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Who owns your name?

By enterfornone in News
Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 11:21:00 AM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)

The Melbourne Age reports that the names of a number of Australian artists, from the famous to unknowns outside the art world, have been registered as domain names by Rod Ashcroft, a major shareholder of a search engine company.

Artist Stieg Persson discovered his name was already taken when trying to register a site for himself, and South Australian Premier John Olsen was unable to register his name as he shares it with an artist whos name was registered by Ashcroft.

While WIPO has, according to the article "has consistently ruled that cybersquatters must give up all rights where they have no substantial claim to a domain name", the issue of people's names is tricky as they are often not unique and not trademarkable. Even if it were ruled that Ashcroft has no right to these domains, there are no doubt many who do have legitimate claims.

How do you detirmine who who has a legitimate right to a name?


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Who owns your name? | 34 comments (34 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
eh? (4.00 / 5) (#1)
by zencode on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 05:59:23 AM EST

who should own my name? how about asking why anyone should be able to own a name in the first place? the inability to ask "should we" is unparalleled when it comes to scientists (read; geeks) and politicians.

i voted this story up not because of what it asked but what it didn't ask. i'm dying to see the answers.

my .02


Ownership of names (4.00 / 3) (#9)
by davidduncanscott on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 08:28:56 AM EST

OK, if it will make you feel better, "who should have the right to use the particular combination of letters that you commonly use as your personal designation as an identifier for an Internet domain, in the event that more than one entity would like to do so."

[ Parent ]
Middle Names? (3.40 / 5) (#2)
by locutox on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 06:42:05 AM EST

This may be a fairly far off solution but it could work!

Even though people might have the same first and last name it is highly unlikely for them to have the same middle names.

Exibit A:
http://www.ryanthompson.com <-- Possibly taken already

Exibit B:
http://www.ryanjamesrichardthompson.com <-- Long, but effective

So there's my solution.

As for who determines who gets what? Unless the domain name isn't on their birth certificate then goodbye! If not? Then bad luck.. you left it too late.

Legal infinity (4.14 / 7) (#3)
by duxup on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 06:52:21 AM EST

I recall a lawsuit in the UK where Prince (the artist who was known as the artist formally known as prince) had filed a lawsuit against someone who hand named their child Prince. The lawsuit was thrown out of court when the court sighted you can not enforce a copyright on someone's name.

I should note that I'm not sure if it was Prince himself, or possibly his record label who was actually suing the family of the child. Prince's name change was somewhat related to some legal problems between Prince and his record label.

The reason I bring this up is because the name in this case was Prince, not a common first name. I believe that there far to many factors to consider when asking "How do you determine who [I edited the extra who out] has a legitimate right to a name?" for a court to decide fairly.

Example: My uncle's name is Don Johnson, there are tons of Don Johnson's out there . . . who deserves common domain names? What about names in other languages? A very popular person in China could have a name that translates Brittany Spears . . . who gets that one?

If I were a court trying to decide this I would avoid it like the plague. No matter how you decide there would seem to be the potential of legal challenges forever.

Even more frightening is the fact that I just found out that donjohnson.com is a real domain *shiver*.

Even though... (3.00 / 5) (#4)
by pwhysall on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 07:15:02 AM EST

...her music sounds to my ears like the wailing of the last 500 lepers in hell having their toenails removed with pliers, her name is Britney Spears. Brittany is a rather pleasant region of northern France.
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
[ Parent ]
Neat typo (3.50 / 4) (#8)
by davidduncanscott on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 08:25:14 AM EST

Like any civilized being I normally overlook typo's as petty issues, but in this case I like the idea of "hand naming" a child. It's so much more personal than those store-bought names the other kids have. :)

As for Prince, well, it's a pretty common first name for Golden Retrievers.

