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Cyber-Squatting vs. Legitimate Domain Brokering? 221

Silverhammer asks: "I just started my new job for a small Michigan company, and one of my first duties is to sell off what could be a VERY high-priced, high-profile domain name. The company registered it years ago for legitimate reasons -- before the whole *.com rush and "cyber-squatting" hysteria -- but after a corporate reorganization it fell into disuse. Now, the inevitable dilemma of "renew or sell" has finally reared its ugly head." Like it or not, domain names are marketable. Big time. But is this fair? What do you all think should be the proper way to handle a domain name that has fallen into disuse? More in the article body...

"My question to Slashdot is a two-parter. First, the general: what is the real difference between cyber-squatting and legitimate domain brokering? Squatting for its own sake is a Bad Thing, of course, but domain names are the real estate of the 'Net and real estate is a legitimate business. Second, the specific: what's the best way for me to proceed with selling this domain? I want to keep it clean and sane, but it's still my responsibility to get the best price I can for the company. "

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Cyber-Squatting vs. Legitimate Domain Brokering?

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  • I'd say to Auction it off of course. That's fair, honnest and open.

    Hey Rob, Thanks for that tarball!
  • I think that you should definately keep the name. If you have use for it. No one can attack you for selling something that you bought out of good faith. God help us all if lawsuits are the prefered way to get a good domain name.
  • Well, I'll leave the moral question alone for the moment. I'd sell it on ebay, as well as running a small web server on the domain with a static page saying that it's for sale, and giving an e-mail address for offers.

  • as far as im concerned, there is no such thing as legal domain brokering.

    its a practice too difficult to govern and defeats the original purpose.

    To understand my motivations, you have to look at the history of the domain name registration systems.

    registering a domain used to be free.
    2 reasons why we now pay to egister domains.

    1. charging for domain registrations and limiting them to 2 yer terms was intended to prevent people from abusing the system and squatting.

    2. Internic decided they werent making enough money as a not-for-profit institution and instituted a per/register policy.

    its even a poorer idea to give people discounts on multiple registrations.

    again, there is no easy way to govern this and abuse hasnt stopped just because of the price tag. its just that now tha abusers have a much larger pocketbook.


  • If they want to buy it, ask how much

    Wait about 30 days from the initial offer, and go with the highest one.

    Would get the best price, in a somewhat timely manner, without being terribly evil.
  • I think the source of the problem comes from an old system trying to cope with the new influx of business. Most would argue that squatting is a Bad Thing, but there are many who say its just like land. I own it by virtue of being here first and buying it.

    I think the rules of how domain names are assigned need to be carefully reexamined to reflect the needs of the corporation *and* the individual.

    Like how I didn't actually say anything?

  • I think that any generic domain name is auctionable to the highest bidder, per-say. For example, loans.com, business.com, buy.com. No one in their right mind would name a company by that name, so pretty much the domain would just point to an already existing business domain.

    However, where it comes down to someone selling a domain name that is already the name of an established business, is where the line should be drawn. If a company would want to sell, they should sell to the company that has it as a rightful name, rather than some other company that'd just exploit it.

    Just IMO
  • Yeah, it's probably the fairest, although you could (if you *were* mean) probably get a higher price by gazumping a couple of companies off against each other privately.

    Auctioning sounds good, though.

  • by Wellspring ( 111524 ) on Wednesday February 09, 2000 @09:02AM (#1291042)

    I'd say it is your company's to sell. I mean, this isn't one of 500 domain names scooped up to block a legitimate organization from registering it. If it was bought (or better yet, actually used) in good faith, then I say sell it.

    IANAL, but I do think that the law is geared towards allowing your name to be your property if there is a good faith intent to use it, rather than speculating or ransoming good names.

  • I think that if the company isn't going to use it, they should just sell it off. If you can get lots of $ for it, then more power to ya. Personally, I don't see a problem with it.
  • Hi, this is actually my first message posted to Slashdot. I've read a lot so I know I'll prolly get mod'd down and never read, oh well.

    I think this issue is tricky because it seems that people should have the right to buy a domain name whether they use it or not, but then again we don't great domain names just sitting around doing nothing. Of course, big corporations will always be able to bully people out of names, but what does the small businessman do when someone is cybersquatting?? It's just too confusing for me.
  • Okay, first - the easiest way to do it would be throw it up on ebay or some other site and then direct potential buyers to the site. That being said there are really only two ways to look at cybersquatting (practically):

    "Use it or lose it"
    The namespace is very limited. There fewer words than there are companies.. and even people. We really need to link the namespace to geographical distribution - like the .us domain hierarchy. But since that's not profitable so f*ck the rest of us, right? "Use it or lose it" is a call for conservation - we only have a limited number of names so don't hoard them. This means you should give it up as quickly as possible (highest bidder is your option).

    "I got here first."
    This is the second camp. Basically InterNIC has far too much power, and this is the solution - take the power back. Make it so if you get here first, you keep it, end of story. It's remarkably simple and effective but it skirts the issue of the size of the namespace and trademarking issues which, like it or not, have become center-stage since the "dot com" blight. For this, I'd say you got it... so either keep it or resell it depending on what your company's bean counters say - if you can make more money selling it, great. If not, hold on to it (think of it as an investment). Either way, companies are dollar-oriented so make a case to the bean counters one way or the other and go with the best option.

    Hope that helps.

  • Domains are and should always be a first come first serve entity. I mean if you have the brains to come up with a register a good domain name all the more power to you.
    Some of our clients legitametly register over 100 domain names at a time. I see nothing wrong with this. A domain broker is as legal as profession or job description as any other broker.
    Probably the best way to sell a domain name is to ask a price and see if anyone will offer higher, then take it. Auctions work to.
    Lots of people get irked with these people that grab up their "trademarked" name. I'm sorry but the internet is a whole new ballgame and just because your name is copyrighted doesn't mean your domain name is. If you didn't have the foresight and vision to register your name then its your own darn fault it was grabbed up by someone else.
    I think a free market model is the best for this. The government and lawyers already control enough of America without destroying the internet as well.

    Nathaniel P. Wilkerson
    NPS Internet Solutions, LLC
    www.npsis.com [npsis.com]
  • All I can say is if you use eBay, fer chrissakes don't start the bidding at $20,000,000 unless the name in question is microsoft.com, or something similar. If I have to read through one more stupid auction describing the "next big this-or-that" domain name for sale I'll have to beat somebody with a stick. Makes it a real pain in the ass to serach for old NeXT hardware, I can tell you.

    Of course, maybe I'm bitter because some loser picked "simple2use.com" (simple2use@earthlink.net being my old email address for over a year) before I got a chance to do so, then posted it for $1.5M *and* he had the nerve to post a note on the "site" saying nothing more than "I'm a squatter, buy my domain and make me rich cuz I'm a lam3r". Squatter bad. Squatter go away. Servo kill squatter.

    Anyway, if you're going to do the auction thing, I would suggest 1) setting a reserve and prominently mentioning it in the posting, 2) make clear your requirements for authorizing the transfer, and 3) document why this is such a great name, rather than just saying "it's the next Yahoo!".

  • I face a similar dilemma. I bought a domain a couple of years ago that I had intended to use for a personal site with a particular theme, and actually did have a partial deployment on it for a while; I've subsequently abandoned that project, and have little other use of my own for the name. The registration is up in a couple of months, and I've considered just letting it lapse, but for one thing: because of the awarding of a particular new sports franchise, the domain name has some serious potential as a fansite, etc.

