The court found that under the California tariffs, rules, and regulations applicable to public utilities, and under the terms of the contracts, the debtors had no “proprietary right in the number.”
...under Virginia law, the user of a telephone number or domain name does not have a property interest in that phone number or domain name.
Governments have the right to assign to themselves any telephone number they wish, and reserve ranges of phone numbers for themselves, therefore it makes sense that they can do the same to domain names.
If people felt strongly about this issue, the law could be changed, but as of right now, under current law, this does not appear to be theft.
I'm not sure the courts would hold the same conclusions for domain names and phone numbers. While even if the latter is not property, the former could be treated as intellectual property. Though in this case, that would be one more reason to give the domain name to the French government…
> Call JG Wentworth- 877-CASH-NOW!
> So ladies, if ya' butt is round, and you want a Triple-X throw down, dial 1 900-MIX-A-LOT and kick them nasty thoughts. Baby got back!
> I pity the foo' who don't use 1 800-COLLECT
> Jenny Jenny, don't change your number: 8-6-7-5-3-0-9!
> Save big bucks on every call- dial 1 800-CALL-ATT
And that's off the top of my head, many of which I haven't heard for 15 or more years.
This isn't unlike how phone numbers used to be until 10-20 years ago (and still are for many people today, outside of tech circles).
Off the top of my head, I can rattle off at least six different phone numbers for businesses which I've never used (and some of which don't even exist anymore), simply because they chose a phone number that spelled out something memorable and relevant, and then used that heavily in their promotional materials and advertising, the same way you would for a domain name or app name today.
Heck Googling just one, I found a Youtube documentary that chronicles the 40-year history of jingles associated with one of those numbers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDv8zqpl8mI
> Also, the practical consequences of losing a phone number are much tamer than that of losing a domain name.
That's absolutely not true. They actually translate one-to-one quite well.
> While even if the latter is not property, the former could be treated as intellectual property
"Intellectual property" is a catchall term that conflates three completely distinct concepts in law: copyright, patents, and trademarks.
Phone numbers are obviously not patentable; the entire idea is nonsensical. And phone numbers are explicitly not subject to copyright protection, and there's case law about this exact scenario. You can copyright a particular publication of phone numbers (such as a phone book), but not the number itself, and even if you could, that doesn't mean you're actually the owner of the number (the one who holds the copyright).
You could make the argument for trademark protection, and that's exactly what this case is about. Unfortunately, it's a bidirectional application of competing marks - the man who owns France.com was already being accused of infringing French trademark law in the first place by claiming France.com as a mark.
In germany there was 0190 76 76 76 - come play with me. (seven - sex, seven - sex, etc.)
"as seen on TV" type ads selling kitchen gadgets and such will pay a fairly large amount of money for a "good" 800 DID.
If you're setting up the inbound call center call routing for something like selling slapchops or asbestos-related personal injury lawyers (just as an example of television direct marketing), a vastly higher percentage of the age 55+ target market recognizes 800 immediately but is less certain about 888, 877 and others.
That used to be the case, but not so much anymore. 888 and 877 have been used enough by major companies over the past twenty years that most consumers know they are TF. The companies who claim 800 is the only way to go and not 888/877/866 have a vested financial interest in convincing you of that.
(Note: 855/844/833 have much less awareness, so my omission of them above was intentional)
Also, not disputing they are really valuable, I know that’s true from personal experience as well.
I’m more arguing that 800 numbers are valuable for a similar reason to diamonds being valuable. It’s not because diamonds are super rare or truly needed, it’s because the marketing has been so effective on them. The unbiased studies I’ve read show 888/877 are just as readily known and give a similar positive brand image as 800 numbers are. The industry doesn’t want to admit it though because they’ll lose out on the hype money.
Trademarks, being in the same boat, could in theory be revoked with less due process.
> Two key points support the view that patents are matters of purely “public right.” The first is the notion, illustrated by quotations from earlier cases, that the patent is a “creature of statute law” that “take[s] from the public rights of immense value, and bestow[s] them upon the patentee.” The second is that the Constitution explicitly allocates to Congress the power to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts” by granting patents; Congress’ decision to authorize the executive branch to grant patents is thus a constitutionally sanctioned delineation of “the executive power,” something which “need not be adjudicated in an Article III court.”
