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The Man Who Owns the Internet 369

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-a-way-to-make-a-living dept.
Tefen writes "CNN Money posted this story about Kevin Ham, who has made a fortune gobbling up lapsed domain names and has recently launched a lucrative business partnership with Cameroon, the country which controls the .cm TLD. Since 2000 he has quietly cobbled together a portfolio of some 300,000 domains that, combined with several other ventures, generate an estimated $70 million a year in revenue."
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The Man Who Owns the Internet

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  • by andy314159pi (787550) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @06:49PM (#19246485) Journal

    Kevin Ham, who has made a fortune gobbling up lapsed domain names
    The market sure is promoting innovation. He should feel proud of his great contributions and he has justly been rewarded.
    • IF I made a fortune gobbling up prime real estate, nobody would care. why is this different?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Colin Smith (2679)
        Property is sold at market value. Domain names are sold at a flat rate. They should be auctioned.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by QuantumG (50515)
          It's like Monopoly.. the first person who lands on the square gets the option to buy.. if they decline, then there's an auction.

          • by Colin Smith (2679)
            If they simply auctioned them then the squatters would bid each other out of business.

             
            • by QuickFox (311231) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @07:53PM (#19247047)

              If they simply auctioned them then the squatters would bid each other out of business.
              They do auction them. TFA tells about such an auction. Domain names for hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece. And yet profitable. Crazy.
              • by QuickFox (311231) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @07:58PM (#19247097)

                And yet profitable.
                Why are so many people so upset about this particular scumbag making a huge profit this way? For years Google has been profiting far more by promoting this very thing [google.com].
                • by dheera (1003686) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:34PM (#19248183) Homepage
                  The main reasons I see people being upset about this guy are as follows:

                  (1) Having the nicely spelled domains (flicker.com, dig.com, iphone.com, whatever have you) are now filled up with junk content and not real content. It makes the quality of the internet overall worse.

                  (2) If you own a trademark, like walmart.com, and he registers walmart.cm (in Cambodia) before you do, he steals a bunch of traffic from visitors that were really intending to visit your website but now are just directed to some ad page. You just lost a few potential customers, have someone doing some other junk business in your name, and now you have to also spend on lawyers to rectify the issue.
                  • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                    by MobileC (83699)

                    (2) If you own a trademark, like walmart.com, and he registers walmart.cm (in Cambodia) before you do, he steals a bunch of traffic from visitors that were really intending to visit your website but now are just directed to some ad page. You just lost a few potential customers, have someone doing some other junk business in your name, and now you have to also spend on lawyers to rectify the issue.

                    If you'd read TFA you would see that he hasn't registered any .cm domains.
                    He has a wildcard redirection of unreg

                  • No, .cm does not stand for cambodia, it stands for cameroon. And no, he is not registering domains in that TLD. He made a deal with the local registar to put a wildcard on *.cm, so _all_ queries for names not existing in .cm would redirect to his agoga service.
                    I envy this guy too, but he played by the rules. unfortunately the rules do not state that everything you do should be make the web better. Good on him!
        • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:13PM (#19248025) Homepage
          Domain names are not real estate. God I'm sick of that flawed analogy.

          Domain names online are more like registered trademarks in real life. The difference being that you can't defend a trademark against a newcomer if all you've done with it is sit on it like an egg, which is what these "domainers" do.

          I'm in the business of web business, and there is nothing that irritates me more than having an "AHA" moment, and finding out my great fun domain name is already taken by a squatter. They bring NOTHING to the table, and they're stopping me from doing something actually useful with the name rather than throw up a sleazy parking page with its own ad search engine.

          I've often negotiated domain names away from their owners, mostly because they were normal people who simply bought a cool domain and lost interest. I've never paid the astronomical prices these squatters try to extort, the most I've paid for a name was $100 and that way mostly because the guy had registered it for 7 years, 2 years in he still just had the registrar's parking page on there. He was happy to recover his investment plus enough for a case of beer, and I was happy to get the name I wanted for a friend's blog.