    My current take on it is this: it's a domain name investment, I have every right to try and sell it; like the poster said, it's real estate. I've bought domain names purely speculatively before, nothing has come of them (yet), but it seems to me that the critical distinction between legitimate domain name speculation and cybersquatting is that legitimate speculation doesn't impinge upon the rights of a current trademark holder. If someone had the foresight to buy oven.com when it was still available, who's to argue with their right to make a (potentially substantial) profit on it when they sell the name to GE?

    Anyone have a good argument as to why someone should NOT profit from a legitimate domain name investment?

    This is my opinion and my opinion only. Incidentally, IANAL.
  • Comapnies should have copyright on thier own names, but still, why punish the little guys for having the foresight to take a name and use it online. I wish I had a multimillion dollar domain name for sale!
  • If it is a trademark of your company, it's probably a good idea to hold on to it. Set up a web page under it to redirect to your company's "real" web page, but keep it maintained and paid for. Trademark law in the USA has this nasty little "use it or lose it" provision that you have to enforce your trademark or you lose all rights it.

    If it's a name unrelated to any name your company uses or plans to use, I suppose it would be a good idea to sell it. Set up a web page under it indicating it is for sale, and leave that up for a couple of months before auctioning it. Give it an absurd price like a million dollars or so at first (depending on how good a name it is), just in case there's a sucker out there with more money than sense, but remember to remove mention of the price if you put it up for auction!
  • Well, as far as I'm concerened, there are some relatively clear-cut differences between the two:

    • Registering many domain names, and selling them to the highest bidder, regardless of what they want to do with the domain name
    • Usually is done purely to make money
    • Domain names registered are often names that most people wouldn't think of or register for any reason other than to sell them (i.e. drunkchicks.net)
    Domain Brokering:
    • Buying a few domain names
    • Usually sold to people/businesses who would like to use the domain for purposes other than porn or to re-sell at a higher price
    • The names registered are more likely to be those which a reputable business would consider registering (i.e. not like drunkchicks.net)
    I don't know how closely my ideas of the two fit with other peoples', but I imagine they're not too far off.

    The way I figure it is, if you've got a domain name that isn't too racy, you didn't buy it just to sell it later to make a killing, and it could actually be used by a reputable business or individual, it's Domain Brokering, and not Cyber-Squatting.
  • by retep ( 108840 ) on Wednesday February 09, 2000 @09:07AM (#1291054)

    When you think about it domain names are like mining claims. In the Voisy's Bay "gold rush" (they were actually mining nickel) one company spent a few million on buying up the mining rights to huge amounts of land. This cost them a fortune. (I believe around 3 million) OTOH it gave them the *chance* to make a fortune. In the case of domain names it's not really that cheap to buy up large numbers of them. But if you strike it big you're in luck and you might be able to pay off your investment.

  • First off, your firm bought the domains fair and square (I assume), so they are yours. Quit worrying about cyber-squatting issues, that was an issue when NSI did not bother to actually collect money from people grabbing domain names by the fistfull. Now that you have to pay in a reasonable time for any public domain name it is no longer squatting, it is more like hoarding.

    As for the second portion of your question, what should you do with the names? That is in essance a financial question.

    If your web site generates large amounts of revinue by web contact, i.e., you have ads all over like ZDNET, or you sell stuff direct over the web like FreeBSD.org, etc. then keeping popular names and redirecting the traffic to your main site is the way to go. The name of the game is eyeballs there, with a direct link between eyeballs and sales. Similar to what C|Net has done with news.com (and it's others).

    However, if it is more of an informative site, none or few direct sales generated from the web, then taking the domains to one of the auction sites will probably be the best way to go.

  • Fair to whom? Why is open important? Hold it or sell it any way that gets the greatest profit.
  • IANAL, but I do think that the law is geared towards allowing your name to be your property if there is a good faith intent to use it, rather than speculating or ransoming good names.

    Actually, as long as there is not a registered trademark on the domain, the law doesn't even require a good-faith effort to use it. So fordcars.com is a no-go, but computer.com is A-OK, even if you just sell it (this actually happened-- a guy had computer.com and never did anything with it until someone offered him a big truck full of money-- than he sold it).

    Oh yeah, IANAL either.

  • But there is a buy.com!!! Just look at the DoS attacks of yesterday, and their IPO (also of yesterday). They've been up for a while now!

    But I agree, something of a common name, like those mentioned, would be auctionable to the highest bidder. Now, if you were to try to sell of something like MickeyDees.com, or nikeshoes.com, then you'd run into problems.

  • Agreed. I've been screwed left and right on three different sites by domain "brokers." Don't these people feel guilty for not actually working for a living?
  • I'm not sure exactly what constitutes legitamate cybersquatting. On a lark I decided to see if there was any free legal advice at IANAL.com [slashdot.org], and found this message:

    The Domain Name you have reached is available For Sale at DomainCollection.com Prices start at $1,500 - Find Out More!

    Is this legit? They'using this site to point to their business, however the business appears to be selling domain names that they've squatted on. What are the chances of me being able to get the domain registrar to force these guys to relinquish this domain name, based on the fact that they're squatting.

  • The difference is in how many names you are sitting on. Just a couple gotten with the intent of using them is not cyber-squatting, and you will not burn in digital hell for your sins.

    The real cybersquatters have dozens or even hundreds of domains, then point them all to "under construction" or "for sale" web pages. May they bit rot in hell.
  • i think as long as you have been using this domain in the past for a legitmate purpose, i see nothing wrong in selling the domain for any amount. if someone out there is willing to pay the money for it, sell it. there is nothing wrong with that because you did not purchase the domain with the purpose of making some sort of profit out of it.
  • Perhaps worse than cybersquatting would be setting up another regulatory agency responsible for overseeing domain redistribution. I would rather see someone make some big $$ than have my taxpayers $$ spent in congress debating the issue. If the domain is of a high demand than let someone make money.
  • For selling the domain, I'd just think of it like any other product. Perhaps put up a "for sale" page on that domain, since it's fallen into disuse anyway. Or, alternatly, why not auction it off on eBay or some such? Remember, it's just a piece of land that you no longer want to live on.

    For Cyber-Squatting vs. Legitimate Cyber-Real Estate Brokering, it's not quite the same thing, obviously. That piece of physical land that I have for sale doesn't say "Microsoft" on it, or McDonalds or some company name, it is merely a piece of land. Domains, on the other hand, are named something, whether it be microsoft.com or slashdot.org, they do represent something, so dealing with the initial purchase of them should be handled differently, I think.

    Notice I said "initial purchase". I made that distinction because once you have purchased that domain, you should be able to do what you want with it. If I bought McDonalds.com, and I had the "right" to own it, then I should be able to keep it, and not have to give it to McDonalds. If I, for instance, had McDonalds Discussion Software, and I got McDonalds.com, then tough luck for McDonalds Foods (or WTF their official company name is), cause I have fair use of that domain.

    I think it does come down to fair use, really. Did you register the domain because you intended to use it, or did you register it for the sole purpose of selling it later? Perhaps proof of intent, or something similar, should be necessary for the purchase of a domain? Perhaps a proof of business name, or trademark, or copyright, before the domain is purchased?

    Obviously this opens up problems too. I know of domains that were registered simply because they were cool domains. It wasn't done to squat, or to hope to sell twink.org for 1 billion dollars in 10 years, it was because twink.org was cool. There has to be room for this kind of expression on the Internet, but I honestly don't know how to balance the rights of free speech/free domain choice with the rights of companies to hold on to their copyrights/trademarks/identity. Is it as simple as making ".com" or ".biz" or something ONLY for registered trademark holders, or company name owners, and make a new distinction, say ".free" or something, that's completely free use, no companies allowed, and McDonalds could not get mcdonalds.free? What about that?

