Galef/Little Cyber Piracy Protection Act Signed By Governor

Protects consumers and small businesses
August 7, 2007

Governor Spitzer signed into law on August 1st Legislative Bill A6628-B/S3814-B, an act that will put an end to “cyber piracy,” the registering of a domain name consisting of the name of another living person or a business with the intent of selling it back to that said person or business for a profit. Sponsored by Assemblywoman Sandy Galef and Senator Elizabeth Little, the bill was an amendment to the general business law in relation to cyber piracy protection and the unlawful registration of domain names.

The bill tackled the issue of cyber piracy, an offense in which a person registers a domain name that consists of the name of another living person without that other person’s consent with the intent of making a profit and then selling that domain name to that other person or any other third party. This unscrupulous practice can prove harmful to new businesses and consumers, which may be forced to buy their rightful domain name from cyber pirates who registered first to make a profit.

This new law defines cyber piracy and also enables the New York Attorney General to seek injunctive relief and forfeiture from a domain name registrar.

Galef stated, “For a long time now, individuals have searched for names of new start-up businesses and have then registered those domain names. In this Internet age, a business can simply not go without a suitable domain name, and so businesses are forced to buy their own names from these cyber pirates, adding yet another cost to the high price one must pay to start a business. This new law, Chapter 449 of 2007, will help put a stop to this unfair practice, as well as protect individuals from this same personal theft of name.”

“An Internet presence is a must for almost all businesses today," said Senator Little. "An essential part of attracting and keeping customers is having a web address that is easy to remember and helps point people, searching the web, in the direction of your business.

"It’s wrong, in my opinion, to buy up domain names reflecting the names of existing people or businesses with the intention of selling the names for a profit back to those persons or businesses. Individuals can easily and quickly search for the names of newly licensed businesses and then register domain names for a very low cost. The small business owner is then obliged to pay a high cost for a domain name important to the success of their business. That’s unfair."

"Prior to this law, business owners, like me, who wished to venture into the world of the internet, were immediately thwarted," said John DeGaetano, owner of Country Club Cigars in the Bronx, and resident of Putnam County. "We were unable to obtain and use an appropriate website address for our business because unscrupulous individuals already obtained them for the purpose of selling them to us. I am delighted that we can now prevent this from happening to new small business owners."