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Should their be a punishment for domain squatting?

Discussion in 'Web Design and Development' started by musty345, Jun 2, 2012.


How should domain squatters be stopped?

  1. Domains with no content on them should be taken away from the squatter after a set period of time.

    13 vote(s)
  2. People should be limited to the number of domains they can buy.

    1 vote(s)
  3. Nothing, domain squatters are clever oppurtunists and they deserve the exortion money.

    23 vote(s)
  1. macrumors regular


    I'm aware that there are quite a few other threads of domain squatting, but I wanted to put it to a poll.

    I don't think any of us like domain squatting, but how do you think squatters should be stopped? For example, I wanted jailbreaktime.com for my website, but the guy who was squatting the domain wanted around $7000 for it! Therefore I had to settle with jailbreakzeit.com (zeit being the German word for time). Have a look at jailbreaktime.com there's nothing there. This is sort of like internet pollution.

    As web_god61 said, "What pisses me off, 99% are just domain squatters. Then, 0.5% are websites that haven't been updated since 1985 and the other 0.5% are actual sites." on this post.

    If you have any other methods of prevention just post your reply below.
  2. Mal
    macrumors 603


    Why should there be punishment? They purchased the right to that name, with no commitment to what they would do with it. They've not broken any laws or contracts by spending money to hold what others may want in the future.

  3. Guest


    I think it would be hard to really define "squatting."

    In your situation, I'm sure it's irritating, but it's a real guy and he bought it so it's his.

    But I really hate the spammy squatting types, where you go to a domain and it says "[Domain.com]: Everything you need, when you need it!" and a bunch of spammy links to make money.
  4. Sounds Good, Jun 2, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2012

    macrumors 68000

    Exactly. People all over the world own undeveloped land. They legally purchased this land and now they can put a house or building on it if they want to, or make it a parking lot -- or do nothing at all and just have an empty lot. I'm willing to bet that someone else would love to have a particularly desirable piece of land that someone owns, but the other person bought it first. Should those people that don't build on this lot of land be punished?
  5. macrumors 68000


    Squatting? How about speculative investing.

    Punishment? Get real.

    He bought it. You want it, it's for sale. Buy it.
  6. macrumors regular


    I understand what you mean but land and domains are very different, domains are dirt cheap, whereas land tends to cost a lot more.

    Imagine this, there's a relatively new town, and some billionaire comes and buys all the houses and land there. This means that families can't get a house anywhere and they have to resort to moving 100s of miles away from the place they were brought up in. Imagine if that billionaire bought every single house and piece of land in a 1000km radius, or even bought every new house and piece of land in America, and did nothing with it.

    Surely something would have to be done about this?

    Oh and I just realised that I used 'their' in the thread's title,instead of 'there'. Sorry.
  7. macrumors 65816


    Those families that were brought up in this 'new town' (some how) would move to a different town if they weren't satisfied living 100km from the town centre. If this billionaire bought all this land and demolished the buildings the town would most likely fail and his land would lose its value and his purchases would be useless. No law needed imo

    the less laws the better
  8. macrumors 68040


    Ruthless thinking, but ultimately correct unfortunately. It's the same thinking and practice that drives up pricing for real estate.
  9. macrumors 68000

    Yep. And domain names are virtual real estate.
  10. macrumors 603

    With respect, there are two problems with the logic of this post.

    1) A "relatively new" town won't have people who grew up there, as that would make it an old town... but that is just a quibble...

    2) More importantly... The land in a town is already owned by somebody (as opposed to unclaimed domain names). People who owned land in the town would only have to move ... if they agreed to sell their land to the billionaire. If they didn't sell they wouldn't have to move.

    Your analogy works more like this... to my way of thinking.

    A couple of centuries ago (more or less, in North America) a group of people arrived and claimed land that they decided was unoccupied (leaving aside the whole issue of Aboriginal Title). They either just claimed what they wanted, or they paid a low flat fee to a territorial government to claim a "stake". It was those 1st settlers who are analogous to today's domain name situation. Some land/domain-names were/are put to immediate use. Other land/domain-names are held for their future increase in value. It is these speculators who have tried to figure out which land/domain-names would be valuable one day.

    Regarding our settlers - some got lucky ... Any land preempted from the First Nations near a present city, or land that was on the eventual railway lines, or on a coal seam, or etc etc. Some didn't get lucky .... land in the desert that ended up not being near a railway, or example.

    All subsequent owners of that land have benefitted - or not - based on whether these original claimants to the land made a good/lucky choice, or not.

