by Mike Masnick
Fri, Aug 26th 2016 10:49am
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jun 6th 2016 11:48am
from the wac-that-mole dept
It is shocking that a domain name registry in the United States – one that is dedicated to “the public interest” – is allowing a blatantly illegal site to have a home on the .org domain. This is especially disturbing given that the operators of The Pirate Bay have been found guilty of criminal copyright infringement, The Pirate Bay domain names have been seized or suspended around the globe, and even its co-founder, Peter Sunde, has walked away from it. Despite all this, The Pirate Bay seems to have found a sanctuary here in the United States by PIR.As far as I can tell, there is no court ruling in the US that says any of the above is true. While it's true that a few former operators were found guilty, they served their time in prison and as far as I know, none are involved in the current site. And, as has been pointed out over and over again, the site is basically a search engine. Accusing it of "criminal infringement" makes no sense. Furthermore, while the Copyright Alliance fought hard to get SOPA passed, it failed. US law does not currently require registrars or registries to remove domains just because the Copyright Alliance or the RIAA dislike a site. Sorry: you didn't get the law you wanted, so don't pretend you did.
Torrenfreak further points out that while the Copyright Alliance points to PIR's abuse policy, it conveniently ignores that said policy does not apply to intellectual property disputes, which require actual due process.
Meanwhile, as the Copyright Alliance was whining publicly, the RIAA was sending a letter to PIR basically saying the same thing, and asking it to take down the .org domain. The letter lists other countries where various TPB domains have been blocked, and then notes:
With respect to the U.S, please remember that the infringing nature of The Pirate Bay has been noted in each of the Notorious Market Reports issued by the USTR for the past several years. Per the Google copyright transparency report, over 400,000 infringements have been identified on www.thepiratebay.org, with over 50,000 since The Pirate Bay moved back to its .org domain. This is in addition to the over 3,000,000 infringements identified on its previous alter ego, www.thepiratebay.se. It is well known that The Pirate Bay does not take action in response to notices. In addition, there have been numerous reports recently of malware and other abuse occurring via The Pirate Bay at its various domains.Of course, it's a bit weird to use Google's transparency report as part of its argument, since that just details accusations, rather than actual evidence of infringement (and, again, I don't know how many times this needs to be pointed out, but TPB doesn't host any content). And, again, the RIAA supported SOPA, but it lost. It should stop pretending it won.
PIR, in turn, forwarded the letter on to TPB's registrar, EasyDNS. EasyDNS then contacted TPB to discuss the possible policy violations, and got back reasonable answers that it was not actually in violation. On the question of copyright, TPB claimed that it now abides by the DMCA:
TPB is DMCA compliant and if TPB receive any DMCA complaints from RIAA they will be investigated and removed if found to be valid. We have not revived[sic] any DMCA complaints from RIAA at all so far this year.Some may point out that TPB, in the past, regularly ignored (or mocked) the DMCA, noting that as a non-US company, it was not subject to US laws. Whether or not TPB still ignores DMCA takedowns could, arguably, impact if it's abiding by registrar policies, but without a court weighing in, it's difficult to see how a registar should take the RIAA's word for it without more evidence.
The RIAA's letter also notes TPB distributing malware, and so EasyDNS asked about that as well, to see if it violated its terms of service, and again TPB insists that the RIAA is being misleading:
As with every site that are displaying 3rd party advertising trough external ad-networks, sometime bad and corrupt ads slips by, it happens to everyone, here is an example:Based on that, EasyDNS properly notes that it has no legitimate basis to takedown TPB's .org domain.
As soon as it is discovered/detected on TPB, the ads will be taken down, or the entire ad-tag from where the malware comes, until the issue is resolved. Usually with the help of google webmaster-tools to track down the exact source of the malware.
It has happened twice during 2016, both times when adding new ad- networks, They were taken down directly when detected.
At this time we find no violation of our AUP. Absent either a specific proceeding pursuant to our accreditation as a .ORG registrar or a legal finding in a competent jurisdiction to the Province of Ontario, there is nothing for us to do.In a blog post, EasyDNS President Mark Jeftovic explains the due process rationale here:
easyDNS will of course always: comply with our contractual obligations - both to the registries we operate under and to our customers; comply with the laws under which govern our jurisdiction (the Province of Ontario, Canada) and enforce our own Acceptable Use Policy.
Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.
Our opinion in these matters continues unchanged. As a Registrar or as a DNS provider unless there is a clear violation of our AUP or net abuse (which we are competent to detect), taking action against domains based on content or at the behest of third-parties, regardless of their altruism or noble intentions, amounts to having us adjudicate international law. It's not reasonable to expect us to do that and you don't want your domain registrar doing that.This is the key point. Whatever you believe about TPB -- and many people see it as being horribly illegal, obviously -- due process has to mean something. The RIAA and its friends should not just be able to point to something and say "illegal, kill it!" because they have a fairly long history of being totally wrong about such things. In the past, they've argued that nearly every innovation is illegal, from player pianos to radio to cable TV to the photocopier to the VCR to the DVR to the MP3 player and to YouTube. And over and over they've been wrong about those things. And that's why due process is important, and why it's good to see EasyDNS (and PIR) recognizing this.
Jeftovic, by the way, separately highlights that no one should think of EasyDNS as being "friendly" to bittorrent site operators, as he expects it won't be long until there will be sufficient due process to take down those sites:
We should also mention our Open Letter to Bit Torrent operators, wherein we predict a near-future where due process across borders catches up with technology and when that happens it will be relatively quick, easy and painless for a law enforcement agency in one country (i.e. Sweden) to have the requisite order issued in another country (like Canada, eh) and cause a domain that appears to be flagrantly violating copyright and freeriding on content creators efforts to be shut down.In other words, contrary to what some will claim, this is not EasyDNS standing up for torrent sites. It's EasyDNS standing up for basic due process. You'd think that the Copyright Alliance and the RIAA would support due process, but apparently that's too difficult.
Ahead of that day, if I were a filesharing site operator I'd be using my time wisely in concentrating my efforts on legitimizing my operations. This would include negotiating blanket licensing agreements with mechanical rights agencies.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, May 27th 2016 11:45am
from the copyright-as-censorship dept
And the police deemed that worthy of seizing? Even though the site also had a ton of news articles that would normally be considered protected expression?
I want to repeat this just to show how crazy it is. The police in Norway didn't go after actual infringers, they went after a news site that links to sites that host an app that might be used to infringe. Oh, and they did it using an asset seizure procedure that has basically no due process prior to an entire news website disappearing. That's messed up.
Apparently, Electronic Frontier Norway (EFN -- which is unrelated but similar to the EFF here in the States) -- and the Norwegian Unix User Group (NUUG) went to court over this, but had that rejected (perhaps reasonably) for lack of standing. However, TorrentFreak is reporting that the case is being appealed... but this time with the legal owner of the site:
With the new party the groups hope to have sufficient standing to have the case heard. In their appeal there’s a strong focus on the free speech element, and they hope the court will clarify when domain seizures are appropriate.This use of asset seizure to take down news sites that might be distantly related to infringement is extremely troubling. It's happened in the US, including just recently returning some domains it had seized five years prior, without ever having any evidence of actual infringement associated with those news sites.
“We feel that this is an important case that addresses the limits of free speech,” EFN’s managing director Tom Fredrik Blenning tells TorrentFreak.
NUUG leader Hans-Petter Fjeld adds that the authorities shouldn’t be allowed to seize the domain name of a news site, which writes about open source software that by itself is not infringing.
“Part of what makes us upset is that the domain name of a news site about a piece of free software that has both legal and illegal uses, has been seized without judicial scrutiny,” Fjeld says.
The idea that this form of blatant censorship is being used globally should be yet another warning of how copyright law is regularly abused for censorship.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Dec 3rd 2015 9:36am
After Illegally Censoring Websites For Five Years On Bogus Copyright Charges, US Gov't Quietly 'Returns' Two Domains
from the look-at-that dept
The owner of one of the domains, Waleed Gad El Kareem, announced quickly that he was going to fight the seizure -- and he did. Of course, you might not have heard much about it because Homeland Security and ICE basically ignored his legal effort to contest the seizure... until just a few days ago when the domain was "returned" (more on that in a bit). You may also recall that ICE defended these seizures by stating that "no one" had challenged any of the seizures. We called bullshit on this, noting that the owners of five of the seized domains had, in fact, challenged the seizures. Four years ago, we wrote about how the government sheepishly returned Dajaz1, a hip hop music blog, that it had seized and censored for over a year. That story was fairly crazy, as it only did so after Dajaz1 filed a claim demanding the return of the site. The Justice Department secretly (without even telling Dajaz1's lawyer) kept delaying the required response to such a demand, until finally giving up and giving back the domain. It was later revealed that the "reason" ICE secretly delayed returning the domain was that it kept asking the RIAA for the evidence that Dajaz1 had violated the law (as an RIAA rep had initially sworn to an ICE agent), but the RIAA never provided anything.
