Thursday, April 12, 2007

The so-called mini-industry of domain purchasing

As Channel 4 mentioned last night, and the Times followed up this morning. The official line from Silverfish TV is that they registered Gordon Brown leadership domains entirely off their own back as speculatory money makers. In other words, they grabbed them with the intention of selling them. According to Silverfish TV's top man, Mark Lucas, there is "mini-industry around buying domain names" speculatively.

It's certainly true that there is a mini-industry and market out there, but only because most people don't know the rules. In many cases the "mini-industry" actually breaches those rules which regulate the registrations of TLDs and second level TLDs, as documented by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) who regulate the allocation of IPv4 (and IPv6) address space along with the governance of the Internets' Root zone.

The registration of domains with the single intent of flogging them on to a known entity is actually specifically covered by ICANN's Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy. If the person who has registered the domain can be shown to have "no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name" by a complainant then ICANN have the authority to alter the ownership. I can imagine some staunch property rights people may have issues with this, however, the rules of domain registration are set out before you buy. True, like the Terms and Conditions when installing software few people read them, but that's tough shit really. Before you sign a contract you should read it.

Given all this, if Silverfish TV really have just registered the domains to make a quick buck when the time comes, they've just shot themselves in the foot with any argument they might want to present to ICANN should a dispute arise. Their statement is an effective admission that they have "no rights or legitimate interests" in the domains they registered, unlike Gordon Brown who could clearly show that he does. If we assume they're telling the truth then Gordon Brown should get someone to write a letter now and get them back, for free, but I doubt he will.

It's very fashionable to think that buying up domains with the intention of flogging them off is a quick money spinner, it isn't. The only real exception are in cases where generic words have been registered, like say (the guy that registered years ago made a mint (although it was then disputed that he had stolen it from someone else if I recall correctly). The problem is that most people don't actually realise that the space in which the Internet operates is even governed, which gives rise to the so-called "mini-industry".


Anonymous said...
12 Apr 2007 11:32:00  

However, the time it takes to have a domain name transfered could be a long time. This, in terms of a time limited campaign, that will, say, start in May, may make it more viable to actually buy the domain names than go through the ICANN procedures.

Chris Paul said...
12 Apr 2007 11:37:00  

In practice though people pay up - within reason - using the rules to depress the price. But if you want the domain on May 3 and it's useless if delayed you don't get into a dispute ...

Meanwhile (in the Guardian lead article) Gordon Brown's people are claiming he has 200 nominations in the bag. Meaning more than three candidates is arithmetically impossible. And is it a late April Fool's prank from New Labour HQ who say they are running the nominations like a gameshow!

Mili Vanilli to win and then be exposed as a hoaxing mime artist? With svengali twiddler and fader Ablairio at the controls?

Meanwhile Guardian diary have your story with full attribution.

dizzy said...
12 Apr 2007 11:42:00  

Indeed you are both correct about the potential time frames. Of course my point was wider about the "mini-industry" being a breach fo the rules.

Yep saw the Guardian diary this morning.

Richard Havers said...
12 Apr 2007 12:51:00  

Since when did a scam become a mini-industry?

william norton said...
12 Apr 2007 14:45:00  

Why not run an appeal to find someone called "Gordon Brown" who can file a claim against Silverfish with ICANN? It's not all that unusual a name and there must be someone out there in cyberspace who's fed up with having his leg pulled about sharing the same name as Goblinhead who can see a chance for some payback.

If nothing else it would flush out from Silverfish a counter-offer indicating what they thought old Cyclops' name is worth. Might raise a giggle.

Anonymous said...
12 Apr 2007 17:32:00  

Surely the Silverfish line is just spin. Presumably they would like to continue working with Labour unfer Gordon, is a participant in the Amazon Europe S.à.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to