Domain Name Dispute Resolution

Wednesday, Jul 8, 2009 12:00 pm
William Barnes

My latest IPilogue article What Jay Leno taught me about domain disputes should be up by now. It presented an interesting problem. Topics at IPilogue are assigned by email a few days in advance. We generally just get a link to a news article. But while the article I got on Jay Leno made it sound like a big deal, the case was actually the equivalent of a zoning dispute. There was nothing in it that hadn’t been said a thousand times before (the case was actually copy-and-pasted from an earlier case by the same panelist). Like I said, this presented me with a problem. I didn’t have time to get in touch with the editors and I didn’t have anything compelling to write about.

I solved (I think) this problem by noticing that everything had been said a thousand times before and yet I had never heard it before. There are five types of articles on domain dispute resolution: (1) celebrity gains control of HisOrHerName.com, (2) evil corporation steals Pokey.org from 12 year old kid, (3) case demonstrates that dispute resolution doesn’t work, (4) technological or social change means end to dispute resolution, (5) jokers keep control of obviously infringing website with wacky donkey argument. I did a lot of research for this article and this list is exhaustive. So I figured I could sneak in a little article on the criteria governing the process and though it might not be compelling, it might be useful.

I left out of the article a scenario that seems plausible to me but I cannot find any evidence of having occurred. What if a person registered a famous trademark and used it for a personal website? Let’s say, for a more concrete example, I registered CocaCola.com and put my blog up there. I’m not competing with Coke, but I’m getting some traffic that is meant for them. I am not sure what way that would go. There is an exception for valid commercial uses and where the domain is a nickname. But what if I just wanted to steal Coke’s traffic for my non-commercial site and had no other reason to use that domain?

Also, while writing this I got to think about an idea I had a while back (I think I posted it on IPilogue someplace). Someone should start a username registry:

  1. Trademark owners and celebrities register their desired usernames
  2. New social networks and websites reserve those names
  3. One in a thousand social networks becomes worth joining
  4. Trademark owners pay to the network a price based on size or some other metric for the reserved name

That way, when the next Twitter comes along, CNN can be sure that newtwitter.com/CNN is available. They’ll have to pay for the privilege, but they won’t be penalized for not being early adopters. It also means a little free money for the social network.

Cybercrime

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 9:18 am
William Barnes

The word is starting to grow on me. I used to really dislike it. It sounded like something out of a Saturday morning cartoon. Mostly it (along with “cyberspace”) just encourages people to talk about the Internet as if it were a place. The Internet isn’t a place, it’s a bunch of computers and wires that talk to each other. The whole “cyberspace” metaphor is useful for quickly explaining something, but it doesn’t really represent what is going on in your computer.

My first IPilogue article was just published: What is Cybercrime? It’s mainly a comment on another article on the same subject which basically defines cybercrimes as crimes taking place in cyberspace and then concludes that none exist: all cybercrimes are just regular crimes adapted to work in cyberspace. The author does, in a later article, express a little embarrassment at the term but she does not acknowledge its unsuitability. I say rather that cybercrimes are just unique computer crimes. They’re crimes that weren’t possible without computers but they don’t require us to invent some kind of allegory to make them fit into our existing system of criminal laws.

IPilogue

Thursday, Apr 2, 2009 10:26 pm
William Barnes

IPilogue is Osgoode Hall Law School’s student run IP blog. They run a short article on a topic in IP almost every day. A few weeks ago, I noticed a posting on the website calling for editors. I saw that the job description didn’t specifically say “You must be an Osgoode student”, so I sent an email asking if they would accept an application from me. Turns out they would. Then it turned out that they accepted me as an editor. Pretty cool.

I had my very first meeting today. I was rather nervous at the beginning, being the only non-Osgoode student. But after that wore off, it went pretty well. After I introduced myself as being a first year from UofT, two of the people who came after introduced themselves as being from Osgoode. I don’t know whether to read anything into that. Everybody seems very nice. I wish I could have stayed a bit longer to meet some of the people who stayed behind, but I had to run to start my three hour journey home. Next time I have to go to Osgoode, I drive.

In related news: what kind of a word is “cybercrime”? It sounds like what RoboCop would fight. Or some kind of scary title for a Dateline episode: “You could be a victim of Cybercrime.” Computer crime has too many syllables. I suppose cybercrime is catchy, but something about the word just makes me feel uncomfortable. Maybe it’s a geek thing. I’m too used to cringing whenever a non-tech tries to talk about computers or the internet. And I’ve just come to associate the prefix “cyber” with non-techies. Wow. I learned something about myself. Justice McLachlin (as she then was) was right: expression can be a tool for self-realization.