Why Ron Paul owns his own name vs. the Internet

Ron Paul's Rally for the Republic.

Ron Paul’s Rally for the Republic. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is NOT an “ordinary property issue”! What an sleight of hand illusionist trick that even the deluded owners of the domain name may even believe. Even one famous libertarian opponent of copyright and patent law has been deceived by this government-created delusion of “ordinary property issue”!

The decision at ICANN to let the name-squatters at ronpaul.com keep Ron Paul’s name for their web site only raises more questions than it answers.

INTERNET DNS SYSTEM IS NOT AN “ORDINARY PROPERTY ISSUE”, IT IS A GOVERNMENT-ENFORCED INDEX!

Who voted on setting them up as ultimate arbiters for this anyway? It wasn’t the free market! The name squatters agreed to the rules when they saw the opportunity for the name and snatched it up, and the judge here I guess would need a couple more notches of IQ to see that even though these name-grabbers did lift up the Ron Paul principles on their web site, with the obviously requisite disclaimers, the only reason they put down money for the web site was that they were going to recover that cost –and then some, including overheard plus profit–

FREE MARKET DNS RESOLUTION WOULD BE BETTER

For the domain name to be a libertarian issue, we would have to presuppose a TRUE FREE-MARKET INTERNET DOMAIN NAME SYSTEM! We do NOT have that at present!

The more geekier libertarians might remember that once upon a time there were only about five “official” high-level domain levels, besides the country suffix: GOV, EDU, COM, MIL, ORG, and NET. Some more were added later, like BIZ and INFO.

But this is one place to get your domain and it has a de facto monopoly, and early on it decided that the rule of first come first serve applied, except for matters of trademark applied. But they also stretched the idea of trademark and domain name squatting (grabbing a name with the purpose of selling it to a party more “naturally” interested in it, although these elite-established rules-enforcing bodies never use the word “natural” because they want to be the ultimate deciders of all things.

MONOPOLY NAME SYSTEM

Instead, we have a de facto government monopoly control over the domain name system, and in this way, Ron Paul was obligated by this system to recuperate control over the “natural” DNS-resolved index entry for his own name.

The parallel is with the old telephone monopolies. We had ONLY ONE White Pages in town, and that’s where you put your name. No problem. Except that in the White Pages, there could be two hundred John Smith’s in your city and ALL of them could list their name under their real name.

Under ICANN rules, partly because of technology considerations, only one John Smith gets a listing for his name.

So if I want to find John Smith, my buddy from college if I had one by that name, I can’t do it on the Internet reliably.

What is fair about this? What about the fact, if it is a fact, that I read somewhere, that the ronpaul.com guys fighting this so hard actually bought it from a guy named “Ron Paul” in the first place?

The ICANN recognizes that ALL other things being equal, the name goes to the namesake, but this time they ruled that first-come and first-serve and a person’s intentions supersede even that rule. Except in other cases they’ve ruled on in which they decided that it doesn’t.

Also note that they don’t recognize anything even close to a “natural” trademark provenance, in other words, anything other than the rules they claim to go by, even when they don’t really go by them. So it is in ALL governing bodies of ANYTHING, is it not, my fellow libertarians?

Well, what IS going to happen as the issue fades is, that people are going to start dropping off from the ronpaul.com site, and the free market is going to castigate these guys pretty severely. Pretending that their nearly gratis monopoly granted license over the ronpaul.com entry in the ICAHN-conforming DNS servers was a “natural” property issue is going to knocked out by the FREE MARKET reality that fans of Ron Paul principles will instead now go to the Campaign for Liberty web site, the alternative Ron Paul DNS destination that he will no doubt soon announce, or libertycrier.com, of course lewrockwell.com, or any number of other destinations, whether they supported the “squatters” or not. It will fade and fade some more until the owners will come to give up their labor of love and sell the web site to somebody, a lot cheaper.

