The Oscars vs. GoDaddy
from the ah-loopholes dept
The Motion Picture Academy is somewhat infamous for its over-aggressive IP claims around the “Oscar” awards. It’s even sued a blog that was helping to promote the event. Apparently, just suing one website wasn’t enough, so back in May it sued domain registrar GoDaddy for allowing a bunch of domains to be registered.
Now, in a reasonable world, where liability is properly applied, GoDaddy would never be liable for actions of its users. But, unfortunately, one of the very few areas that DMCA and Section 230 safeharbors do not cover is trademark law. So, the Academy may actually be able to get away with blaming GoDaddy for not magically blocking anyone from registering any domain that might, possibly, maybe be about the Oscar Awards:
Suing under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, the Academy disputes more than a 100 domain names, including 2011oscars.com, academyawardz.com, jaylenososcars.com, betacademyawards.com, oscarsunplugged.com, oscarshotels.com, oscarstravel.com, oscarsliveblogging.com … etc. Damages could total as much as $10 million.
On top of the basics of blaming GoDaddy for allowing such domains to be registered, the Academy seems to directly be taking issue with the fact that GoDaddy has a system for letting domain holders “park” those domains and make money from ads. The Academy tries to spin this as GoDaddy purposely “profiting” off of its intellectual property, but that’s ridiculous. GoDaddy is just offering a general domain parking ad system. It’s making money off of any parked domains. It has nothing to do with their intellectual property. And, frankly, if these domains were really so valuable to the Academy, why didn’t they register them in the first place?
To make the whole thing even more ridiculous, the Academy claims that a GoDaddy patent application shows that it knows that it needs to filter out ads on certain types of domains. But just because you develop a system to do so, it doesn’t mean you are legally required to abide by it.
The whole thing is, frankly, absurd. If the Academy has a problem with certain domains, it should go after those who actually registered them. Not the registrar. If this lawsuit actually gets anywhere, it could create a real chill for registrars, who will then feel the need to review and block certain registrations, even if they would be perfectly legal.