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Home » Hacking News » First amendment on the Internet

First amendment on the Internet

by Nikola Strahija on April 6th, 2005 A decision by the Ninth Circuit (California) of the US Court of Appeals has clarified where the law stands in relation in protest websites, ruling that despite Michael Kremer owning and running a protest website at the exact same dotcom address as a company's trademark, the law was not broken because it was a non-commercial site.


The decision potentially sets a dramatic precedent protecting protest sites' first amendment rights on the Internet and undermining a body of pseudo-law created by domain name arbitrator WIPO with regard to such sites.

WIPO has frequently found for the company in such situations, basing the decision on an infringement of a company's trademark. With the US stating categorically that this is not the case, it will be hard for WIPO to follow such logic in future.

And while WIPO's frequently criticised failure to include an appeals process into its process makes it unlikely that the many "sucks" domains will be returned to their original owners, it does raise a very significant question about how disputes will be decided from now on.

Under the UDRP rules, an arbitrator is obliged to take into account the national law of the defendant. WIPO now finds itself in a bind between potentially going against US law by following its own previous decisions, or executing a large u-turn and dismissing its own case law.

In the recently decided case - Bosley Medical versus Michael Kremer - Mr Kremer was unhappy about hair restoration treatment he was given by the company, which advertises extensively in the US.


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