The following summer, the government returned two more domains. In that case, the company that owned the domains rojadirecta.org and rojadirecta.com, Puerto 80, had actually taken a different path than the others. It flat out sued the government. The government then turned around and initiated a separate legal process to permanently "forfeit" the domains, leading to a bizarre series of filings -- and then, magically, the government just gave up and handed the domains back.
As we noted at the time, that still left a couple of other domains, including torrent-finder.com and onsmash.com. This was all the way back in Decmeber of 2011 -- four years ago -- when we noted both were unaccounted for. Over those four years, I've periodically checked in with the lawyers for both sites, and basically kept getting told there was no update at all, and that they had tried to talk ICE into returning the domains, but ICE basically stopped returning their calls. From what I can gather, neither of the operators of those sites wanted to take the route of Dajaz1 or Rojadirecta, which involved actually going to court, as that's an expensive proposition.
But, it appears that last week, five years after the government just seized those domains, they were supposedly turned back over to the owners.
Well, sort of. Having spoken to Waleed about torrent-finder.com, he told me that ICE had promised to renew the domains when payment ran out -- but it did not do so. Waleed actually feared that might be an issue, and had to re-grab the "expired" domain out of exemption, after ICE released its hold on it. I have not yet been able to confirm what happened with OnSmash.com, but we've been told that ICE similarly released its hold on that domain the same day as it released Torrent-finder.
Still, think about this for a second: The US government illegally seized and censored, on no legal basis a series of websites for five whole years. Dajaz1 and OnSmash were blogs -- so it was akin to seizing the printing presses of magazines (clear prior restraint that is unconstitutional). Torrent-finder is a search engine, like Google or Bing, but specialized in torrent files. Yes, many torrent files may link to infringing content, but many do not, and a search engine should never be completely seized, without any real due process, just because it finds content that may break the law.
This is a complete travesty, and the US government completely got away with it too, because the websites it seized were generally held by individuals without much money, or not even in the US (as is the case with Waleed). I've filed a FOIA request with ICE to try to find out more information on this, but considering all of the grandstanding ICE did when it seized these websites, the fact that it's now basically returned every one of the domains who challenged the seizure really says something -- and it's not good for ICE. Hell, check out this ridiculous MSNBC "investigation" that quotes the ICE guy in charge of these efforts, William Ross, saying completely nonsensical things, like: "We're protecting them from other people taking their ideas and selling them." How do you sell someone else's ideas? Also, none of these sites involved selling anything.
Ross is also quoted in the piece saying: "We keep going after them, no matter how many times they come back up." And yet now ICE has admitted that Ross not only totally fucked up in stealing these domains from their legitimate owners, it then illegally held them for five years. You'd think that, at the very least, Ross and the US government owe Waleed and the others an apology. But I wouldn't expect that any time soon.
by Tim Cushing
Wed, Nov 18th 2015 3:28pm
from the more-than-mere-cyberquatting dept
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has actually used its powers for good, stopping an Indonesian citizen from spreading malware while taking the name of the EFF in vain.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation's website is eff.org. The squatted-on domain was electronicfrontierfoundation.org. As the real EFF vigorously fights against exactly the sort of thing being distributed by the fake site (spyware and malware), it had a legitimate complaint against the cybersquatter that went far deeper than mere trademark-related confusion.
The disputed domain name was registered on August 4, 2015.The EFF's complaint against the cybersquatter also pointed out that the URL was being used in bad faith, implanting computers with keyloggers and being used as a backdrop for a spear phishing campaign.
