Know Your Domain Rights

By , January 18, 2014

Yesterday we wrote a guest piece for Techdirt that lamented the current “ad-hoc regulatory” landscape in the domain name industry.

We use the phrase “ad hoc” because given our experiences with both foreign law enforcement agencies and private lobby groups, they are issuing increasingly onerous “takedown” demands upon domain registrars with a complete lack of legal basis.

We recently won a ruling where we were able to free up a number of domain names were suspended and locked down (prevented from transferring out) through a complete absence of due process.

No sooner had the National Arbitration Forum (NAF) handed down their ruling, which upheld our arguments that we received a letter from a pharmacy lobby group “directing us to adopt practices and policies” which were not only in direct contravention of the current rules governing domain registrars, but also contradicted the fresh NAF ruling.

What all this means:

  • There are groups out there who are attempting to fulfill their own agenda by claiming or exaggerating their legal standing with respect to other people’s domain names.
  • They are then prevailing on domain registrars to takedown and lock domain names based on their own interpretations of the registrar accreditation rules.
  • A lot of registrars are actually complying with these requests and taking domain names down and thus, websites offline.

The most important take away from our recent battle and subsequent ruling is this:

If your registrar shuts down your domain because some third party requested it on a quasi-pseudo legal basis:

Unless there is a court order in the jurisdiction of the Registrar who shuts you down – they CANNOT stop you from transferring your domain out to another Registrar.

That is your basic domain right which is in the ICANN Inter Registrar Transfers Policy and was just upheld by an NAF panel under an ICANN TDRP proceeding.

The current Transfers Policy is currently in the Policy Development Phase and may be revised, we hope it clarifies and strengthens Registrants rights, but there are a lot of competing interests at work.

Watch this space as this very important internet governance issue unfolds.

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