    This is my .sig. It isn't very big.
  • Sorry about the bad link. Here: www.ianal.com [ianal.com]
  • You can get a domain name for 30DM (about $15USD) at joker.com for one year. I got zombierevenge.com from them just yesterday :) It hasn't shown up in the root dns servers yet though (!!!) It's through corenic.net, which is almost as hard to make changes with as nsi on a bad day.
  • Our company just bought a domain name we'd wanted for quite a while. Like your situation, it had fallen into disuse by its owners, and was auctioned on eBay. We're happy with the results, as the the company that auctioned it off.

    To my mind, the biggest difference between cyber-squatting and legit domain selling is one of intent. The cyber-squatter acquires the domain name simply to make a buck - they have no intent to use the domain, and no other reason to hold the domain name. Someone who has had a legitimate need/use for a domain but no longer does is not in the same league as a cyber-squatter. Business needs and practices change, and what once might have been a central part of your business can become completely useless. It's good practice to get rid of the useless part, and if you can make a buck doing it, so much the better.

    I don't think there's any problem at all with auctioning or selling off a domain name like this.
  • Why is it that if I, as an individual, snag the obvious .com name of some company that is late to the part, and try to extort money, it's cybersquatting?

    But if I try to register asktim.com, and find it for sale for $1,500+ by a COMPANY called domaincollection.net beat me to it, that does cybersquatting, it's called brokering?

    I say, if your only intent it to sell it, you shouldn't have it in the first place.

    Example: I have registered the name http://linuxtampa.com. I give Linus proper credit for his TM on every page (per his recent instructions), and I'm using it to market my consulting operation. Nobody can accuse me of trying to profit from the domain name itself. Any reasonable person can see that I'm actually USING it legitimately.


  • Most would argue that squatting is a Bad Thing, but there are many who say its just like land. I own it by virtue of being here first and buying it.

    By this logic, I could find a spot I believe you have a interest in purchasing, buy it, and jack up the price for you.

    for instance,
    i know that there is a piece of real estate that I know that Microsoft is looking to buy to erect a new sales office. If i can get in and buy the property before M$ has a chance to bid on it, I can jack up the price and force M$ to pay that price tro find another location.

    But that not the whole story.. In and of itself, that may not be illegal. Maybe just a bit unethical.

    The difference is that a plot of land doesnt hold any name patents or otherwise.
    I know that M$ has a new product coming out called "Microsoft Linux 1.0" so i go out and register MicrosoftLinux.com *.org *.net *.cc, etc. I did this with the specific intention of dforcing Microsoft to purchase this recognized name from me in order to turn a quicxck buck.. I have no right to the name and cannot legally conduct business under such name in any state or country.

    Often the line is very gray here.. but equating domain name registration to land purchases is missing one major point. people generally dont identify you by where your corporate office is. They do recognize you by name.


  • Have you checked out going prices on domain names on ebay? I just did, and it doesn't make me want to jump right into the cyber-squatting business. Lots of folks with domain names they *think* are valuable putting them up with $1000000 opening bids, but no takers. The most expensive names that are getting bids are in the hundreds range, and even those are uncommon. No problem getting $10 bids on a name that cost $70 to register, though.

    You had to have gotten up pretty early in the morning to get a name that is worth that much to someone (loans.com, business.com...)

    If the poster does have a name of this flavor, I doubt that ebay is the forum for it, as the players who might want it probably don't spend their time browsing ebay for this kinda thing.

    All this having been said, I don't know what the appropriate channels are. Maybe approching likely buyers individually. If the name is worth that much, it'll be worth your time.

  • There is no real crime or moral outrage in "cybersquatting" if we define cybersquatting as buying a domain name for the sole purpose of resale. People do this all the time in the physical real estate market, stock exchange, etc. This is the free market. People buy and sell things to try and make money.

    Fraud is a different story. Buying ibm.com(not that you could have) and putting up a website claiming to be International Business Machines, Inc. is fraud and IBM would have good legal recourse to make you stop defrauding the public. Buying ibm.com and turning to IBM and saying "Would you like to buy this?" is just simple real estate speculation. You could also offer ibm.com to Investment Banking Management Corporation or other companies that have the acronym IBM.

    Involving the law/government is usually a mistake. In the above example, where someone impersonated IBM in order to damage them, the more reasonable course of action is to 1)try to buy the domain name, 2)put out press releases etc. stating that this attacker is impersonating IBM., 3)ask DNS servers to drop the entry., 4)start doing business under another domain (ibmcorp.com, etc). It is better for corporations to have free market responses to these attacks rather than relying on big daddy government(remember as a US corporation you can't always get foreign government cooperation(unless you are the MPAA and the foreign government is in Norway)).

    As for selling the domain, you can use various domain brokering services. I found some the other day at register.com [register.com] that may be of use. You can also try an auction at Ebay [ebay.com]. I would however, recommend using a market site geared towards the buying and selling of domains as it is likely you will find a larger more desirable(i.e. has real money) market. You can advertise the sale as well through website ads. You know this is basically just like buying and selling real estate.

    Stuart Eichert
  • I ran into an interesting situation this summer after developing a web related product for a small midwest company. Now when it came to naming the product I decided on a name that ran with their product line and accurately described the product. But when we went to look at the .com domain, it had already been registered 4 years ago. The page on the site is an underconstruction page, with copyright date 96-98. The company can not even be contacted. Our main dilemma is whether or not we can name a product when we know we can't get the corresponding .com domain.
  • i think if a company or athelete or whatever wasnt far thinking enough to reserve the domain name they wanted while it was availible they deserve to be screwed by socalled cybersquatters either that or take the 30 seconds to think up a simalar name and use it. if people and companys didnt start paying so much for taken domains they wanted this would never be a problem, for example say back in the day i bought buy.com before anyone else and just sat on it waiting for some company dumb enough to pay me for it but instead they just get buystuff.com or buycrap.com or buyanything.com and then all they have to do is wait for me to stop renewing it and they would win because inless the socalled squatter is making money with the sit it is really worthless.
  • by Arandir ( 19206 ) on Wednesday February 09, 2000 @09:26AM (#1291076) Homepage Journal
    You're asking Slashdot to help you decide upon a moral course of action? For you first duty in a new job? I don't know whether to feel honored that you think so highly of us, or appalled that you consider Slashdot a fount of moral wisdom.

    Ask a technical question, fine, go for it. Ask us our opinions on philosophy, morality or politics, okay. But this is hardly to place to ask for a moral advice for a real world problem.
  • I'd probably auction it off as well, bound to make more money that way.
    Hard to tell about the "fair, honest and open" though - it all depends on the ethical system that you adhere to. This is where the original question of the poster comes in, First, the general: what is the real difference between cyber-squatting and legitimate domain brokering
    Given that this is all based on an analogy with real-estate it's interesting to note what the arguments around real-estate squatting are: basically most squatters claim that there is an artificial shortage of housing caused by property speculators who drive up prices and keep empty houses out of the pool. As a result many families at the lower end of the scale can't afford to buy or rent. This was especially the case in London (UK) during the seventies with the ironic twist that one of the worst culprits was the council, who had 50,000 or so empty properties that needed minor repairs. As a result self-help squatting associations started with people moving in and fixing the properties themselves. The alternative was living in temporary accomodation rented for them by the council, such as B&B or hotels - pretty impermanent and unsatisfactory for family life.
    The right to do this was based on 17th century laws that decreed that as land was in such short supply if it was not used for a certain period of time, then obviously it was not essential to the survival of the person that owned it and thus was free to whoever wanted to work it.
    I'm not sure whether the physical analogy holds for the net. But as there are obviously a restricted number of desirable names it probably does, I haven't really thought about it though, so I stand ready to be corrected.
    If it does hold then I quite agree with the idea that if it's not in use then it should be put back into the pool for whoever wants it.
    Note that this is not the same as an endorsement of the practice of cyber-squatting which is just the same as a group of squatters running about looking for houses to squat to sell later for profit. Yes, this unfortunately does happen and I disagree with it although I have great sympathy and support for someone that just wants somewhere to live.
  • You got the domain for legitimate purposes. If you're no longer using it, it is an unused asset. An unused asset should either be used or sold. If there is no market for the asset then it should be junked.