It will take awhile, though. The best reason for fans of Ron Paul to visit the ronpaul.com URL is for Ron Paul news, but it will now be awkward, because the owners have muddied the name itself. Their own monopoly-granted index entry in the government-blessed DNS indexes. There is a mailing list they might take to some other place with them. They can still make some hay from the name but the owners will always resent their episode of fear.

You can be sure their egos are hurting. Did they ever donate anything to the Ron Paul campaign or to the SuperPACS that advertised for him openly during 2012?

I do believe in the principle of “Muzzle not the ox that treadeth out the corn”, meaning I’m glad they made some dough while supporting the campaign. But in all the commentary on this issue I did read that they donated nothing to Ron Paul’s campaign. If that is true, and it is also true that they promised to donate a portion of the revenues of the sales or especially if it was for “every sale”, then those two things make them de facto liars and frauds. I would like to hear it plainly.

A “WHITE PAGES” COMPARISON

It’s as if there were a government-enforced monopoly on a White Pages but in this case you could list any old name you wanted on a first-come first-serve basis.

I do support the ideal of general and clear “open-source” and “free as in free speech” but all-industry technology standards, as a “language” for technology. But the DNS is not quite as even-handed as it could be because of the rules of the technology. I do understand the reasoning behind having one DNS system for high-level domains, but this episode demonstrates to my satisfaction that an organic, free-market growth of computer services and servers connecting to each other may have served us all better, even if it took longer to come to fruition.

A GLIMPSE OF FREE MARKET INTERNET

Some of us remember the days of audio modems and dialing up to bulletin boards, even before there was “free long distance to anywhere in the USA“. Then there was Paradox from Sears, CompuServe, AOL, and several other computer services with some of the things that we got used to later with the universal Internet.

The first users of these services in a free market without the intrusion of the government-sponsored ARPA and the “Internet”, would have sponsored the private-sector expansion of those services, economies of scale, and free market pressures plus technology could have pushed these services, I suspect, into something as good as the Internet as we know it.

It may have made it harder for government also to do the kind of police state surveillance they are doing with the emails and Internet as it is now. Although I am glad that there was enough in place to spread the message of freedom more widely with it.

With that organic growth, it may have been easier for there to be any number of multiple ronpaul web page destinations, and it might help eliminate the confusion.

On a personal note, even as a developer myself, a few times I have used a “natural” kind of DNS entry –domain name in lay terms– in the “address bar” of the browser, to find something. I may have gone to ronpaul.com that way, though I do not remember even being aware of it until this controversy broke out, rocket-propelled into the conversation by the now decreed-again owners of the ronpaul.com destination.

DOES THAT HELP CLARIFY IT?

The Bible says “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin”, so there’s probably a little bit of that in this piece. But that’s my honest take on this issue. I wish more people would consider the fact that the Internet domain name assignment and arbitration procedures do NOT establish anything even CLOSE to an “ordinary property rights” issue, by virtue of even the fact of having a monopoly arbitration panel.

Ron Paul was not trying to pick their pocket or break their legs. No doubt, in my opinion, he just thought he had natural claim to his own name, a name that the current “licensees” use for their own purposes, both noble and ignoble.

Remember, if they don’t pay up the fees every year, or two years, or whatever the arrangements, it’s not theirs anymore. So in a von Mises sense, the true “owners” of ronpaul.com are the ICANN board members.

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19 Responses to “Why Ron Paul owns his own name vs. the Internet”

  1. Why Ron Paul owns his own name vs. the Internet | Trutherator’s Weblog | Trutherator's Weblog Says:

    […] https://trutherator.wordpress.com/why-ron-paul-owns-his-own-name-vs-the-internet/ […]

  2. S.C. Says:

    INTERNET DNS SYSTEM IS NOT AN “ORDINARY PROPERTY ISSUE”, IT IS A GOVERNMENT-ENFORCED INDEX!

