March 6, 2017 After announcing their intention to adopt UDRP inspired policies intended to combat online piracy, the Public Interest Registry, (the “.org” registry) (PIR) and the Domain Name Association (DNA) have now backtracked on their decisions and the projects appear to be dead in the water, for the time being at least.
At the beginning of February, the DNA published a set of “healthy practices” which registries could adopt on a voluntary basis in order to maintain their TLDs free of malware, child abuse material, fake online pharmacies and mass piracy.
The initiative included a Copyright Alternative Dispute Resolution Policy which would enable copyright holders to obtain a suspension or transfer of domain names and thus the automatic takedown of websites which hosted infringing content. At the same time, PIR announced its intention of adopting a UDRP style anti-piracy policy by the end of April 2017.
The policies would work along the same lines as the UDRP. When registering a domain name, registrants would consent to an ADRP process for copyright claims made against their website. The ADRP would be included in the terms and conditions of the registrar.
However, the announcements were followed by protests from several internet activist groups including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Internet Commerce Association (ICA) who both expressed concern about the proposal.
One of the protests concerned the fact that although the ADRP would only be used in clear cut cases of copyright abuse, the policy did not determine exactly what constitutes clear cut abuse. They argued that domain name owners would risk losing their domain names based on a copyright claim without due process of law.
The protesters also argued that the policy would give powers and obligations to registrars for matters which are of no concern to them. Infringing content posted on a website is the responsibility of the website host not the domain name registrar.
The associations also expressed concern that the policy would end up being a censorship policy disguised as an anti-piracy policy. PIR was accused of adopting the system as a means of having “thepiratebay.org” taken down.
The announcement on 27 February that the project had been abandoned was therefore welcomed. In its statement, DNA said “that some have characterized Copyright ADRP as a needless concession to ill-intentioned corporate interests, as a shadow regulation” or is a slippery slope towards greater third party control of content on the Internet”.
It remains to be seen whether the project has been definitively abandoned or if it will resurface in the future. To be continued!