Dutch web pirates hijack European domain names

29 August 2006

Dutch web pirates hijack European domain names

Since SP Euro-MP Erik Meijer put a number of questions to the European Commission drawing its attention to the hijacking of .eu domain names, organisations and companies have continued to fall victim to web pirates. The European umbrella body for research libraries, CERL, has had to pay one such band, calling itself Traffic Web Holding plc, for the right to use its own name. Reason enough for Erik Meijer to make one more attempt to sound the alert.

CERL, to which the Nederlandse Koninklijke Bibliotheek (Dutch Royal Library) in The Hague is affiliated, last year served notice that it wanted to use the domain name www.cerl.eu. But the body responsible for allocating such names, EURid, had in fact already granted the rights to this domain name to Traffic Web Holdings plc, a web pirate which claims domain names with the sole intention of selling them on at a profit. The EU domain names for, for example, Copenhagen, Helsinki and Barcelona are amongst those which have been targeted in this way.

These cities took their case to a disputes panel and won.

In July the panel held that Traffic Web Holdings was “guilty of speculative registration” and stated the opinion “that the domain name was registered and used in bad faith.”

CERL secretary David Shaw pointed out in a letter to Erik Meijer that CERL was a non-profit organisation which would find it impossible to meet the costs involved in taking a case to this disputes panel. Meijer has therefore sent an urgent written question to the European Commission asking the body to put an end to this irritating abuse of the system and urging speedy action to ensure that groups with a legitimate interest in their European domain names can access them without having to buy them from speculators or be forced into costly action for the right to do so.

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