November 21, 2014



Is The Battle Over RonPaul.com Really A Battle Over Freedom Of Speech?

February 9, 2013


Trevor Lyman

| Trevor Lyman is a political activist and founder of LibertyCrier.com. During the 2008 Ron Paul Presidential campaign Trevor was the lead organizer of the first Ron Paul moneybombs (of Nov. 5th, and Dec. 16th, 2007) and of the Ron Paul Blimp project.



Opinions from Liberty Crier contributors and members are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of The Liberty Crier.

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In reaction to the recent post at RonPaul.com: Ron Paul Calls on United Nations to Confiscate Domain Names of His Supporters.

An excerpt from the post:

Earlier today, Ron Paul filed an international UDRP complaint against RonPaul.com and RonPaul.org with WIPO, a global governing body that is an agency of the United Nations. The complaint calls on the agency to expropriate the two domain names from his supporters without compensation and hand them over to Ron Paul.

Now, let’s pretend for a moment…

The year is 2003 and I own the domain name GeorgeBush.com and I am using it to rail against the Presidency of George W. Bush. George Bush is a political figure and because I have freedom of speech I am allowed to use any means available to me, including ownership of a domain with his name, to express myself and my thoughts about his presidency. There is nothing that George Bush can do about it. The principles of the constitution protect me and I am thankful that they do.

Now the year is 2009 and George Bush is no longer President. Does that mean George W. Bush is no longer a political figure? Does that mean I no longer have the right to freedom of speech and I no longer have the right to keep up a domain that rails against his past political career? Or does George W. Bush now become a private citizen with the right to take my freedom of speech about his presidencies misdoings away from me, away from us?

Our movement has always prided itself on sticking to principle no matter the situation. We have always railed against our opposition when they were willing to go against the principles of the constitution so long as it went their way.

Yes, Ron Paul is the beloved hero of our movement, but what are the principles at stake here?

freedom-of-speechWhile many of us (myself included) would like for Ron Paul to own RonPaul.com we have to ask ourselves about the precedent we are setting if we support this idea that the government should seize this domain (by force, with a gun) and hand it over to Ron Paul, a political figure. I believe this idea conflicts with the principle of freedom of speech and so I cannot support it.

Having said this I do agree with Israel Anderson’s point in his video response where he states that Ron Paul could do much more good for the liberty movement with the domain RonPaul.com than the current owners of the domain can. I do hope that the owners of RonPaul.com and Ron Paul himself can come to an agreement among themselves that will be satisfactory to all.

Some say that the owners of RonPaul.com should give the domain to Ron Paul freely, they have an absolute right to that opinion and they are free to express it. But that doesn’t mean the masses have the right to use force against the individual to forbid them to take part in the political process.

Some also say that the owners of RonPaul.com “made money off of Ron Paul”. I couldn’t disagree more. What the owners of RonPaul.com did was to exercise their inalienable right to participate in our political process via their right to freedom of speech.

If I were to sell a t-shirt that said “George Bush is a big jerk” and I sold a million of them, would anyone accuse me of making money off of George Bush’s name? Or would they applaud me for helping to promote a political point of view and being smart enough to fund myself as I did so? So then how does it become different if I sell a t-shirt that says “Ron Paul is awesome”? It doesn’t. Principles never change depending on circumstance. That is why they are so powerful.

To use the force of law to take away someones protected right to freedom of (political) speech is incorrect and I hope this lawsuit will be rescinded immediately and that negotiations over the rights to the domain can take place without the threat of force.

What is your opinion? Is this a first amendment freedom of speech issue, or no? Please share your opinion in the comment section below.

 




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  • Leo Pohlman

    I think Ron Paul has an argument on this one. If the url was RonPaulSucks or RonPaulforPresident.com then he has no ground, however I don’t really agree that someone should be able to infringe on a trademark or someone’s name unless they have a good argument… i.e. one of the domain’s owners actually is named Ron Paul. I think these guys if they truly believed in Ron Paul’s message should give it to him as it would do far more good for the message of liberty for that website to be Ron Paul’s official page.

  • http://www.facebook.com/infinityBBC Bernard B Carman

    excerpts from a post by one Rick Parker (http://swampland.time.com/2013/03/19/hallowed-be-thy-name-ron-paul-tries-to-retrieve-ronpaul-com/):

    The thousands of posts and fans of that website are not fans of the website for any reason other than learning and talking about Ron Paul and his ideas.

