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When Lady Gaga went after fansite LadyGaga.org last month, some were confused. But the pop star continued with her fight to shutter the site, and now she has lost.
The National Arbitration Forum ruled on the LadyGaga.org complaint last week, finding in favor of webmaster Miranda. A panel of arbitrators decided that the noncommercial fansite does not violate Lady Gaga's trademark.
Can Gaga now go to court? And why didn't she file a lawsuit in the first place?
Filing the LadyGaga.org complaint with the arbitration board was ultimately less costly than a lawsuit.
Persons who register websites are often subject to ICANN's Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy. ICANN regulates internet domain names worldwide.
The policy requires domain owners to subject themselves to arbitration when disputes arise. Miranda, the owner of LadyGaga.org, is subject to this requirement.
Not only is arbitration significantly less costly, it is much quicker. It only took a month for the panel to publish its decision. Moreover, the process is simpler, allowing webmasters to represent themselves during proceedings.
Even though the National Arbitration Forum has ruled against her, Lady Gaga can still file a lawsuit. The panel's decision does not appear to be binding against either party.
Whether Lady Gaga will do this is unclear. The decision emphasizes the website's noncommercial use, and the webmaster's desire to promote the singer. The fansite even includes tour dates.
An actual court may also dismiss the LadyGaga.org complaint on these same grounds. Noncommercial fansites often fall under fair use.