In 2001, ARL, together with many others, including the American Library Association, the Digital Future Coalition, the Computer and Communications Industry Association, and the National Writers Union, filed an amici curiae brief in the case Register.com v. Verio. Verio extracted information from the publicly available Register.com WHOIS database for use in telemarketing. In response to this extraction, Register.com sued Verio and was successful in district court. The amici curiae brief (PDF) argues that these claims are preempted by the federal intellectual property system; the district court ruling is at odds with the Feist decision regarding facts being in the public domain; and it also raises First Amendment concerns.
The brief notes: "Technological innovation has forever changed the way people access information. Increasingly, the information available in the digital age involves computer databases. In the future, more facts will be available to the public only via the Internet. The District Court's decision in this case would allow database publishers unilaterally to restrict what others can do with these facts. This contravenes the nation's fundamental information policy: "All facts scientific, historical, biographical, and news of the day... are part of the public domain available to every person." (Feist, 499 US at 348.) "There should be no misunderstanding what is at stake in this case. Even in the digital environment, copyright law permits users of publicly accessible, online databases to utilize freely the raw factual data gleaned from the databases. Because the district court's decision undermines this fundamental guarantee, it must be reversed."