    There is a gray area between domain name ownership and cybersquatting. Unlike land squatting, a cybersquatter might not occupy the asset. But a cybersquatter might have content on the domain, and then one has to judge whether or not there is "enough content" to be considered legitimate. (and I note that an email-only domain might seem to have zero content if viewed with a web browser...)

    If you don't have use for the domain, the clock is ticking. Anyone could claim you're not "using" it. Use it, sell it, or junk it.

  • I think that domain registration should be handled by a country with slightly more SANE IP laws than the US.

    Perfect example is this, Nina Hartley (yes, the porn chick) registered nina.com for use as her personal website and some off the wall purse maker who makes nina handbags tried to legally wrestle the domain name from her. It's her FUCKING NAME and she actually had to spend money to fight in court to use it.

    Look at the fight between amazon.com and that amazon lesbian book store.

    I say, first come. First served. If I had the insight to host a website about small soft breasts and registered microsoft.com, first M$ would be SOL. However we should limit the number of domains that any 1 person or company can own.

    Someone registered kano.com before I did, that doesn't mean that I should sue does it?

  • We really need to link the namespace to geographical distribution - like the .us domain hierarchy.

    I hear this argument from time to time, and I've never really understood it. It seems to me that trying to superimpose geography onto the net is both unnecessary and wrong-headed. The net is inherently a non-physical place: you never know quite where you are, and it doesn't matter.

    How fine would the geographical gradiations be: By state? By city? The problems with this seem insurmountable. One example: If my company is in New York, but if my servers are located in New Jersey, are they at www.foo.com.ny.us or www.foo.com.nj.us? In this case, it seems like either answer is the wrong one.

    In any case, this still wouldn't solve the inherent problem of domain name disputes, unless you used very fine geographic specifications and also added some sort of business type designation. Does anyone really want to type www.jadegarden.restaurant.chinese.upper-west-side. manhattan.nyc.ny.us into the location line of their browser?

  • There's nothing wrong with turning a profit on a resource that became valuable through no fault of your own.

    If your company had purchased land and it became valuable because Disney planned a park there later on, no one would have any qualms about selling the land for a high price. (Do you hear a lot of complaints about "house-squatters" in Silicon Valley selling Brady Bunch-sized houses for ridiculous sums of money?)

    The ethics of buying and selling virtual real estate are no different -- anti-cybersquatting claptrap to the contrary.

    It sounds like your company did not acquire the domain in bad faith. My advice would be to sit on it and let interested buyers make offers until one is so high you can't bear to refuse it. Trying to actively sell the domain is going to be interpreted as a sign that someone can buy it below value -- deals like the Loans.Com auction notwithstanding.

  • The original purpose of domain name allocations is irrelevant to the current state and usage of the Internet. It has moved beyond a research arena and playground for acolytes and into the demesne of capitalism. Supply and demand will (and should) set the pace and cost of the registrations. These cost will be either be the upfront price set by the free market or will be the buried costs of willy-nilly litigation. Domain names are now real estate as far as the Internet is concerned and should be marketed in the same way. Speculative domain registration should be governed in the most part just as speculative land purchases are governed. In the beginning land was 'owned' by the person who got there first and laid claim to it. Once claimed it was sold as other property. Domain names should follow suit. I am completely convinced that the anti-CyberSquatting laws along with the expansions of trademark and copy right protections are unnecessary and will ultimiate inflict more damage and limitations on more people and on the system than would the free market.
  • You can consider the value of the domain name as a return on the effort required to create the domain in the first place. Getting up early requires a certain amount of effort and planning, and now you're seeing some of the value from that effort.

    Not every product is a success. When a failed product is stopped, the company should get as much of their investment back as possible. Sell or reuse the conveyor, bubble wrap, signs, letterhead... if you're stuck with a bunch of Edsels, you should sell them to collectors or someone who'll pay more than the scrap iron dealer.

  • by twit ( 60210 ) on Wednesday February 09, 2000 @09:38AM (#1291087) Homepage
    Consider it this way: there is no difference between brokering and squatting on a domain name. That said, I don't see anything wrong with either.

    Intent is frequently cited as being the defining point, and I really have to take issue with this. A company can say anything was its intent, and trying to second-guess a corporation is just that, guessing. If we're serious about calling one thing by its proper name, we should call it exactly what it is: abandonment, of an unused domain name or unmaintained site is on it, or exchange, if a maintained site is located there.

    Now for the kicker: I think that domain name costs should be much higher, not lower, than they are now, and the revenue should be fed back into infrastructure or into a trust fund. Consider this: there is a limited number of valid domain names, in the absence of alternate TLD's. Domain names are valuable. Everyone who buys one today (costing as little as about 15$US) is getting it at a fire-sale price. And who should rightfully own unassigned domain names? I think that net users should, collectively, just like the state owns unsold land. The revenue should go somewhere which benefits the net community rather than lining pockets at NSI.

  • Wait until it is up, renew it under your name with your 100 bucks then post it on e-bay and buy a beach house!

    "Dooh" Homer J. Simpson
  • How would you govern this.

    A domain name is similar to a patent/landholding in many ways. by registering a domain name, you are actually placing a patent on on a name ( a way to locate your computer system(s) on the internet.. )

    Just because your grandfather took a dump on a piece of land 100 years doesnt mean that he owned it..

    Its likely that he claimed ownership of it after he had driven off the indians who actually owned the land before your ilk was on it.


  • I say keep the domain name if possible. The longer you have it the more likely someone is going to want it and be willing to pay bug bucks for it. I'm saying it's ok for these people to be scooping up tons of names and making a nice profit from it, but if you legitimately own it, sell it later when it's worth more.

    Lets stop praying for someone to save us and save ourselves. ~KMFDM
  • It's insane to say that domain names are like real estate, and real estate is a legitimate business, so selling domain names is OK. Domain names are not like real estate. They're like license plates or phone numbers. And, like either of those, they should be put back into the pool of available domains when someone (or some company) no longer has a use for it.

    Registering domains is cheap. Dirt cheap. Why should they be treated like mansions instead of like license plates?

  • 42!

    no, really,.. there is no inherent value in any domain name. any value assigned to one is an entirely perceived one. a domain name is only worth what one is willing to pay for it.

    end of story :)
  • When setting a fair value for a domain name that you want to sell, perhaps the question to ask is "how much value have I added to the domain name since I acquired it?" This will typically be about $0.

    The main problem I have with profiting from the sale of domain names, regardless of how they were acquired, is that the seller is essentially benefitting from confiscating a publically available resource and selling it on the market once its scarcity has caused its value to jump. It's like bottling air or encrypting DVD movies; one earns profits not by helping but by hindering society at large.

