Friday, August 23, 2013

Is Jim Griffith's CyberSquatting Illegal? Web Links

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I did a casual search to see what is the case law on political cybersquatting.  From these and other sites, I gather that just using the name is a 50-50 proposition.  If the candidate has the site name and someone grabs it may or may not result in a lost case for the squatter, depending on what they do with the name.  However, grabbing the actual site name with just a different suffix like ".com" instead of ".org" as Griffith did, and actually using it against the candidate as was originally done is pretty much a lost case for the squatter, who will likely pay the litigant's full legal costs and additional penalties up to $100K per domain name.  This is particularly in California which has it's own state law in addition to the federal statute (ACPA) which most articles referred to.

"So far, rulings have been mixed on whether people have the right to shut down unauthorized Web sites that use their names in the address. Actress Julia Roberts and vocalist Madonna have won the rights to their names, but New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and President George W. Bush have not.
In recent years, courts and dispute-resolution panels generally have allowed Web site owners to keep domain names if they parody the person or remain unused. However, owners of sites that seek to capitalize on a famous person's name, or cybersquat, often lose."
C|Net says the issue is not completely clear in politics - meaning (I think) the courts are feeling their way on this.

2.  The NY Times (in 2010) mentioned several political cases.
They mention 3 Republican campaigns that bought the name for a Democratic politician and used it for ads against the Democrat.  Hillary Clinton successfully sued to get her name site, but others lost their suits.

mentions some who grab the names and just use them to trade for money or for a day on the campaign trail with the candidate.

Says in regard to political cybersquatting:
"Filing an action under the ACPA may also be appropriate for consideration if immediate court intervention is needed due to the highly objectionable nature of a particular website.
"In a civil action brought under the “cyberpiracy protection for individuals” section of the ACPA, a U.S. federal court is empowered to order the transfer or cancellation of the domain name as well as costs and attorney’s fees."

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Details of Griffith's Identity Theft

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The details of Griffith's identity theft can be seen at:

The blog cites relevant documentation on aspects such as the Anti-Cybersquatting Piracy Act

Campaign ethics from the City of Sunnyvale Ethics Guide:

and SB 1411 making it a crime to impersonate another person via the web:

Thanks to Jeni Pfeiffer who wrote the blog and mentioned it to me.

There are a lot of other interesting things at her site.

9/13/2013 update: