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Firm Sues Controller of Internet Names

Breaking a 25-year Internet tradition of consensus, a California company filed suit against the organization that rules over online addresses. The suit, filed by Christopher Ambler of San Luis Obispo-based Image Online Design Inc., charges that the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority reneged on a deal giving him permission to register Internet addresses ending in .web. The case pits the notion of the Internet as an international resource subject to the public trust against the right to stake an online claim to commercial activities, according to the two sides. It’s also the first lawsuit filed over something that had been decided by the famed “rough consensus and running code” of Internet users themselves. Image Online said it was authorized in July by IANA spokesman Bill Manning to register addresses ending in .web at $25 each. But Ambler said the IANA backed out of their deal when a plan was announced earlier this month to revamp the current system for assigning Net addresses by adding seven new endings, such as .web or .store. Stuart Levi, attorney for the International Ad Hoc Committee, which proposed the new system, said the proposal hadn’t even been written--much less accepted--in July so there are no guidelines yet for how anyone would go about asking for authorization. Image Online Design began assigning .web addresses in July and now has more than 1,000 customers.


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