Can a domain name be defamation? Glenn Beck says yes

The supposedly satirical domain name glennbeckrapedandmurderedayounggirlin1990.com could be the subject of a defamation lawsuit in the United States in coming weeks.The popular extremely conservative American television and radio host Glenn Beck has objected to the domain name, and its accompanying website. According to ars technica, “lawyers for Beck’s media company, Mercury Radio Arts, had contacted the domain registrar demanding that the ‘highly defamatory domain name’ glennbeckrapedandmurderedayounggirlin1990.com be deleted, that the WhoisGuard privacy protection service be revoked, and that the owner’s contact information be turned over to the lawyers.”The report notes the Registrar, NameCheap, didn’t do this, resulting in another letter the next day. The registrant has also registered another couple of related domain names – DidGlennBeckRapeAndMurderAYoungGirlIn1990.com” and gb1990.com.Beck’s lawyers have also filed a dispute with WIPO, claiming “the new website was improperly using Glenn Beck’s trademarked name.”According to Paul Levy of Public Citizen, “the possibility of a US defamation/libel suit against the anonymous site operator is a real one” as domain names can be defamatory. Levy notes “the first iteration of the site posed the ‘rape and murder’ claim as a statement — not as a question.”However Corynne McSherry, a lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is not as convinced Beck’s lawyers have such a good case for defamation. However both Levy and McSherry both describe the lodging of a dispute with WIPO in this case as preposterous.To read this report from ars technica in full, see:
arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2009/09/can-a-mere-domain-name-be-defamation-glenn-beck-says-yes.ars

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