[At-Large] U.S. seizure of .ORG domain name

Evan Leibovitch evan at telly.org
Fri Feb 4 21:08:34 UTC 2011

On 4 February 2011 15:42, Joly MacFie <joly at punkcast.com> wrote:

> It seems to me that, while there appears a well established process whereby
> the property of counterfeiters are seized - I see this happening regularly
> down the block from my studio near Canal Street NYC - ground zero for dodgy
> handbags and timepieces - it's a different mater when it comes to domains,
> in that is restricting communication, and thus amounts to censorship,
> raising first amendment issues.

Indeed ... but that's an internal US political and legal discussion beyond
the bounds of ICANN. Laws such as the Patriot Act and ACTA trod on freedom
of speech as a matter of course. And American society still has its own long
list of free-expression taboos, whether it's a bare nipple shown on
broadcast TV or nativity scenes in government buildings. And I've heard a
rumour that the intellectual property industry has its own views on the
limitations of free speech that might be quite different from yours or mine.

But no matter. This is not an American mailing list or an American domestic
policy discussion; if we're trying to make this issue useful in an ICANN
context it needs to be generalized beyond any one country's borders.

Many Western countries have hate-speech laws that outlaw content which would
be protected speech in the US. So if the opposite instance occurred -- say a
"kill the gays" website domain that was registered under a Canadian or
European TLD but hosted in the US -- the domain expropriation could
conceivably still happen. The US Constitution would not protect against laws
in the registrant's or registry's country.

IANAL, but this is how I have interpreted the activity I have seen so far.

- Evan

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