Domain names are not property

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Domain names are not property

Post by virtual_master » Wed Feb 05, 2014 9:45 am

US court decision of last year that domains are not a property: ... erty.shtml

Will this affect security concerns in ICANN domains ?
Could it bring more attention for a decentralized domain system like Namecoin ?
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Re: Domain names are not property

Post by domob » Wed Feb 05, 2014 10:19 am

Very interesting! While the blog post seems to indicate this could make it harder to justify seizures, my gut feeling is that this actually even makes it easier ... if they are not property but "contractual rights", shouldn't it be even easier for the government to "nullify" contracts related to "criminal activity" instead of seizing actual property? According to my very limited understanding of laws, I would at least expect that property has a higher legal protection status than contracts, even if there may not (yet) be explicit laws allowing seizures of non-property (since they may not even be necessary in that case).

Definitely one more point for organisations like Wikileaks or TPB to use .bit instead of ICANN. ;)
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Re: Domain names are not property

Post by drllau » Sun Feb 09, 2014 1:08 am

For those interested in the fundamentals, this ruling might prove interesting in distinguishing between property and a position (marker, guidepost, etc). In the old Aussie Torrens land system ( the state maintained a central recordsd and guaranteed indefeasibility of a registered interest (elaborated today under personal property securities laws). However, in the case cited of Network Solutions, Inc. v. Umbro International the Virginia supreme court ruled that a domain name is not personal property, merely a contractual relationship. BUT in my view they act as "land" markers, staking out a claim in the noosphere (the intangible personalty of the force of individual creation). In a sense, a telephone number is a "service" provided by telco and only can be altered under the laws of contract (unless overridden by communications legislation mandating number portability). But a collection of such items, the domainname, nicknames, even bitcoin public key can collectively be "property" within an overarching legal structure. The other aspect is that some identifiers (ENUM or otherwise) are only social constructs within communities (eg geeks know instantly ESR) and thus have reputational / social capital extrinsic to the actual record keeping entity.

My question is, what is the bare MINIMUM for such a structure to be a judicial person (if not necessarily full incorporation)

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