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Friday, 12 August 2022 09:00

Debian project gains control of debian.community domain Featured

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Debian project gains control of debian.community domain Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

The global IP authority has granted ownership of the "debian.community" domain name to the Debian GNU/Linux Project and decided that it should be transferred to the community Linux distribution.

A statement from the project, which lodged a complaint about the domain name, said the decision had been taken by the World Intellectual Property Organisation under its Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy.

The panel that made the decision said it had found that "the disputed domain name is identical to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights."

The project, an association of free software developers who produce the Debian distribution, said it was committed to the proper use of its trademarks and would take action when there was any violation of its policy.

It added that the content of the debian.community site had been replaced by a page explaining what had happened.

In its decision, the panel noted that the disputed domain name was identical to the Debian mark, which carried a high risk of implied affiliation with the complainant.

"Given that the complainant prominently describes Debian on its homepage as a 'community' and not just an operating system, [the.community] suffix actually reinforces that the disputed domain name will resolve to a site operated or endorsed by [Debian]," it added. "The disputed domain name contains no critical or other terms to dispel or qualify that false impression."

The panel also said the evidence submitted by the complainant showed that some posts presented the Debian mark together with information about a notorious sex cult, notorious sex offenders, and enslavement of women, and one post displayed photographs of physical branding allegedly on victims’ genital skin.

"The segues from information about the complainant to this type of information are contrived and the scale of this information is not merely incidental on the website," the panel noted.

"In the panel’s view, these posts are deliberately intended to create a false association between the Debian trademark and offensive phenomena and thereby tarnish the mark."

In conclusion, the panel said that "nothing in the Debian Social Contract or elsewhere indicates that the complainant has ever consented to the type of false associations with its mark published by the respondent on its website.

"The respondent points out that the Debian mark is registered only in respect of software. However, while the relevant posts attack members of the complainant who make available Debian software, rather than the software itself, these posts use the mark in combination with the disputed domain name in a way that intentionally seeks to create false associations with the mark itself."

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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