Student threatened with legal action over use of domain name

Marc Bence/for metro edmonton


Dave Cournoyer, a 24-year-old student at the University of Alberta, holds up a letter he received from Premier Ed Stelmach’s lawyers. He says it was “surreal” to receive the letter since it threatens legal action if he doesn’t hand over the rights to, which he purchased for $14 last year.

Premier Ed Stelmach is taking shots at a young Alberta blogger, threatening to pursue legal action against him for purchasing the rights to the domain name “”

Edmonton blogger Dave Cournoyer, who runs a left-leaning website on provincial politics, received a letter from Stelmach’s lawyers last month, asking him to hand over the rights to the Internet address.

The letter states that the use of Stelmach’s name is a “misappropriation of his personality” and using it may cause his image to be interfered with. It goes on to say that any ad revenue generated on the site through Google must be returned immediately.

“It was a little surreal to receive a threat from the premier,” Cournoyer, who studies politics at the University of Alberta, said yesterday. “It’s surprising that Ed Stelmach’s first reaction would be to hire a high-priced lawyer to come after a 24-year-old university student. It seems a little heavy-handed, a little irrational.”

Cournoyer, who worked part-time for the Alberta Liberals last year, purchased the domain name for $14 on April 2, 2007, roughly four months after Stelmach took the reigns as leader of the province. The domain originally forwarded to his blog but now directs traffic to former premier Harry Strom’s Wikipedia entry.

Cameron Hutchison, a legal expert at the University of Alberta, says such Internet cases fall under a “murky area” since the complainant has to prove some form of intent, that the accused intended to tarnish a reputation in some way.

Both the premier’s office and Stelmach’s lawyers have declined comment on the matter, deferring all calls to the PC Party of Alberta.

Jim Campbell, an executive director of the Tory party, agreed that it was an oversight to not register Stelmach’s domain name in a timely fashion, but insisted that the premier still has the right to control how his name is used.

“Our concern here is that the premier’s name may be used in ways he wouldn’t want it to be used,” he said.

New Democrat Leader Brian Mason, however, believes the entire issue is a smoke-and-mirrors game with the Tories since Cournoyer is a former Liberal staffer.

“This is a stage fight between the Liberals and the Conservatives about nothing,” he said. “It only serves to divert attention away from the real issues that they don’t want to deal with.”

small profit

  • Cournoyer has made about $70 on ads from the site and says he’ll be seeking legal advice before taking any action.

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