EFF slates proposals for copyright infringement system


EFF slates proposals for copyright infringement system

Photo: Courtesy of EFF

The Domain Name Association’s (DNA) proposals surrounding copyright infringement would be “terrible” for the internet, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

On February 13, TBO reported on the DNA’s Healthy Domains Initiative (HDI), which addresses four areas including a voluntary third-party system for handling copyright infringement.

The DNA voiced support for the creation of the system which, much like the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) for handling trademark violations, would address illegal infringement of copyright through the use of domain names.

But the EFF is not impressed, calling the initiative an “ill-conceived proposal”.

According to the civil liberties group, the construction of a voluntary framework would involve “forcing everyone who registers a domain name to consent to an alternative dispute-resolution process for any copyright claim that is made against their website”.

The EFF claimed it was a “terrible proposal” for a number of reasons.

First, a domain name owner signs a contract with a registrar only for the domain name relating to its website or internet service, said the foundation.

“The content that happens to be posted within that website or service has nothing to do with the domain name registrar, and frankly is none of its business,” it added.

Second, the EFF claimed that is was likely that any voluntary, private dispute-resolution system paid for by complaining parties will be captured by copyright owners and become a “privatised version of … failed internet censorship bills”.

Finally, the EFF claimed that although the “HDI gives lip service to the need to ‘ensure due process for respondents’, if the process by which the HDI practises themselves were developed is any guide, we cannot trust that this would be the case”.

It alleged that the UDRP is a “systemically biased process” that has censored domains used for legitimate purposes such as criticism and domains that are generic English words.

“Extending this broken process beyond domain names themselves to cover the contents of websites would make this censorship exponentially worse,” said the foundation.

In response, Mason Cole, chair of the HDI committee, said the copyright proposal is “far from ill-conceived”.

“Providers have a duty to prevent or address egregiously illegal behaviour, which is what the recommended dispute-resolution procedure does,” he said.

Cole explained that online service providers establish the ability to address illegal behaviour in their acceptable use policies and that an alternative dispute process merely enlists a neutral third-party for adjudication.

“Suggesting that a voluntary mechanism that does something about illegality is in fact serving a select few is irresponsible. While not all parties agree on every point, we’re interested in stewardship of the namespace for everyone,” he added.

According to Cole, the HDI is an industry-sponsored effort to proactively maintain the health of the domain name system. 

Domain Name Association, domain names, ICANN, EFF, Electronic Frontier Foundation, copyright, UDRP, copyright infringement

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