For anyone following UDRP cases, this one was highly anticipated. The case of Mercury Radio Arts, Inc. and Glenn Beck v. Isaac Eiland-Hall (WIPO D2009-1182, October 29, 2009) dealt with the domain www.glennbeckrapedandmurderedayounggirlin1990.com. (For all the case filings and opinion please go here.) If you don’t know anything about this case you should read the full decision to get an understanding of the UDRP process. It seems as though Mr. Beck got a taste of his own rhetoric today, but if you want to know more about him visit his web site at www.glennbeck.com. Our friend Marc Randazza has won another case with some very “eloquent” language in his pleadings and has provided many First Amendment proponents with a significant case for later use.
Essentially, the Panel found that the domain was confusingly similar to Mr. Beck’s trademark. The case turned on the issue of whether the domain was being used in a manner consistent with the First Amendment rights to publish satyrical content. The Panel believed that the disputed domain was a parody and should be afforded such protection. The Panel explained:
It can be and has been argued by Complainant that the disputed domain name should be assessed “standing alone” because at least some Internet viewers will only have that first impression (i.e., they will not click through). However, this case involves a form of speech arguably strongly protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This Panel is very reluctant to reject Respondent’s claim of legitimate noncommercial and fair use on the distinction between viewing of the disputed domain name itself and clicking through to Respondent’s website. On the same basis by which the Panel has determined the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s trademark – that is, Internet users viewing the disputed domain name will be curious and motivated to visit the website – the Panel also considers that Respondent’s speech should be assessed as a whole, both by reference to the disputed domain name and the content of Respondent’s website (i.e., on the assumption the preponderance of Internet users will indeed click through).
The Panel did not address any issues of bad faith since they found that there was legitimate rights involved. The Panel stated “The Panel notes, however, that the combination of political speech engaged in by Respondent and the substantial lack of commercial intent makes it unlikely to this Panel that Complainant would have succeeded in demonstrating bad faith registration and use.”
A large tip of the hat goes out to Mr. Randazza for a great win.
Update: The Respondent pulled a fast one on Mr. Beck and relinquished the domain. See his letter to Beck (here)