On August 13, 2015, the Complainant was informed that the disputed domain name was being used to confuse consumers by redirecting them to the Complainant’s official website only after surreptitiously installing malicious software on the computers of unsuspecting visitors. According to an affidavit of a Staff Technologist of the Complainant, the malicious code exploited a known vulnerability in the computer programming language Java, by disabling Java security settings which allows it to execute arbitrary Java code without having to ask for the user’s permission.
The incident was reported in the media, for instance in an article published on August 28, 2015 on the website of Ars Technica under the title “Fake EFF site serving espionage malware was likely active for 3+ weeks”.
The Complainant contends that these facts strongly suggest that the disputed domain name was registered for the purpose of supporting a phishing campaign, i.e. an attempt to discover sensitive information such as usernames, passwords or personal details, by confusing consumers into believing that the attacker, to whom information is actually being provided, is in fact a different, trustworthy entity to whom consumers desire to provide information.WIPO found that the EFF's complaint satisfied multiple prongs of its domain name dispute resolution process. The trademark on the name itself dates back to 1993 and the use of the bogus site to deliver malware payloads added up to "bad faith" use.
The domain has been taken from Shawanda Kirlin of Bali, Indonesia, and given to the EFF for its own use. This will kill off one arm of a sophisticated malware campaign with possible ties to the Russian government and prevent further abuse of internet users looking for information on privacy and security.
by Tim Cushing
Mon, Sep 14th 2015 1:03pm
Motion Picture Academy's Five-Year Quest To Make GoDaddy Pay For 'Infringing' Websites Ends In A Loss
from the we're-still-big,-it's-the-courts-that-got-small dept
Back in 2010, the notoriously-litigious Motion Picture Academy sued GoDaddy for allowing a bunch of "infringing" domains to be registered. According to the Academy, anything that might use the word "Oscar" is under its control, thanks to several registered trademarks. Trademark infringement doesn't fall under Section 230 protections, which is basically the only reason this lawsuit managed to stay alive for five years.
Now, it's finally over. (Well, pending appeal…) Kieren McCarthy of The Register is reporting that the court has found in favor of GoDaddy.
The Academy was seeking $31m in damages for 293 domain names that it identified as being registered with and hosted by GoDaddy. An original list of 151 domains in 2009 was subsequently added to as the complaint progressed through the courts.Far too many trademark holders believe holding a registered wordmark gives them veto power on any use of that word. This simply isn't the case, but acts of faith predicated on this belief have resulted in multiple bogus lawsuits and an even greater number of baseless legal threats.
However, a significant number of the names registered were either found not to infringe the Academy's trademarks or were being used legitimately (usually by people called Oscar).
The court found that GoDaddy had a significant number of domain-squatting deterrents built into its system. And, even if it didn't, the sheer number of domains registered with the company makes it impossible to police thoroughly, or at least not to the extent the Academy would like.
GoDaddy is the largest domain name registrar in the world with approximately 60 million domain names under management. GoDaddy has registered more than 150 million domain names since becoming an ICANN-accredited registrar in 2000, averaging over 25,000 domain registrations per day. On average, GoDaddy registers a domain name every 0.7 seconds.The Academy further claimed that GoDaddy violated its trademarks with relevant ads (from Google) running on parked domain pages.
Requiring GoDaddy to subject each domain registration to a costly, manual legal review is not commercially practical and would dramatically increase GoDaddy’s costs, which would in turn be passed on to the consumer.
GoDaddy pointed out that it had no control over what ads would be run by Google on parked domain pages. It further pointed out that the Academy could have contacted Google to prevent the placement of Oscar-related ads on parked domain pages, but chose not to.
Google has implemented a comprehensive trademark protection policy for those domains participating in AdSense for Domains.The court also noted that GoDaddy makes several proactive efforts to protect trademark holders -- like warning prospective registrants against registering domains using trademarked terms as well as shifting the liability to registrants, who must agree they are not knowingly committing infringement before a registration is granted. On top of that, GoDaddy strips ads from any domain being disputed to ensure no one is capitalizing on possible infringement.
Despite being aware of the protections afforded by Google’s trademark policy, AMPAS (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science) chose not to avail itself of the policy in relation to any of the domain names at issue.
AMPAS never contacted Google to object to the use of the AMPAS Marks in Google’s AdSense program, nor has AMPAS complained to Google that the use of the AdSense or AdWords programs infringe on the AMPAS Marks.