Public rights are not property.
I don't think we've routinely required ".com" to be part of the business branding of .com domain owners, but Ars Technica says he had that.
Does this mean they can seize the word “France” in other languages well?
So France didn't "seize" anything.
You can argue the govt of France shouldn't have filed this suit, but based on what reasoning? It's not really their job to protect the interests of US citizens. I mean, that's how it is. It's not very nice. In reverse, the US only seems to care about US citizens as well. I agree it would be nice if governments cared more about the rights of their allies' citizens as well, such as not violating their privacy on a global scale and not hacking into the private home computers of allies' citizens.
Also I kind of feel the article confuses the matter a little by referring to the guy as a "French-born American" (which isn't at all relevant enough to the case to lead with in the first paragraph), and incorrectly stating he "has now sued his home country" when he has in fact sued his country of birth. His home country is the USA if he's an American. (unless I got the meaning of those terms wrong, in which case I stand by the fact that it's confusing to lead with :) )
edit I think I wanted to reply to the sibling post, sorry for even more confusion :)
The internet is deeply democratic, maybe anarchic -- whatever rules I want my machine to follow it follows. If people generally disagreed with this decision, a viral hosts file would roll it back.
(I don't think this so alarming a case that it will spawn a movement, but that response is available.)
.onion and namecoin and various others are a wholecloth attempt at this.
But it goes farther than hosts and alt roots. One of the unique properties of the internet is that if it gets overburdened with cruft people don't like, we can just build it from scratch on top of existing systems.
There are infinite namespaces. You could build a copy of the Internet that's the same but with no Facebook. You could build a copy of the internet where all domains are mapped right to left. You could build a copy of the internet that only hosts MUDs.
Adoption isn't guaranteed, or even likely, but maybe widespread adoption is part of the problem you're running from in the first place.
Here's to the dystopia of unregulatable and unusable internet fragmentation. Some pros, some cons.
Not if I take my sim card and put it in another phone, or call my service provider to cancel my service and then they reuse the number for a new client.
Maybe I'm missing the point, but phone numbers, domain names, and ip addresses are all references that requiere looking up in some table (think routing tables for ip addresses and, I imagine, phone numbers).
You're right, phone numbers aren't fixed. I went too far slipping that one in. My apologies.
I generally don't remap remote phone numbers on my own equipment at home. I'm sure I could run an Asterisk PBX, but that's at least one level of complication harder than using a hosts file. The phone system is designed for companies to talk to one another, the internet is basically designed to allow distributed authority and control.
Hackers have spent decades hacking into the telephone system to make it work more like the internet, before there was even an internet to resemble.
And the internet is agnostic, it will absolutely let you give up control to a remote authority over some aspects of its operation, like for DNS or certificates or DDoS mitigation, and sometimes that's a good trade. But it's never obligatory.
So the two converge and overlap, but I stand by my point that there's a fundamental difference stemming from original design and philosophy.
Actually no, the whole point of number portability in the north american numbering plan is that they don't, allowing the end-user of a phone number to move it from one service provider to another as they please.
For example from an MVNO riding on AT&T to T-Mobile, or from a Telus landline POTS number to a pure-voip SIP trunking/DID-termination provider.
this would be logically similar to transferring a domain from one registrar to another, while the ownership info remains the same. It's hard to make an exact analogy, but what carrier a number goes to in the number portability system is not extremely dissimilar from what authoritative nameservers are entered for the ns1/ns2/ns3 for a typical .com domain.
- that person gets a new phone
- a hacker politely calls customer support and asks to have a new phone activated on that number
- the area code is split and someone else ends up getting the number
One important one is “customer ports the number to a different carrier”.
by no means does a phone number mean that it must always go to a mobile phone network.
The implications of the current legal position you describe are troubling.
These virtual identifiers, whether it's a phone number or an email address or a domain name or a Twitter handle, are now the dominant way we contact someone. Physical addresses that are inherently tied to their current occupant (and the well-established pain that comes with updating everyone if you move home or office) are becoming secondary.
