German registrar deletes porn-site Web address

People interested in registering domain names for Web sites showing violent, shocking content were dealt a blow in Germany, following this week's order by a local public prosecutor to delete the registration for Ogrish.com, a site featuring gut-wrenching photos and videos.

The sites owners, however, have found a way of keeping their content on the Internet by tweaking the Web site name.

The public prosecutor in Düsseldorf, Germany, ordered Computer Service Langenbach GmbH (CSL), which owns and operates the Joker.com registrar in the same city, to remove the Ogrish.com domain name from its database, Siegfried Langenbach, chief executive officer (CEO), said Wednesday.

"We received a letter from the public prosecutor telling us to delete the Ogrish.com domain name," Langenbach said. "The letter cited paragraph 131 of the criminal code against the dissemination of violent content."

The public prosecutor could not be immediately reached.

Ordering a domain name registrar instead of a hosting company to remove a site from the Web "is a first in Germany as far as I know," Langenbach said.

Ogrish.com has frozen the status of its domain name to block anyone from using or making any changes to it, the Web company said on its site. A legal case against the German government will be necessary to reactivate the domain, it said.

Since Ogrish.com is owned by a U.S. citizen, the First Amendment of free speech applies and thus provides no legal basis to ban the domain name, the Web company said in the statement.

According to Register.com, a Web site that offers hosting and registration services, the owner of Ogrish.com is Dany Klinker, who resides in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

With Klinker in the Netherlands, "it was easier for the German government to go after Joker.com," said Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm, an attorney with the law firm Solv in Amsterdam. If the company hosting Ogrish.com had been in Germany, the government would likely have approached it with the legal order, he said.

Internet intermediaries, such as Web hosting and domain name registrars, "have to be very diligent" to avoid liability suits, Thijm said. "There could be claims against Joker.com if, for instance, the prosecutor is proved wrong in forcing the registrar to remove the Ogrish domain name."

The order to ban Ogrish.com is example of the German government "wasting human and financial resources" to ban information that people "are going to find through other ways," Langenbach said.

On Tuesday, Pro Hosters LLC of Sterling, Virginia, hosted Ogrish under the new domain name Ogrish.prohosters.com.

Pro Hosters CEO Ted Hickman and Ogrish founder Klinker are no strangers. Hickman's company was drawn into a controversy earlier last year when his customer Ogrish offered a horrific four-minute video of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl being murdered in Pakistan by a radical Muslim group.

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