your companies event to another state! Send it to him on letterhead for the effect that will have. Be sure to connect it to the ruling mandated by this judge!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Shohat, Oct 20th, 2008 @ 9:37am

    Stop claiming judge is ignorant

    Seriously.
    Most internet users are completely ignorant of low-tech things which they have grown up with.

    Most people don't know how to make a chair, fix a window, build a simple table, fix a fridge, etc. Simple things that they have grown up with.
    You can't expect people to know what email is just because some 5% of the earth's population happen to use it. Considering the microscopic importance of the Internet in people's lives, it should be the last requirement for someone to be a judge.

    BUT, a judge should know when his actions have an impact on things that are not in his jurisdiction. That's the issue.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    mike allen, Oct 20th, 2008 @ 9:42am

    I WONDER

    If any of the sites seized are companies that make money from the web (not gambling)If so I look forward to the law suits for compensation

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Tony, Oct 20th, 2008 @ 10:24am

    Re: Not concerned

    The problem is, there's too much of that sort of ignorance, incompetence, or just plain corruption at every level. We certainly can HOPE it will be reversed, but it may not.

    Of course, if the registrars are in different jurisdictions - or better yet, a different country entirely, that may make enforcement just a bit difficult.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 20th, 2008 @ 10:30am

    Blocking Kentucky

    Why not just block Kentucky from internet access?
    They can't have more than 3-4 IP adresses.
    The last think I want to see is some video with a toothless idiot.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    philxbefore, Oct 20th, 2008 @ 11:21am

    Re: ORLY?

    They would receive a one page list with 2 IP Addresses.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    PhilxBefore, Oct 20th, 2008 @ 11:25am

    Re: Stop claiming judge is ignorant

    Wow, you are completely out of touch.

    Go back to your mop and broom, janitor.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    Rob (profile), Oct 20th, 2008 @ 11:27am

    TechDirt...

    depresses me every day. Seriously, when are our personal freedoms going to stop being trampled on. Thanks for being the messenger, even if its horrible news, day in and day out.

    Now, if these domain owners can prove residency outside of Kentucky, Hosting and Purchase outside of Kentucky, etc. etc., can they have their local / state / even the US government step up and stop this seizure?

    I mean, if they aren't residents, whats the difference between this and Kentucky just attacking another state and seizing a building; both are loss of personal property.

    Now, if they are in Kentucky, these owners are probably pretty hosed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    another mike, Oct 20th, 2008 @ 12:09pm

    whiskey tango foxtrot

    How do you even implement this? The only part of these websites that's in Kentucky is the visiting browser. If it's not illegal where the server and domain registrar are located, then it doesn't seem like KY has jurisdiction, much less a case.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Lima Oscar Lima, Oct 20th, 2008 @ 1:31pm

    Re: whiskey tango foxtrot

    Love the title of your comment. I'll have to use that one myself...unless, of course, you are from Kentucky and you have a judge in your pocket or just one thinking he might be needing a favor down the road and is willing to take from me and give you my office that I happened to write this from.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    robert, Oct 20th, 2008 @ 1:45pm

    Re:

    like a blowjob?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    robert, Oct 20th, 2008 @ 1:45pm

    Re:

    like a blowjob?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 20th, 2008 @ 2:01pm

    Sorry for my ignorance but exactly how is Kentucky 'seizing' these domain names? Are they forcing ISP's to redirect web traffic elsewhere? Is this only in effect in Kentucky? Please enlighten me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Oct 20th, 2008 @ 2:10pm

    Re:

    Sorry for my ignorance but exactly how is Kentucky 'seizing' these domain names? Are they forcing ISP's to redirect web traffic elsewhere? Is this only in effect in Kentucky? Please enlighten me.

