"Domain privacy services" are online services that protect the anonymity of their website-operating customers. Typically, the privacy service registers a domain name on behalf of its website-operating customer, and then leases the domain name back to the customer. The customer retains the right to use and control the domain, while the privacy service holds itself out as the true owner through the registrar’s WHOIS database. Copyright-infringing website owners prefer this arrangement to avoid prosecution by forcing aggrieved copyright holders to first contact the listed privacy service, which typically refuses to reveal the identity of the alleged infringer. This Comment argues that privacy services which license do-main names to known copyright infringers should be held secondarily liable on a contributory copyright infringement theory. Further, this Comment proposes a new model cease-and-desist letter warning privacy services that this licensing scheme likely violates ICANN rules as well as most privacy services' own "terms of service" agreements, and likely opens the privacy service to contributory copyright infringement liability.
Paulo André de Almeida,
Unmasking the Mask-Maker: Domain Privacy Services and Contributory Copyright Infringement,
31 Loy. L.A. Ent. L. Rev. 27
Available at: https://digitalcommons.lmu.edu/elr/vol31/iss1/2