    I don't think that domain names should be viewed as privately ownable commodities that can be traded. I also don't think it's correct to refer to them as Internet real estate; they're more akin to civic addresses: attached to real property but not real property in and of themselves. Having an address isn't the same as having a parcel of land. Real estate on the Internet is measured in bytes.

    As much as I don't like the domain registration system we have in Canada for .ca domains, I must admit it does have at least some advantages over the open registry of the generic TLDs. Here, in order to qualify for a .ca domain, you have to be a federally incorporated organization, and the domain name must be your corporation's name or an abbreviation thereof. That makes it pretty hard to squat, and it also reduces the value of domains to others since the domain names you're allowed to have are limited.

    Both systems suck, but maybe there's a compromise between the two that can be found. I like the idea that anyone can have a domain name who wants one, but I also like the idea that domain names are treated as a common resource and that steps are taken to make sure that profiteers don't try to commandeer a public resource for their private benefit at the expense of other members of the public.
  • My take on the whole squatting thing:

    If you register a domain, with the plans of using it, and end up selling it off (for whatever price), then you registered it in "good faith" and that's fine by me.

    If you register a domain with the sole purpose of turning around and auctioning it off for the highest price... then you're a scumbag. :) Much akin to ticket scalpers who just go and get as many tickets as they can so they can double/triple/google the price for their own personal gain.
    Reminds me of "Heavy Metal"...

    "Hangin's too GOOD for'em! BURNIN'S too GOOD for'em! He should be TORN into ITSY-BITSY PIECES and BURIED ALIIIIIIIVE!!!" :)
  • by Dirtside ( 91468 ) on Wednesday February 09, 2000 @09:50AM (#1291098) Journal
    The main difference between cybersquatting and brokering is that squatting typically pertains to cases where you buy a name (like, say, ford.com) and then attempt to extort large amounts of money from Ford Motor Company to buy it from you.

    Brokering, on the other hand, typically refers to buying more generic names, like business.com, monkeys.com, giantdildo.com, and so on, and then selling them to whoever wants them.

    There's a distinct difference here; and I think as long as your company doesn't own something like paramountpictures.com (in which case they might try to extort money from Paramount Pictures), but rather owns something like agrobusiness.com, then it's no big deal. The easiest way to get rid of it is, as others have already said, an auction. Start the bidding at what you paid for it, plus the cost of the time it takes to do the auction, so that at least you're not losing money on the deal. But don't try to extort people; it may not be illegal but I at least consider it immoral.

  • "what is the real difference between cyber-squatting and legitimate domain brokering?"

    For me: Squattering is using what is clearly someone else's name. eg www.ford.com or www.billclinton.com Note: www.investing.com or www.television.com is not in this category as they are way too general.

    Domain brokering: selling a domain name which you own. Its like selling furniture. If some one will buy it and you can transfer ownership the go ahead.

    "what's the best way for me to proceed with selling this domain?"

    I want to keep it clean and sane, but it's still my responsibility to get the best price I can for the company. "

    Auction it. Put up ads for it. Its all respectable, its just the way you go about doing it.
  • The trouble with returning the name, is that very likely a domain speculator will grab it first and then auction it off to the highest bidder. Nothing is changed except someone less deserving gets the money.

    If you really wanted to score maximum karma points, I suggest selling the name, at a fair price, to the one who you think will make best use of the name.

    Set the price just high enough to make the process worthwhile (Don't donante your time and effort to the process. The purchaser should pay you.) and cover the risk that your company may, in fact, need the name later on.

  • well, since this an opinion thread I can only offer my own. here it is.

    First, since the name was purchased for legitimate use, I don't think this falls under the category of domain squatting (which takes names others want for that specific purpose - preventing them from getting unused names.)

    Second, I think it's wrong to sell the name for a lot of money. Though your company may not have origionated with the idea of squatting, auctioning the name for a high price will only give validation and incentive to future domain squatters.

    Lastly, that being said, I would still sell it.

    As mentioned here, domains on ebay often go for very high prices, and that would be the most logical place to sell it. I do think there are some moral issues to selling domain names, but personally, I wouldn't be naive enough to suggest selling the name for $35, and not expect whoever bought it to turn around in a year and sell it for the big bucks anyway. It's not your job to take the moral high ground, even though it would be the preferred path. Until there are laws or rules regulating the sale of domains, do as so many others have and go for the $$$ by putting it up on ebay.

    "If you don't do it, somebody else will" applies here. It's not a solid justification, and all the caveats and moral issues still apply. But I think that sums up the driving force behind what will happen in this case. You'll come out richer, but your hands will be dirtied in the process.

  • I agree with your last paragraph - and I think that makes the case for the Powers That Be to get off their duff and come up with a "personal" TLD of some sort. ".per" is goofy sounding to me, IMHO. But set things up wither Joe Average can get a domain in this TLD, to do with as he/she/it pleases, much like we do with .com's now (I have one)... and make the .com TLD cost a HELL of a lot more. That's where all the hoopla is - over .coms (and .nets, to a lesser degree). When's the last time you saw a .org being auctioned off for a huge amount?

    I'd have no problem with companies trying to register a .com being required to justify (to a reasonable degree) their registering a particular domain name. It'd save a heck of a lot of litigation/hair-pulling, and would prevent bozos from grabbing random .coms just hoping that ONE of'em gets bid on, when the rest could be legitimately used by some business that isn't looking to fork over $50k to a greedy scumbag.

    As far as the personal TLD, leave it open, much like now. Businesses depend much more on that name recognition of a domain name than you or I.

  • If you're not going to use the domain yourself, you have no moral right to sell it on for private profit.

    Try and remember that the net succeeded largely thanks to the principle of co-operation.

    What have you got to lose by just releasing it?

    Alternatively, if you feel you must flog it, be sure to give at least a sizeable proportion the cash to the EFF or some similarly worthy online cause... the legal costs of that poor DVD-hacking kid in Norway(?) spring to mind.

    -- R.
  • Anyone have a good argument as to why someone should NOT profit from a legitimate domain name investment?

    It depends largely on why the domain name is being sold. If I bought oven.com to use for some personal project, and Maytag comes along wanting to use it to advertise their latest oven, they are asking me to remove it from my project to give to them. I have every right to ask for a price that's fair to me for giving up my domain name. I am not justified in asking for zillions of dollars just because I know it's worth that much to Maytag.

    On the other hand, if my oven related project fell through, and I'm no longer using the domain, I'm not really justified in asking for more than the original cost of the domain name, plus a little for the time and trouble of transferring it.

    I see no real difference between "domain name investing" and "cybersquatting". In either case, people are demanding massive amounts of cash for something that cost them virtually nothing and that they have no use for. It's just plain wrong. The price of a domain name should be determined by the loss (not necessarily just financial) of the person selling it. Anything more is just plain wrong.

    But people are inherently greedy. If I owned a highly desirable domain name, I'd probably demand a large wad of cash to part with it too.
  • It is not often that we get such self-descriptive domain names. Cybersquatting.com just redirects people to domain4lease.com.

  • The simplest solution to this whole mess is to make it impossible to transfer a name.

    You pick up a name, first come first serve, you don't want it any longer the name is retired for at least six months and then at some random time after that it becomes available again on a first come first server basis.
  • I will insist there is no such thing as legitimate brokering.
    Given teh current state of affaris of the NSI trio of domains... do whatever you want.. it's a lost cause anyway.