          Hey here's an idea: domain hoarding is like a patent holding company. They cheaply appropriate low-value virtual properties, sit on them forever until some enterprising young fellow with a bright idea comes along, and then pounce on him when the money's good. Now there's a fitting analogy, and we all hate IP warehouses now don't we ?
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by localman (111171)
            That's about the best analogy I've heard. They (domain names) should be handled more like trademarks: use them or lose them. Come to think of it, patents might benefit by being handled that way too.

            Cheers.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by lowrydr310 (830514)
            I'm in the process of starting a business and came up with a great unique name (related to my last name). I did a search on the domain a while back to see if it was available but didn't register immediately. A few weeks later when I went to register, some prick had taken it and parked ads there. Surely someone had to have seen my search on that domain and took it with the hopes of extorting cash out of me.

            I didn't give in, instead I waited a year for the domain to expire. That was in February 2007, and I

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        gobbling up prime real estate

        People have made a fortune on that and I have commented on the fraud that fed that market--especially since a large amount of the money used to fuel the real estate boom was money which was gleaned by dumping the .com bubble. The people who created the .com bubble hyped it up, took the cash, left the .com investors in the dirt, and then used their new (arguably fraudulent--on the same lines as the Enron scandal) profits to buy real estate from the investors who were scrabbling to save their hides. The pr

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by larry bagina (561269)
          I have heard of people in California (naturally) that basically botnet the MLS: whenever a new house comes on the market, they submit a contract with contingencies allowing them to cancel. That cockblocks other people from looking at it while they take their time to actually look at it, reduce their offer, etc.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by timeOday (582209)

        IF I made a fortune gobbling up prime real estate, nobody would care.

        I would. Real estate flippers are leeches on society. Let's say you buy a plot of land for $1M and sell it for $2M two years later. Where does that money come from? Ultimately, it has to come from somebody who worked to produce something useful. People cry and scream about a welfare recipient who might receive $100K over their lifetime - what about the trust fund babies and market squatters who never produce anything yet consume m

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          You're an idiot. Obviously if someone can sell the land for $2M two years later, there's some buyer who thinks it's worth it. No one *makes* them buy it at that price. However, when the government takes my money at gunpoint and gives it to the welfare recipient, I never get the option to say, "No thanks, too rich for me". That's a very big difference.

          The guy who bought it for $1M may have just found an ignorant seller who under-priced it. Perhaps it really did appreciate 100% in two years because of ot
        • by Chineseyes (691744) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @09:09PM (#19247633)
          Let's say you buy a plot of land for $1M and sell it for $2M two years later. Where does that money come from?

          Its funny how when people look at someone making $$ they always focus on the REWARD and never on the RISK

          Let's say you buy a plot of land for $1M and sell it for $500K two years later. Where does that money come from? Yeah thats right the investors pocket. And thats not even including the taxes, insurance, $$ spent on improvements, interest paid on the loan the investor took out (flippers almost always use OPM in order to stay liquid), the points you get raped for by mortgage bankers on a residential deal and commercial lending is 100 times worse because there are no limits on the amount of points that can be charged.
          Your comment wreaks of someone who never looks at the entire picture and probably watched some stupid "reality tv" show about flippers. Real estate investments are risky (ask the all the people in Fla. who are losing millions at this very moment) thus the high reward instead of complaining about flippers pick up a few books, grow a set of balls and invest yourself.

          Full disclosure: In addition to being an S.E. I have been a Real Estate Agent for 8 years and a Real Estate Broker for 4 years.
          • by timeOday (582209) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:58PM (#19248343)

            Its funny how when people look at someone making $$ they always focus on the REWARD and never on the RISK
            What about it? A poker game among friends in somebody's basement isn't economically productive, even though they're all risking their money.

            A real investor puts their money into something productive, which could be anything from a movie studio to a car company, that produces wealth. It's not a zero sum game, since the process results in wealth creation.

