Legal issues Open all
In general, .at domains can be registered by anyone, regardless of whether the registering party is a private individual, a company, association or organisation. The domain holder indicated must be either a natural person or an organisation (legal entity). An organisation must be specified with its full and valid legal form.
Since registration of a .at domain name is the conclusion of a contract with nic.at, private individuals must be of full legal age and capable of entering into binding contracts. The first and last name of domain holders who are natural persons must be entered into the name field. Umlauts cannot be used in domain holder data.
Organisations with their own legal personality (e.g. OG, GmbH, associations, etc.) must be specified in the organisation field - giving with their complete name and including any specification of legal form. If the name field (optional) also indicates a person, this person will merely be considered a contact person, but not a domain holder.
For organisations without their own legal personality, a natural person who is also the domain holder must be specified additionally in the name field. (Example: The organisation is Boarding House Sample and the name field says Sam Sample. This means Sam Sample is the domain holder, provided that Boarding House Sample does not have its own legal personality.)
A natural person (= human being) becomes capable of entering into a binding contract as soon as he/she comes of full legal age. A legal person is an entity (e.g. a company) that bears rights and responsibilities itself and is represented by executive bodies - i.e. natural persons. Examples for legal persons are: GmbH, AG, associations, foundations, regional authorities, etc.
In the event of changes to the domain data, nic.at verifies whether the person authorized to represent the organisation has approved of the change. Only people who are of full legal age and capable of entering into binding contracts can register .at domains.
There are legal regulations that govern who may represent an organisation externally: e.g. the Managing Director of a limited liability company, the Managing Board of a corporation or the chairman of an association. Whenever a domain modification is requested, nic.at verifies whether the organisation's authorised signatory has agreed to such modification. An Internet service provider is not authorised to sign for the domain holder.
The domain holder has all rights and obligations relating to his .at domain. This means he holds the exclusive right of use and can dispose of the domain, i.e. use, rent out or transfer it to someone else, etc. Domain data may not be changed without his approval. But he is also under the obligation to pay the ongoing domain fees (himself or via an Internet service provider) and holds liable for the infringement of rights caused by his domain.
By registering a .at domain (regardless of whether with an Internet service provider or directly with nic.at), you conclude a contract with nic.at and must also agree with the General Terms and Conditions of nic.at. This agreement is also binding for the domain holder if registration was carried out by an Internet service provider on his behalf. You can find more detailed information here.
With the WHOIS query, we provide - depending on the legal person - additional information on the domain holder, the technical contact person (tech-c) and technical data (nameserver, DNSSec information) of the delegated domain.
nic.at does not publish the data of natural persons - no matter if they are the domain holder or technical contact person (tech-c) of a domain. Data of legal persons are published in the Whois database, although display of contact data such as telephone number, fax and e-mail address can be disabled.
If the domain holder is an organisation with legal personality, and is designated as such in the course of the registration process, nic.at may publish the domain holder’s name and all of the domain holder’s contact details, for example in nic.at’s WHOIS database. In addition, the domain holder declares that it has obtained any required declarations of consent from contact persons (see point 1.5. of the General Terms and Conditions).
Generally speaking, the Internet service provider cannot represent the domain holder. This holds true with the exception of domain registration, during which the Internet service provider concludes a contract with nic.at on behalf of his customer. Any other data changes to the .at domain must be agreed to by the contractual partner, i.e. the domain holder.
As a general rule, it is important to keep one's eyes open on the Internet and not to trust everyone – just like in the offline world, where we are sceptical of people we don't know and we don't entrust anyone with our data (e.g. the pin code to our bank card) or with our money without a certain measure of security, just because they promise to, for instance, deliver us a product.
If you still become the victim of a crime, you can always take recourse to the options available under the rule of law and file complaint with law enforcement agencies. Generally, however, it should be emphasised that the operator of websites or the sender of e-mails is accountable himself and must therefore accept responsibility for any possible infringements.
So what applies outside of the Internet naturally also applies to the "Internet World". The Internet is not a legal vacuum!
Here are some examples of organisations that aim to create awareness with regard to illegal activities or contents on the Internet: www.internetombudsmann.at , www.saferinternet.at , www.cert.at , www.stopline.at
In the event of legal disputes related to .at domains, a wait status can be requested. This status ensures that no change of domain holder can be performed for the duration of the dispute.
Generally speaking, there is no arbitration procedure for .at domains. If the out-of-court settlement of .at domain disputes fails, the parties can go before the ordinary courts.
When a .at domain is technically locked, that means it is no longer technically functional. This means that the website, e-mail and other Internet services related to this domain no longer work and can no longer be accessed. Deleted domains are listed as available for registration.
nic.at locks or deletes .at domains either on customer request (in the event of cancellation by the domain holder) or for the following possible reasons (see also General Terms and Conditions, Point 3.8. Revocation of the Delegation):
- Persisting technical problems with this domain despite admonition of the domain holder (e.g. name servers not operational)
- Non-payment of fees
- Insufficient information on the domain holder (see also General Terms and Conditions, Point 1.3.)
- A legally effective ruling by a court of law or instruction from a competent authority
The technical lock remains in place for approx. eight weeks. During this time, the current domain holder still appears in the WHOIS query and the .at domain is marked "pending delete". After expiry of the lock, the domain is deleted and then becomes available again for registration in accordance with the "first-come first-served" principle. Whether or not a domain is available can be determined by WHOIS query on the nic.at website.
In the event of illegal activities in the Internet and illegal content, a distinction needs to be made between the website and the domain. As the issuing agency/registry of .at domains, nic.at does not offer any technical or content services, such as web space or name services, and therefore has no influence on the contents of a website. As a rule, these services are offered by an Internet service provider with whom the domain holder concludes an additional contract. Hence, the operator of websites or the sender of e-mails is independently accountable and must therefore accept responsibility for any possible legal infringements.
Here is an overview of the possible reasons why nic.at does not simply cancel a .at domain:
The contractual relationship between the domain holder and nic.at relates exclusively to the domain. It includes no further additional technical services that can be used in the context of illegal activities (e.g. e-mail, URLs, content of the webpage, etc.)
The domain name itself is not an infringement (e.g. trademark law, ...)
The illegal act is constituted by the website content only and is not related to the domain.
Often there are illegal contents in the Internet under links with 5, 6, and even 7 sub levels that are not in the contractual scope of nic.at (e.g. http://www.ich.bin.eine.betrügerische-webseite.at).
nic.at is not a court, or authority, or similar, that would be in a position to judge whether a website is being used for illegal activities or to infringe on third-party rights. It is also important to exclude any form of censorship.
Experience shows that websites are often hacked to use sub-pages for illegal activities. As a result, nic.at would need to assess a situation that does not correspond to its area of operations.
It is especially important that nic.at is by no means authorised to take the place of the executive authority or a court.
By registering a .at domain (regardless of whether with an Internet service provider or directly with nic.at), you conclude a contract with nic.at. The registration contract is subject to nic.at's General Terms and Conditions and registration guidelines: