Judge Denies Suspension Of Spamhaus Domain

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Spamhaus.org garnered its first win in court, now that the company has decided to show up, against e360Insight. US District Court Judge Charles Kocaras denied a sweeping motion filed by e360 to order the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and domain registrar Tucows to suspend Spamhaus’ domain name.

British Spamhaus initially ignored court appearances and a default judgment against the company, asserting that an Illinois court had no jurisdiction over a UK-based company.

e360 filed suit against Spamhaus claiming that the anti-spam outfit had wrongly placed e360 on a spammer black list, effectively blocking its email from over 80,000 US IP addresses.

When the default judgment called for domain suspension, ICANN immediately put forth a statement that it had neither the ability nor the authority to suspend Spamhaus. Their protest was, apparently, unnecessary as Judge Kocaras denied an overly-punitive motion from e360 on appeal.

e360 filed a motion asking Spamhaus to be held in contempt for refusing to comply with an injunction which included:

Suspension of Spamhaus’s domain name until it complies with the terms of the injunction.

Steps to prevent third parties from accessing Spamhaus’s technology or permission to add them as defendants to this suit if they continue to do so

A monetary sanction against Spamhaus for each day that it fails to comply with the injunction.

From the judge’s ruling:

Neither [ICANN or Tucows] are parties to this case. Though more circumscribed than the preceding request, this relief is still too broad to be warranted in this case.

First, there has been no indication that ICANN or Tucows are not independent entities, thus preventing a conclusion that either is acting in concert with Spamhaus to such a level that they could be brought within the ambit of Fed. R. Civ. P. 65(d). Though our ability to enforce an injunction is not necessarily coterminous with the rule, the limitations on its scope inform an exercise of our power to address contempt. See, e.g., Rockwell Graphic Systems, Inc. v. DEV Industries, Inc., 91 F.3d 914, 920 (7th Cir. 1996).

Second, the suspension would cut off all lawful online activities of Spamhaus via its existing domain name, not just those that are in contravention of this court’s order. While we will not condone or tolerate noncompliance with a valid order of this court, neither will we impose a sanction that does not correspond to the gravity of the offending conduct.

Accordingly, the motion for a rule to show cause is denied without prejudice.

From an amateur judge’s standpoint (that is, from mine), Spamhaus has made a more sensible case for itself, according to the vicious press releases both companies have issued against the other.


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