            Squatting on limited natural resources, like beach-front property, produces nothing, so it is a zero-sum game. That's OK for gamblers, but it's annoying when speculators are driving up prices for those of us who actually need housing to, you know, live in. Now if you are talking about somebody who buys a plot of land and builds a hotel on it (or other valuable improvements), that's different - they've actually put some work into creating value.

            • by bogjobber (880402) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @12:16AM (#19248815)

              Speculators (real estate, stocks, commodities, etc.) may not necessarily *produce* anything, but they are a necessary part of any free market. If prices fluctuate, there will be people trying to buy low and sell high. That's just the way things work. The reward is directly related to the risk, however, so a very small amount of people have the money, intelligence, and desire to engage in pure speculation. You're more likely to lose your shirt than make a good profit if all you're doing is day trading or flipping real estate..

              I guess you could say that speculators ensure an efficient market. I'm not much of an economist, I'm sure there are much more eloquent ways to describe it than that.

              • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                by timeOday (582209)

                Speculators (real estate, stocks, commodities, etc.) may not necessarily *produce* anything, but they are a necessary part of any free market.
                Speculators are "necessary" only in the same way that spammers are "necessary" to email - an unavoidable and unfortunate side effect.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by yada21 (1042762)
              Speculators can only sell high because people are willing to buy high. If people are willing to buy high that's what the market will hold anyways - 'ordinary' buyers would have charged higher prices eventually. Speculators are just ahead of the wave.

              Now if peiople aren't willing to pay high prices, then the market dives and the speculators get their fingers burned.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by kemapa (733992) *
              A real investor puts their money into something productive, which could be anything from a movie studio to a car company, that produces wealth. It's not a zero sum game, since the process results in wealth creation.

              The futures markets will be excited to hear about this (since they are, literally, a zero sum game)! The participants are not "real investors". Seriously, though, if you invest in anything but the "market" portfolio, what are you saying when you do so? If you buy a share of IBM stock at X pric
          • by yankpop (931224) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @11:24PM (#19248519)

            In my experience, part of the risk is gambling that you'll be able to get zoning by-laws overturned, so that land you bought as cheap agricultural can be sold as as very expensive residential. There's enough money involved to seriously subvert the political system, making it very difficult for regular folks to get their politicians to stand behind the planning documents that are supposed to be safe-guarding the future of our communities. In the end the politicians get a nice campaign donation, and we're stuck with another eye-sore cookie-cutter subdivision on prime agricultural land.

            Full disclosure: I've been involved with enough community groups fighting against such zoning by-law changes to have come to the conclusion that all land speculators are devil-spawn, although intellectually I know that's probably not true in all cases.

            yp.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jcr (53032)
          Let's say you buy a plot of land for $1M and sell it for $2M two years later. Where does that money come from?

          From someone who parts with it willingly. What's it to you?

          -jcr

      • by cgenman (325138) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @09:55PM (#19247923) Homepage
        Real-estate is generally bought, developed, and sold at a profit. Net good happens there. Some real estate developers buy land they think will be profitable, and sell it months later once it is in demand. No net good, but the land usually flips within a reasonable amount of time and, hey, other landowners nearby are usually willing to sell.

        Web squatters buy up huge swathes of land, then sit on them. They earn ad revenue from other people's mistypes, then a huge chunk of change when they finally decide to flip it. And during this time they've done NOTHING of net good for anyone. They've simply prevented anyone else from using the site name, usually for a long period of time, which causes an overall net loss.

        The profit margins are atrocious. The site name that sold for 400,000 dollars? Yeah, they registered that for 20 bucks. The behaviors of squatters is equally atrocious. They frequently register typo domain names (slshdot.com, for example) to try to drive clicks. They automatically swoop in to register domain names that people forget to renew, then sell it back to them at extortive prices.

