People interested in registering domain names for websites showing violent or shocking content were dealt a blow in Germany, after Ogrish.com - a site featuring gut-wrenching photos and videos - was ordered to delete its registration.
The public prosecutor in Düsseldorf demanded Computer Service Langenbach (CSL), which owns and operates the Joker.com registrar in the same city, to remove the Ogrish.com domain name from its database.
"We received a letter from the public prosecutor telling us to delete the Ogrish.com domain name," chief executive officer Siegfried Langenbach said. "The letter cited paragraph 131 of the criminal code against the dissemination of violent content."
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", he added.
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, and a legal case against the German government will be necessary to reactivate it.
Since Ogrish.com is owned by a US citizen, the First Amendment of free speech applies and therefore provides no legal basis to ban the domain name, the web company said in a statement.
Register.com, a website that offers hosting and registration services, said the owner of Ogrish.com is Dany Klinker, who lives in Amsterdam.
With Klinker in the Netherlands, "it was easier for the German government to go after Joker.com", said Dutch lawyer Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm. If the company hosting Ogrish.com had been in Germany, the government would have approached it with the legal order.
Internet intermediaries, such as web hosting and domain name registrars, "have to be very diligent" to avoid liability suits, Thijm added. "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 an 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 in the US hosted Ogrish under the new domain name, Ogrish.prohosters.com.
Pro Hosters chief executive officer Ted Hickman and Klinker are no strangers to controversy. Last year Ogrish offered Pro Hosters a horrific four-minute video of the murder in Pakistan of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.