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Radio Interview Discusses Domainers and Domaining

Damien Allen of VTalk Radio recently interviewed Professor Eric Goldman of the Santa Clara University School of Law on the topic of “Domaining”. The interview covers the nature of domaining as a business and how it differs from cybersquatting. From the interview:

“In the late 1990’s and even earlier than that, we had a very strong and relatively clear definition of cybersquatters. These are people who would acquire a domain name for the profitable resale of that domain name. Typically they would identify a trademark owner or a well known person register the domain name before that person could register it or that company could register it and then play a hold up game. Tell the company or person that if they wanted the domain name back, they would have to pay an extravagent amount of money and that is that and it’s gotten so out of control that a couple of different types of regulations were introduced to squelch it which they’ve done pretty well. However, domain name isn’t quite that. Often times the domainers are not particularly interested in profitable resale and, in fact, in my experience many times when domainers get complaints about domains, they’ll just hand the domain name back, no questions asked and no money charged. They’re not looking to make money from the resale of the domain names, they’re looking to make money from the traffic that flows from the visitors who come to those particular domains and the sites that has them. So, we’re not entirely sure if domainers are really just new and slightly different variation of cybersquatters or if they are really a new class of activity that wasn’t contemplated by the problems we saw in the late 1990’s.”

Visit VTalk Radio website for the full recording of the radio interview and the transcript of the show.

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George Kirikos  –  Sep 15, 2007 12:25 AM

The interviewee failed to really distinguish between the parking of generic domain names (i.e. non-trademarked terms, e.g. like contests.com which is parked by Yahoo or Kids.com which is parked by CNET) compared with TM-squatting. It would be more valuable to his audience if he did, as it’s fairly obvious to most people, and especially to those who’ve studied the legal decisions like UDRPs or case law, that for generic terms the registrant can do nearly anything that they want with them.

The interviewee’s definition of “domainers” focused only on the gray or black segments of the market, compared with the white segments which are clearly legitimate. Indeed companies like Marchex are traded on the NASDAQ (stock symbol: MCHX) and are for the most part focused on generic type-in domains (e.g. Motherboard.com) and shouldn’t be lumped in with the bad elements that the interview focused on. Measuring the size of the bad elements compared to the good elements would be a useful area of academic research.

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