Texas orders online "book-burning"

In the cause of combatting websites trafficking in counterfeit luxury goods Chanel has managed to convince a judge that it should have the right to seize 700 domain names have have them purged from Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Bing, Yahoo, and Google.

Chanel has filed a joint suit in Nevada against nearly 700 domain names that appear to have nothing in common and apparently the court order allows Chanel to find new names to put on its list and for these to be seized too.

The order basically allows Chanel to take control of any website on the Internet without the burden of having to prove anything. Any site which is identified by Chanel has no right of appeal and can’t contest it.

Effectively it means that a court has given Chanel total control of the World Wide Wibble. I for one welcome our perfumed overlords.

The standard of evidence that Chanel has needed so far has been top of the range. It hired a Nevada investigator to order from three of the 228 sites in question. When the orders arrived, they were reviewed by a Chanel official and declared counterfeit. The others were shut down on the say so of a Chanel anti-counterfeiting specialist browsing the Web.

Texas Judge Kent Dawson decided that evidence was enough for a hanging and ordered the names seized and transferred to GoDaddy, where they would all redirect to a page serving notice of the seizure. Search engine indexing was ordered, one which neither Bing nor Google appears to have complied with yet.

Apparently Judge Dawson did not realise that the sites may not even be registered in the US, after all most Texans regard the world as divided into two – Americans and Mexicans. But he appears to have made a ban worldwide.

According to Ars Technicain the list of offending domains turns up poshmoda.ws, a site registered in Germany.

While the US did win the war against Germany, the last we heard the country did not hand over sovereignty – just a bunch of war criminals who helped put the US onto the moon. Needless to say,  the German registrar has not yet complied with the US court order – after all it knows where book burning ultimately ends up.

However, it might be possible, thanks to the US’s claim that it owns the world wide wibble and we can all be subjected to policing by daft Texas judges who think they rule the world. The US government has made similar domain name seizures through Operation In Our Sites, grabbing US based domains that end in .com and .net even when the sites are located abroad.

US lawyers have pointed out that if any one could appeal the stupid ruling in anywhere other than a place where the most intelligent thing in the place tumbles its way into town on the wind before tumbling its way out, they would certainly win. Unfortunately your average German website is not going to join a wagon train, through the desert, fight off snakes and injuns, to defend themselves in the finest court that Texas has to offer.

But what is perhaps most scary is that rights holders have asked their puppets in Congress to write provisions into law so that they can carry out similar online book burnings legally.