Questions: ownership with respect to domain registration

Discussion in 'Web Design and Development' started by Sackvillenb, Feb 3, 2014.

  1. Sackvillenb macrumors 6502a


    Mar 1, 2011
    Canada! \m/

    I've got a pretty basic question regarding domain registration, and I haven't been able to find a concrete answer to this anywhere...

    I know there are many companies I can use to register a domain name "in my name", and for example I've bought 2 domains from godaddy a while ago...

    My question is, when I "buy" a domain name from a site like that, do I, personally, truly own that domain name myself? OR does the company (e.g. godaddy) really own it, and I'm just sort of leasing or licensing it?

    I ask because there is a new (completely unoccupied and unused) domain name that I want to purchase, but I want to make sure it will be fully 100% under my own ownership when I do. I'll still need a company to host the site (it's nothing fancy) but for this domain I don't want any ambiguity about who literally owns the domain!

    Thanks so much for your help!! :)
  2. jtara, Feb 3, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2014

    jtara macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2009
    If you want to get technical about it, you do not "own" a domain name. You "register" it for a period of time, and you have the right to re-register it in perpetuity. It can't be taken away from you unless you don't pay the registration, violate some law, etc. (In some cases, government or some damaged party - e.g. trademark issue - can take the domain by legal process.)

    But neither does the registrar - e.g. GoDaddy - "own" it. They are just providing a registration service, and, in fact, they don't even maintain the registration themselves. The registry - e.g. .com, .net, .biz, whatever - maintains the registration. Some registries are non-profit or government entities, some are for-profit, but none of them "own" the domain. But they own the registration database which is the essence on which the domain stands, and so you need to see what their rules are (they are in fact different for different registries) and make sure you understand and follow the rules.

    If your registration lapses, the domain is then supposed to be up-for-grabs. However, some registrars hold the domain for some time after expiration as a convenience to you in case you might want it back and will give you some "grace" period for getting it back, and some might even try to offer it (to you or others) at a premium price, especially if the domain name has a history of traffic or might have intrinsic value due to the name itself. And, in any case, there are third-parties that will jump on it as soon as it is available for re-registration if it has value.

    Just go with a reliable registrar (not GoDaddy! - I like moniker, but there are other reliable registrars) and pay your fees on time. It will ease your mind to pay for multiple years in advance (and perhaps save money). If the registrar offers three-factor authentication, use it, to help guard against somebody trying to steal your domain if it is valuable.

    When you actually "buy" a domain (from a registrant, not from a registrar), you are entering into a contract with the "seller" for the right to register that domain. (The current registration terminates upon "sale", a new registration term beings, and you become the registrant.)

    Be careful about "free" domain registrations offered by web hosting services, etc. Read the fine print - in many cases, they register the domain in their own name, and you have no right to use it unless you are using their hosting service. "Free" can turn out to be pretty expensive.

    And, although I think this is less common than it once was, be careful when hiring designers and programmers. Don't let them "save you the trouble" of registering your site. *Always* do it yourself. You may find yourself in the unhappy position where they have registered your domain in their name.

    You should check with an attorney and/or accountant about tax treatment, whether it's considered an asset, tax consequences of sale, etc.
  3. Sackvillenb thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Mar 1, 2011
    Canada! \m/
    Yeah this is pretty much what I thought. Your answer was very helpful, detailed, and concise, so thank you!

    So as long as I'm still paying for the registration, that domain will remain "mine"... and theoretically, I should be able to transfer this registration to another registration company when I want? (because eventually I'll probably want to move away from godaddy).

    I definitely want to try a new company for the new domain I want, so I'll look at your suggestion for moniker.

    Do you have any suggestions for a good and cheap hosting company? My needs will be VERY basic at the moment. Simple websites with text and images and that's really it. It might get more complicated a few years down the road, but for the time being I'm going to have very simple web sites...

    Thanks again for your help!
  4. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Yes, you can transfer domain registration to another registration company.

    Bluehost works fine as a basic web paid host.

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