Domain Disputes Alert: Australian Political Party falls prey to a repeat cybersquatter

May 20th, 2010

Over at the Sidney Morning Herald, Cameron Atfield wrote yesterday regarding the newest transgression by a known cybersquatter. The Australian, Liberal National Party (LNP) has been set back by a notorious cybersquatter who has purchased two prime pieces of Queensland political online real estate. Both www.liberalnationalparty.com and www.john-paullangbroek.com have been registered to ‘Wayne Smith’ of Brisbane, Australia.

Wayne Smith is the same person who gained notoriety as a cybersquatter in 2006 when he registered www.bindiirwin.com hours after Steve Irwin died on September 4th. Smith operated www.bindiirwin.com, as what looked to be a tribute site to the Crocodile Hunter’s 8 year old daughter; but the site was actually linked to anti-Israel propaganda and included the names of israeli federal government ministers. Smith also owns terriirwin.org and bindisueirwin.com. More on that story here.

 This is not even the first time Wayne Smith has interfered with the Liberal National Party’s web presence. Smith registered liberalnationalparty.org merely 4 days after the Party was formed and after receiving takedown notices from the Party, Smith quite glibly replied;

“If you are unhappy about my buying those domain names then I’m afraid it’s a case of tough luck,” and, “You should have had the foresight to buy them yourselves if you wanted them.”

The Liberal Nation Party’s director, Michael O’Dwyer said, “I don’t think there’s much we can do about it and it’s certainly happened to Labor as well,” he further noted that, “the lesson for people who maybe want to run for office is to register the domain name as early as possible.”

Queensland University of Technology Professor of telecommunications and secure business law Adrian McCullagh said that cybersquatting was an as of yet emerging issue for Australia and that the Country’s laws had not adequately dealt with the subject.

However, Professor McCullagh did say that the LNP might have a case against the cybersquatter under the Trade Practices Act. “It’s arguable that political parties do trade in that they raise funds – by raising money, they’re a commercial entity even though there are other exemptions attached to it.” Professor McCullagh does see an option available to the LNP, “so I think the Liberal National Party and John-Paul Langbroek himself could probably bring an action under Section 52 [of the Trade Practices Act].”

Professor McCullagh further importantly noted that Smith’s most recent cybersquatting action “would be a criminal act in the United States, but we don’t have equivalent legislation in Australia.”

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