pgMedia Challenges U.S. Government's Claim To Control of The Domain Name System
press release from 09-18-97
NEW YORK, NEW YORK: PGMedia, Inc. d/b/a name.space(tm), the New York-based company which sued Network Solutions, Inc. ("NSI") (the holder of the monopoly in commercial Internet Domain Name Registrations) for violations of U.S. antitrust laws in March of this year, has amended its Complaint in that case to join the National Science Foundation ("NSF") as a party-defendant. While PGMedia steadfastly believes that the National Science Foundation has no authority to restrict or forestall the complete opening of the Domain Name Registration market which PGMedia seeks in its case against NSI, over the last three months, the NSF has injected itself into the Domain Name dispute by claiming (on behalf of the U.S. Government) to exclusively control the Domain Name System. The NSF has exerted this control to prevent NSI from acquiescing in PGMedia's demand for access to the market. Again, PGMedia believes that the NSF possesses no such control or authority, but even if it did, such actions have the clear effect of limiting freedom of expression in the first and foremost avenue of speech on the Internet -- the Domain Name. Thus, either the NSF has no authority, and NSI should be allowed to comply with Federal and state antitrust law in settling with PGMedia, or the NSF must, pursuant to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, acquiesce in PGMedia's demand to unlimited and shared Top Level Domain Names.
The name.spaceTM Service
PGMedia's name.spacetm service (http://namespace.pgmedia.net) was launched in August 1996 to offer Internet Domain Name Registration Services in competition with NSI under virtually unlimited Top Level Domain names. That is to say, while NSI has forced Internet users to register their names under .com, .net and .org, name.space(tm) offers the full range of expression, in virtually any language, in the top level namespace. In addition, and significantly, name.space(tm) claims no exclusivity with respect to the right to register under any TLD. Indeed, PGMedia has developed software and code to allow multiple registries to register names under the same TLD. Unfortunately, until NSI changes the so-called "root zone file" (or directory of directories) which resides on its root name servers, the name.space(tm) top level domain names will not be universally resolvable on the Internet. Until NSI makes that change, only users who have visited the name.space(tm) web page and downloaded the self-executing application which points their browser to the name.space(tm) servers first can use a name.space(tm) domain name.
pgMedia Sues Network Solutions To Open The Domain Name Market
In March 1997, after NSI refused PGMedia's request that reference to the name.space(tm) name servers be added to the root zone file, PGMedia sued NSI in Federal District Court in the Southern District of New York seeking, among other things, to compel NSI to add the name.space(tm) TLDs and nameservers to the root zone file. Initially, NSI refused, claiming that Dr. Jon Postel, of the so-called Internet Assigned Numbers Authority ("IANA"), was the only person who could add a TLD to the root zone file. However, after several discussions with PGMedia and its counsel, NSI proposed allowing unlimited TLDs, but only if the National Science Foundation had no objection. PGMedia has consistently contended that the NSF has no more of a place in this debate than any other interested party, and could not act to arbitrarily limit speech in the top level name space even if it did. In June and again in August of this year, the NSF informed NSI that the NSF controlled the root zone file, and that the NSF could not allow NSI to comply with Federal and state antitrust laws in granting PGMedia's reasonable request.
With today's addition of the National Science Foundation to the case, the issue of who ultimately controls the Global Internet is squarely before a Court of competent jurisdiction. In addition, the arbitrary restriction by the U.S. Government of freedom of expression in the top level name space may soon finally come to an end.
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