    They've asked the registrars to transfer the domain names to the state of Kentucky. Some have already complied.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    direwolff (profile), Oct 20th, 2008 @ 2:45pm

    Boycott Kentucky residents ;)

    while i'm saddened to suggest that we take it out on kentucky residents, since they have the power to vote these judges and governors in and out of office, perhaps it s/b in their hands to help the judge think this through a bit more. given this state of affairs and the power this judge and governor have decided to exact on the net, if all web sites prevented users fm a kentucky ip address to view any of their pages, that might help these official better align their decision with the rest of our country's. to say that this is an abuse of power is an understatement, but there are simple remedies to bring order back to this chaos they're inflicting. don't forget, the net always routes around points of failure ;)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 20th, 2008 @ 3:39pm

    Re: Re:

    Ah, are these registrars that complied located in Kentucky as well? If not, I don't see why any registrar would comply to a court order that clearly crosses jurisdictional limits. I sincerely doubt any foreign registrar would even bother with this. And I like to see a judge in Kentucky order a registrar in a foreign country to turn control over to a U.S. State. Could you imagine the liability incurred by an ISP complying with such a farcical order?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    David, Oct 20th, 2008 @ 3:54pm

    Re: TechDirt...

    Now, if these domain owners can prove residency outside of Kentucky, Hosting and Purchase outside of Kentucky, etc. etc., can they have their local / state / even the US government step up and stop this seizure?

    Probably not, given that others are trying to compete for their state or Federal government's attention for their respective issues.

    Fortunately, there are parties who are trying to resist this, namely the 2 registrars Moniker and Network Solutions (yup, the Network Solutions):

    http://www.gambling911.com/gambling-news/kentucky-online-gambling-domain-seizure-case -predicted-outcome-100808.html

    Network Solutions is standing by the 20 plus online gambling companies they represent

    http://domainnamewire.com/2008/10/09/moniker-kentucky-cannot-have-our-customers-domains/

    As such, Moniker has not handed over the domains and will protect the rights of the owners of the domains subject to the order of the Kentucky court by not handing over such names unless and until the matter has been resolved by the Kentucky court or there is an order of a court of competent jurisdiction ordering Moniker to do so.

    It's still hanging for Go Daddy, although their giving the Kentucky a certificate agreeing to their jurisdiction has hurt the domain registrants' case. And eNom is really one to possibly avoid since they transferred the domains way before the judge eventually ruled for the seizure.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    David, Oct 20th, 2008 @ 4:02pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Ah, are these registrars that complied located in Kentucky as well? If not, I don't see why any registrar would comply to a court order that clearly crosses jurisdictional limits. I sincerely doubt any foreign registrar would even bother with this. And I like to see a judge in Kentucky order a registrar in a foreign country to turn control over to a U.S. State. Could you imagine the liability incurred by an ISP complying with such a farcical order?

    See my comment above, AC. The other registrars might comply out of their own choice though the foreign ones like Fabulous don't, and it'll take any existing legal treaties between the U.S. and whereever country the registrar is in if the Kentucky state wants to force the issue.

    They can also try to force it in Virginia since that's where the .com Registry is located, though that's debatable. It remains to be seen, depending how far all the involved parties want to go.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Thomas, Oct 20th, 2008 @ 4:11pm

    Re: Boycott Kentucky residents ;)

    I don't think judges are usually elected.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    YetAnotherKentuckySchmuck, Oct 20th, 2008 @ 5:34pm

    Elected Judges

    Tragically, many places elect judges, including Kentucky. We also elect sheriffs, Commonwealth (District) Attorneys, tax collectors, and Railroad Commissioners.

    The governor is shaking down the online casinos, he's said as much. The simple fact is that it's a protection racket kind-of-a-deal, and it hasn't worked-he's not extracting any taxes or revenue. He may be gaining market share for his donors, the resident casinos and tracks, but that's arguable...the state runs a lottery too, I wonder if he'll go after that next.

    It's my guess that the attempt to condemn domains will fail on appeal. Many such bits of opportunism have gone that way in my experience.

    Sadly, my coal powered government has chosen to abuse technological opportunity more often than not, as educated affluent people don't go in for medievel things like strip mining. Keeping a lot of chaff in the air makes it easier to do things folks wouldn't approve of. I keep wondering what he's trying to distract me from.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    jay, Oct 20th, 2008 @ 6:01pm

    If I were a law enforcement agency how would I do this? Personally, my ISP is in another state, so there are just routers between me and the ISP (which is where I am assuming any firewalls live). So the phone and cable companies would have to have firewalls on their routers for out of state ISPs. But of course the satellite dish users wouldn't have this restriction which would make them very popular. This would be a very expensive request for the utility companies and in the end wouldn't accomplish much.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Allen Taylor, Oct 20th, 2008 @ 9:06pm

    Not necessarily

    It shouldn't be the responsibility of a website that is just online to use geocoding techniques to comply with every single local law. If that were the case, the internet would ground to a halt, as any website would face so many different liabilities from so many different jurisdictions to make it impossible to comply -- and in each lack of compliance, face a potential seizure of the domain name.


    Not necessarily. The state of New York has imprisoned gambling site owners who lived in foreign countries and whose servers were located in another country simply because New Yorkers were gambling on their sites. I don't agree with the law nor the way that it has been enforced, but there is some precedence and case law that may swing in favor of the state.

    On the other hand, this appears to be an interstate commerce issue and if the defense attorney approaches it from that perspective he might win an appeal. But then that would open the door for federal legislation of e-commerce.

    If the sites voluntarily agreed to block Kentucky IP addresses, they'd be doing a public service. The law is currently in favor of law enforcement agencies when it comes to online gambling. Porn providers have more freedom.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Willton, Oct 20th, 2008 @ 9:15pm

    Constitutional issues

    It would seem to me that this protectionist legislation and subsequent enforcement thereof would run afoul of SCOTUS's Dormant Commerce Clause jurisprudence. My guess is that if this case gets to the federal level, it will likely be overturned and the Kentucky law may be declared unconstitutional.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Scott Neuman, Oct 21st, 2008 @ 7:07am

    Judge Goes Crazy! Says he created internet domain names and wants them back.

    This is just amazing. Congress passes law after law telling the states, hands off. Prior case law states that domain names are licensed. There is no correct way to block a Kentucky IP address and it just looks like the Judge is either 1. crazy 2. nuts 3. a ultra conservative 4. paid off by the gaming companies in his state.

    Of course, the problem becomes if he can do it, then any local, state or goverment entity can do it. None of which makes sense.

    Scott Neuman - President - Recordweb.com.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    remowill, Oct 22nd, 2008 @ 10:06am

    Seizing Domain Names

    I'm not sure how a judge from kentucky can do this legally. I'm sure it will be overturned on appeal.
    Especially if he is doing it at the behest of the governor.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Felecia Davis, Dec 3rd, 2009 @ 12:27am

    Apollo 17 Goodwill Moon rock

    Hello. My names is Felecia Davis. I am a Administration of Justice student at University of Phoenix perusing my Masters degree. I need someone from the Kentucky Governors office to contact me concern the Apollo 17 Goodwill moon-rock ASAP> This is a assignment for me that I must complete very soon Ps or if ANYONE know please let me know. Thank you very much Ms Felecia Davis

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Felecia Davis, Dec 3rd, 2009 @ 1:40pm

    Apollo 17 Goodwill Moon rock

    Hello. My names is Felecia Davis. I am a Administration of Justice student at University of Phoenix perusing my Masters degree. I need someone from the Kentucky Governors office to contact me concern the Apollo 17 Goodwill moon-rock ASAP> This is a assignment for me that I must complete very soon Ps or if ANYONE know please let me know. Thank you very much Ms Felecia Davis

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Felecia Davis, Dec 3rd, 2009 @ 1:41pm

    Apollo 17 Goodwill Moon rock

    Hello. My names is Felecia Davis. I am a Administration of Justice student at University of Phoenix perusing my Masters degree. I need someone from the Kentucky Governors office to contact me concern the Apollo 17 Goodwill moon-rock ASAP> This is a assignment for me that I must complete very soon Ps or if ANYONE know please let me know. Thank you very much Ms Felecia Davis

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This