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Industry Lashes Out at Kentucky Judgment

By: R. Kingsley, Sunday October 19th 2008
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Judge Thomas Wingate's order in the Kentucky domain name seizure case has drawn severe criticism from industry representatives. In his judgment Judge Wingate upheld the legal validity of the Kentucky Governor's initiative to seize the domain names of 141 Internet gambling companies and gave them 30 days to produce their owners in court and to block Kentucky region from their services.

Most vociferous in their reactions were the Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association (iMEGA) and the Internet Commerce Association (ICA), who were in the forefront of defending the domain names. Both have released written statements on their respective web sites. The iMEGA has opined that Judge Wingate has not only misapplied existing laws but has also based his decision on laws that were revoked 30 years ago. Joe Brennan Jr. said in his statement that this judgment would adversely impact all Internet commerce all over the world. He named social networking, video gaming, adult entertainment and political and religious sites as those that could face the wrath of people in power opposed to them either on ideological grounds or in order to eliminate competition.

Jeremiah Johnston, President of the ICA also discussed the larger ramifications of Judge Wingate's order, while at the same time identifying the legal flaws in the order. He said that this order sets a precedent for any country to seize the domain name of any American company for alleged lack of compliance of local laws. Today America is fighting for the rights to Internet access for millions of citizens living under totalitarian regimes. The Internet remains the only source of unbiased information for these people. Through his order Judge Wingate has given moral and legal sanction for the blocking of Internet access to these repressed people. Johnston also raised doubts on the feasibility of the geoblocking proposal given by Judge Wingate because of the prevailing laws under which the domain names operated in different parts of the world.

Though Judge Wingate has not accepted that the iMEGA and the ICA can legally represent the domain name owners he has permitted their participation in the legal process as friends of the court. Both these organizations have stated their intent to remain involved. In fact the iMEGA has already started preparing its appeal against this order in both the State and Federal courts.

It must be mentioned that the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) has also reacted strongly against this order. However their focus has been predictably different. They have again harped on their opinion that poker is a game of skill and therefore cannot be covered under gambling laws. They too would continue to provide legal support as friends of the court.

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