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againstvolokhconspiracyblog.com:

A reader asks, in response to my post defending a person's right to use the word UCLA in the address of a site that's critical of UCLA,

Should I be able to set up a Web site called againstvolokhconspiracyblog.com without being challenged?

Of course you should, at least if the content of the site likewise makes clear that it's criticism of the Volokh Conspiracy rather than something endorsed by the Volokh Conspiracy. Why shouldn't you? What readers would be confused? How would we be hurt in any way that the law should recognize as an actionable harm? (Of course we could be hurt by your criticism, even if it's entirely apt, but you should be free to hurt us this way.)

I like my name (though it's one I happen to share with other people). I like the name of our blog. I feel some emotional attachment to both. I can't say I'd be wild about your using it in criticizing me. But so what? If you want to criticize me or our blog, it seems to me hard to see why you should be denied the right to use my name or our blog's name in doing so.

pete (mail) (www):
Loosk like that domain name is still available if someone wants to buy it.
8.21.2009 4:23pm
Jt1L:
Falling back on the free speech principle is good, but feelings quickly change when you (or some extension of your identity) become subject to what often feels like libelous criticism.
8.21.2009 4:25pm
Steve:
I am reminded of the not-so-notorious Anti-SCOTUSblog, devoted to bashing Tom Goldstein.
8.21.2009 4:28pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
There is also paypalsucks.com etc. Unfortunately, ICANN has been less concerned about free speech rights here than have American courts.
8.21.2009 4:37pm
bobh (mail):
"Falling back on the free speech principle is good, but feelings quickly change when you (or some extension of your identity) become subject to what often feels like libelous criticism."

So what? If you are actually libeled, take action against the tortfeasor. If it's just a matter of your feelings being hurt, well, then your feelings are hurt. That is what the "free speech principle" is all about. If you don't like it, well again -- so what?
8.21.2009 4:37pm
pete (mail) (www):

There is also paypalsucks.com etc.


The other problem with those is that, at least a few years ago when I last checked, candidates and their supporters buy up those sorts of domain names anyways. Try going to barackobamasucks.com and you get a redirect to Obama's site for instance. If I ran a business or organization I would try to buy that name up as soon as possible.
8.21.2009 4:45pm
Larry Sheldon:
Am I the only person who can differentate between thes two sentences?

I have a right to name a blog "againstvolokhconspiracyblog.com".

I would be right to name a blog "againstvolokhconspiracyblog.com".
8.21.2009 4:45pm
Bob Montgomery (mail):
A few existing examples:

http://firemickeykaus.blogspot.com/
http://firemeganmcardle.blogspot.com/

Neither Kaus nor McArdle are too worked up about it, and I can't imagine Eugene getting worked up about something similar either. UCLA was right to get some perspective and back off.
8.21.2009 4:46pm
troll_dc2 (mail):

Unfortunately, ICANN has been less concerned about free speech rights here than have American courts.


Suppose I want to set up a site the name of which ICANN does not like. If I want to sue it, would an American court have jurisdiction? If so, would it have to be a federal court? Does the First Amendment apply to the organization?
8.21.2009 4:51pm
Joan in Juneau (mail):
I believe in free speech but there are some that believe free speech is fine as long as they agree with that particular point of view. If they disagree then it is an outrage.

Now a question because I am not a lawyer but would like opinions. How far can free speech go before it violates other laws? Check these links and weigh in on whether things such as this are really free speech and if any violations please.

I am not affiliated with either Walmart or wakeupwalmart in any way and I do not watch television so I have never seen Glenn Beck. TIA

http://tinyurl.com/me49w2

http://wakeupwalmart.com
8.21.2009 4:57pm
Richard A. (mail):
I would go even further and argue that people who become persistent trolls on other people's blogs should be actively encouraged to set up their own blogs and troll to their hearts' content.
8.21.2009 5:01pm
troll_dc2 (mail):

I would go even further and argue that people who become persistent trolls on other people's blogs should be actively encouraged to set up their own blogs and troll to their hearts' content.