    It used to be you couldn't transfer ownership anyway..
  • I think the best way to go is an auction where you not only get $$ offers but also evaluate what the prospective buyer want to do with it... Sell to the guy with the best offer and whose plan you like..
  • All these posts about companies not having the "foresight" to register their domain names, and being out of luck have no real touch with reality. Think of the internet not in the instance of where it exists today, but over time since it's creation.

    Companies are created from scratch everyday, everyone didn't start at exactly the same time, and raced to get to domain names when the gun shot.

    Let's say I just thought of a great, easy-to-remember name for a company I just started, and went to register the domain, and found out that some squatter is using it, or a porn site, though the name has nothing to do with porn. Who's fault is that? I wasn't around 2 years ago to register it, and this company is only using it because it's easy to remember, and people will type it in, thinking it's not a porn site.

    Is this fair? We know it's not ethical (as if such a thing exists these days), but I should be able to fight for it. What does whitehouse.com have to do with the whitehouse? Or the hundred of other domain names like it. And say White House Systems is created one day, selling custom Linux boxes, and goes IPO, tripling it's initial price ... Shouldn't they get whitehouse.com over what's already on it?

    The rambling of a sick-of-society man ...
  • How?
    He didn't mention the domain name or the company name, and I doubt that "Silverhammer" is even his real name.
    Do you think /.ers are hunting him down as we speak to offer gobs of $$$?
  • Some time ago, I gave the whole squatting thing some thought and came up with this distinction: squatters are the people who register and let the name lapse for nonpayment (repeat as necessary) and investors pay the registration and hope to make a profit. Note that more 'sophisticated' squatters would have several people in the scam to try to hold a domain name longer (when the domain is about to lapse, the next person in line would hammer the server with a registration attempt until they get it). Plus a few other ill-defined criteria such as registering someone elses name in the hope of cashing in.

    The new NSI payment policies make that much more difficult. I don't know if there are other registrars who are still vulnerable to that scam.

    The part about registering someone else's name (knowingly) still applies IMHO.

    In the case of Silverhammer's question, sell the name! It was registered fair and square and was even used appropriatly for a time.

  • Unless the company name is the domain, ie "Buy Dot Com", not Buy.
  • I agree with your call on this one.

    There's nothing wrong with investing in some online real-estate.
    However targeting a certain business, person (several people have started doing it with NFL football player's names), or organization, then your moving into a gray area.
  • You bought it. It's yours. You can sell it. It doesn't even matter why you bought it. A domain name is only what people will pay for it. Even if you have a name like redhats.com (haven't checked to see if that one's registered) you can auction it to the highest bidder with no qualms. The only way the buyer could make money with redhats.com would be to sell a linux distro, that would be illegal (the infringing on red hat, not the selling of linux), but if you use it legally, say for setting up a shoeboy fan page (hint hint) that would be moral, but wouldn't justify a high price.
    So if you find a sucker who wants to pay a lot for a domain, bill em for all they're worth and laugh as they either a) get sued by the company they're infringing on or b) spend 5 million on a domain that isn't worth more than the registration fee.
  • Land speculation increases demand for land without increasing utility obtained from the land.
    Cost of living/doing business goes up. Everyone gets a little poorer in order to pay for the speculators profits.

    People don't complain so much about land speculations because:

    1) It's more constrained. As others have mentioned, land is more interchangeable. You can's squeese as hard as for unique objects, like domains.

    2) It's accepted. Land speculation is old business. Humans have an amazing ability to accept rather henius acts providing it's "always been done that way".

    3) There hasn't been any free or nearly free land to resell for a long time. Thus, the obvious unearned windfalls just there.

  • by bmetzler ( 12546 ) <bmetzler@@@live...com> on Wednesday February 09, 2000 @10:22AM (#1291124) Homepage Journal
    Does anyone really want to type www.jadegarden.restaurant.chinese.upper-west-side. manhattan.nyc.ny.us into the location line of their browser?

    Actually, we should probably have a topical subgrouping, sort of like usenet. For instance, I think it'd be nice to know that linux stuff is under *.linux.comp and microsoft stuff under ms.comp. I want to find perl sites under perl.lang.comp and python under python.lang.comp. But I want to find the other pythons under python.reptils.animals.alt. I want to find world news under world.news and us news under us.news. I want sites on physics under physics.sci and astronomy under astronomy.sci. I want writings.rec and drawing.arts.rec and skydiving.rec, and skiing.rec and baseball.rec. I want all tv sites to be under *.tv.alt. All music sites under *.music.alt. I want geographical focused sites under their own geographical hierarchy. If you have a burger shop in Upper West Side Manhatten, then it'd better be under upper-west-side.manhattan.nyc.ny.us. If it's only pertinent to the French, then you'd better have it in .fr. But I want incorporated companies to have .com's because they are popular.

  • wait wait wait... so if my company buys widgits from a company that makes them; who really has no use for them except to make money, then i resell them to widgit-happy 12 year olds with fat trust funds at inflated prices that are several levels of order larger than the original buying price, then this is evil? oh... ok. i'll go back to my commune now and denounce all my worldly goods. your last sentance is the only one that saves you. *grin* and i probably would, too.


    hooray for cybersquatters! sticking it to corporate america and beyond since 1997!

    *please note: this message is full of sarcasm and cynicism (learn to spell, ya jackass!)*
    -------------------------------------- ----
    the amazing bc
    latin/funk flugelhorn & trumpet
    webnaut, music junkie, sysadmin from hell
  • It needs little governance: be the first to register and let the market rule from there. The domain name governance we had 3 years ago was all that was needed (although I'll grant it needed to be expanded beyond the single point of failure).

    If gramps enjoyed the view, and the view was empty of anyone else taking a dump, he could well have squatted and claimed the land. This is exacly how the country was settled up until the era of the Oklahoma land rush. After that almost all of the land had been claimed by either individuals, the states, or the U.S.A gov. and was on the free market (for the most part). [Yes, the Native Americans were done wrong during the course of this; their original claims to the land (also from squatting) should have held. This injustice was because the country was not settled by Libertarians. :) ]

    Domain names are now at the land rush phase and will be for some time (there are more names than land parcels and the 'land mass' is expandable). Squatting is easier than building a sod shack, but the mere fact of holding the name (having registered it) should suffice as a proper claim of ownership.

    A clear example of the way it can go if we leave it to laws like the anti-CyberSquatting garbage can be seen in the examples of the applications rule of 'eminent domain' applied to homes and farms and used literally to steal property from the current owners to keep from having put a bend in a train track of pipeline. For domain names the bends will be tenuous trademark and service mark infringement claims.

    The 'eminent domain' of domain names looks to me to be the 'good faith intent' rule.
  • That's the second time I've seen you post this comment :) You sure do like it, don't you?
    ls: .sig: File not found.
  • Actually, for sites of this nature, I believe it's first served, first come.
  • I don't think you should auction it or sell it either. If you do, you are encouraging the behavior that we despise - squatting! When someone registers a domain name, they don't own it. They _rent_ it. And every year, they pay the rent to keep it for another year. When you don't want/need it any more, you should just let the rent run out and be done with it. This is the only way to be completely fair, IMO. That being said, what really sucks is, if you do the right thing and just let the rent run out, someone else will probably come along and rent it, only to 'sell' it for huge bucks. But if no one does the above simply because someone else might make the money, then we might as well get used to it all. -- /dp
  • by bons ( 119581 ) on Wednesday February 09, 2000 @10:37AM (#1291132) Homepage Journal
    At least your company is willing to sell an unused domain name. For that I must applaud them. They are showing a lot more ethics than the vast majority of internet companies out there today.