        The domain name resolution service is a series of agreements amongst a group of dedicated nerds in an attempt to facilitate easy information distribution on the internet. By gaming the system, squatters are profiting while creating nothing, at the expense of people with real jobs and real work to do. It's taking a good-faith agreement and exploiting every loophole it can find. It's like spamming... it's legal, and it works, but it is a PITA for basically everyone. Unlike spamming, domain squatting and parking could be stopped, but nobody has moved to outlaw the practice yet.

    • by Colin Smith (2679)
      It's just an indication that domain names are under priced.

       
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by KillerCow (213458)

      The market sure is promoting innovation. He should feel proud of his great contributions and he has justly been rewarded.


      Why is this getting modded as insightful? This man innovates nothing, and contributes nothing to society. Sarcasm is supposed to be funny.
  • by dn15 (735502) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @06:51PM (#19246495)
    Sensational much?
  • Really? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) <lajollahomeless@hotmail.com> on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @06:51PM (#19246501) Homepage Journal

    But the big money is in the aftermarket, where the most valuable names -- those that draw thousands of pageviews and throw off steady cash from Google's and Yahoo's pay-per-click ads -- are driving prices to dizzying heights
    Why do I suspect that his business colleagues are using botnets to artificially inflate those pageviews? If one follows the money paid in the advertising--whose pockets are he picking?

    This seems to be an obvious case of multimillion dollar fraud yet I can see how it would be difficult to investigate and prove.

    And what few people know is that he's also the man behind the domain world's latest scheme: profiting from traffic generated by the millions of people who mistakenly type ".cm" instead of ".com" at the end of a domain name
    And advertisers accept his claims of legitimate page views without any skepticism? I get the feeling that the American investment money and the government subidies going into online conglomerates are being seriously screwed.
    • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @06:55PM (#19246539)
      So, you're typing in a URL and you make an error.

      And you end up at a page with nothing but ads. Lots of ads. Ads for EVERYTHING. Ads all over the place.

      Does ANYONE here click on ANY of those ads?

      If so, why?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jd (1658)
      Advertisers will accept anything, if they think they can make someone else believe (and pay) all the more. Yes, a great many people are probably being bilked and scammed vast sums of money, but so long as the right people get paid their cut, nothing is going to happen about it. It took years before anything was done about cybersquatting, and to this day MANY sites (including Slashdot) are subject to shadowy ad-ridden spamsites exploiting mis-spelling at every opportunity.

      Fraud? Yes. Tolerated? Well, yes.

    • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Solandri (704621) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @07:10PM (#19246667)

      Why do I suspect that his business colleagues are using botnets to artificially inflate those pageviews? If one follows the money paid in the advertising--whose pockets are he picking?
      The most lucrative sites are general names, not typosquats. You're probably correct that most people who make a typo just ignore the ads and type in the URL again. But a surprising number of people who are, say, visiting Palm Springs will just type www.palmsprings.com into their browser, bypassing search engines like Google (dunno if that's a real site, but my guess would be it almost certainly is). These people will click on the ads on that site because it's exactly what they're searching for. I suspect most of the revenue comes from these types of domains. The article does focus on typos (mainly typos in .com), but that's probably because that's where all the new domain acquisition business is. Nearly all the "good" domain names under .com were sold long ago.
      • I'm guessing all they typed in was "palmsprings" and their browser did the rest. This sounds like the perfect excuse for a BIND patch that will drop all queries that return the IP of a known typo-squatter, including Network Solutions.
        • I'm guessing all they typed in was "palmsprings" and their browser did the rest. This sounds like the perfect excuse for a BIND patch that will drop all queries that return the IP of a known typo-squatter, including Network Solutions.