More than that, these IDs are becoming trusted ways to reach a specific person. Many organisations, including the likes of banks and governments, now rely on some form of two-factor authentication using phones for access to important facilities. Many organisations will grant you the keys to (your part of) their kingdom as long as you can respond to an email to the address they hold for you. Many businesses reach their customers through services at their domain, and that domain may enjoy special privileges that a customer has permitted such as being whitelisted for sending important emails or just simple things like being bookmarked in the customer's browser or turning off an ad-blocker to support a site.
The law seems to be outpaced significantly by the technology and society's use of it here. If we aren't going to enjoy real property rights in terms of these essential identities that are managed or hosted by third party services, stories like the one we're talking about here today may be the tip of the iceberg.
That's a good argument for changing the law.
However, this is wrong:
"More than that, these IDs are becoming trusted ways to reach a specific person."
That is something that I would like to see, but that is definitely not the way things work now. If I fail to pay to renew a domain name, I lose it, just like if I fail to pay my phone bill, I lose it. I would like to see ids that belong to each person for life and which can not be sold or transferred. I'd especially like the postal service to offer me that option, so I would no longer need to give my physical address to strangers, but instead could simply give them my postal alias. But no such thing exists right now.
No more so than actual real estate being seized by governments under Eminent Domain laws.
If nobody has the right to a phone number, and governments can assign any telephone number to themselves that they wish, that the Russian government can take over the phone number to the Whitehouse Switchboard? Then the Whitehouse would have to take it back and it would be the start of a perpetual tug-of-war?
I assume your response would be that "no, the US has already reserved that number". But isn't that what happened with France.com? It was already reserved.
You oughta think a .com domain is more suitable for a commercial entity then for a government/state department.
Just some quick ones I checked, but you get the gist.
I.e. see http://sweden.com/ vs http://sweden.se/
Or http://www.skatteverket.se/ vs http://www.skatteverket.com/ for that matter.
From my experience .com is the de-facto domain for international commercial entities. For my personal domain I use hultner.se
a perfect example of the exception proving the rule, i think
They don't do that after the fact.
They have and do. https://voiceofpeopletoday.com/kim-jong-un-orders-change-num...
It's unusual for the French government, who has some of the strongest consumer protections on the planet.
I'm not making an argument. I'm stating a fact, because the gp stated an incorrect fact (a generalization about governments). You can take a look at a number of other world countries that have changed phone numbers for various reasons, amounting the to same thing. A trivial refutation of
> They don't do that* after the fact.
* = change the ownership of phone numbers/domains
Things happen slowly in the EU. That's not a surprise to those who live in it.
The DNS phonebook analogy would mean France.com is the name and the IP is the phone number.
What was done would be equivalent to taking a man's name from him leaving him with only his phone number.
What if America assigns themselves a.com and Australia also assigns themselves a.com ? Only one can prevail. There needs to be some higher power to determine whose demand wins.
This one's easy; the US owns .com and Australia doesn't, so obviously the US will win.
This makes it pretty mysterious why France would have a claim on a .com domain, though. They own .fr, not .com.
Governments can and do steal. For instance multiple nations have now passed laws forcibly seizing land from individuals, without compensation, exclusively because of their race. That's still theft. More accurate would be to state that "this does not appear to be unlawful."
And domains are not like phone numbers, they're like entries in a phone book. This would be more analogous to a famous "Joe Blow" getting the phone book to remove every other "Joe Blow" from the phone book since he feels (and is probably correct) that if somebody's looking up "Joe Blow", they're probably looking for him. And that is not an action I think is reasonable.
Did France use trademark law to pressure the registrar to transfer the domain name registration?
What if Frydman was not using the domain name to provide information about anything covered by the classes under which France registered its trademark(s)?
What about if, e.g., France had registered in some class covering tourism and Frydman was providing information about French tourism.
Does it matter? Why or why not?
Which would be a security nightmare.
It's ... nothing at all like cybersquatting. At all.
They let him use it until he tried to claim it for himself.
IMHO the only offensive part is how they took so much time to do it. That part is very nasty.
"on March 12, 2018, Web.com abruptly transferred ownership of the domain to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The company did so without any formal notification to Frydman and no compensation."
It is actually just another example proving the warning we have all known/given for years about SaaS / cloud providers owning your digital properties.