Beyond its internal constraints, GoDaddy is forbidden by ICANN from unilaterally cancelling registrations. To do so without the permission of the registrant, a court order must be presented to GoDaddy. Obviously, this is what the Academy was seeking, but it skipped a step by taking GoDaddy to court for not immediately killing registered domains the moment the Academy started getting grumpy about it.
Because this is a trademark case, the Academy's arguments revolved around GoDaddy profiting from allowing the registration of "infringing" domains. As noted above, GoDaddy stripped all ads from the parked domains the Academy complained about. Even the sites that remained active hardly generated any money for GoDaddy or the registrants themselves. Over the years, the Academy has claimed anywhere from $6 to $31 million in damages. The court does the math and finds that if anything was actually owed to the Academy, the check amount wouldn't even reach four digits.
GoDaddy received approximately $107 in total revenue from popunder and Google-provided, third-party pay-per-click advertisements on seventy-two (72) of the 293 domain names at issue. The pop-under revenue accounted for less than $1 of the total revenue.The court finds that GoDaddy made significant good faith efforts to resolve the issues brought to its attention. Not only did it proactively strip ads from offending domains, but it instituted additional keyword blacklists for future use. But this wasn't good enough for the Academy, which still believed the only reason anyone would use the word "Oscar" in a domain name was to siphon profit away from the Academy.
Of the 293 domain names at issue, 221 domain names generated no revenue from Google-provided, third-party pay-per-click advertisements. The most revenue generated by any domain was $13.67.
The total page impressions recorded from 2005 to 2014 for the 293 accused domains was 48,763: (a) 60 accused domains had less than or equal to 10 impressions, (b) 244 accused domains had less than 100 impressions. Some of the recorded impressions were made by AMPAS’s counsel and consultants. The 48,763 recorded impressions on the accused domains represent 0.00044% of all impressions (10,997,067,487) on all domain names participating in one of GoDaddy’s Parked Page programs.
As Kieren McCarthy points out, the Academy long thought it had an open-and-shut case. That's the sort of misconception often accompanies inflated senses of self-worth. To the Academy, the word "Oscar" only refers to one thing. But on the internet, it can mean thousands of things -- most of them entirely unrelated to its annual bloated act of self-congratulation.
Taken overall, the five-year court battle highlighted an enormous clash of cultures. The Academy Awards believes that anything at all to do with its name represents a calculated effort to extort millions of dollars, while GoDaddy as a company that deals with the broader internet and millions of web addresses barely registers the Oscars existence in their systems.The decision will undoubtedly be appealed, but there's not much in this decision that points to a more favorable outcome. The Academy threw it weight around and expected that would be all it ever needed to do. It failed to provide anything that backed up its claims that an internet entity was (yet again) screwing a legacy out of its "rightful" earnings. GoDaddy, on the other hand, showed the court it had done everything it could to assist the Academy in its ridiculous trademark protection efforts, and got thanked for its efforts with five years of litigation.
Wed, Mar 11th 2015 9:10pm
from the neigh dept
Walmart. Just saying the company's name is usually enough to evoke unbidden brain-sounds of terrifying organ music and images of pitchfork-wielding devil-imps. But, hey, it's a large business that's been around for quite a while, so I guess it's doing alright. It seems to me that somebody might want to call a meeting with the Walmart legal brain trust, because the company's campaign against a silly and simple parody website isn't achieving much of anything at all, and is in fact Streisanding the parody site into national views.
This story starts back in 2012, when ICANN saw fit to hold a firesale on domain extensions. Buying them up was all the rage for reasons unfathomable to this author. Still, that was the impetus for how we arrived at Walmart going after a site with a .horse extension.
That explains why, for the mere price of $29, you can now purchase a .horse domain name, if you want to do such a thing. "With .HORSE, there are no hurdles between equine enthusiasts on the Internet," says United Domains. "Giddy up and register .HORSE today!" It doesn't seem like too many people have been receptive to this pun-based sales pitch, but a 34-year-old named Jeph Jacques saw the opportunity for what he calls an "art project."This grand art project? Buying up the domain www.walmart.horse, slapping a picture of the front of a Walmart store with a, you guessed it, horse superimposed over the top, and declaring the whole thing a monumental artistic success. Seriously, this is the only thing at the website if you go there.