    Currently I own virtualsurreality.com [virtualsurreality.com] after a long and intensive search to find a decent domain name. What's sad is the number of shorter ones that are squatted on by major companies simply because it's cheap to do so. As much as I hate the people who squat for money, at least they have a goal in mind. I may not find their methods ethical, but they are understandable.

    moc.com is held by Marathon Oil [marathon.com], who currently have a much better and cooler domain name. The best I can hope for is that they are holding onto moc.com in order to keep Mobil from getting it. The problem is that moc.com is a really cool, perfectly usable, domain name that will NEVER be used. Marathon might be willing to sell it, but as they seem to have no intention of replying to inquiries (I tried), it's not likely to happen.

    And Marathon isn't the only person in that boat. Take a look at think.com [think.com]. Oracle acquired the name and has no intention of using it.

    The main question is, has the domain name been used or unused recently and has anyone approached you in the past year with an offer to buy the domain name? If so, you have an ethical responsibility to contact them and inform them that you are selling it through whatever means you choose to. (Ethics aside, informing potential bidders can't be a bad financial idea.)


  • All I can say is if you use eBay, fer chrissakes don't start the bidding at $20,000,000 unless the name in question is microsoft.com, or something similar.

    Actually, the seller gets to set the minimum bid, as well as the reserve (if this hidden value is not met during bidding, then the seller has the right to not follow through on selling the item).

    Is it better for an ebay seller trying to sell a domain name to (1) post it at $20 with a reserve of $20M, or (2) post it at $20M with no reserve? I'd say 2, because then ebay buyers don't have to waste their time bidding on it.


  • Legitimate Domain Brokering

    Isn't that an oxymoron?

  • In my mind it's just a moral issue with possible legal ramifications. If you bought it in good faith and don't use it anymore, you shouldn't have a problem selling it. If you bought it because you thought it was "hot" to sell and it's not trademarked, that's within reason as well. However, once one has intentionally purchased domains containing prelicensed trademarks which don't belong to oneself, that's immoral and can also potentially be prosecutable, although usally businesses come up with alternative URLs as a solution.

    Moreover, what about legitimate businesses cybersquatting? I have seen many instances where, for example, Ideafuture Inc registers ideafuture.com, .net, and .org just so others don't infringe on their trademark. This is wasteful and is a reverse type of squatting which ultimately wastes the company's own money.

  • My understanding of squastting is a bit different. As I understand it, this is a matter of "fair use". It would be wrong of me to buy walmart.com with the expressed purpose of selling it to Walmart for an obscene amout of money. It would not be wrong of me to buy (as has already been done) business.com with the expressed purpose of selling it to someone for (unspecified at the time I purchase the name) an obscene amount of money. It would also not be wrong of me (Although it is currently illegal, I don't think it is wrong) to buy walmart.com for purposes of creating a fan site or a parody site. Under current (and recent) U.S. law the first and third examples are illegal (IANAL though), but if you have a domain name that does not have copyright protection on it, I see no moral reason not to sell it for as much as some sucker is willing to pay.
  • In some ways, I agree with your logic.

    The problem is morality and corruption.
    Even Communism looks good on paper, but lacks not in principle but foresight.

    I dont care for government intervension where the internet is involved but the only solution I see for thsi problem is to take the motivation away. In order to do this, it should be mandated that domains cannot be sold for more than they were purchased. Domains legally will be sold for a flat fee. this allows the woodbe entreprenuer to claim a domain and conduct business on it. Selling the domain if it is no longer of any use.
    This would negate the effect that broerking has had.
    The institution of domain name registration should be handled strictly by a not-for-profit agency.

    this may not be the ideal situation for brokers, but then logging is a dying industry as well. If there are no good domain names left, what will you sell?


  • The problem with comparing this to land ownership is that there is a limited supply of land.

    There is no reasons for domains to have such value, other than their mismanagement by NSI.

    Leave .com, .net, and .org to do what they want, and get back to using geographic names with proper naming schemes.

    hell.. the only reason domains are so important is because us geeks didn't have the foresight to see this problem, and insist that something other than DNS was used as a primarly lookup mechanism for the WWW.
  • The poster was not asking us our opinions, as near as I could figure, but was asking us what to do in a REAL WORLD moral dilema.

    It's one thing to discuss issues of "morality" such as GPL verus BSD or whether Bill Joy will go to Hell for the SCSL. It's even a good place to post calls for action, such as against DeCSS hearings. But Slashdot is not Ann Landers or Dr. Laura. That someone considers Slashdot a source of moral guidance is downright creepy.
  • Well, I think he's got a legitimate question.

    The real problem here is that you will find so many differing opinions on a moral subject that its really not worth asking for moral advice.

    But if you want me opinion: go for it! The only thing you have to worry about is lawyers, but you always have to worry about those, so don't sweat it. :)

    I don't necessarily see that this business decision is really an issue of morality, in thruth. Business is a cut-throat game and there is no morality. It pays to be ethical in the business community, in general, but it wouldn't seem unethical to me to sell something you already own and acquired for ethical, legitimate reasons.

    Look at it this way: you bought a parcel of land in the 1980s, and, prior to new state wetlands laws, you developed on a small part of it. Now it cannot be developed any more, but the buildings on them are still viable. Even though the remaining property is now protected wetlands, it is still ethical, moral, and legal to sell it.

    Your situation is very similar.

  • As long as they aren't trying to pretend that they ARE you, I don't think that you should have any recourse.

    If someone buys up all of the property around your house and refuses to "give" it to you when you want to add another room on, you shouldn't be able to go to the courts and demand that they "give" away something that is theirs.

    Who deems what is a "legitimate" use? What if someone takes SomeFormOfYourCompanyName.com and puts up a site which is nothing but negative opinions about it. Is that legit?

    How much of a step is it then before Consumer Reports gets sued for using the name of a trademarked product or company name?

  • You don't copyright names.
    You copyright original creative works.
  • by mindstrm ( 20013 ) on Wednesday February 09, 2000 @01:03PM (#1291192)
    Just so you know.....
    .ca is about to be deregulated. I think the current system we have is excellent, and shouldn't change.. it's a perfect example of how *not* to exploit the DNS.
    You must be in at least 2 provinces to get a .ca, you can get a .province.ca if you are provincially locate.d.. anyone can get a .municipality.province.ca, but the name you get must be related to your name/organization name.
    There are no fees.
    Only 1 domain per legal entity is allowed (so you can't register 10.
    This serves the original purpose of DNS.. to delegate a second-level domain (or third.. or fourth) so it can be further subdomained as per the network toplogy.

    The problem with .com is it is too flat.

    Wanna be outraged? check out internic.ca
  • You know.. the reason used to be efficiency. It's supposed to be heirarchial....
    but it's such a damn flat database now... why the hell not? Sure.. they should open up tons of TLD's.. take away the artifical value of these domains. The only thing that gives them value is their artifical scarcity....
    Hmm.. DeBeers anyone?
  • First, I think this is a pretty lame question - I could see it in "Dead Abby" before I could in "Ask Slashdot". The entire point of having morals is to retain your constituition in the face of opposition - not to have Slashdot form them for you. If you have to ask what's right or wrong, then maybe it's not that big of an issue, eh?