    At least in this case there are no Aboriginal Land Issues to be resolved... it truly is unclaimed territory. At least as far as we know of.... :)
  11. macrumors regular


    Your absolutely right with that point :) I think what I meant was that the people had been brought up around that area, and these people wanted to get their own houses in that area- they weren't brought up in that new town because well, as many of you pointed out that would be impossible.

    But I don't think that land and domains are easily comparable, because domains are literally dirt cheap. These people buy thousands of domains and do absolutely nothing with them. It's as if these new settlers in your analogy bought all of the land within a 100km radius of any water, and so people were banished to wasteland, and these new settlers did nothing with the land they bought.

    When these people in the wasteland wanted to move near water so that they could efficiently grow crops, and not pay a premium for transferring drinking water to them (liken water to traffic), these settlers charged them outrageous prices, which only the richest could afford.

    Furthermore, these rich settlers kept on buying any land near any new stream of water that sprouted up, and so the only options were for people to try and build expensive irrigation systems and try and make their way in the wasteland, or to pay extensive amounts of their currency to live a better life.

    Wouldn't it just be better if these rich settlers (the squatters) just stopped what they did and let everyone live happily ever after?
  12. macrumors 68000

    Let's say they did just that. Who should get the name then? What gives YOU the right to it?
  13. macrumors regular


    Anyone who uses it productively and beneficially to the rest of society, first come first serve :)
  14. macrumors 6502a

    Keep in mind that if someone is squatting on a trademark you own, there are ways in which to force them to vacate and take the name over. Corporations do this all the time...

    Your complaint seems to be over domain names that neither you or the "squatter" have previous legal claim over... so it is first come, first served... and I completely understand the anger that comes from not getting their first.

    But, imagine if the roles were reversed? How does one define a squatter? How much rights would you want others to have to make claims over domains they don't control? Could I define you as a squatter if you were in the way of my business interests?

    Imagine if I owned a large company with millions in revenue and I could prove a dubious interest in the domain name jailbreakzeit.com. What should you have to do, legally, to show that the domain is truly in use? Prove you make money from the domain? How much? Show how much traffic the site gets? and how much?

    Most parked domains have some content and traffic.

    if I could prove to the internet naming bodies that my site would get more traffic and more revenue, should I be able to take it from you? Would this have to be decided on a case-by-case basis?

    While it may seem like extortion to pay $7,000 for a domain, forcing people to invest in names makes sure that the domains are well used and valued.
  15. macrumors 603

    Ummm, actually that is exactly what happened in many places that were colonized/settled. New setterlers could buy land dirt cheap. Think Oklahoma - where in one instance it was the 1st person to drive stakes into the ground claimed that land. In other places people with money bought all the land they could afford, since in some places there was no limit on the land you could buy. Territorial/colonial governments were basically giving it away and the "purchase price" was nominal in that it created some revenue for the territorial/colonial government and covered the expense of dealing with the paperwork.

    The colonial/territorial governments took something (land) that had not been paid for, in essence if not in technically absolutely true, and sold it to anybody who wanted it. Just like domain names. In those days there was a lot of angst about speculators too. But now, the system has settled out and we are heirs to it.

    I am not saying that domain names need to be handled the same way, I am just saying your village analogy was not the best argument. In fact in many places settled/colonized a person had to show a certain degree of "improvement" to the land by a certain date, or they would forfeit it back to the government. Or they could pay extra to keep the land. I don't know how you would translate that to domain names though. It would be simple, I would think, to automate a system that merely checked for a webpage at a URL.... but how do you go beyond that? How do you judge whether a webpage is a placeholder or something that "improves" the webpage? Consider how many domain names are being registered every day. How does one judge what is truly a useful page, and what is merely a placeholder. I would find it trivial to create a place holder site. I myself have several domain names that I hold in reserve. Not with the intent of selling them, but because I have projects that I haven't had time to start, but I want to keep a good web site name for. Am I squatting? Or just too busy?

    I do disagree with the term "wasteland" since in most places there was an indigenous society that was supporting itself there. And I don't want to get this pushed into PRSI by delving into this... so I am trying to just keep the terminology neutral.
  16. ericrwalker, Jun 4, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2012

    macrumors 68030


    I suppose if I buy a piece of property on a lake somewhere and never use it and someone else decides they want it to build a house there I should have my property taken away.

