At a hearing in Los Angeles federal court yesterday, NSI had asked that a temporary restraining order freezing the domain names be lifted. NSI's agreement to turn the names over to the court will prevent those names from being registered by anyone else.
As previously reported, a Los Angeles company is challenging NSI's policy of refusing to register domain names that contain expletives. Seven Words, a company that has remained mum about its business, claims that the policy violates First Amendment guarantees to free speech.
NSI is seeking to have the case transferred to New Hampshire federal court, where a similar case is pending. A hearing on that motion is scheduled for June 2, attorneys said.
With the exception of one expletive, NSI has refused to register domain names that contain the "seven dirty words" best known from a popular George Carlin monologue. Seven Words claims that because NSI operates under authority of the Commerce Department, the policy amounts to government censorship. NSI, meanwhile, says it is acting as a private company when it enforces the policy.
The transition to a shared registration system in which other registrars provide domain names on a wholesale basis was among the topics discussed at yesterday's hearing, according to lawyers who attended. NSI spokesman Brian O'Shaughnessy said the company's policy would not prevent new registrars from providing domain names that contain expletives.