Social media "influencer" sent gunman to steal domain name

Rossi Lorathio Adams II, a social media "influencer", built a brand around "State Snaps." Telling people to "Do it for State" became a catchphrase in the comments. The owner of doitforstate.com was not interested in selling the domain, however, so Adams sent his cousin to force the owner to transfer the domain at gunpoint. The owner disarmed the intruder, shot him several times with the weapon, then called the police. Now Adams and his cousin are going to jail.

"Between 2015 and 2017, Adams repeatedly tried to obtain 'doitforstate.com,' but the owner of the domain would not sell it. Adams also threatened one of the domain owner's friends with gun emojis after the friend used the domain to promote concerts," court records show. Then he had an idea: Why not take it by force?

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Weirdly compelling game: Which domain name is more expensive?

The Domain Name Pricing Game is surprisingly addictive and rather surreal. I'm terrible at it though.

Martin O'Leary created the game based on an idea by Holly Gramazio.

"Please don't buy any of these domains," O'Leary writes. "They're all terrible and you'd be supporting asshole domain squatters."

The Domain Name Pricing Game (via Waxy) Read the rest

Eminent Domain: registrar gives France.com to the French government, destroying its owner's business

France.com was a popular travel site owned and operated by a U.S.-based French expat. Jean-Noel Frydman registered a trademark, had hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors, and loved his birth country. For years, the French government was happy with it, even giving Frydman an award. In 2016, though, it decided it wanted his domain for itself. Though the .com top-level domain is administered in the U.S., they didn't have to go to court in America to get it. That's because the domain registrar, web.com, gave it to them.

It’s unclear if a US court ever validated the order with an international enforcement of judgment, a common measure for foreign rulings involving US businesses. But if Web.com had enough business in France, that may not have been necessary. Faced with a valid court order and the pressure of an entire government, the company’s lawyers may have simply decided it wasn’t worth fighting the issue in court. (Web.com did not respond to multiple requests for comment on their policy regarding court-ordered transfers.)

Trademarks, the domain-name resolution system, WIPO: all useless if your registrar is shady or easily rolled. This appears to be the first appropriation of a .com domain in this manner and confers upon web.com a uniquely dismal distinction.

Also consider the next level up: operators of fashionable new top-level-domains. They set prices per domain, with lists of "premium" ones with higher prices. So if you establish a successful business at .???, you may succeed in making your domain name "premium." Which means an extra zero or two tacked onto domain renewal fees. Read the rest

The .cm typosquatters accidentally exposed their logs, revealing the incredible scale of typojacking

.cm is the top-level domain for Cameroon, and the major use-case for .cm domains is typosquatting -- registering common .com domains as .cm domains (like microsoft.cm or apple.cm), in the hopes of nabbing traffic from users who fatfinger while typing a domain, and sometimes serving them malware or directing them to scams. Read the rest

A place to memorialize the domain names you let lapse

goodbye.domains is an obituary column for the domain names that you, after years of squatting, now accept will never be put to use and which are, furthermore, worthless.

I just let neverie.com lapse. "Neverie" was the title of the first novel I wrote as a teen, in the genre of trash fantasy. I'd imagined that I might one day edit and publish it, hence the domain. But I won't. Goodbye, neverie.com.

Goodbye Domains [via Dean Putney, who retired deansli.st] Read the rest

A trip to the domain name conference

Ingrid Burrington thought of domain names as "a very niche genre of experimental poetry, one in which radical constraints (availability, brevity, the cadence of an interrupting “dot”) produce small, densely packed pockets of internet magic." At a conference for domainers--the dot.whatever squatters and salesfolk and speculators--she learned that it's more a matter of alchemy.

...brevity is typically a good move, though memorable phrases are also effective. Some TLDs are hot right now (.io), and some single words are always a good investment (lotions.com, furs.com), but good TLDs and good words together don’t always work (as was explained to the owner of furs.io and lotions.io in one session). Long-time domainers also had oddly specific advice—”Hyphens make your domain less valuable—unless you’re in Germany” and “.info is a dead zone.”

Domainers are generally a short-sighted crowd. Lotions.io might be worthless by itself, but one person dedicating themselves day and night to the thorough and remorseless blogging of all the lotions that go in and out? By Christmas lotions.io could be worth thousands. Read the rest

Promised auction for popular .blog domain canceled

After Automattic (makers of WordPress) announced its control of the .blog top-level domain, Chris Schidle paid more than $200 to pre-register chris.blog. He did so under the expectation that, as Automattic had promised, domains with multiple applicants would go to auction. Eventually he was told the domain was "reserved"—no auction necessary! He got a refund, but wants to know why Automattic took money for an auction that wasn't going to happen.

