In what may yet become a global precedent, a judge in Nevada has passed judgement on nearly 700 domain names tied to counterfeiting Chanel products. Currently there are two bills being pushed to become law, whereby the courts and trademark owners could essentially tell search engines and social media sites what they are and aren’t allowed to index.
This current case has the makings of a SOPA like enforcement all over it, in that the judge didn’t bother to check domain registration locations only deemed that they all need to be turned over to a US GoDaddy registrar and that “all Internet search engines” and “all social media websites” explicitly naming Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Bing, Yahoo, and Google are required to remove the addresses from their indexes.
One law professor was empathetic towards companies trying to force IP protection of their products and was quick to point out that perhaps SOPA is just fake punch against internet pirates. “I’m sympathetic to the ‘whack-a-mole’ problem rights owners face, but this relief is just extraordinarily broad and is on shaky procedural grounds,” he writes. “I’m not sure how this court can direct a registry to change a domain name’s registrar of record or Google to de-list a site, but the court does so anyway. This is probably the most problematic aspect of the court’s orders.” said Venkat Balasubramani. The case with Chanel has shown he says, that IP rightsholders don’t necessarily even need the SOPA bill to pass to get what they want. Total control over their product, intellectual property (IP) and their trademarked name.
If rightsholders can already essentially dictate the terms they want federal judges to enforce, on globally owned website names and properties, much darker days are on the horizon for those who legitimately share ideas online. It shows there’s nothing stopping a we said/they said fight from enforcing the rule of law online.