Ouch. I was the one who asked the question.
8.21.2009 5:06pm
Ben P:
But it's so much more fun to troll here, a troll in a room by himself is somewhat useless.
8.21.2009 5:10pm
DaveJD (mail) (www):
Will I be able to purchase cheap jordan shoes at againstvolokhconspiracyblog.com?
8.21.2009 5:25pm
sk (mail):
Completely off-topic, but it might make an interesting post to discuss Hal Turner. I had never heard of him, and just learned his name while reading Boing Boing. He is an internet blogger (and I think neo-nazi or rightwing extremist-the real kind) who has been arrested for some of his blog posts, advocating violence against elected officials. The only exposure I have to those posts are quotes on Wikipedia (which appear right on the border of genuine threats vs. abstract rants).

Maybe I'm not familiar enough with the case, and his postings are clearly criminal. But at first glance it seems an interesting case for a free speech advocate.

Sk
8.21.2009 5:41pm
tvk:
EV, I know that you have kind of written about this, but this is reminiscent of trademark dilution. It is fine is someone sets up againsvolokhconsipracy.com to criticize your website, but you seem to be espousing a far broader principle of limiting trademarks to a consumer confusion standard. This has two possible inter-related adverse effects:

1. Brand dilution. Since the Volokh conspiracy is a well-known website, I make sure to include the word "Volokh" in my own website. Not because it has any relevance to what is on my website, but just because this brings more google hits. Say, volokhbooks.com with a nice big disclaimer saying that "This Bookstore is not endorsed by nor has anything to do with Eugene Volokh."

2. Rent-seeking and resources expended in prevention thereof. Of course, I won't be the only person with this bright idea. In fact, one of the first people who might have this bright idea may well be Eugene Volokh, who might one day want to attach his famous name to a bookstore. But if the law doesn't prevent me from setting up Volokhbooks.com first, then the only way for you to secure this future potentiality is to register the domain yourself ahead of time. Such a regime would be costly.
8.21.2009 5:43pm
Steve:
But using someone's name for commercial purposes is obviously quite different from using their name in order to criticize them.
8.21.2009 5:54pm
Fub:
DaveJD wrote at 8.21.2009 5:25pm:
Will I be able to purchase cheap jordan shoes at againstvolokhconspiracyblog.com?
We have a thread winner!
8.21.2009 6:02pm
Assistant Village Idiot (mail) (www):
troll, props for manning up and sayin' it wuz you. I was going to snark at the letter-writer until I saw that, and realised you're okay.
8.21.2009 6:15pm
troll_dc2 (mail):

troll, props for manning up and sayin' it wuz you. I was going to snark at the letter-writer until I saw that, and realised you're okay.



Thank you. Now would you like to address my questions about lawsuits against ICANN?
8.21.2009 6:22pm
Gaius Obvious:
Reminds me of the time when the British government tried to ban "I Can't Believe it's not Butter" from being sold in Britain because products without butter in them weren't allowed to use "butter" in their product names lest purchasers get confused as to whether the product contained butter or not. They asserted that people buying "I Can't believe it's not Butter" might think they were buying butter.
8.21.2009 6:23pm
24AheadDotCom (mail) (www):
What if someone's a whiz at Google and all their anti-Volokh sites are on the first page of results, with the actual site at 100th position. Someone who searches for 'volokh' without knowing anything about this site would probably be confused. They might not even click any of the anti- sites and see their disclaimers, and have a bad impression of 'volokh' without really knowing what it is. BTW: there are actually companies that deal with such situations.

And, regarding Hal Turner, see this.
8.21.2009 6:25pm
dearieme:
AgainStVolokhConspiracyBlog.com - now that's a blog to read.
8.21.2009 6:28pm
Dave N (mail):
AgainStVolokhConspiracyBlog.com
Now we're canonizing atheists.
8.21.2009 6:49pm
Dave N (mail):
troll_dc2:
I would go even further and argue that people who become persistent trolls on other people's blogs should be actively encouraged to set up their own blogs and troll to their hearts' content.
Ouch. I was the one who asked the question.
Despite the nom de blog, I don't consider you a troll at all. I've actually thought your comments are well-reasoned and to the point--even when I disagree with them.
8.21.2009 6:54pm
Snitty:
There's a lot of hostility to ICANN here, but the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACCPA) is almost just as bad when it comes to shutting down gripe sites that use the mark in the URL. Plus, it allows in rem actions against the domain names, a bit absurdly.
8.21.2009 7:19pm
Mark N. (www):

