Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Cybersquatting Laws and Jim Griffith


Did Jim Griffith violate any laws when he registered the internet names "TapMerrickForSunnyvale.com" and ".net" in apparent imitation of his political opponent's election web address TapMerrickForSunnyvale.ORG"?

Without a court conviction it would be defamation of character for me to say so but you can certainly judge for yourself in the citations below.  Many, perhaps most, lay people are likely to say the law is pretty clear and that Jim Griffith quite possibly did violate the law, although only a court can decide definitively.

In the year 2000, CA. Governor Gray Davis signed into law Senate Bill 1319, California’s anticybersquatting statute.  Under Chapter 4 article 3 "Deceptive Online Activities" ELECTIONS CODE 
SECTION 18320-18323:

“Political Cyberfraud” defined:  “..deny a person (a political website) or cause a person reasonably to believe that a political Web site has been posted by a person other than a person who posted the web site.”

Found in the CA civil code here:

CA's business and professional codes cover cyberfraud as well:
17525.  (a) It is unlawful for a person, with a bad faith intent to register, traffic in, or use a domain name, that is identical or confusingly similar to the personal name of another living person or deceased personality, without regard to the goods or services of the parties.
C.f.: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=bpc&group=17001-18000&file=17525-17528.5

There is also, US Federal Law, "Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act of 1999" which was discussed by the US Patent & Trade Office (USPTO) in a report to congress found here:

In the legal text book “Internet Domain Names, Trademarks and Free Speech” By Jacqueline D. Lipton (Law Professor Case Western Reserve, co-Author Law Text Book – Cyberspace Law: Cases & Materials, Third Edition) ($31.20 eBook) the issue of whether this might be constitutionally-protected free speech is addressed:  'By making it too expensive to buy all the possible domain names'…“Political Cybersquatting might ..chill protected First Amendment Speech in the absence of remedy” (Pg 218)

Griffith took an oath when he assumed office to uphold the constitution and laws of CA.  Is he then an oathbreaker as well as a law-breaker?  To me this issue is so important that I would vote against anyone whom I felt violated these laws regardless of how I felt about their stance on the issues.  If lawbreaking by public officials is dismissed as "no big deal" then they have carte blanche to start breaking any laws - bribery, political extortion, corruption.

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