[ Parent ]

btw... (none / 0) (#28)
by boris on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 05:07:56 AM EST

...one of the chapters in "The Dog Called Demolition" (by Robert Rankin) is called "Dog Formerly Known As Prince" :-)

[ Parent ]
Maxwell.Q.Klinger.name (3.75 / 4) (#5)
by acestus on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 07:17:01 AM EST

Isn't this at least half-'fixed' by the NAME psTLD? You can't register Jean-Luc.Picard.name unless your birth name is Jean-Luc Picard. Stupid? Yes. But it does work to solve this problem. Of course, you have to go through Michel Picard, who registered Picard.name first, etc...

A moment of silence to mourn ICANN's coming death.

This is not an exit.

.name (4.00 / 3) (#7)
by enterfornone on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 07:24:35 AM EST

Can't Michel Picard just sell Jean-Luc.Picard.name to whoever he wants, they can hardly regular sub domains.

What's to stop me changing my name by deed poll to Enterfornone Bush, registering bush.name and then selling George.Bush.name to the highest bidder (for example).

efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
Random frustration (4.25 / 8) (#6)
by Sunir on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 07:22:17 AM EST

I have this problem, except I preemptively struck. I grabbed sunir.org before someone else did. Now there is a company, Sunir Networks, with my name. Moreover, the pricks that run Network Solutions (now Verisign) have graciously squatted on sunir.com. Also, Sun Microsystems has a division named SunIR (Sun Information Resources).

So, do I really have more right to sunir.org than anyone else? I certainly think so. Can I defend myself if challenged by someone as evil as Sun? Doubt it.

Since I now really heavily on my domain being consistent, if I get challenged, I'll be totally screwed. It's like my calling card now. But I'm lucky in that my name is relatively rare in the world. I can't imagine what would happen if my name was John Smith. And no, before you ask, I don't have any middle names.

Really, as we all know, the problem with the DNS service is that it is a relatively flat namespace. Actually, it's completely flat if you're trying to make money. Either you're a .com or you're toast. Even my friends and family can't get it right. My father actually said, "Dot what?" Like how hard is it for someone who played a hand in naming me to remember sunir AT sunir DOT O-R-G. Apparently impossible.

As the world gets more and more connected, the whole notion of identity is going to get squeezed until it pops. "It's a small world after all, and there ain't enough room for both of us. Get off."

Global village, indeed. Stuff yourself.

"Look! You're free! Go, and be free!" and everyone hated it for that. --r

So, get your own trademark (3.66 / 3) (#15)
by delmoi on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 01:38:15 PM EST

check outnameprotect.com

For a couple hundred dolars, you'll be able to have a vaild trademark on your name, it seems like a good idea for someone in your position.
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
it doesn't work that way (none / 0) (#27)
by Arkady on Mon Dec 25, 2000 at 08:23:07 PM EST

You can't get a trademark on you own personal name, except in so far as you operate in business by that name.

This is the bit that's _really_ torqued me off with all the wrangling over domain names and cries of "trademark infringement". Everyone seems to have forgotten that:

   a) trademark is bounded geographically to the intersection of the jurisdiction in which the trademark law is relevant


   b) trademark is conceptually bounded by the sort of business in which you use the mark.

DNS is a global and (at the moment) non-structured naming space. So first off _no_ trademark law applies to the whole system, since there are no global jurisdictions in which the law could be made. And secondly, since all existing ICANN names exist within a single context, _no one_ named "sun" or "suni" can possibly have a greater claim than any other except for claims of first use of a domain.

Damn! I wish the lawyers had spent more time study basic logic and less time at frat parties learning about sexual harassment issues firsthand; then they might be able to undestand this simple fact. ;-)


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.

[ Parent ]
Name change (3.80 / 10) (#10)
by davidduncanscott on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 08:32:35 AM EST

How about if I just have legally change my name to ""?

Probably wouldn't work (3.25 / 4) (#11)
by enterfornone on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 09:25:39 AM EST

Since IPs aren't registered like that. It would be interesting to see 7 Eleven sue for for example but I doubt they would have much of a case.