A few existing examples:

http://firemickeykaus.blogspot.com/
http://firemeganmcardle.blogspot.com/

There was also a (now defunct) popular blog criticizing poor sports journalism at firejoemorgan.com.
8.21.2009 7:38pm
Blar (mail) (www):

Reminds me of the time when the British government tried to ban "I Can't Believe it's not Butter" from being sold in Britain because products without butter in them weren't allowed to use "butter" in their product names lest purchasers get confused as to whether the product contained butter or not. They asserted that people buying "I Can't believe it's not Butter" might think they were buying butter.

Wouldn't someone who can't believe it's not butter necessarily think that they were buying butter?
8.21.2009 8:00pm
Blar (mail) (www):
8.21.2009 8:01pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
This is mostly related to tvk's 5:43pm comment:

As I recall, when Pejman Yousefzadeh decided to move from pejmanpundit.blogspot.com to his own domain some years ago, he found that one of his trolls (a certain Norm Jenson) had already purchased www.pejmanpundit.com, .net, and .org to prevent him from having them. The primary sources (all those sites) are long gone, but this post of mine from 2003 partially confirms my memory.
8.21.2009 8:04pm
troll_dc2 (mail):
I have given some thought to purchasing againstvolokhconspiracyblog.com given my role in bringing the concept into existence, but I cannot think of anything sillier than trying to maintain such a site. Besides, I don't have much to complain about. I wish that there were a better system for finding older material quickly, an ability to comment on blogs that don't allow comments, and an easy way to suggest topics for the bloggers to write about, but the substance is usually right on. Even when I disagree with the position taken, I often learn from it and from the comments. In fact, the real problem with this Web site is that it distracts me from the rest of my life.
8.22.2009 11:01am
Roger Schlafly (www):
There is a link farm at volokhconspiracy.com. It serves no purpose except to trap people looking for this blog.
8.22.2009 12:16pm
troll_dc2 (mail):
You're right. The word "The" makes all the difference. Frankly, that site is close to being illegal, I would think, given the confusion that it engenders, all for the dubious benefit of its advertisers.
8.22.2009 12:21pm
whit:

Someone who searches for 'volokh' without knowing anything about this site would probably be confused


the right to confuse the ignorant is obviously a part of the 1st amendment. if it wasn't, how could you possibly have free speech?
8.22.2009 10:46pm
travis (www):
againstvolokhconspiracyblog.com sounds like it is on track to be the most polite "sucks" site the first amendment has ever seen. contrast that with, say, volokhsucks.com, which would be your standard "sucks" site with standard "sucks" content.

now, consider eugenevolokhiseffedup.com, either with the euphemism or the actual f-word. this sounds like the author really has some really protected speech to express.
8.23.2009 12:49am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Joan in Juneau:

It seems the issues here are political speech relating to Walmart's advertisement on certain Fox News shows. As long as the speech doesn't cross the line to becoming libelous, I don't see a problem but IANAL.
8.23.2009 2:39pm
Joan in Juneau (mail):
einhverfr.... That makes sense. I just wasn't sure if you could use a company's logo in such a manner. Thank you for your reply on this one. JJ
8.23.2009 4:33pm
guy in the veal calf office (mail) (www):
Don't you have a right not to have your feelings hurt by a nasty blog saying nasty things? Shouldn't the government enforce that right?
8.24.2009 1:43pm
troll_dc2 (mail):

againstvolokhconspiracyblog.com sounds like it is on track to be the most polite "sucks" site the first amendment has ever seen. contrast that with, say, volokhsucks.com, which would be your standard "sucks" site with standard "sucks" content.

now, consider eugenevolokhiseffedup.com, either with the euphemism or the actual f-word. this sounds like the author really has some really protected speech to express.



So, travis, I read your rant. It is most interesting. I was curious to see Israel listed as a place where honor killings occur, but I did not see any details in that regard. They happen in this country too, but when they do the family members responsible for them get prosecuted.

So is EV really as out of touch with reality as suggested? If so, that would be disappointing on several levels.
8.24.2009 2:43pm

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