Why Ron Paul owns his own name vs. the Internet
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.
- Why Ron Paul has a claim on his name in the Internet Name Monopoly (trutherator.wordpress.com)
- Ron Paul Loses Both UDRP’s On Ronpaul.com and Ronpaul.org (thedomains.com)
- Ron Paul Loses Attempt to Claim RonPaul.com and RonPaul.org Domain Names (reason.com)
- Dr. Gary North Discusses The Ron Paul Curriculum (economicpolicyjournal.com)