Feigned outrage – .ly domains are fine, just respect the TOS

October 6, 2010 — 7 Comments

The only reason I am writing this post is because I disagree with the sensationalist nature of the reporting going on and I own a few .ly domains. Perhaps you read Engadget or Techcrunch’s scarebait reporting of Ben Metcalfe’s post getting his .ly domain yanked.

My 2 cents:

When you register a .ly domain the rules in the TOS explicitly make some things off limits:

Any .LY domain name may be registered, except domains containing obscene and indecent names/phrases, including words of a sexual nature; furthermore domain names may not contain words/phrases or abbreviations insulting religion or politics, or be related to gambling and lottery industry or be contrary to Libyan law or Islamic morality, the same applies to the site content.

I read this before I registered the domain and agreed to it, as did everyone else that owns .ly domain must agree to it. It was reported that Ben’s vb.ly url shortener was openly promoting itself as “adult friendly” url shortener (the marketing on the site bragged about being ‘sex-positive’) or something similar. If that is true it seems like a clear TOS violation to me. Case closed.

Whether you disagree (and I do) with their interpretations of what may be decent and women’s status in society is irrelevant if you agree to their TOS when purchasing from them. Their sandbox, their toys, their rules.

My experiance with .ly

The first .ly I bought was pix.ly which I used as a personal project for a site I created that allowed users to vote on 2 flickr photos side by side.  (twitter avatars battle at twit.pix.ly).  The flickr photos were brought in with a search API, this being the internet it took exactly 5 minutes for someone to start searching for “porn, nude, breasts, etc”.  A couple weeks later I got a very polite email from the .ly folks that:

  1. Complimenting me on the site and how they thought it was a novel idea and a great showcase of thier .ly domains
  2. They were sorry to have to remind me that adult subject matter is in violation of the TOS
  3. They requested I alter the app to prohibit the adult content
  4. If I cant alter it, they requested I use the domain for another purpose (within TOS)
  5. They would revoke the registration if I failed to comply

That is far from a case of big ol’ scary mideast government agencies stealing domains back from us yankees.

I elected to ditch the flickr idea and just do twitter avatars with the app at twit.pix.ly and I have not heard anything since.

I also of course own page.ly and sal.ly which I bought for my wife. In regards to sal.ly the domain registrar libyanspider.com was also very helpful in settling a disagreement with a 3rd party that thought they had rights to the domain when they did not. My experience with libyanspider has always been great and their customer service has even exceeded that which I have gotten at some other registrars.

As far as page.ly.

  1. Of course we own pagely.com
  2. Of course we considered the possible repercussions of building an app on a domain we have less control over, so therefore have fully abstracted our service onto other .com domains we do control. .ly could be gone tomorrow and our service wouldn’t blink.
  3. Nothing we are doing is in violation of their TOS, so we are not overly concerned about it.

Finally it would be financial suicide for the .ly folks to overly enforce their TOS (like some of the Sharia law stuff).  When $$ is involved on a international stage.. people tend to be more flexible on what is permissible. But when a site like vb.ly open flaunts it’s violation.. what do you expect them to do?

The reporting around this smacks of the”Keep em Scared” tone that sadly seems prevalent when it involves anything with Islam or the Mideast.

Strebel

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I write here on this blog. Kinda cool huh.

7 responses to Feigned outrage – .ly domains are fine, just respect the TOS

  1. Hurray. Of all the hoohah Ive read surrounding this issue, I think that your post puts it in the BEST and most razor sharp clarity. I agree on all points, and just wish that this were the prevailing sentiment instead of the hand wringing.

  2. I agree with you that “their rules, their sandbox”. I don’t know why anyone who cares about free speech would support any islamic government, regardless of the sexiness of it’s top level domain.

    When you said “But when a site like vb.ly open flaunts it’s violation.. what do you expect them to do?”, I have to disagree with you. vb.ly’s “sex positive” is hardly flaunting, in my opinion.

  3. Very well put Joshua,

    I’m actually somewhat surprised that your trackback was posted as mine didn’t get posted.
    Your post is a lot more coherent than mine [ http://www.andrewburnett.com/dear-libya-annoyed-internet/ ] though, maybe that’s it :)

    It has got nothing whatsoever to do with Libya being muslim or not, nothing to do with should they have that clause in their TOS, nothing to do with anything other than it’s simply their TOS.

    If I were to make a rule that there’s no fruit to be eaten in my house AND made people agree to that prior to coming in… well that’s the exact same thing.

    You’ve put it splendidly and I’m so happy to have found someone else who sees behind the sensationalism and takes the time to comment on it!

  4. When you register a .ly domain the rules in the TOS explicitly make some things off limits:

    “Any .LY domain name may be registered, except domains containing obscene and indecent names/phrases, including words of a sexual nature; furthermore domain names may not contain words/phrases or abbreviations insulting religion or politics, or be related to gambling and lottery industry or be contrary to Libyan law or Islamic morality, the same applies to the site content.”

    So, first off that page was updated with the text you are quoting in the last few days and since the domain was removed. That’s not what was there before (granted you may not have known that).

    Secondly those are actually NOT the Regulations for the ly domain space. The article of record for the .ly domain space regulations is http://nic.ly/regulations.php. Libyan Spider is just a commercial registra. It’s the equivalent of GoDaddy stating the terms of a .com – in the event of a legal dispute the regulations that govern would be InterNic/Verisign as the registry owner NOT GoDaddy.

    This is important because what Libyan Spider have written actually doesn’t completely agree with what is written on http://nic.ly/regulations.php anyway, although as I assert their terms are not the article of record.

    I’m glad you’ve had better experiences with Libyan Spider with your domains. However, as a business owner using a .ly domain I’m surprised that you are not more concerned about the registry asserting editorial control over the nature of your sites.

    Finally, as a pedant for disclosure I would like to disclose that I’m a shareholder and advisor to a rival business to Page.ly, which you may or may not be aware of (I notice you didn’t disclose on your side, but I’m happy to assume thats perhaps because you were not aware). This isn’t about our respective businesses but equally I think it’s important to disclose none the less.

    • @ben: Had I made a comment on your post I would have happily disclosed. WP kicked a trackback to you because of the link in this post. Thanks for commenting though, and I hope it somehow works out for you. However I think you are trying to split hairs. I was fully aware of the no porn/adult content TOS for .ly domains 3 years ago when I registered pix.ly, They were not hard to miss and I am not sure it is the best argument to say they were recently changed, or magically appeared yesterday. If you didn’t see or read the TOS when you registered that is an unfortunate oversight.

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