Why not change your name to yahoo.com (for example) instead.

efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
Sounds funny? How about "Mr. Oxford Universit (3.66 / 3) (#14)
by willie on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 11:59:06 AM EST

I remember reading in The Age's IT section a while ago about an Aussie who legally changed his name to Oxford University after registering oxford-university.com, and WIPO took it back without even blinking. Of course this person had a shit load of other domains like harvey-norman.com(big department store in Aust.), etc... I wonder how many name changes you can go through in the name of domain squatting? :)

Pity it.fairfax doesn't have a (free) search facility, or I'd give a link to it.

[ Parent ]

Unflatten the name space. (4.55 / 9) (#12)
by Merekat on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 09:25:53 AM EST

In my ideal world, this wouldn't have happened. For Persson, you would have something like persson.art.au, whereas Mr. Fred Persson, XYZ St. Melbourne could get fpersson.name.au or perhaps persson.name.au if you don't want to incorporate first names into that level of domain. and Miss Fiona Persson, because she wasn't as quick would get fpersson2.name.au. That's just too bad for her, there have to be some people who compromise and she would still get her name in some form or other. And you could not squat on the personal domain because you would have to prove that you were entitled to it - ie. that that is your name. Everyone would be entitled to their name, but *in the proper context*.

Now, you are probably there thinking that this looks horrendous and clunky, but I'd say that some of that is because we have been conditioned to expect a flat namespace and that anything else is second best, or those mad Brits trying to be different again. But it is a feature of DNS, and imo, a sensible one. If you are looking for the phone number of a business in Germany, you get a business edition of the german phone book. If you are looking for Australian artists, you should expect to find them in an art subdomain of the .au ccTLD.

I read an article that I can't find again, unfortunately, that told of the emergence of DNS and that those who were involved in it trumpeted its superiority over other, flatter naming schemes. I think it is sad that this feature is only half-heartedly used, and sadder that people's expectations are so ingrained that it will not be possible to adjust them to take advantage of it.

I've always had the greatest respect for other peoples crack-pot beliefs.
- Sam the Eagle, The Muppet Show

Domain Disputes (4.20 / 5) (#13)
by reshippie on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 10:15:50 AM EST

This is clearly a case of cybersquatting. Whatever Ashcroft decides to do with the domains, he clearly scooped up a many names in a similar field that he had no claim to.

I think the 40+ artists should get together and file a claim. Seeing as artists aren't known for being terribly rich, it would probably take 40+ of them to get together enough money to even start the challenges.

I love how the dispute system is designed to fight the little guy at every turn. Doesn't it cost a few hundred, or thousand dollars to even start this process? And once it's been filed, you have to get lawyers and such. Either way, those with money are highly favored. It's a system "Of the suits, by the suits, and for the suits."

Those who don't know me, probably shouldn't trust me. Those who do DEFINITELY shouldn't trust me. :-)

My Solution (4.50 / 2) (#16)
by kagaku_ninja on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 03:05:30 PM EST

Names are a weak form of identification. We should enforce name uniqueness for humans.

So if you want to name your child John Quincy Smith, the naming server would attach a sequence number to the end (John.Quincy.Smith.4081).

The would would be a much saner place if programmers were in charge ;-)

I'm inclined to agree (4.00 / 2) (#19)
by SIGFPE on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 06:43:31 PM EST

Names wouldn't be a weak form of identification if people chose original names. Names are meant to be unique identifiers for people. So why in heaven's name do people choose names shared by hundreds of millions of people? Like 'John' for example? How stupid is that? In my company of about 60 people we had 7 people called 'Dan' for example. It was fun when email got mixed up but we should never get into that situation. So if you're about to name your kid let me spell this out loud and clear:

Names are unique identifiers. They allow you to select one person out from a bunch of others. This is a useful thing to be able to do and it has many applications. So please - give your kid a sensible name that's different from everyone else's!

