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04|30|2008 02:33 pm EDT

MySpace.co.uk Decision Overturned

by Chad Kettner in Categories: Legal Issues

A huge victory for MySpace.com has been overturned as the social networking giant is being forced to hand back control of MySpace.co.uk to the previous owner, Total Web Solutions (TWS).

In January, MySpace.com won an arbitration proceeding against TWS for the MySpace.co.uk domain name after arguing TWS was using the site to serve MySpace related ads. This decision was hotly debated because TWS had been operating a legitimate business on the domain, which it had owned it since 1997 – six years before MySpace.com’s social networking site ever came into existence.

Now, after months of criticism – as well as a fruitful fight by TWS – an independent appeals panel has overturned the original ruling.

The panel stated that the domain name could only be considered an abusive registration if “it was registered with abusive intent or because it has been used abusively.” Since MySpace.co.uk was “registered long before the Complainant’s business saw the light of day”, MySpace.com had to prove the website was being used abusively by TWS.

Although TWS was serving ads for MySpace.com on their site, the social network’s popularity hadn’t come into effect until months after the the website was parked with Sedo. As MySpace became more popular, the automatically generated Sedo ads began serving ads for Myspace related products, such as “MySpace Friend Adder.” Since MySpace.com couldn’t prove the ads were intentionally positioned by TWS, the panel found they were not abusing their rights.

“The Panel is not satisfied on the evidence before it that the Domain Name in the hands of the Respondent is an Abusive Registration within the terms of the Policy.

The Panel therefore allows the Appeal and directs that NO ACTION be taken in respect of the Complaint.”

“We refused to be bullied by one of the largest media organisations in the world,” said TWS managing director Paul Fallon following the decision. “This has been a very stressful case for a legitimate medium sized ISP to have to take on – but we had to defend our reputation and to stand up for what was right.”

MySpace has yet to be reached for comment.

[via The Register]
[Full Appeal Decision]

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