    FREE MARKET DNS RESOLUTION WOULD BE BETTER

    Free market? ICANN as a monopoly? Dude, you clearly do *not* understand how the domain name system works.

  3. trutherator Says:

    So who else makes the rules for the highest-level domain suffix?

    Why was there only one place Ron Paul had to go?

    What’s the definition of “monopoly”?

    (Thanks for playing)

    • S.C. Says:

      “So who else makes the rules for the highest-level domain suffix?”

      Um, what do you mean “who else”? There can’t be a “who else”.

      “Why was there only one place Ron Paul had to go?”

      This is a bit like asking why there’s only one denomination that’s Catholic or why there is only one language that is English or why there’s only one person I can ask for permission to use someone’s face in a commercial or why there is only one reality.

      “What’s the definition of ‘monopoly’?”

      A single business that dominates a particular market for something. But the domain name system isn’t a market, so calling ICANN a monopoly is a category error. There’s one internet (there can’t be more than one, otherwise it’s not an internet) so there’s one domain name system. Sure, you can set up your own name servers, but it won’t be the authoritative domain name system nor does it mean that there is a market in domain name systems anymore than creating your own language means that there is a market in languages. It’s a category error.

  4. trutherator Says:

    Thanks much for your comments, S.C.

    Q: what do you mean “who else”? There can’t be a “who else”.

    A: That’s exactly the point. An officially created one-point control and arbitrator.

    Q: like asking why there’s only one denomination that’s Catholic

    A. Really? There have been small-player attempts to set up alternative domain-name providers but they were musled out by ICAAN from the beginning.

    Also, domain names aren’t a “market” and that is exactly the center of my point here. If the “Inter-network” had been allowed to grow “organically” in a true free market there could be domain indexes like a phone book. The phone book has a 100 John Smiths. Plus address.

    Point is exactly that. Just one world panel. Things will eventually smooth out anyway though. Monopolies eventually frazzle at the edges are help obsolete themselves by making alternate technologies more attractive.

    • S.C. Says:

      “That’s exactly the point. An officially created one-point control and arbitrator.”

      Um, I’m not sure whether I should be in agreement or disagreement with you here.

      “Really? There have been small-player attempts to set up alternative domain-name providers but they were musled out by ICAAN from the beginning.”

      Yes, I’m aware of that, but I wouldn’t say that they were “musled out”. What they were trying to do was set up alternative DNS roots. The only problem ist everyone else uses ICANN’s root zone file. Well, it’s not really “ICANN’s root zone” because it’s not proprietary. ICANN is simply the organization that maintains and coordinates it.

      “Also, domain names aren’t a ‘market’ and that is exactly the center of my point here. If the ‘Inter-network’ had been allowed to grow ‘organically’ in a true free market there could be domain indexes like a phone book. The phone book has a 100 John Smiths. Plus address.”

      What I mean is that the domain name system is sun generis. You’re trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. “Market logic” (can’t think of a better phrase) just isn’t applicable to it. Having “competing domain name systems” is like having “competing UNs”. Yes, there can be and there are other international bodies, but it’s a totally different context from the market, which is only one “sphere” of human life. Alternative roots are discouraged by ICANN (and pretty much the whole IT community) because they lead to fracturing.

      And the internet did evolve organically. You might be interested in reading up on Jon Posted, the man who administered IANA prior to ICANN. He had guts.

  5. S.C. Says:

    Another thing I should note is that ICANN is not “government enforced”. It is a very unique kind of organization that cannot be pigeonholed into old paradigms.

  6. trutherator Says:

    “Old paradigms”? Then why so many other “nations” object to its control by the United States Government?

    But thanks for the information, I will check out Jon Posted et. al.