"I thought, 'Alright I'm gonna buy this and do something stupid with it and see what happens," he told me. And readers, he did just that.
Monet it might not be, but the image is suddenly competing with the likes of famous artists for attention and views thanks to Walmart freaking the hell out about it. In its infamous wisdom, Walmart and its crackerjack legal team have demanded that the whole shebang be taken down, claiming infringement of trademark. The C&D letter Walmart helpfully sent along suggested that Jacques' website would confuse customers into thinking that Walmart, who is not in either the business of horses nor in the business of having a sense of humor, might have some affiliation to walmart.horse. Interestingly, the letter targets the domain name, rather than the image on the site itself. I'm not personally aware of any infringement claim on domain name being refuted by the actual extension used, but this would seem to be a ripe candidate for that argument, given that Walmart is not in the horse business.
But this really shouldn't even get that far, given the whole purpose of the site itself and the artistic nature of the creator.
Jacques argues that his site is "an obvious parody and therefore falls under fair use." He also told Walmart in his response that he'd be happy to put a disclaimer on his site to let visitors know he is not actually affiliated with the Waltons. And although he doesn't want to bow to the company just yet, he says he's already proved his original hypothesis: that corporations spend an absurd amount of time policing their trademarks.Point proven, I suppose. Meanwhile, a tiny joke site has been Streisanded into the national conversation because Walmart just couldn't resist.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Oct 6th 2014 10:22am
from the that-seems-problematic dept
The latest such example seems especially troubling because no one has any idea what's fully happening, but it appears to involve Chan Luu, a jewelry and clothing retailer. The Internet Commerce Association notes that approximately 5,000 domains appear to have been seized, handed over to a private "receiver" who is now trying to sell those domains -- for no clear reason. One of the victims, Michael Berkens, who lost some of his domains, has explained what little details he's been able to find out:
Overnight I received a notice that several domain names I owned were transferred by a sealed court from Verisign without notice and of course without the court order.The only information that Berkens received was the following email:
The domain names just were transferred by Verisign to another domain and are now listed for sale at another marketplace.
Another domainer sent me an identical notice he received overnight on domain names he owned.
The Domain names are now all owned by COURT APPOINTED RECEIVER – ROBERT OLEA and have been moved to Uniregisty as the registrar and are now listed for sale at domainnamesales.com
Others have tracked down that it has something to do with this case, but with the details under seal, it's all a bit of a mess. Here's Phil Corwin from the Internet Commerce Association:
Please be advised that Verisign has changed the registrar of record for certain domain names pursuant to a ***SEALED*** court order.
The domain names identified below were affected by this action.
Alexander the Great, LLC
If you have any questions relating to these actions, please contact:
David J. Steele
Partner, Christie, Parker & Hale LLP
Adj. Professor of Law, Loyola School
18101 Von Karman Ave, Suite 1950
Irvine, CA 92612-0163
office: +1 (949) 476-0757
direct: +1 (949) 823-3232
fax: +1 (949) 476-8640
Thank you very much,
The Verisign Transfer Dispute Team””
The only other available facts that we are presently aware of are that a copy of the “Clerk’s Certification Of A Judgment To be Registered In Another District” issued by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in the case of Chan Luu Inc. v. Online Growth, LLC et al is available at the Justia website, and the order was registered in the Florida Middle District Court. The other defendants in the case are “Grant Shellhammer et al”. There was a considerable time lag in this proceeding, with the original judgment entered in California on May 23rd, the certification dated September 8th, and the domain transfers occurring around October 2nd. The damages granted to plaintiff are $200,000 plus interest, court costs and attorney fees; we note that there is a strong possibility that the domains transferred in this case may have an aggregate market value far in excess of that total judgment, and that is likewise disturbing. The California court document covers domains that are identical or confusingly similar to Plaintiff’s CHAN LUU mark – but we’re not sure if the domain cited by Mike in his article, RETRACTIT.COM, or any of the other transferred domains fit in that category. Chan Luu is a retailer of jewelry, accessories, and ready-to-wear clothing based in Los Angeles, and so far as can be discerned makes no commercial use of the term “retractit”, so it is unclear why that domain was covered by the court order.This is problematic on many, many levels -- and is exactly why we've been so concerned about any process that allows for domain seizures without any sense of due process. In this case, with all the details under seal and the domain owners having their websites simply ripped away from them with no explanation at all, it should raise serious questions about why courts are allowing this to occur. To take domain names away from people who aren't even parties to a lawsuit, based on a sealed document, and then to immediately put them up for resale seems sketchy beyond belief.