[ Parent ]

So your saying (2.00 / 1) (#20)
by ZanThrax on Sat Dec 23, 2000 at 03:58:21 AM EST

that having the same name as my maternal grandfather, who was named after someone (an uncle of his, I believe) and who also had two seperate nephews named after him is counter-productive? (And my middle name is my paternal grandfathers name. Which wouldn't be so bad, except that they ryhme. Bad mother!)

Before flying off the handle over the suggestion that your a cocksucker, be sure that you do not, in fact, have a cock in your mouth.
[ Parent ]

I hope you're kidding (none / 0) (#24)
by camadas on Sun Dec 24, 2000 at 09:51:36 PM EST

That's the sort of ideas that gives me the creeps. "and nobody can buy or sell without the sign, marked in their hand or head, and the name of the beast is a number", etcetra.

[ Parent ]
Hey, I AM a number! (4.00 / 1) (#29)
by 0xdeadbeef on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 11:30:16 AM EST

What do you think public key cryptography is? Someday, all legal transactions will be done with either anonymous digital currency, or with credit where identify is confirmed by a digital certificate (that is, assuming quantum computers don't blow the whole lid off encryption in general). That prescient association between commerce and numerical identifiers is downright spooky to a rational materialist like myself. I've always wondered if he NSA's root key has the value "666". :-)

Paranoia aside, there really are good reasons for unique identifiers between individuals. It would almost eliminate identify theft, as no one would trust the identifer as proof of identity alone, like we do with credit cards and social security numbers, and it would prevent all the bureaucratic screw-ups associated with common names. It's only propoganda that associates "being a number" with subsuming individuality. I'd say I am a number, a unique number, and no other person has the same number. It is a legal, cultural, and commercial expression of my individuality!

(especially if my number were 3735928559)

[ Parent ]
I don't want to implement IDispatch (none / 0) (#26)
by Sunir on Mon Dec 25, 2000 at 04:12:49 AM EST

Yes! Everyone gets UUIDs. Maybe we could all be COM objects. Would one-thing-at-a-time people be apartment threaded, and everything-at-once people be free threaded? Or would only tailors be threaded?

Too many bad jokes, too little Mojo to squander.

"Look! You're free! Go, and be free!" and everyone hated it for that. --r
[ Parent ]

legal precedents : skippy.com and sting.com (3.00 / 1) (#17)
by butchhoward on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 03:17:00 PM EST

These two case correctly (imo) resolved the issue where there are two parties with legitimate claim to the domain name based on prior identity or trademark reference. In both cases the domain went to the party that regestered it first.

The cases described in the article are squatting without a doubt. In the Premier's case, he should get the name unless the artist (or artist's estate) can show it attempted to register the name first.

Why don't people just share a domain ? (4.00 / 1) (#18)
by Slyh on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 03:49:38 PM EST

Why is it so important to 'own' a domain ?

IMHO it would be much easier to share a domain.
You'd just set up a main page with a description of all websites
and everyone would get a link to his own server or subdirectory.

As an example take a look at http://www.koehntopp.de/
(it's a German page but I think you get the idea)

Another thing. (none / 0) (#21)
by enterfornone on Sun Dec 24, 2000 at 03:19:52 AM EST

Not sure if anyone is still reading this thread, but one thing I didn't think of. I've had enterfornone.com for a few years, I've been using enterfornone as a handle since the BBS days. But I have no legal claim to it. Could someone trademark enterfornone and go after me?

efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
could? - yes / could win? - probably no (5.00 / 1) (#23)
by radar bunny on Sun Dec 24, 2000 at 01:35:45 PM EST

Yea they could and yea many companies would maybe try. However, since you've had the domain name for a few years it would be hard for them to make a real case against you. Also though, if it was a new company (As the case would likely be) then you could maybe turn around and counter sue since you've had they name registered for so long. If you could offer "legal proof" that you've been using the handle for so long then you would have an even stronger case. I don't know what the courts would take as "legal proof" in this case -- maybe enough character witnesses who know you've been using it.