    If someone buys a domain and don't do anything with it, yeah it probably sucks for someone who has plans for it but too bad. Maybe the owner is planning something an waiting on patents or something to come through. Maybe they use it for personal email addresses. I have 4 domains and only use 2 of them. The domains I wanted are being sold for crazy prices. (too bad I was slow in the game).
  17. macrumors regular


    In terms of the case-by-case basis, there could be a system in which you pay around $10-$20 to have an ICANN moderator look into your complaint.

    I think the criteria could be along the lines of making sure that the domain is actually being used. In my opinion, this is mostly obvious. For example, the jailbreaktime.com domain I previously mentioned has absolutely nothing on it. It's just there, doing nothing.

    Traffic and money making are by no means the criteria that I would personally pick, but how about looking into the domain, and making sure the content has been updated in at least 5 or so years, and making sure there is some content there in the first place.

    Also treat the .com, .co.uk, .org's etc. as different countries. These domain squatters are ruthless and buy all the useful domains, in all of the countries. Will there come a time where no one can make any domain under 8 characters (which isn't gibberish) because they're all taken up by squatters?
  18. macrumors regular


    Sorry for my use of the term wasteland. I didn't mean any offense, I was just referring to land which was infertile and couldn't be used for anything (such as the domain likendydf78f9fuh.com).

    I'm not very clued up on my American history, but I think that's great. The system in which they make sure that the land saw a certain amount of improvement should be transported over to domains!

    Sure, but shouldn't there be a limit to how long you can reserve these domains for projects? Or maybe even make selling domains inconvenient so that people like you can still reserve their chosen domain, but can't sell it?

    That's another good point, I appreciate that there are some reasons why you might buy a domain you don't post content on straight away, other than attempting to sell it later. But they should, as i've mentioned, make it harder for people to sell domains so that people like yourself can still use these domains for legitimate purposes, but these squatters can't.

    Also, say if one of the domains you own is ericrwalker.com, it's unlikely that anyone else would want this (apart from as use in their own personal email) but you got it first. People like you would be safe, it'd just be people who bulk buy 'fertile' domains for the sole purpose of extorting money off people later.

    At the end of the day, this might not be a huge problem today, especially for the older people who jumped onto the internet game straight away, but it's only going to get worse, and I think something needs to be done.
  19. macrumors 68030


    ericRwalker.com was available, ericwalker.com wasn't I didn't want the middle initial. ericwalker.com has looked exactly the same for several years. walker.com is rerouted to another domain. I emailed both owners, was looking to make a deal. I was willing to pay (possibly hundreds, depending on which one). Never got a response.
  20. macrumors 68000

    I see that Apple purchased the domain name iphone5.com but they're not using it. It's a dead site, no content, no revenue. I think I'd like to have it. :)
  21. macrumors regular


    True, but Apple has a claim to the domain and it's understandable why they'd buy it ;) I'm sure the term 'iPhone' is trademarked by them, so it is their right to have the domain.
  22. macrumors 6502a

    Agreed, but I think it would be more reasonable to have that fee closer to $200 - $500 dollars. Having someone look at these case by case and make decisions will be a time consuming and labor intensive process.

    I think its important that people be invested in these domains... if this was too easy to do then you would simply have "squatters" taking sites from other squatters over and over... and if you did have a valuable name, all you would have to do is make the site look busy.

    I get what you are saying, but I think there are many sites where the decision is not so clear cut... blank sites are easy, but there are many valid sites on the internet that do not get updated regularly... probably 20-30% of small business sites I would guess...

    I think that time was a few years ago :D

    I have done a few campaigns where we had to wrestle trademarked domains out of the hands of squatters and things get hairy internationally. There are lots of different registrars and trademark laws. We essentially hired a law firm with branches in several countries. But essentially each one must be done on a case-by-case basis.

    So, I am not in disagreement with you, the process sucks, but I generally feel that if you own a trademark, you have legal recourse to get the domain you want... if you don't own a trademark, you are basically looking for a vanity plate for your personal website and I don't see the problem with people having to pay extra for that... it is a luxury...
  23. macrumors 603

    How about $100 or $200? Or $1000? The numbers of moderators needed would be huge. Some sort of infrastructure will need to be created to route requests, handle judgements, hear appeals, and then enforce the rulings.

    Should the cost be borne by the defender of the domain name, or the person bringing the appeal? In either case, it favours the large companies over the individual.

    Before you got to that point, you would need to write the rules and guidelines. OK, start with the 5 year rule. How much of a change is necessary to start the clock again? One word? If you say "No", it needs to be more substantive - I would counter that I am poet, and my contribution to the improvement of society is a Haiku. And that changing just one word in that Haiku is the same as changing several pages on a photo site. Writing a regulation to handle that would be a challenge, I dare say. If the criteria was that at least one word needs to be changed every 5 years, how do you tell? Do you look at file dates? Assuming ICANN could resolve the privacy issues of having to get access to the FTP directories, how do you tell if the domain was changed or just re-uploaded? Regardless, there would be a slew of $2 apps that would simply randomly change a few words every so often. And probably a bunch of free apps released from the open source foundations.

