Alertness needed to stay king of your domain


Alertness needed to stay king of your domain

Neglected internet domain names are vulnerable to takeover – and once they’re gone you might never get them back, writes Eamon McGrane.

Ambrose O’Shea is one of Ireland’s biggest Neil Diamond enthusiasts. In fact he has a dedicated room devoted to all things “Neil”: vinyl, CDs, tapes, tour programmes, DVDs, videos and even a framed picture of him meeting his idol.
While on a reskilling Fás course a few years ago, O’Shea inquired about how to go about setting up a website devoted to Diamond and to helping other fans swap and exchange memorabilia.
His class, which was studying web design, decided to turn it into a project/competition and produced a site for him. The winning designer then helped O’Shea to set up a domain name and registered him with a hosting site.
The website was a great success, with many people visiting and signing the guestbook, including some members of Diamond’s band.
Using the site as a springboard, O’Shea helped many like-minded fans throughout the world to obtain rare LPs, difficult-to-find live performances and to establish a contacts network.
Now, three years after the site was built, another person has appropriated O’Shea’s domain name (www.diamondville102. net) and it is being used as a sort of holding page with sponsored links.
This happened because O’Shea was unable to renew his domain name this year due to his PC being repaired and various other problems he encountered.
Although this may seem to be a small and frustrating domestic user episode, you might be surprised to learn that many companies throughout Ireland, big and small, are also having similar problems. They risk losing their domain names by either forgetting to renew them or not having the correct contact details updated on the site to allow the hosting company to send reminders to the relevant person.
It’s such a common occurrence that it leaves Michele Neylon, MD of hosting company Blacknight Solutions, scratching his head in bemusement.
Neylon said the big issue his company saw was that a person comes along and randomly registers a new domain. Because they don’t have their own domain name at the time, they might use an internet mail address such as gmail or hotmail.
Then when they get their new domain name, they will often stop using the internet mail address and will no longer monitor it. To compound the error the registrant won’t tell anyone the address is redundant so the details never get updated on the domain site.
Neylon said that companies face a huge problem when an employee registers a domain name on behalf of their employers. If that employee leaves, the registration and contact details will often leave with them. “It is a serious issue. At all times you need to make sure the domain is in your control, not someone else’s. It’s very easy to think you have control of a domain but in reality you don’t,” said Neylon.
“People don’t think. A lot of Irish companies seem to have a kind of duality in regard to the internet. On the one hand they know well it’s all electronic and if a company is selling domain names for under a tenner you can hardly expect them to send you out invoices by registered post and have their accounts department ring you 15 times to renew your domain name – it’s not going to happen. Yet at the same time they almost expect hosting companies to do that.”
To illustrate his point, Neylon said his company sent an “update details” request to his clients about 12 months ago. He said the number of responses back from panicked customers who didn’t use their original details any more was staggering. As Neylon says: “Realistically speaking, if the domain is important to you you’re going to notice it’s not there any more.”
Getting that domain name back can prove tricky. When a .com expires you will normally have 30 days to renew it at no extra cost, although there may be a small administration charge.
If you leave it until day 31 you could get hit with a serious levy in addition to the renewal fee.
After the first 30 days, depending on the registrar, you may still have some time left before they release it and drop the domain. The Icann-(Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) accredited registrars will let the world know a particular domain name will be available on particular date. For instance, on March 6th there were 24,000 domain names being deleted that have been suspended for some time.
You can then bid for the domain names by catching them before they come to the outside world.
According to Fergal O’Byrne, CEO of the Irish Internet Association, retrieving a domain name can be a lengthy and costly process involving Wipo (World Intellectual Property Organisation) and Icann. “It’s a convoluted and financially expensive procedure and it can take years before an outcome is reached.
“If it’s a .ie you do have some recourse because, in theory, no one can take your name once you’ve proved you’re the company that’s registered to that .ie domain. So you have some clawback. With .coms people can bid on names before they expire, in the hope the owner won’t renew or forget to. There’s a very big grey market in trading .coms and .nets.”
As for Ambrose O’Shea, he’s hoping to retrieve his web pages and content from the hosting site and reregister under a .com or .ie. So it might be a case of “Hello Again” for Diamondville102 in the near future.
© 2007 The Irish Times

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