  7. trutherator Says:

    From Wikipedia:

    “At present ICANN is formally organized as a non-profit corporation “for charitable and public purposes” under the California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation Law. It is managed by a 16-member Board of Directors composed of eight members selected by a nominating committee on which all the constituencies of ICANN are represented; six representatives of its Supporting Organizations, sub-groups that deal with specific sections of the policies under ICANN’s purview; an At-Large seat filled by an At-Large Organization; and the President / CEO, appointed by the Board.”

  8. trutherator Says:

    And if domain names aren’t a “market”, why IS there a “market” where some domain names cost into the thousands of dollars? Why have some people spent millions on them?

  9. trutherator Says:

    Speaking of the United Nations, it looks like the ruling cliques of the world may use this Snowden thing to take back control of the Internet, and the mention of IP6 might support that, and who knows but what role this latest identity theft scandal might have to do with the play to retake the Internet:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montevideo_Statement

  10. trutherator Says:

    Another thing occurred to me on this issue.

    “Yes, I’m aware of that, but I wouldn’t say that they were “muscled out”. What they were trying to do was set up alternative DNS roots. The only problem is everyone else uses ICANN’s root zone file. Well, it’s not really “ICANN’s root zone” because it’s not proprietary. ICANN is simply the organization that maintains and coordinates it.”

    You could also say that Microsoft didn’t “muscle out” any competing software applications, but we can understanding rejecting such “technical” (picayune) points. They did it by using their entrenched de facto position.

    S.C. points out that ICANN is a non-profit “recognized” by California law. True enough, but the more proper word is “created by” the state of California, with the intention of deciding the rules for DNS. This inescapable fact has justified the occasional demands that the UN take over the function.

    In the real world, though, one of the reasons that ICANN began adding new top-level domains when it did (“info”, “biz”, and others), was precisely to cut out the free market attempts to alternatives that were already providing DNS indexes with those precise suffixes. Because they were getting a bit of traction already and connected to high-level on-line pipelines. Ditto on when they opened up to non-English web addresses.

    Funny that you mention the UN and that there are some countries calling for a different international entity to take it over. The creators of the United Nations have claimed a monopoly on its “functionality”.

    Despite its claimed justifications, its organizers’ intent is rather clearly world government. This would be in the interest of a power-hungry clique of already powerful elites, not at all for the rest of us. So if the analogy holds that the ICANN is “like the UN”, then all the more reason to let the free market handle the handshakes.

    • S.C. Says:

      “You could also say that Microsoft didn’t ‘muscle out’ any competing software applications, but we can understanding rejecting such ‘technical’ (picayune) points. They did it by using their entrenched de facto position.”

      I take it you support competition law, then.

      “True enough, but the more proper word is “created by” the state of California…”

      The same thing can be said about property, too. Also, your use of “state” is slightly off. A state is a sovereign political entity. A state has a government. Just as there are different forms of government, there are also different types of states. The United States and Russia, for example, are both federal states. China, on the other hand, is a unitary state. The European Union exists in its own sort of category.

      “In the real world, though, one of the reasons that ICANN began adding new top-level domains when it did (‘info’, ‘biz’, and others), was precisely to cut out the free market attempts to alternatives that were already providing DNS indexes with those precise suffixes.”

      No. Just no. The domain name system has nothing to do with the market. Totally different context. Domain names are a type of property. You seem to believe property can only be tangible, but this is not the case. Debt is a type of intangible property. As are stocks, spectrum rights, bonds, and copyrights.

      “The creators of the United Nations have claimed a monopoly on its ‘functionality’.”

      That still doesn’t make it a monopoly. You’re using that word in a strange way. Nevertheless, there are still other international organizations like the ICC, NATO, and others.

      “This would be in the interest of a power-hungry clique of already powerful elites, not at all for the rest of us.”

      This is kind of ironic given accusations like this are made against libertarianism.