My interpretation is this: we yanked your domain and aren't going to let you have it or bid on it until we find a way to make more money from it. After all, we have to recoup the $19M we spent to buy the TLD. ...

A few weeks back, before I had inquired about the auctions, I thought to check get.blog to see if anything had changed. chris.blog was still $30/year, but christopher.blog was $2,000/year! I tried some other common first names and many had annual fees in the thousands, while a few were still pegged at $30/year. My guess is that the cheap ones already had applications, then Automattic panicked and raised the prices on the rest.

At Hacker News, at least two more people report similar stories of their .blog fees being refunded and the domains no longer being available. The implication seems to be that the auctions failed to attract the pre-bid interest Automattic expected, so it began proactively marketing short and trademarky domains to private parties on the sly.

All domains are auctionable, but some are more auctionable than others. Read the rest

Pirate Bay domains to be seized

Two key domains must be nabbed, according to a court ruling by a Swedish court, including their "most famous" thepiratebay.se domain. But the site's operators informed TorrentFreak that they have plenty more in reserve.

Filed against Punkt SE, the organization responsible for Sweden’s top level .SE domain, the case reasoned that since The Pirate Bay is an illegal operation, its domains are tools used by the site to infringe copyright. Noting that Punkt SE supplies and controls the domains and is therefore liable for their (mis)use, the domains should be dealt with in the same way that other criminal tools would be, Ingblad argued.

Punkt SE, on the other hand, took the position that holding a registry responsible for infringement has no basis in law. Furthermore, disabling domains is an ineffective way to deal with infringement.

Attempting to hit thepiratebay.se already redirects to other TLDs, replete with a picture of a hydra. Read the rest

Man claims GoDaddy canceled domains after transfer unlock

Asif Ali is the latest to find fault with shifty domain registrar GoDaddy.

Me: “Why did you release a domain that belonged to me..the registration was still active. And two days before the domain expired, I renewed the .co domain at $30 for a year”. Agent: “Since the domain was close to expiry so we released it”.

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How to transfer your domain name

GoDaddy may have dropped its support for SOPA, but Jason Kottke points out that there are many other reasons to give it a wide berth. At Macworld, Glenn Fleishman (previously) posts a fat guide to the technical ins and outs of transferring domains, with special attention given to getting them out of one particular registrar. Do the shame walk while it's hot! Read the rest

Who needs SOPA when it takes a year to recover mistakenly seized domains?

The government's website seizure program is already a mess, with one judge refusing to play along and the authorities forced to relinquish a domain in another case. Ars Technica's, Timothy B. Lee asks "Does the government really have the power to seize a domain name, hold it for a year, and then return it without compensating the owner?" Spoiler: yes. Read the rest

The case of the stolen domain names

Numerous web design advice sites report that their domain names were mysteriously transferred from GoDaddy to another registrar. Though now registered in someone else's name, the DNS records and websites themselves have generally not been interfered with, suggesting a more cunning plan than usual. At fault seem to be poor account passwords, email-based transfer verifications, the GoDaddyness of GoDaddy, and PlanetDomain's indifference to complaints until sites go offline. Read the rest

Help plucky UK environmentalists defend themselves from ginormous US corporate bully

Jim from the Open Rights Group sez, "We are asking people to donate a few quid or dollars to help http://eco-labs.org, a small artist environmental NGO, defend their use of their domain from a spurious claim from http://www.ecolab.com the multi-billion dollar cleaning business. These plucky Brits are willing do defend their use, which is not confusing and was used prior to the registration of the UK trademark, but need about £800 ($1300) to defend themselves at .org - please help!" Read the rest

Righthaven copyright troll loses domain

Righthaven is the copyright trolling outfit created by the Las Vegas Review Journal to blackmail alleged newspaper copyright infringers with baseless threats of domain seizure and huge cash judgements. When they created righthaven.com as a home for information related to their indiscriminate bulk-litigation campaign, they neglected to supply the registration information required of them, and it appears that they declined to provide the info when requested to do so by their registrar, GoDaddy. So GoDaddy's taken away their domain:

Now it appears that GoDaddy, the domain registrar for the domain Righthaven.com, has taken down their domain for an invalid whois. According to ICANN rules domain owners are required to maintain valid whois information. Anyone can report an invalid whois record via the WDPRS system, which then passes on the complaint to the sponsoring registrar of the domain. The registrar would then attempt to contact the domain owner and ask them to verify/update their contact information. Should they not do so, the domain can be suspended or even deleted.

RightHaven.com Taken Down for Invalid Whois

(Thanks, Clifton!) Read the rest