by Glyn Moody
Tue, Aug 5th 2014 5:48am
from the guess-who-they-will-be dept
Just over a year ago, Techdirt reported on big pharma's application to run a new .pharmacy domain, and later on an attempt by Canadian pharmacies to prevent that happening. They failed, apparently (found via Intellectual Property Watch):
As the registry operator of the new .pharmacy domain, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), under a contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), will soon provide a means for identifying safe online pharmacies and resources. Under the Association’s Registry Agreement, executed with ICANN on June 19, 2014, the new .pharmacy generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) will be available only to legitimate online pharmacies and related entities located in the United States or other countries. The Registry Agreement also includes a number of safeguards intended to protect consumers around the world.
The question is: what will "only available to legitimate online pharmacies" and "intended to protect consumers" mean in practice? The concern is that these are euphemisms for big pharma shutting out those competitors offering lower-cost products, particular foreign pharmacies, and manufacturers of generics. That fear is not assuaged by the following comment from the NABP in its response to such concerns (pdf)
the .PHARMACY TLD will provide a powerful tool to educate consumers, distinguish legitimate Internet pharmacies from the thousands of rogue Internet drug outlets, and reinforce the value of purchasing medications only from trusted online sources.
Big pharma is clearly as keen as the copyright industries to "educate" consumers about what they ought to be doing. The danger here is that such "education" will include not trusting perfectly safe pharmacies outside the US (in Canada, for example), and not using much cheaper generics. Since NABP now controls this entire domain it will have a free hand to block any outfit that does not subscribe to those views, and thus to attempt to delegitimize them in the eyes of the consumer.
This is something new. Hitherto, there has been no danger of this kind of discrimination against particular classes of Internet users, since registry operators were focused on maximizing profits by getting as many domains issued as possible. That won't be the case for .pharmacy, where the aim is to police the online pharmacy world, and to protect the generous profits of big pharma -- not make a few dollars selling a domain or two. Assuming that happens, we can probably expect other industries to follow suit in creating and controlling new domains, and for the Internet to become less free and neutral.
Thu, Jul 17th 2014 1:03pm
from the spare-some-change? dept
As online gaming becomes more and more popular, we're of course beginning to hear stories of occasional missteps in how the online infrastructure is handled. The reasons for this can vary. For instance, maybe you're Electronic Arts and you've both made your game require a connection to your servers but you misjudged the load that would be on those servers. Or maybe you're Electronic Arts and you decide to shut down an online game without refunding the money people have spent to play it. Or, hey, maybe you're Electronic Arts and you decide to pull the plug on online gaming servers extremely soon just to push gamers into buying the next annual sports title. The point is that these reasons tend to be things that could be avoided.
Sony appears to be learning that lesson now, what with the gaming universe both shouting and laughing at them for forgetting to renew the domains on several popular gaming sites they run.
Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) sites www.soe.com and www.sonyonline.net were sometimes redirecting users to generic holding pages from Network Solutions. Some SOE-related sites for games such as Everquest, Everquest 2, Landmark and H1Z1 were also apparently affected.The reason became quickly apparent: the domains of the sites expired. The details are basically that the renewal emails all went to a junk mailbox set up for an employee that had left the company a while back and were never actually seen by whoever had taken over their duties. SOE President John Smedley, to his credit, isn't even attempting anything besides an admission and an apology.
“The payment notifications went to a junk email box,” Smedley tweeted, adding, “Someone left and it got caught in the replacements junk filter. Simple as that. Embarrassing as that. No point dodging. DNS problems could take up to 48 hours to resolve,” he wrote, adding, “We are really really sorry on this one folks. Embarrassing and preventable. We screwed up.”Look, it's unfair to expect anyone to never make a mistake, but this all comes off as bush-league stuff that we just shouldn't be reading about when it comes to a company like Sony, with all their experience in running an online gaming platform. Get it together guys. I mean, granted, I have no skin in the game, because I game the way God intended: in a dark room, playing alone, and with a cold craft beer next to me. But, you know, for all the other people.