    The followers of Ronpaul.com are NOT followers of the people who own the domain. In all likelihood, they are NOT there to support the owners of the website. They are there for Ron Paul.

    The website is not popular because of the hard work performed by the current website owners. The website is popular because of Ron Paul. Without him, there would be no website. Period.

    (i happen to agree with Rick’s sentiments, and while the $50k plan is certainly one good idea, i would not contribute to the current owners of RonPaul.com for the work they did for the Ron Paul Presidential campaigns. MANY people contributed their time and energy for the campaigns — key word: “CONTRIBUTED”. if these current owners of RonPaul.com are truly supporters of Ron Paul and his message of liberty, they would give him the URL… period.)

    • TrevorLyman

      The website is popular because of the hard work of both the owners of the site AND Ron Paul. That’s the real and balanced account of what is actually going on, not the emotional version.

      As far as I’m concerned no argument is as important as the freedom of speech issue at stake here.

  • Alan C

    The issue is NOT one of free speech. Both Ron Paul and the present squatters are otherwise free to say whatever they want, other things being equal.

    It’s a dispute over who owns the VIRTUAL BILLBOARD. The domain name management, as presently structured, is a complete quasi-governmental fiction, and if not for the virtual monopoly over networks of networks that also virtually guaranteed the way it is set up, this thing would be moot.

    Ron Paul did not make the rules for this setup, any more than he created the Federal Reserve. HOW MANY of his detractors in this issue blame him for using Federal Reserve Notes to buy groceries??!! Is he “seizing” groceries hypocritically, “forcing” the recipient?

    The guys that snatched up ronpaul.com could not believe their great fortune, and I do mean “fortune”, when they saw that it was available and grabbed it. They could not believe they got it before Ron Paul even realized what HIS OWN NAME was worth.

    You cannot say this is their “property” based on opposition to Intellectual Property either. I am an opponent and appreciate Kinsella’s arguments on it, they clinched it for me.

    But he cannot stake the claim of “stealing” on that, because the domain name is a DNS fiction for an IP address, and the management of claims to the names is based on trademark law and a kind of common-law perspective on Internet names.

    The motivations of the ronpaul.com squatters (whether legit or not) is irrelevant, but them claiming to be due compensation for their “contributions” is loudly crushed under the wait of their monetary demands to give it up. They have a mailing list they “packaged” in their offer. Their offer of ronpaul.org, to IT professionals like myself, is an insult.

    WIthout GOVERNMENT intervention, including intellectual property law, the whole thing would be moot and Ron Paul would not need arbitration for anything.

    A free market inter-network, OUTSIDE of Arpanet, was ALREADY growing fast, with networks all over the place. Paradox, Compuserve, AOL, were doing gangbusters until ARPANET ate the landscape. It could have organically grown a more decent and reasonable Internet where if you wanted Ron Paul’s offerings you could get it. In my opinion if you prefer to call it that.

    Precedents are history already. Madonna, the Jets, the Dolphins, on and on. There was a newsletter with Ron Paul’s name on it, so there you go.

    At the least the issue is NOT free speech. The issue is who owns the bulletin board with Ron Paul’s name on it, in the wild west of virtual country.

  • ed

    I can not have the domain name monsanto.com why can they have RonPaul.com. If someone was asleep at the wheel and gave me monsanto.com it would be taken away if I didn’t sell it back to monsanto. This is how domain names are supposed to be distributed. Ron Paul is the only one with the right to those names. Even if my last name was monsanto I still can’t have monsanto.com unless I owned monsanto. Domain names are not first come first serve.

    • TrevorLyman

      If you bought the domain name monsanto.com before they did and you were using it to make a political statement about Monstanto you would actually have rights to keep the domain name. It’s political free speech and it’s protected by the 1st amendment.

  • M Abraham

    Ron Paul has ZERO claim to ronpaul.com, and his attempt to snatch it is a major bit of hypocrisy on his part, as well as prideful and ignorant. It is hypocrisy because he has no property interest in the content, links, and audience built by the labor of others, and for that matter he never expressed an interest in obtaining the url until now, even. It is prideful because there are hundreds if not thousands if not even more Ron Pauls in this world, and our Ron Paul is behaving as if he is the only one. It is ignorant because he could just as well buy a domain called “therealronpaul.com”, and the current site operators seem more than happy to provide a link to any site Ron Paul wants. LAME MOVE, hope you lose Dr. Paul!

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