In the france.com case, presumably the owner of the domain was paying Web.com for the domain, and they allegedly received no compensation from Web.com when it was transferred. Seems like a pretty blatant breach of contract to me. Why isn't Web.com being sued? Suing them indirectly via Verisign doesn't make sense.
Their UI though is a bit crappy compared to other places though (like hover). Hover though I suspect wouldn't put up any kind of resistance.
Sir T only invented the www. The internet as such was invented by an American agency - ARPA/DARPA.
CERNs homepage is https://home.cern
Not entirely the case. If your domain name represents a registered trademark, I think you’ll find the courts on your side should someone attempt to commandere your domain name.
In other words, this case does not hinge on trademark. My point is that cases that do hinge on trademark tend to work out in favor of the trademark owner.
This case feels like a kind of imminent domain.
So it's not clear why Web.com even responded to the complaint unless they have a presence in France. Or was the risk that it could have been escalated to a European level of penalty?
I guess this means we should all ask our registrars what countries' court orders they'll abide by? What happens if Maduro has a Venezuelan court order seizing DolarToday.com?
Using a domain name in bad faith against an established trademark are both necessary conditions to seize a domain name. If the term is generic, it cannot be trademarked. There is also beyond dispute that it was used in good faith.
tldr : a woman named Milka bought the domain for her own business and used it for a while before Kraft foods noticed it. Lawsuit followed, big business won.
In this case, big business hasn't won yet: http://www.digest.com/Big_Story.php
In this case, "something.fr" should be sufficient in France and yet the reality is that if you don’t also control "something.<foo>" for all possible values of "<foo>", you might encounter a problem later.
Even worse, it has evolved that we now have to care about certain patterns on certain sites. What if you don’t control "something.facebook.com", or "reddit.com/r/something" for instance?
It’s crazy. We need to be deploying security technologies further so that names alone can stop mattering so damned much. All we seem to have in wide use are certificates, which are still not required and essentially not understood by users (if they don’t get an entity name and padlock, they’d probably load the site anyway).
Having an alias under the .gov TLD for people used to this TLD would make sense, like eg tourism.france.gov => tourisme.gouv.fr
I used to work for a domain name marketplace where we sold kittens.com for $6 million dollars. France.com has to be worth a few million.
I don't know that kittens.com was ever turned into anything, they may have just bought it betting on it being worth even more in the future.
Hopefully it turns out well for Mr. Frydman as it did for me (even though Paris still hasn't paid up):
I have read the entire judgement and beside the fact you can not register the name of a country, he had not also the right to register a trademark from the beginning.
You'd still need to avoid a false impression of origin for your chairs, but it could work if they're actually from France, you provide an alternate association for the word France in your context ("From Mr. France himself, your Kentucky neighbor since 1993!"), or just include in your branding/advertising enough clarity on where the chairs are from.
> Defendants knew that they did not, and do not, have a right to the word "France," as evidenced by Defendant Atout France's US Trademark Registration No. 4027580, filed in 2009, in which Defendant expressly disclaimed the exclusive right to the word "France."
Whereas for a country name like France, people assume much less about the purveyor of a good simply based on that kind of a reference in its name.
Or America.com (a godaddy page).
Could this guy sue Web.com?
Maybe he can win the fight to Web.com on behalf of the WWW.
To add to the list,
brazil.com(website inaccessible), russia.com, india.com(news website), china.com, southafrica.com
What happens if I register icar.com for product that syncs your car to the cloud. Then Apple decides they want to compete with Elon Musk, with their new Icar. Who will get the domain?
What happens when a large company decides to rebrand it's self and wants the domain?
What happens to Nissan? http://www.nissan.com
Mr. Nissan is lucky that he had an existing business that wasn't car related and he only registered his name...
One of the reasons I used Apple is because it is easy to point to some examples of them acting in bad faith. Iphone and the music side both had legal niceties surrounding them, from all the parties involved.
If if was a small company or a single person in either of these cases, it would generally be a steam roll. Perhaps ipad.com is a squatter but I would want to make very sure before I give the rights to Apple.
UDRP cost a few thousand dollars. iPad.com, IIRC, was registered before Apple came up with iPad. Plus, iPad is an entire product line.
