ICANN can't yank Spamhaus domain
Marina Del Rey (CA) - The Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) says it cannot delist UK-based Spamhaus' www.spamhaus.org domain name. Spamhaus, a non-profit firm that offers anti-spam "black hole" lists, lost a US District court case to a U.S.-based marketing firm, e360 Insight, and must pay $11.7 million in damages. As part of the damages, e360 is trying to obtain a court order to delist the domain name, but ICANN has issued a statement saying that it does not have the ability or the authority to delist a name.
ICANN told TG Daily that it "cannot comply with any order requiring it to suspend or place a client hold on Spamhaus.org or any specific domain name because ICANN does not have either the ability or the authority to do so." It adds that any such order should be directed at the domain registrar, which in this case is Canada-based Tucows.
"Only the Internet registrar with whom the registrant has a contractual relationship - and in certain instances the Internet registry - can suspend an individual domain name," ICANN representatives said.
Spamhaus offers "black hole" lists that blocks known spammers from major email servers. Small companies and individuals can use the list for free, while large companies are charged a modest fee. e360 claims that it is not a spammer and wanted its name removed from the list.
The lawsuit was originally filed by David Linhardt, president and founder of e360 Insight, back in June 2006. Linhardt brought the case to the Illinois state court, but moved it to U.S. District court after Spamhaus complained that state courts would not apply to this case, as the company has no employees or property in the United States. Spamhaus withdrew its lawyers and did not show up for the U.S. District court trial.
Judge Charles P. Kocoras issued a default judgement in e360's favor for $11.7 million and is looking at a proposed delisting request from Linhardt. In the order, both ICANN and Tucows are requested to delist Spamhaus. With ICANN saying it doesn't have the authority or ability to do the delisting, it would appear that the ball is now in Tucows' court, but it will be interesting to see if the judge can enforce the order on a Canadian company. Of course, this brings back nightmares about the famous NTP patent lawsuit against Canada-based Blackberry maker Research In Motion.
One would assume that switching domain names would be an easy way to get around the proposed order, but Spamhaus Chief Executive Steve Linford doesn't think so. He believes such an act would be ruled as criminal contempt and adds, "We don't want a criminal record for the sake of fighting spam."