Archive | November, 2014

Aurigny! Time for us to reclaim our name?

It’s actually quite sad.

Ask most people in the Channel Islands who, or what ‘Aurigny‘ is, and they will tell you it is an airline.

And if they happen to live on, or have regular connections with, Alderney, mentioning the name ‘Aurigny’ will often provoke a heated discussion about the state of the lifeline inter-island and UK air services, which appear to have been let wither on the vine, while the Guernsey-government-owned company expands jet services between St Peter Port and London.

There’s a feeling in Alderney that the needs of Guernsey finance moguls for connections to the City) are always taking precedence over the basic needs of ordinary Alderney citizens including the company’s recent experimenting with services to City Airport.

But ‘Aurigny’ is not an airline. The airline’s name is actually ‘Aurigny Air Services’.

‘Aurigny’ is our island’s name, in the original language of its inhabitants (which was called ‘Aurignaise’ ).

‘Aurigny’ and ‘Alderney’ are just two words for the same thing. (“Riduna” is the same thing, in Latin).

Aurigny Air Services was named after the Island when it was founded in the 1960s, because originally it provided inter-island and UK service to and from Alderney, for the benefit of the people of Alderney.

It later merged with Guernsey Airlines, then subsequently moved its HQ to Guernsey, following “nationalisation” — takeover in the early part of the century by the Guernsey Government.

The rise of corporate branding, and the decline of  Island French in the day-to-day lives of the Bailiwick’s inhabitants mean that a lot of people don’t even seem to know that ‘Aurigny’ means ‘Alderney’ For example: a couple of years ago someone sent a letter to me addressed, from France, addressed in French to : ‘M. ROBERTS Nigel, Boîte Postale 65,  Aurigny,  GY9 3JZ’,  Isles Anglo-Normandes.

It was severely delayed.

But not because it was addressed in French. After all, French is the official language of the international postal service).

But because someone in the sorting office thought it should be delivered to the offices of the airline, and not to the P O Box it was addressed to. Referring to the airline company as ‘Aurigny’ is a bit like referring to ‘BA’ simply as ‘British’.

Aurigny (Air Services) does seem to have lost its way where Alderney is concerned.

The current CEO in Guernsey, Mark Darby, is a good guy, who seems genuinely to want the best for all his customers, including Alderney.

But Mr Darby has a major uphill struggle: not only against aging tech (that is, our  beloved Trislanders who, despite the affection we all hold for them should have been replaced by Dorniers or similar 15 years ago) but also a studied indifference from the average man on the Forêt omnibus to the well-being of our Island, which some in Guernsey have liked to refer to in the past as the ‘Cinderella of the Islands’. (In the spirit of inter-island amity I shan’t repeat the well known rejoinder of Alderney’s first elected President, Toby Herivel here).

It’s time we followed the example of other minorities. We should reclaim our  name. Whenever the Guernsey press refer simply to ‘Aurigny’ we should correct them: it’s ‘Aurigny Air Services’

Even more, given the shocking state of the current service provided to Alderney by the Guernsey government airline, we should now demand it remove our name from its brand.

Tell the truth.

It’s no longer ‘Alderney Air Services’ and hasn’t been for over a decade It’s become Guernsey’s air service..

It’s about time the company’s Board and the Chief Minister owned up to this, and re-branded it.

Why not name it .. oh let me think . .   ‘Air Guernesey’ ?


Court judgment: ccTLDs might be property

At the beginning of August I wrote about the long-running saga of terrorists’ victims who are pursuing ‘state sponsors of terrorism’ (specifically, Iran, Syria, and North Korea) through the US courts for damages for the injuries they have suffered.

Several years along that path they managed to obtain Writs of Attachment in the Federal court district in Washington (D.C.) courts ordering that the ccTLDs of those respective countries be seized in part-payment of the damages they are owed.

ICANN, fairly predictably, became involved at this point. It went to Court in DC asking that the Writs be quashed. It appeared to based its argument on a number of points, starting with the theory that TLDs are different from other domain names, and are not property. See my earlier article..

Federal courts apply the law of the State in which they sit, on matters such as asset seizure.

The Court ruled on the 10th November and the full judgment has just become available.

ICANN has been successful in quashing the Writs attaching the TLDs.

However, as any legal observer will tell you, the actual outcome of a case is not that important (except to the winners and losers!). What is important is the legal reasoning; the rationale and the dicta.

In other words, on what legal principles is a judgment made. Does it create new law, for example, which can bind the decisions of future courts (‘binding precedent’). And are there any other legal principles discussed: these can form what are called ‘persuasive precedent’ and/or obiter dicta).

Well, in this case, the outcome seems to turn on fact, rather than any estoteric legal principle.

The Court appears to have found as fact that the domain names that had prospectively been seized by the Plaintiffs (Claimants) had the nature of a contractual right.

What this means for the Plaintiffs is that under the statute law of DC, rights arising under a contract cannot be seized as part of a judgment. This technicality means that the Court did not have to rule whether ccTLDs are property or not: it just had to be satisfied that, if it were property, it was not the sort of property that the relevant law (statute) allows to be seized by a creditor (in D.C.) , which ICANN has fairly easily been able to show.

Other commentators (e.g. the DomainPulse people) have written the court has ruled that ccTLDs are not property. This turns out to be incorrect.

[DomainPulse updated and revised their coverage since this was written and they have now corrected this.]


Interestingly, the Court chose explicitly to say in the judgment that it has not decided that ccTLDs were not property.

On page 8 of the judgment, in footnote 2, the Court says: “The Court notes that judicial decisions have found domain names to be a form of intangible property. See e.g. Kremen v Cohen 337 F.3d 102,1030 (9th Cir 2002). But the conclusion that ccTLDs may not be attached in satisfaction of a judgement under DC law does not mean that they cannot be property.”

This appears to give us a clue that the Court might have considered that ccTLDs are no different to gTLDs and no different to domain names such as SEX.COM (which was the property at issue in Kremen v Cohen).

It simply found that ccTLDs were, like other domain names, in the nature of a contractual right, which under DC law cannot be seized by creditors.

As this was sufficient to dispose of the current application, no binding ruling has been issued, so another court could decide either way. But from the above quote, it’s fairly clear that the court clearly seems to think that Kremen v Cohen would have been relevant if it had had to decide whether TLDs are property.



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