May 17, 2003

In response to the May 1 letter to ICANN (or rather to ICANN's general counsel) from the Intellectual Property Interests Constituency

On May 1 ICANN's Intellectual Property Interests Constituency sent a letter to ICANN's general counsel.

The letter is essentially a request, or rather a demand, for ICANN to further lubricate the gross invasion of personal privacy that is euphemistically called the "whois database".

The letter claims that such measures benefit "everyday users" by enhancing "the operational stability, reliability, and security of the Internet" through the "prosecution of cybersquatters and copyright pirates".

Perhaps "everyday" internet users are benefited by the protection of trademarks and copyrights.  Then again, "everyday" internet users are also benefited numerous other kinds of protections.

It strikes me that if there is merit in having ICANN enunciate rules to protect everyday internet users from trademark and copyright abuse, then there is as at least as much merit in having ICANN enunciate rules to suppress dangerous products, promote high efficiency/low pollution vehicles, and encourage corporations to live up to their public obligations.

In other words, if ICANN has the responsibility to deny domain names to those who abuse trademarks, then ICANN has at least as much responsibility to deny domain names to those who engage in the selling of high fat foods, who sell SUVs, or who behave like Enron.

I suspect that most of you would agree with me that such actions are beyond ICANN's scope.  And I would hope that anyone who takes a moment to think would agree with me that the intellectual property community is asking, or rather demanding, that ICANN engage in actions that are equally beyond ICANN's scope.

There is absolutely nothing about intellectual property that makes intellectual property more important to internet users than the suppression of dangerous products, the promotion of high efficiency/low pollution vehicles, or full corporate responsibility.  Then why do the intellectual property people think they are on such a high horse?

The answer is simple: hubris and money.  The intellectual property industry has found ICANN to be a pliant and inexpensive tool.  Do the authors of the letter really care about the "everyday users" of the internet?  Do they even really care about the rights of those who create trademarks and copyrighted works?  Or are they more concerned with the profits of the intellectual property legal industry?

As far as I am concerned, ICANN is present solely and exclusively to handle matters of technical stability of the internet.

No one in the intellectual property industry has ever even tried to make a showing, much less made a convincing showing, that the protection of intellectual property rights has even a scintilla of relationship to the technical stability of the internet.

Until the intellectual property industry makes such a showing, I believe that ICANN should drop the UDRP and should close the whois database to intellectual property sharks.

Posted by karl at May 17, 2003 8:15 PM