A few weeks ago, a survey question was posted in our NEPA Bloggers Facebook group asking our bloggers their opinion about the value of owning their own domain name.
The vast majority of the people that responded (13) voted for “Super important for branding and SEO”. 2 people responded “I just blog for fun, I’m not paying for that.” No one responded with “How do you do that? I would like to know.” However, what I found interesting were the 40 comments that followed. A few people were reluctant to register a domain because they didn’t know what name they’d choose. Some people were concerned with the legality of having your own domain name. Meanwhile others (specifically my blogging cohort Harold) were afraid of cybersquatting and hacking. This baffled (and still baffles) me.
????????? This is just silly.
I just surfed over to Network Solutions WHOIS and checked my domain name. I’ve owned it since 2002 and haven’t had a single issue with cybersquatting.
Registered through: GoDaddy.com, LLC (http://www.godaddy.com) Domain Name: MHRYVNAK.NET Created on: 14-May-02 Expires on: 14-May-13 Last Updated on: 24-Feb-12
I think it is time to set the record straight about Cybersquatting. First of all, what exactly is Cybersquatting? From Webopedia: Cybersquatting is the act of registering a popular Internet address–usually a company name–with the intent of selling it to its rightful owner.
Cybersquatters have several tactics that they use to find a domain they want to squat. (From TechTarget)
1) Many cybersquatters reserve common English words, reasoning that sooner or later someone will want to use one for their Web site.
2) Another target is mis-typed spellings of popular web sites.
3) Cybersquatters will also regularly comb lists of recently expired domain names, hoping to sell back the domain name to a registrant who inadvertently let his domain name expire.
4) Since there is an initial and yearly fee for owning a domain name, some cybersquatters reserve a long list of names and defer paying for them until forced to – preempting their use by others at no cost to themselves
If cybersquatting is a concern for you, you can register your domain name for several years in advance. GoDaddy is my registrar (and I know several people have issues with them, YOU DON’T HAVE TO USE GODADDY), and they will allow you to choose how many years in advance you’d like to register. The minimum you can register is 1 year and then you can bump up in year increments with 10 years being the maximum. Registering a domain for 10 years vs. 1 year is obviously more expensive, but it is certainly a route you can take if needed. Also, in my case, GoDaddy sends out registration notices 6 months ahead of your domain name expiring. You have 6 months to come up with the money to keep the registration going (which is usually cheap anyway) for the next year increment of time. If you are a responsible webmaster, you will not let your domain expire in the first place. And if you are letting it expire, chances are there is a reason behind it, and if it is cybersquatted it won’t matter anyway.
Yes, there is a likelyhood that your blog could be cybersquatted, but it is rare. Most cybersquatters are looking to earn big bucks by scamming corporations.
If you find yourself in the situation that your domain is cybersquatted, you have a few routes to take to get your domain back. According to Cybersquatting.com (a online resource dedicated specifically to the law of cybersquatting):
Victims of cybersquatting have several options they can choose from to stop a cybersquatter’s misconduct and recover their domain names. Initially, a trademark holder may simply wish to send a cease-and-desist letter to the cybersquatter, demanding that the cybersquatter return the domain name immediately. Such a cease-and-desist letter may state that if the cybersquatter does not comply with the letter, the trademark holder will file a lawsuit, which could result in serious consequences to the cybersquatter. The cease-and-desist letter is an inexpensive approach, which can often bring positive results.
Once a cybersquatting victim decides that he or she needs to adopt a more aggressive approach, there are two primary domain name rules providing legal channels for recovering a domain name: the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (“ACPA”) and ICANN’s Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (“UDRP”).
The ACPA allows trademark holders to file lawsuits against cybersquatters in the United States federal courts, and allows for the recovery of up to $100,000 per domain name in damages from the cybersquatter, plus costs and fees. The ACPA also addresses situations where the cybersquatter is located in a foreign country, or where the cybersquatter cannot be identified at all. In such situations, the ACPA enables the cybersquatting victim to recover his or her domain name, but does not allow for the recovery of damages. This process is referred to as an in rem action. The ACPA is set forth in the United States Lanham Act (15 U.S.C. §1125(d)), which is the comprehensive federal law on the topic of trademark infringement.
ICANN, the nonprofit organization that oversees the domain name registration system, has also promulgated rules governing domain name disputes. When anyone registers a domain name, that person is required to submit to binding arbitration in the event of a dispute concerning that domain name, including an allegation of cybersquatting. This binding arbitration is conducted according to ICANN’s Uniform Domain-Name Dispute Resolution Policy (“UDRP”). UDRP proceedings are intended to offer an efficient process, where the issues are decided without a trial or oral hearing. Unlike a lawsuit brought under ACPA, however, UDRP does not allow for the recovery of damages, costs, or fees.
I find that a lot of complaints about technology come from the users fear behind learning/utilizing it and are not valid. This is just one example of many that I can think of.
“You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” — Wayne Gretzky
“You also miss 100% of the traffic you could have if you had a top level domain name with the proper SEO.” — Me and my $.02