The Public Interest Registry, the registry for .org domains, has announced that it is putting plans for a ‘UDRP for copyright’ on hold.
The Public Interest Registry had been working with the Domain Name Association on a set of ‘healthy practices’ which registries could voluntarily adopt. These are aimed at reducing online security abuses, online child abuse, rogue online pharmacies and copyright infringement.
These guidelines proposed the creation of a dispute resolution procedure, similar to the UDRP and with similar costs, aimed at tackling domains which are used to distribute pirated materials. In cases where there was clear and convincing evidence of pervasive and systemic copyright infringement, the domain could be suspended or transferred to the complainant, as in a UDRP complaint.
However, the proposals came under attack from various internet groups, who argued that the registry should not get involved with matters concerning the content held on a domain (which should be an issue for the host), and should stick to issues concerning the domain name and its registration only. The proposals were also criticised on the basis that they provided a back door means of censorship, and might be abused by big rights holders. This led to the announcement that the proposals are being put on hold, and it is not clear when, or indeed if, they might be revived.
The loss of what might have been another tool to tackle online piracy is disappointing. However, its scope would have been limited, applying only to .org domains and only in the most clear-cut cases. The only remedy available would have been the transfer or suspension of the domain, which, although disruptive to the site operator, does nothing to prevent them simply re-establishing their website on another domain. Therefore, whilst this proposed system could have been a useful tool to tackle certain kinds of IP infringement in a quick and low-cost fashion if used in the right way, it certainly would not have been a magic bullet or a panacea.