    Anyways, it really doesn't sound like you have much of a choice. If the domain name could go for millions, what business owner in their right mind is going to turn down the prospect of selling it? You may lose sleep over the underlying philosophical rubbish, but I think you should realize the futility of your position: if everying is as you make it to be, it will be sold. If the owners care about money enough to reorganize the company, then they'll certainly care enough to net a quick couple million at the expense of filing 10 minutes worth of paper work. I guess I fall into the camp of "change what you can, and accept what you can't," so I wouldn't lose any sleep over it.

  • In a similar vein, I wish that generic TLDs would have a simple directory server (HTML generated from LDAP hierarchy, perhaps?).


    I go to www.ca -) Get a topical listing of the regions of Canada.

    Then I head to www.sk.ca to get a listing of things in Saskatchewan. I decide to look in on a city called Saskatoon, so I head to www.saskatoon.sk.ca..

    True, the URL becomes semi-nasty the further in you go, but it is logically strucutured, allowing for simple DNS logic and LDAP organization. Using things like "Friendly Names," bookmarks, and search engines, it would be trivial to not have to worry about the actual URL when dealing with large hiearchies.. and since this is all done via HTML, which allows hyper linking, you could have a nice relational mapping of everything in the world regardless of logical location.. Kinda like symlinks.

    Anyways, just some musings of mine :-)
  • What the Hell do you think you are doing, Silverhammer? As great as /. is for theoretical discussions of other peoples' dilemmas, this is emphatically not the first place to go for advice (especially -- in this case -- legal advice) about your own issues (or even worse -- your employer's issues). In some cases, once you have sought private guidance, it may be appropriate to formulate a way of approaching a public forum like /., but at present you have no idea who is going to read your public post.

    Moreover, this is not the kind of strategy that can be formulated by ad-hoc consensus on Slashdot.

    Please read all the /. responses. Perhaps someone will point out an issue you haven't considered. But before you take any action (and be sure not to let the domain name expire by accident while you are making up your mind and formulating a strategy), you need to talk to a lawyer. Specifically, you need to talk to a lawyer who knows something about the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act.

    I will not prompote my own practice, but if you want a referral to one or more smart lawyers who practice this kind of law, call me right away.

    Eric C. Grimm

    CyberBrief, PLC

    320 South Main Street

    P.O. Box 7341


    Fax: 734.332.4901


    In the meantime, DO NOT do anything hasty, and DO NOT screw this up.

  • Domains as property? Hmm...

    >but domain names are the real estate of the 'Net and real estate is a legitimate business

    This is a prime example of metaphor becoming fact.

    There seen to be a lot of internet-related cases brought forward, especially in the US, where the real nature of the technology is dismissed in favor of vague notions of virtual space, virtual property, virtual trade, etc... e.g.

    Consider the following:
    Company X sues person Y because a domain name that they have paid for contains part of the company's trademark. Shouldn't the company be filing againt the domain registrar? After all, it's their server that is responding to the look-up requests and directing people to Y's servers, the action that X says is infringing. Can responding to a look up even constitute trademark infringement? After all, the DNS only transmits an IP address - it's the people sending lookup requests, and web servers serving pages with links to the site that are actually transmitting the trademark-containing-domain-name...

    In any case, I don't really see how lame microscopic entries in someone else's database can be construed as someone's property. [some-dictionary-word].com doesn't really have the originality necessary for normal intellectual property protection. Some propose special domain name law to protect the alleged finite domain name resources. But such resources aren't limited at all. The worst that you can say is that a severe monopoly is going on.

    There really isn't anything stopping a few community-minded individuals from starting an open-access DNS system, perhaps a system where each registrar gets a top level domain, or where companies/individuals/groups can be required to share domains where conflicts arise... Or someone could come up with a new naming system that allows for duplicates... Anyone interested in cooking up such a scheme? You would have one happy user right here. =)

    Final Gripe: The expense of registering a domain with the de facto standard DNS regime (which claims to be government-regulated when it suits their purposes; how ironic) is insane. They could at least give the appearance of asking for fees based vaguely in some way to the service they are providing, instead of picking a flat rate dollar value at random... Perhaps they could do this by charging in relation to the number of requests responded to. I have no interest in subsidising the service of aol.com requests with my joeblow.org registration, after all.

    Well, more than my $0.02... Food for thought, at least.

  • As far as I can tell, basically nobody ever sells domain names on eBay, at least not for anything other than fire sale prices.

    I'm still trying to figure out whether I should sell my domain name (amazing.com) - it's rather bizarre to see a somewhat quirky impulse turn into the only really valuable thing I own on this planet. If I do decide to sell it, I'm in a real fix - so far, I think most domain brokers are scam artists who most likely won't give me good value for the name. I'd love to hear anyone's good or bad experiences with services like afternic.com (which has a very nice appraisal feature I've tried) or greatdomains.com (which seems to get the most money for the names).


  • One problem with selling a name is the value of the existing search engine positions and links to your site. In my case, for instance, there are billions and billions of links to various resources on amazing.com. If I sold amazing.com, all those links would suddenly die, and I'd have to write everyone in the known universe asking them to change them. In addition, since my site has been active since circa 1995, it has positions in search engines like Yahoo which would be extremely difficult if not impossible to duplicate today.

    The hassle factor alone is a good reason why I'm not eager to sell amazing.com, even though on paper I'm sitting on a massive windfall.


  • For one thing, You didn't enter into a consignment deal with NSI, you represented that you were, in fact, registering the domain, and then failed to pay the bill. That's like 'buying' a car and then letting the repo man have it every time you want to take a trip.

    Also, everything WalMart sells is a commodity item. If WalMart buys 20000 gross of toilet paper on consignment, thet does not prevent K-mart from buying toilet paper (possably from the same vendor). On the other hand, if you register abc.com, nobody else can register it from anywhere. If you had paid for it, fair enough, but instead, you represented that you would pay for it, and then failed to do so. In any other field of real property, that could get you into serious financial and legal trouble. Of course, domain names are sort of in between real property and commodities since they can be 'manufactured' without limit, but an individual name is more property like.

    It is because of things like that that the reletivly relaxed net 60 terms are no longer available to the general public.

  • I know I am a late comer to this discussion...
    I have to vote for give it back.

    The DNS system is a shared resource. Neither
    you nor anyone else ownes DNS space. You requested
    some because you needed it, and were given some.
    Now that you no longer need it, you should give
    it up.

    This is the most fair solution. It gives anyone
    equal ability to register it, and use it.

    DNS is a shared resource for all net users. It is
    up to each of us to use it responsibly and to only
    use what we need of it.
  • Personally, I think people should be able to buy > whatever domains they want and do whatever they
    > want with them. domains should probably cost
    > more int the first place though.

    If I remember right... domains were originally
    free. The only reason they cost money now is
    because the domain registrars found out that it
    cost them money to administer the database and
    keep up with requests
    (I could be wrong and would be happy to have my
    historical knowledge corrected)

    > To my knowledge, it's perfectly legal for me to
    > reserve the phone number 1-800-walmart, even if
    > Wal-Mart inc. doesn't want me to. So why should
    > a domain name be any different?

    Just because its legal, doesn't make it right.

    The fact is that DNS is a resource shared by all
    internet users. As members of a community, we
    are responsible (morally IMNSHO) for our use
    of shared resources. We are responsible for ONLY
    taking what we need and giving back to the
    community what we don't need anymore.
    (thats not to say as soon as we no longer need it.
    I see nothing wrong with holding something for
    planned future expansion...but otherwise, I think
    it should be given back)

    I realize that my view is not popular in the world
    today...afterall its not an ideal that is most
    condusive to serving the All-mighty dollar gods.

If you always postpone pleasure you will never have it. Quit work and play for once!