Judge orders DomainTools to cease collecting and publishing .nz Whois records.

Domain Name Commission (DNC), the organization that manages New Zealand’s .nz domain name, has won a big victory against DomainTools.

U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik has granted DNC’s motion for preliminary judgment against DomainTools. DNC alleged that DomainTools collected and published .nz Whois records in violation of DNC’s terms of use. DomainTools’ business model relies (in part) on aggregating domain name ownership data from Whois databases.

Lasnik ordered DomainTools to stop accessing .nz Whois records and to remove any publication of the records while the lawsuit proceeds. He did not seem sympathetic to any of DomainTools’ arguments. In one particularly damning paragraph, Lasnik wrote:

Finally, defendant argues that a preliminary injunction in this case could start an avalanche of litigation as other registers attempt to protect the privacy of their registrants. If defendant built a business by downloading, storing, and using data from other registers in violation of the terms that governed its access to that data, defendant may be correct – other
registers may be encouraged to pursue a breach of contract claim if plaintiff is successful here. It would be ironic, however, if a plaintiff who has shown a likelihood of success and irreparable injury were deprived of preliminary relief simply because defendant may have acted wrongfully toward others as well.

DomainTools is already facing headwinds thanks to the European Union’s GDPR, which has resulted in domain registrars ceasing to publish Whois records.

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