          I noticed this behavior in Firefox with v2.0, and that's what I thought was going on at first. A bit more investigation revealed that it is not appending .com to what you type. If you type in a word into the URL field in Firefox, it will go to the default search engine you'v

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by nolife (233813)
            I tried "Mustang" in the URL box and it gave me a Google page of Mustang hits. I tried "hello" and was taken directly to www.hello.com

            Obviously a little going on behind the scenes before Google kicks in the I'm feeling lucky result.
            Try peach and then plum
      • If people will click on the ads on a site because it's exactly what they're searching for, then the ad site has actually provided a service. In the case of palmsprings.com, I looked, and it is a collection of ad banners for lots of tourist stuff, but actually organized with category links leading to more ad filled pages. I wouldn't call that fraud. That is a service like a decentralized yellow pages.
  • by Palmyst (1065142) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @06:53PM (#19246511)
    how much revenue will he lose? Of course not all real websites of interest are correctly spelled English words. Nevertheless an extension to Firefox that would avoid these SEO squat sites would not be too hard.
    • Is a "squatter filter". Basically, it should work like the phishing filter in Firefox, but detect squatters. If you go to a domain that a squatter took, for example, bluemicro.net* [bluemicro.net], it would give a (built in) page warning that the domain was taken by a squatter.

      I would love this as I've noticed many of my users actually click links or use the search box on those "search sites" when they mistype a domain (I read the logs, it happens several times a day). Anything to help prevent these assholes from making
      • I'm actually building that very think. So far I've build the scoring system in python, but I'm not sure the best way to start actually fetching the source of all the urls out there. Once that's done though, I'll throw a firefox plugin to link to the DB of known squatter sites.

        Any idea of a good way to hit the most probably squatter sites first so I don't have to do a linear search through the entire domain name space?
  • what!? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Neuropol (665537) * on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @06:55PM (#19246531) Homepage
    I can't believe you didn't use PWNS in the title of this story! I want my money back ;P !
  • What? (Score:5, Funny)

    by spellraiser (764337) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @06:56PM (#19246547) Journal

    I thought this guy [owneroftheinternet.com] owned the Internet.

  • by Mr 44 (180750) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @06:57PM (#19246555)
    CNN is just reprinting a Business 2.0 article - how hard is it to attribute things properly? It's not quite as bad as crediting "Yahoo" for AP news stories, but still...
  • IP addresses (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @07:08PM (#19246651)
    Block outgoing TCP packets on port 80 to these IP addresses:
    64.20.33.115
    64.20.33.131
    64.20.49.210
    64.40.116.41
    66.45.231.154
    69.46.226.166
    204.13.160.26
    204.13.160.129
    208.254.26.132
    208.254.26.140
    209.200.153.152
    216.34.131.135
    217.68.70.69
    That should get rid of many pages you get to when you type "typos".
  • by jeevesbond (1066726) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @07:08PM (#19246659) Homepage

    Having been on the wrong side of 'cybersquatters' this is an issue close to my heart. I wouldn't mind if these people took a domain and did something useful with it, but instead they just plaster it with advertising and watch the cash roll in.

    Am not even that bitter (it wasn't even me that lost the domain but the previous owner of my site), what makes me angry is the way these people just leech ad views without giving anything back. Scummy blighters, the lot of them!

    Problem is what should be done about these people? It's not as if the government(s) of the world are competent enough to deal with problems like these (tubes anyone). ICANN is the organisation we should turn to: perhaps make a rule that the owner of a domain has to actually do something with it within a set period of time (say 6 months to a year). If all they've done in that time is plaster it in advertising (or have done nothing) it should return to the pool, perhaps with a bar disallowing the ghastly spammer from buying it again for a year.

    This is pretty controversial and I suppose if someone pays for something they have a right to do what they like with it. That doesn't detract from the fact that these people are like parasites, filling the Internet with rubbish and getting in the way of those of us who just want to provide a service.

    • Sorry to double-post but I missed something in TFA that /.ers might need to be aware of:

      Until now Ham has never talked publicly about his business. You won't find his name on any domain registration, nor will you see it on the patent application for the Cameroon trick.

      (emphasis mine) Patent application?! He's patenting being a scummy bastard and redirecting .com domains to .cm? Wow, just wow.

