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ICANN Responds To Seizure Order of The .IR Registry, Saying ccTLD’s Are Not Property

Posted on the 30 July 2014 by Worldwide @thedomains


A couple of weeks ago we told you that the attorney for the victims of a terrorist attack got a federal court to order the seizure of the .IR domain registry which is the ccTLD for Iran to help satisfy a judgment the victims  held  against the republic of Iran.

As first reported by,  (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) told a U.S. federal court in the District of Columbia, that ccTLD (country code Top-Level Domains ) can’t be considered property and therefore it can’t be attached by plaintiffs.

ICANN General Counsel and Secretary John Jeffrey filed various Motion to Quash in the US federal court and ICANN’s memorandum in support of its motion is 289 pages.

“While we sympathize with what plaintiffs may have endured, ICANN’s role in the domain name system has nothing to do with any property of the countries involved.”

We explained in our Motion to Quash, that country code Top-Level Domains (ccTLD) are part of a single, global interoperable Internet which ICANN serves to help maintain, he continued. “ccTLD’s are not property, and are not ‘owned’ or ‘possessed’ by anyone including ICANN, and therefore cannot be seized in a lawsuit.”

“ccTLD’s are not property, and are not ‘owned’ or ‘possessed’ by anyone including ICANN, and therefore cannot be seized in a lawsuit.”

Here is part of the memorandum:

“Plaintiffs hold several money judgments against the governments of Iran, Syria and North Korea (collectively, the “defendants”). Plaintiffs endeavor, with the Writs of Attachment, to attach the .IR, .SY and .KP country code top level domains (“ccTLDs”), related non ASCII ccTLDs, and supporting IP addresses (collectively, the “.IR, .SY and .KP ccTLDs”), all of which represent a space on the Internet for use by the citizens of Iran, Syria and North Korea.

ICANN holds no property to attach and ICANN does not have the authority or capability to effectuate a “transfer” of the .IR, .SY and .KP ccTLDs to anyone, including Plaintiffs.

“Well established legal principles dictate that the .IR, .SY and .KP ccTLDs are not subject to attachment, for multiple reasons.

First, a ccTLD simply is not “property” subject to attachment.

Second, although operating for the benefit of the people of Iran, Syria and North Korea, respectively, the relevant ccTLDs are not “owned” by the defendants or anyone else, for that matter.

Third, the .IR, .SY and .KP ccTLDs are not “located” in the District of Columbia or even the United States, and therefore are beyond the reach of Plaintiffs’ Writs of Attachment.

Fourth, even if these ccTLDs could be characterized as “property in the United States of the defendants,” this Court would lack jurisdiction over these proceedings, according to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. Fifth, ICANN does not unilaterally have the capability or authority to transfer the .IR, .SY or .KP ccTLDs to Plaintiffs.

Finally, a forced transfer of the .IR, .SY and .KP ccTLDs would destroy whatever value may exist in these ccTLDs, would wipe out the hundreds of thousands of second level domain names registered therein by various individuals,businesses and charitable organizations, and could jeopardize the single, global, interoperable structure the Internet. For these reasons, individually and collectively, Plaintiffs’ Writs of Attachment must be quashed”

ICANN’s filings can be found here. The “Writs of Attachment” can be found here.

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