    Again, try writing some policies around this, taking into account people who have no intention of ever selling the domain, only own the one domain, and simply want to post a relatively static site that tells the world something about them. Writing a policy would need to account for somebody who believes that their contribution to improving the world is telling the world that Tony Blair was a accessory to the Murdoch phone tapping affair. Who has the right to judge that the webpage was or was not being "used"?
    What would IBM or MS do then? They have a huge UK presence. Do they need to choose between either a .com or a .co.uk name? Often, companies pick up all of the other TLDs to protect themselves and their customers. If Microsoft couldn't pick up microsoft.org, then it's possible a malware company will register it and take advantage of people who meant to hit the official MS site, and not the knock-off.
    Yep. I agree. One of the reasons I have several currently unused domain names. I'm not speculating, directly - I'm protecting myself from speculators. I've let a couple lapse, rather than selling for a profit.
    That's just me quibbling.... :)
    Actually, it is UK history :) since in Canada and Australia it was the Brits administering the system, and in the US it was the Brits until that tea party got rowdy. The land improvement system saw a lot of abuse too. How does one measure the value of the improvements? When there was a lot of money at stake, assessors could be 'influenced' and the land declared to be "not improved enough", and seized by an influential speculator.
    I'd actually accept that... except that in many cases someone buys a domain with the intent to transfer it to a group or a relative.

    I'm not disagreeing with your basic premise...that domain squatting should be somehow controlled. But I don't see any realistic way of doing so without either making it hugely expensive to register a domain, which puts it out of reach of the average person, or creating a huge administrative overhead to manage the system.

    In your particular case, it would have been stupidly easy and cheap for the current domain owner to make it look like a site was there, had they needed to. Paying a few dollars a year to change a site is still worth the money if there is a potential $7000 pay back.

    Anyway... good luck with your quest....

    I should warn you I am married to a policy analyst, and I love dissecting policy with them ... I can go on like this for days! :)
  24. macrumors 68030


    Maybe Apple has a right MacRumors.com then. Since they own the Mac.

    Maybe someone else wanted iPhone5 to express their love of the iPhone, or maybe they wanted to put porn on the site and use the most commonly searched term to trick people into their site.

    Either way, no worries Apple has it.

    I would like iphone5.com to start an iPhone blog though.
  25. macrumors 6502

    Economic incentives required

    I agree with the various posts that it is quite difficult to come up with a policy for squatting. So, it seems to me that the way to force someone to relinquish a domain name, is as it is now, namely the offer of money. Instead of being offered money, one could take more money from the domain owner.

    I haven't really thought this through, but I think the 'renewal' price and the 'first claim' price may have to be adjusted differently. So consider a 'renewal' which always increases faster than the registration price. If it costs $10 to buy a brand-new domain (including one that has already been abandoned), then the first year renewal might cost $11. In the second year, the renewal might cost $12.10 (or whatever 10% compounding would be). There could be a cap that limits the compounded renewal fee to a fixed multiple of the current registration price. Basically, you provide an economic incentive to 'improve' the domain so that it will make enough money to cover the increased renewal fees as the years go by. Some 'squatters' (especially if they hold a lot of domains), will likely let go of the domains they deem to be unlikely to be sold.

    I'm not well-versed in transferring domains among registrars, but undoubtedly there would need to be some rules for transfer that require the renewal age to follow. One could transfer to a lower registration price registrar which leads to a lower renewal fee.

    Unfortunately, the above proposed 'cure' might be worse overall for most of us. To inflict sufficient economic punishment on the 'squatter' will probably mean the rest of us are paying very high renewal fees.

    So another way would be to increase registration fees for the number of domains per registrar. Meaning, the first domain at a registrar costs the base fee, the second domain at the same registrar costs more, etc. Obviously, one can spread domains across multiple registrars. With this system, I suspect the 'gaming' will come from lots of registrars being created. One may have to 'auction' the rights to be a registrar to limit their number, but that would tend to raise fees for everyone to cover the cost of becoming a registrar.

    Anyway, I'm sure that practically any system with rules can be gamed somehow. It's just a matter of picking one that people are satisfied with and so far people are satisfied with the current one that allows 'squatting'.

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