On May 1, 2008, a group of Ron Paul supporters launched RonPaul.com, a website dedicated to promoting Ron Paul's political ambitions and, in the spirit of the free market, making a few doubloons for the site's proprietors.
It was a lot like Ron Paul's newsletters, except with 100% fewer predictions of race riots and 50% more fawning over the good doctor's foreign policy views.
But as of last week, there is trouble in anarcho-capitalist paradise.
On February 7, an attorney for Paul filed a complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organization, an agency of the United Nations–an organization Ron Paul likes about as much as he likes the Federal Reserve–demanding control of the RonPaul.com domain.
What's happening here? Is Paul becoming a statist who sends his supporters "off to a UN tribunal" as claimed by RonPaul.com? Will he now sell his books exclusively for Ameros?
A few commenters on RonPaul.com stood by the site's owners:
Rob Zulan: "Ron Paul, Don't become like Metallica alienate your fan base by trying to sieze RonPaul.com [sic]. Take the offer for the free domain name RonPaul.org and apologize to RonPaul.com. We don't expect you to be fully competent with Internet technology at your age, and maybe it's your lawyer who filed without your knowledge or understanding. God knows that lawyers are the scum of the earth. They don't understand how anything works and are the first to take action (cough… cough… Obama)."
The chances of Paul becoming "like Metallica" are about as good as the man becoming president, and considering he signed an affidavit attached to the WIPO complaint, it's pretty clear that Paul knew what he was doing. Interestingly, most commenters who live in the 10% of the Internet dedicated to all things Ron Paul are supportive of their libertarian hero:
Priscilla: "How could you people treat Ron Paul in such a way as this!! This is absolutely un- called for.You should be ashamed of your selves!!"
Greedy: PLEASE GIVE UP THIS DOMAIN TO IT'S OWNER RON PAUL. COME ON! ARE YOU GUYS SERIOUS? ARE YOU REALLY FOR PAUL OR JUST IN FOR THE MONEY?
Chad: You've profited on someone else's name, appearance, and wealth. Now, you’re mad that RP is forced to go directly to the managing authority. I wish we could just settle it without government intervention, because you'd get the beat down you deserve. I would wish you luck, but I hope you lose… badly.
Maybe it is ironic that Ron Paul is using the UN to grab a domain name from his supporters, but it's not as hypocritical as it seems. Anyone who registers a domain name agrees to abide by the rules set out by Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a private non-profit that has designated the UN's WIPO as the arbiter of domain trademark disputes.
In other words, anyone who registers a domain subjects themselves to a "UN tribunal."
You'd just think that a bunch of libertarians could solve this with a shake of the invisible hand, rather than going through this arbitration nonsense.
Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Tags: Internet, Ron Paul, United Nations