Ron Paul is Confused on RonPaul.com

3 minute read

Ron Paul is seeking to own the RonPaul.com domain name, which has been run by some of his supporters since 2007. Those supporters have proposed a package of the domain name and their mailing list [aside: is that in keeping with their privacy policy?] for $250,000 and in response Ron Paul has filed a complaint with the WIPO which handles domain name disputes.

The trouble with this situation is that the Ron Paul supporters are focusing on WIPO’s status as a UN organization, because Ron Paul has been vocally opposed to the UN consistently, and they see him as now being hypocritical on the matter. This is the wrong focus for two reasons: first because WIPO has a monopoly on resolution, but more importantly because the hypocrisy is about the core libertarian value of private property, not the UN.

During the primary campaign, individuals opposed to Ron Paul’s nomination uploaded a video to YouTube that was in quite poor taste and slapped Ron Paul’s name on it. Ron Paul took the stance that this was fraud (it was) and used the Trademark Law as a means to counter the fraud. This is where Ron Paul became confused – he associated use of his name with Trademark Law, which is now the basis of the WIPO claims.

The error in logic here is the assumption that any use of the Ron Paul name is justifiably actionable under Trademark Law because it’s a case of fraud. This is not the case, clearly, for RonPaul.com. The only argument against RonPaul.com is that the name “Ron Paul” is the Intellectual (aka Imaginary) Property of Ron Paul.

So, here’s where it gets dicey – Imaginary Property is a direct affront on the principle of private ownership of property (it restricts the arrangement of private property of the People to the benefit of the one), which is the foundation of modern Libertarian thought. Now, the Constitution of the United States authorized the use of Imaginary Property monopolies through the Copyrights and Patents process, but this has proven subject to rampant abuse to the degree that it does more harm than good. And it was clear in Ron Paul’s farewell address that he had found the Constitution lacking in its ability to restrain the government’s abuses, if not in its intent. The Constitution doesn’t even authorize trademark protection – that has to be inferred through the Commerce Clause and the minarchist view of government’s role to prevent fraud.

What Ron Paul is effectively saying here, probably unconsciously, is that the RonPaul.com folks may not organize their articles (their property) in the way that they see fit (under the RonPaul.com label) when they have committed no acts of aggression towards Ron Paul (quite the opposite – they contributed to his current status in society). He’s literally saying that the RonPaul.com domain belongs to him because he wants it, and the notion of Imaginary Property gives cover to this illusion (it must be remembered that government abuses exist because each individual holds on to that one function of government that they cannot let go of). This is an assault on the private property rights of the people at RonPaul.com (stop being anonymous, guys, it does not help your image), and, yes, he is using government force to back his aggression.

It’s a zero-sum game when a Free Market solution is so painfully obvious: host a money bomb. The RonPaul.com folks have helped promote Ron Paul Moneybombs in the past, and achieving a $250K level has never been even a little bit difficult. Ron Paul can promote the money bomb himself, leading to an even greater chance of success. No Ron Paul supporter will deny that owning the RonPaul.com domain will be beneficial to Ron Paul, deny that Ron Paul still has important work to do, or deny that the RonPaul.com folks have a valuable asset that they’ve created and that the pricing mechanism is a superior method for transferring ownership of resources than government force.

Forget that the UN is even involved in this dispute – the real scandal is that government-based coercion is being used as aggression (in the absence of fraud) when a Free Market solution is plainly available and achievable. If Ron Paul persists and succeeds with a WIPO claim, his use of the domain will be forever tainted by the decidedly non-libertarian means of its acquisition. If Ron Paul can be made to see that there is no fraud involved here and that the initial aggression is in the form of the IP claim, I believe he will abandon the unjustified means and embrace a peaceful settlement. This principled action will return benefits to the movement he kindled for years to come.