'Farmbelt Fuehrer' loses web case

BBC/January 25, 2002

An US-based neo-Nazi known as the "Farmbelt Fuehrer" for his racist views has been ordered by a UN body to stop using the German name for Interior Ministry in his dot.com address.

The German Government applied to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) to gain an injunction against Gary Lauck, saying he was using the addresses - confusingly similar to the web address of the ministry - to his neo-Nazi website.

WIPO agreed that Mr Lauck, who is based in Nebraska, had no legitimate interests in the names and that the word for Interior Ministry could be considered a trademark.

Mr Lauck had not submitted any information in his defence, WIPO said in the case papers.

But the neo-Nazi had reportedly been preparing for his domain names to be blocked, warning visitors that the hyperlink could soon be blocked and advising them to note down the real address of his website.

Second victory

German Interior Minister Otto Schily had already managed to wrest control of an internet address for Germany's Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution from Mr Lauck without recourse to WIPO.

That address had been used by Mr Lauck's for one of his websites since March last year.

However, Mr Schily put pressure on Mr Lauck's internet service provider to hand control back to the German Government.

Mr Lauck is no stranger to the German authorities. In 1996 he was convicted by a German court for inciting racial hatred, and was deported to the US in 1999.


The incident is the latest in a series of high-profile legal battles concerning neo-Nazi activity on the web.

In December 2000, German legal authorities ruled that websites aiming racist propaganda at German audiences could be prosecuted under German law.

And in early 2001, internet service provider Yahoo banned the sale of Nazi memorabilia on its pages, following a court case brought by French civil liberties groups.

In some countries, particularly the United States, any attempt at prosecuting websites for neo-Nazi content is hampered by free speech laws.

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