  11. trutherator Says:

    John Postel: An interesting character, and what he did is laudable.
    Looks like he had a new paradigm in mind.
    But then, very strange, this Wired article says the White House was “days away” from announcing a major reorganization of the Internet when he had eight organizations reconfigure their source for handing email addresses to a Stanford University server instead of government servers.
    “http://www.wired.com/2012/10/joe-postel/”

    It also says he died nine months to the day after his coup, “Due to complications during a heart operation”. Whoa, what?

    Assignment: Find out what famous political figure said nothing happens by accident in politics, it’s all planned.

    The Internet certainly may be an exception, but having one central planning body for everybody, no matter what their “paradigm” is, will not work. Another source is quotes in the article saying that without him there would not have been an Internet. That is too big a presumption.

    Before there was the Internet, there was Compuserve, AOL, Paradox, a lot of companies offering the kind of services that we think we need “the” Internet for today. And besides them, there were plenty of guys with computers in their homes with modems that set up bulletin boards for anybody to call in on. All of these people had what we now call “servers” and companies were already setting up networks, and eventually the pressure of a free market could have had them doing plenty of “inter-networking”.

    • S.J. Says:

      “The Internet certainly may be an exception, but having one central planning body for everybody, no matter what their ‘paradigm’ is, will not work.”

      Nonsense. ICANN isn’t “central planning” (whatever that means). Socialists can’t choose to opt out of private property anymore than a small business owner can choose to opt out of using the authoritative root zone. It’s just not possible. Sure, you can use Name.Space or New.net, but that’s like playing pretend king.

      “Before there was the Internet, there was Compuserve, AOL, Paradox, a lot of companies offering the kind of services that we think we need ‘the’ Internet for today.”

      Err, no. That was still the Internet. Maybe you’re thinking of the World Wide Web, born at CERN when Timothy Berners-Lee created the first HTTP server in 1991. The WWW runs on top of the Internet.

      “All of these people had what we now call ‘servers’ and companies were already setting up networks, and eventually the pressure of a free market could have had them doing plenty of ‘inter-networking’.”

      I have no idea what you’re talking about here. The Internet evolved out of ARPANET and grew as it became connected with universities and telecommunications networks. THAT is the Internet.

      • trutherator Says:

        Yes, ICANN makes decisions –has made!– decisions that affect all of us. For example they defer to national and international trademark law in their DNS assignments.

        “Madonna Louise Ciccone” yanked the DNS entry for Madonna from its owner after WIPO ruled for her in 2009. If DNS entries are property independently of ICANN or arbitrary monopolies, then ICANN “stole” the DNS entry for dolphins.com from its owner and gave it to the Miami Dolphins.

        However, Madonna only got her name within a Catholic cultural tradition, so maybe the Roman Catholic church could have claimed first dibs on it. “Dolphins” has much more connotation than for American football. It would be nice to have a website to enjoy information about the real live animal.

        It has a set of rules set up for adjudicating disputes between parties.

        ICANN is an organ than does central planning. Meaning decisions imposed by fiat upon individuals.

        First you say that Paradox, AOL, and Compu-serve were part of the Internet. Then you say it evolved out of ARPANET.

        You presume in thinking I didn’t know this. They joined in the internetwork that “evolved from ARPANET” once it began opening up new potential subscribers to them.

        Maybe you’re too young to remember the days when you made a deal with them and the services were all offered by people who were connected to them exclusively.

        Maybe you’re too young to remember the days of hackers with modems and computers in their homes that set up online bulletin boards, and gave a number to their friends and listed them on other guys’ “bulletin boards”. You used your modem to call the phone number and hook up to the other guys’ computer.

        Of course we all know that the Internet we have now is an evolved ARPANET, no secret there. So go back and think about the things I said outside that box, and look it up, search out these things because they are history.

  12. trutherator Says:

    I have excerpted SC’s most recent comments and replied to them in a separate blog post as the length merited a new blog post. An interesting conversation.

    https://trutherator.wordpress.com/2014/09/28/icann-and-internet-confusion-domain-names-and-monopolies/

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