[ Parent ]
.com so you may lose (none / 0) (#25)
by Sunir on Mon Dec 25, 2000 at 04:06:02 AM EST

The WIPO thinks .com is for business. If you, as a person, don't have a legitimate business purpose for your domain, you may lose it to someone with more money.

"Look! You're free! Go, and be free!" and everyone hated it for that. --r
[ Parent ]

Poulsen.com (4.33 / 3) (#22)
by Mr.Surly on Sun Dec 24, 2000 at 12:32:32 PM EST

I wanted to register poulsen.com (my last name), only to discover that it was already registered. This was not particularly surprising or upsetting (in and of itself)

What was upsetting is that this domain was registered (by mailbank.com) for the sole purpose of selling email accounts to persons interested. In fact, they brag "We have 70% of the population's last names in .com .net .org," right on their front page. Am I the only peson who thinks this is just plain wrong?

I wouldn't mind if it were another individual that had registered it for their personal site (as was my intent), but I find it rather insulting that my last name is being used to for profit by a "non Poulsen."

I'm not saying that if I had registered poulsen.com I would have offered email accounts (for free) to others with the same last name. But now, if I had the resources (i.e. large amounts of disposable cash), I would take legal action against them in order to do just that, out of spite.

Have a name change (none / 0) (#31)
by MantorpCity on Tue Jan 02, 2001 at 01:00:29 PM EST

I think LKJHDSOIGYAOOASG.com is still available :)

[ Parent ]
Domain names as property (1.00 / 1) (#30)
by espo812 on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 06:59:26 PM EST

Harry Browne of the Libertarian Party (www.lp.org) said it best about domain names.

Domain names are of value to the person who owns it, and the person who wants it. If a person wants an already registered domain name, they should have to negotiate with the current owner in order to get it.


Censorship is un-American.
Not Property (none / 0) (#33)
by Matrix on Tue Jan 02, 2001 at 07:48:09 PM EST

Yes, there are a limited number of x.com domains... But they aren't limited. Once you've gotten authoritative control over foo.com, you can have pity.foo.com go to whatever IP you want. (I've got a friend who has authoritative control over a domain - it can be quite amusing to see some of the wierd stuff he does with it) So why should Company A have to give up foo.com just because Company B wants it? Surely they could negotiate to be A.foo.com and B.foo.com. Otherwise, there's really no point in having anything but using plain foo.com - the www is extraneous.

In short, the WIPO's solution (the same one ICANN and so on use) doesn't reflect the realities - although it does reflect what many corporations probably wish was the reality.

"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

You can trademark your name (3.66 / 3) (#32)
by puzzlingevidence on Tue Jan 02, 2001 at 02:18:30 PM EST

As long as you do business under your name, and your name has value as a trademark, you can register your name as a trademark.

The best example of this is Billy Joel; I believe he was the first musician to trademark his name, but others (including Bruce Springsteen) have done the same.

Even if you're a musician and your birth name is Billy Joel, you cannot legally use your own name for any promotional purpose. It's scary, in its own way.

Oddly enough, Sony owns billyjoel.com.

A man may build a throne of bayonets, but he can not sit on it. --Inge

What if your last name is (close to) a word? (none / 0) (#34)
by MoonJihad on Thu Jan 04, 2001 at 07:17:45 PM EST

My last name is 'Im'. Yes im.com has been bought. Yes I could sue them. But who can own im.com? Some company that IM as it's initials? Me? Somebody who trademarked IM? That poses legal problems. Also think about foreign names which are words in another language. People with names like 'Boucher'(butcher in french) or 'Desrochers'(rocks in french). Also what about 'Wong' and 'Wong's all you can eat buffet'?

Who owns your name? | 34 comments (34 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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