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Location: Montgomery Area, Alabama, United States

Former BUFF driver; self-styled military historian; paid (a lot) to write about beating plowshares into swords; NOT Foamy the Squirrel, contrary to all appearances. Wesleyan Jihadi Name: Sibling Railgun of Reasoned Discourse

Monday, June 06, 2005


No, this is not a post about taking your laptop with you into the bathroom. It features Chefjef's thoughts at length on a subject related to the topic of this ealier post of mine.

Chefjef points out the potential dangers the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (how's that for a name?) represents to First Amendment liberties in the context of current internet usage, tracing the evolution of trademark purpose and recognition through legal history.

I share his concerns and conclusion, as I suspect most bloggers would:

“Cybersquatting” is the practice of registering an Internet domain name, or other identifier of an online location, with the hopes of profiting due to that name’s association with a trademark owned by someone else.

Closely associated with cybersquatting has been the emergence of parody sites and dissent sites in which “cybergripers” voice consumer commentary and other forms of dissent.

In 1999 the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act was passed as a means of dealing with, among other things, the new and growing problem of cybersquatting.

While the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act has never been applied to prohibit the use of a domain name to criticize a company where the defendant had no intent to profit from the website, corporations have begun using the new cybersquatting laws to attempt to quash consumer criticism, open dissent and personal expression in violation of the sprit of the First Amendment.

Websites that proffer consumer commentary and political assent or dissent is exactly what courts, under the First Amendment, should fastidiously protect. A citizen’s criticisms would be wholly mysterious -- indeed, they would be pointless -- if s/he had to omit the name of the company or politician s/he is criticizing. This is core speech that should be fully protected by the First Amendment as non- commercial speech.

This may also have some bearing on the current Congressional discussions about including blog references as a form of political contribution, which would have the effect of pretty much shutting down the blogosphere. Now who would want to do that?

This post also marks the inauguration of a new feature here at Vita ab Alto: Vita ab Alto Extra, a place where longer pieces like Chefjef's fine paper can be posted. I may even put up some of my own krepp. Who knows? How much will you pay me not to?


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