Premier’s Blogger Battle

Canadian domain name aficionados and Albertan politicos of all stripes have had a chuckle over the edstelmach.ca story the last few days. In case you missed it, popular Alberta blogger Dave Cournoyer (who blogs at daveberta.ca) was threatened by lawyers for Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach, who were agitated that Cournoyer had registered the edstelmach.ca domain name.

Stelmach’s lawyer, a specialist in family and criminal injury issues, claimed that Cournoyer had registered the name in “bad faith” (which would open up a claim under CIRA’s Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy) and also accused Cournoyer of “misappropriating” Stelmach’s personality, which led Cournoyer to quip: “I’m not sure where Ed Stelmach’s personality is, but I certainly didn’t take it.”

However, in a development under the heading “turnabout is fairplay”, on Wednesday the domain daveberta.com was purchased by Calgary-based financial advisor Andrea Kirby. For a brief period on Thursday, the daveberta.com site was directed to the Wikipedia page for weasels.

For more coverage, including Michael Geist’s comments about the Premier’s poor chances of success, see the list of links at see daveberta.ca.

Rare Look Into The World Of Domainers

A recent CNN article shines a spotlight on the rarely seen world of top professional domainers, and the tactics they’ve created to capture their sizable portions of cyberspace. The story includes details on the workings of Cameroon’s .cm country code domain, so valuable because of its resemblance to the .com top level domain. Interesting to note that several of the domainers profiled in this article live here in Vancouver or other parts of British Columbia.

.CA Domain Hits 20 Year Milestone

20 years ago today, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) delegated the .CA domain to John Demco, then of the University of British Columbia (UBC) Computer Sciences Department. The Vancouver Sun reports that, on May 14, 1987, the commercialization of the Web wasn’t on Demco’s or anyone else’s radar – in fact the Web as we know it wasn’t even in existence. Demco operated the .CA domain for 13 years on a volunteer basis, charging no fees for .CA domain registrations.

Today, the .CA domain is the 13th most popular country code domain in the world, with over 837,000 registrations, Demco is a director of one of the largest .CA Registrars and the Canadian Internet Registration Authority has responsibility for the .CA Domain, which it took over from UBC in 2000.

getafirstlife.com Gets a Legal Nod

We previously reported on the Canadian law regarding parodies of trademarks. Parodies of websites and domain names can be a more complex issue but it seems that some targets actually have a sense of humour.

Recently the website getafirstlife.com, created by Vancouver based blogger Darren Barefoot and parodying the website of the increasingly popular “metaverse” of secondlife.com created by San Franciso based Linden Lab, has been given the go ahead from Linden Lab’s lawyers. Second Life is a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents with its own economy and a currency referred to as Linden Dollars (L$), prompting residents to question the legal status of their virtual currency in the real world.

Getafirstlife.com imitates the look of the website for Second Life’s virtual world and uses a logo that’s a modified version of Second Life’s logo. A link on the getafirstlife.com website invited cease-and-desist letters, the type lawyers often send threatening legal action against website parodists. In response, Linden Lab’s lawyers sent a humorous “permit and proceed” letter claiming “Linden Lab objects to any implication that it would employ lawyers incapable of distinguishing such obvious parody. Linden Lab is well-known for having strict hiring standards, including a requirement for having a sense of humour, from which our lawyers receive no exception.” The letter also grants Barefoot a “nonexclusive, nontransferable, nonsublicenseable, revocable, limited license” to use the modified logo on T-shirts he sells.

Barefoot acknowledged that the “permit and proceed” letter was “of enormous credit to the company”. Second Life have registered 3 million new account holders in the last four months.

Access To WHOIS Information To Be Restricted?

A story on law.com today states that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which controls the registries for domain names with the popular .com, .net and .org top level domain extensions, will likely be voting in September on a proposal to limit the public availability of WHOIS information. This proposal has sparked a battle between trademark owners and their legal representatives on the one hand, who favour more disclosure, and privacy advocates on the other, who favour less disclosure.

The ICANN council is considering three options: Continue to let domain name owners’ personal, technical and administrative contact information be viewed by all Internet users; display only the name and country of an owner and allow that person or entity to designate additional information for a point of contact; or keep the current system and allow owners to cloak contact information only if there’s a risk to a registrant’s personal safety.

 See our post of February 27, 2007 for details on the status of the proposal to restrict public access to WHOIS information of registrants of .ca domain names.

UDRP Decisions UP, CDRP Decisions Down

The National Arbitration Forum (NAF), a leading dispute resolution service provider for domain name disputes, reports that the number of dispute resolution proceedings it handled involving domain names rose significantly in 2006, with a 21% increase over the number of disputes that it handled in 2005. The majority of cases involved domain names with the popular .com, .net, .org top level domains, which are handled under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP).

Contrast that with the situation in Canada, where the number of CDRP (Canadian Internet Registration Authority Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy) decisions in 2006 handled by all dispute resolution service providers involving the .ca country code top level domain actually fell from the number of such decisions in 2005, despite the continuing and increasing growth in the number of .ca domain name registrations.

Keep in mind that NAF also handles disputes over other less popular top level domains, such as .biz, .info, .pro and .mobi, as well as a number of country code domains, including .us, .tv and .cc (but not .ca domain names), which may account for some of its increased activity, however the bulk of its work continues to be disputes under the UDRP.

Update on CIRA’s new WHOIS Policy

From the Minutes of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) Board of Directors Meeting held January 30, 2007:

“6. Update on WHOIS

K. von Arx updated the Board of Directors on the WHOIS implementation plan noting that staff had finalized the amendments and additions to CIRA’s Policies, Rules and Procedures necessary to implement the WHOIS privacy protections for individual Registrants. The technical implementation of the WHOIS, namely ceasing to display personal information of individual Registrants in the WHOIS, cannot proceed until the technical staff has time to analyze the amount of work required. The analysis will be prepared by March 2007 once the Membership Authentication project and changes to the Election software are completed.” 

See our posting of August 22, 2006 which discusses the proposed changes to CIRA’s WHOIS policy and the implications of those changes. From the above Board minutes, it sounds like this will become reality in the next few months.