I'll grant that domain squatting is bad and not something we should want to enable, but it's also bad to automatically let the most powerful company win. If your name is Nissan and you own a computer store, you shouldn't have nissan.com taken from you because the car company is bigger. If your name is Mike Rowe and you thought to register mikerowesoft.com for your software projects, you're clever, and should get to keep your domain.
He’d probably have better luck suing web.com or the new registrar in a US court and forcing them to hand it back.
.gov, .fr, etc were created for a reason. Trademark law is intended to protect people from intentionally misleading branding.
These two items taken together should make it obvious that France.gov is the only name the government of France 'should' be entitled to. If you are willing to say that France.com should be available to the French government... then it's a slippery slope. Are you going to give them to right to take down critical websites with titles like Francesucks.com or Francegenocide.com.
These lawsuits have played out before between private individuals like Madonna et al.
Why should a government be privileged to seize any .com that they deem to be in their interest? There is no evidence that France.com was not being used in a nefarious or misleading way.... in fact it sounds like the government had at least unofficially endorsed the site's usage and contributed. It was being used for a bonafide business.
I really think anyone defending a government's 'right' to seize this domain name is forgetting the underlying liberal democratic principles of the internet. Rights are for people, not governments. I don't see how France acting in this way serves its people constructively.
EDIT: It seems like all people care to comment on is the fact that they (and I) already know that .gov is for the US government, while other countries have their own TLDs.
Let me play Devil's Advocate for a moment to hopefully make you think more critically about this decision.
What if you owned a famous China (dishware, cups, etc) company and registered China.com back in 1994. Do you think China should be allowed to take that domain?
Or another, what if a new country were formed that were suddenly the same name as a pre-existing multinational corporation.... Government wins? Always?
It boggles the mind how anyone in their right mind can believe that a cyber-squatter shoud somehow have the right to hold the domain name of a sovereign nation for ransom.
It’s seems uncommon for countries to actually own COUNTRY.com - UnitedStates.com, America.com, Germany.com and many more are privately held.
So, unclear what your point is.
Mine, is that countries generally don’t seem to care about the .com (of any variation) of the country name.
I... just don't know how to respond to this. Do you have any proof that it was 'being held for ransom'? It sounds like it wasn't for sale at any price... it was hosting the man's business.
And I definitely don't agree with cyber-squatting... in fact I personally think that 'parked' domains should be returned to the public domain after some X years. I hate that there are people holding vast numbers of potentially useful domain names and not using them for anything.
I just don't understand how you drew that conclusion in this particular case... it sounds like the opposite actually.
Though I don't think they deal with domain names.
Apparently, the .gov tld was created to be uses exclusively
by government entities in the United States.
France is not a government entity of the USA.
They type "france travel information" into Google.
If his name was France, his use of the domain would have been more defensible(depending on what he was doing with the domain).
As an owner of worcester.com, this is the argument we had with the city of Worcester, MA in the 90s. They did in fact want worcester.gov.
Should the French government waste tax money in hiring American attorneys and representing itself? I would say no.
Correct me if I'm wrong (seriously, please do) but it seems to me that namecoin being (technically) a fork of bitcoin, shares most of bitcoin's problems, in particular regarding mining and exchange.
Here was my doubt: suppose that I get namecoins and obtain .bit domain name, how do i keep it registered? Do i have to mine? Do i have to renew by "spending" namecoins? Can i get namecoins on exchanges? (spoiler to last question: yes).
Here is how it might just fail: given that namecoins has mostly the same cryptographic properties of bitcoin, if namecoin was to become widely adopted then everybody would start mining and selling namecoins, making namecoin price skyrocket at the point where 1) mining namecoins to keep your domains would become super expensive 2) people would burn "real" money on gpu mining and asic miners, accumulating large amounts of coins and keeping them hostage (that is, hoping to sell them for a lot of "real" money).
I wonder if this concept will ever make it to the digital world.
I don't think the public gets to go scott free in this. France is a democracy. If the French government does something, all French people are responsible for it. That's what the world says about us, why not France?
I guess Ars was sleeping at the wheel when posting this.
Showing Network Solutions for a long time then switched to OVH in March.