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MySpace stripped of domain victory

Nominet elections feel the hand of Rupert Murdoch

Secondly, the panel considered the crucial (and more broadly relevant) question of how much control TWS had over what appeared on the parking site. It accepted that TWS had not interfered with the content of, including when ads relating to social networking began to appear. Rather, they had been generated and updated by Sedo's software, so it was natural that MySpace's rapid rise be reflected.

The judgement said: "The registration of domain names is still a first-come, first-served system and the panel is reluctant to place any duty on a registrant, who has merely had the good fortune (or maybe ill-fortune) to register a domain in good faith, which subsequently, through no fault of his own, provided he does nothing to actively exploit his position [appeals panel emphasis]."

TWS has been represented in the battle by solicitor Jim Davies, a veteran of domain name disputes. He is standing in this year's highly controversial elections to the Nominet board as one of the three candidates the current executive has told members not to vote for.

Part of Davies' platform is a call to spin the DRS complaints procedure out of Nominet. During the independent appeal process over, Davies accused Nominet of having improper contact with MySpace and then covering it up. TWS has now made a formal complaint against the registry.

TWS had called for the case to be dropped when it believed MySpace had paid its share of the independent panel's fee late. It later emerged that a cheque had been sent on time, but a mix up in Nominet meant it had not been recorded properly.

However, as part of the response to his call for dismissal, Davies was sent emails between Nominet and MySpace's lawyers Field Fisher Waterhouse that showed registry officials had encouraged MySpace's lawyers to ensure they met the deadline. Davies alleges that this was against the rules, but is more angry that his questions over the action were repeatedly ignored by Nominet, as shown in emails seen by The Register.

Davies said today: "I think what is worse is the cover up rather than the original email – but neither is ideal."

Davies accused Nominet of scaremongering over the imminent election, which could see the current board's control loosened. "They are trying to scare the members into thinking that I am part of some sort of takeover plot," he said. "That's not true - I just want to see better and more accountable structures put in place."

Neither Nominet nor its press representatives returned our calls today.

The Nominet elections close tomorrow. You can read the full appeal judgement here (pdf). ®


Emily Taylor, Nominet's director of legal and policy got in touch following the publication of this story to strenuously deny any allegation of a cover-up. "In a cover up you don't normally share all the correspondence with an independent third party, which is what we have done," she said.

"It is very disappointing that Mr Davies continues to make this allegation, which we take very seriously." She said that the adjudicator in the January decision on had considered Davies' charges of procedural irregularities and found no wrongdoing.

The complaint by TWS will be considered according to the normal Nominet process.

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