NOTE Jan 12/2015: This article is getting a lot of traffic because of what is happening between Internet.bs and the 8chan.co domain takedown. It should be clarified that this post refers to Generic Top Level Domains like .com, .net, .org and the new TLDs (like .website, .press etc) which are under direct authority of ICANN Registrar Accreditation Agreements, specifically the inter-registrar transfer policy and its accompanying dispute mechanism (TDRP) under which we pursued the action described below last year.
.CO is NOT a generic Top Level Domain under direct ICANN oversight. It is a country code, specifically the country code for Colombia. Thus, the TDRP under which we forced the transfers in this post may not apply. I honestly don't know if they do. It all depends on 1) who is licensed to operate the .CO registry on behalf of the Colombian government (not sure who that is, could be Neustar from the looks of it); and 2) what rules they decided to adopt to accredit registrars and govern them.
In other words, it is unclear to me if what we did last year in the case below can applied to a .co domain. If it were a .com then then the answer would be an absolute clear "yes". For a .co, not so much.
– Original post begins below
The National Arbitration Forum has just handed down its decision in respect to the three domain names locked down at Public Domain Registry in response to the City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit takedown requests. The decision is in favour of easyDNS and orders the three names to be transferred to us.
The full text of the decision is available here, the notable finding is that:
No court order has been issued which would prohibit the transfer of the domain names at issue from the Registrar of Record to the Gaining Registrar. Therefore, there is nothing in the Transfer Policy which authorizes the Registrar of Record to refuse to transfer the domain names.
Yes, exactly, that's what we've been saying all along. It's unbelievable that we had to take this all the way to a second level appeal to get a decision enforced that is simply straight-forward compliance with a clear, unambiguous rule that all registrars have to play by.
More importantly, the panel went on to say:
"To permit a registrar of record to withhold the transfer of a domain
based on the suspicion of a law enforcement agency, without the
intervention of a judicial body, opens the possibility for abuse by
agencies far less reputable than the City of London Police. Presumably,
the provision in the Transfer Policy requiring a court order is based on
the reasonable assumption that the intervention of a court and judicial
decree ensures that the restriction on the transfer of a domain name has
some basis of “due process” associated with it."
This is precisely the reason we felt obligated to go all the way with this. It is now official, and out there for all to see: Even if a registrar suspends service to a domain for any number of ill conceived reasons (including the flimsiest of takedown requests from overreaching law enforcement agencies) they cannot prevent those domains from seeking greener pastures in the form of more clueful registrars – unless they have a COURT ORDER to lock the domain down.
It's been a long haul, but it's worth it.
Ironic, given the timing, we've just received a letter from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (whoever that is), explaining to us why we have to take down any domain name they tell us to in direct contravention to everything the NAF just upheld in this finding.