    • by QuantumG (50515)
      1. Trademark your company/product name
      2. Ensure your domain name contains the trademark
      3. Renew your domain name registration on time (for fuck sake)
      4. If someone buys up your domain when you're not looking, sue them for trademark infringement.
      5. Stop complaining on Slashdot.

      oh, all right then..

      6. ???
      7. Profit!

      Will that joke ever die? Thank you South Park.

      • 3. Renew your domain name registration on time (for fuck sake)

        I have and do, as said it wasn't my mistake. But yes, you're absolutely right. :)

        4. If someone buys up your domain when you're not looking, sue them for trademark infringement.

        Ahhh, how easy that is said yet how costly it would be to do. I will certainly take you up on your advice when I have as much free cash as the spammer that is the subject of this article. Maybe I should spend less time on /. and more time working!

        5. Stop complainin

        • by QuantumG (50515)
          What he's doing is leeching off your trademark to make money advertising similar products (if the advertising is targetted at all, let's hope it is) which is pretty scummy alright.. but that's why we have trademark law.. and yes, unfortunately, talking to a lawyer costs money.

          Business is like that.

    • by Dhalka226 (559740)

      It seems to me that the squatters aren't the problem so much as people who let their registrations lapse. I think we can agree that if somebody legitimately gets to a domain name first and decides to just plaster ads on it that's perfectly fine for him to do, even if it's not necessarily desirable overall.

      So it seems to me that any solutions should involve making it more difficult to swipe a domain name. What about a system such as this as an example:

      1. A domain name expires. It is held for 30 or 60

    • by mcrbids (148650)
      ICANN is the organisation we should turn to: perhaps make a rule that the owner of a domain has to actually do something with it within a set period of time (say 6 months to a year). If all they've done in that time is plaster it in advertising (or have done nothing) it should return to the pool, perhaps with a bar disallowing the ghastly spammer from buying it again for a year.

      There are too many problems with suggestions like these to name.

      1) What if the POINT of the [craigslist.com] business is advertising [controller.com]? Hey, I might w
    • ICANN is the organisation we should turn to: perhaps make a rule that the owner of a domain has to actually do something with it within a set period of time (say 6 months to a year).

      I've often thought that a person or corporation should only be allowed to own 1 domain. If a person/company really wants more domains then they can create additional child corporations. But it would be impossible to acquire hundreds of thousands of domains because of the overhead of creating corporations, annually re-registeri

    • by jafiwam (310805)
      I wouldn't mind it so much, except these assholes don't seem to be _paying_ for the domains they squat on.

      Fail to renew and it goes in a never ending loop of different "pending" statuses that doesn't let you buy them, meanwhile someone is USING them for a profit. How the fuck exactly does that work? It seems to me a "pending deletion" should show nothing, just not resolve. Yet there they are, linking what was formally a respected site to German scat porn.

      They should arrest and shoot these assholes for usi
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rs79 (71822)
      "This is pretty controversial and I suppose if someone pays for something they have a right to do what they like with it."

      That's sorta the catch-22 here. If one person has a right to decide what the other person can and cannot do with a domain name then we're all screwed.

      That way there be dragons.
  • Basement (Score:3, Funny)

    by zedturtle (987328) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @07:10PM (#19246665)
    Wonder if he's got a Dalek in his basement?
  • by Zouden (232738) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @07:15PM (#19246705)
    "Ham Just As Bad As Spam"
  • by Schlemphfer (556732) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @07:27PM (#19246817) Homepage
    As a website publisher, I think it would be very much in the public interest to raise annual registration fees to, say, $70 a year. At that price, domain parking for "junk" domains would be prohibitively expensive.


    Mixed amongst these junk domains are some great names that deserve to be developed, and will be if they are available. Unfortunately, the bottom-feeders of the online world have control of this vast assortment of names, which they are essentially holding largely for ransom purposes. I think that's a scummy way to make a living. But it's possible so long as annual registration fees are less than the small amounts of revenue that can be generated through generic google adsense programs and their ilk.

    I would love to see the price of annual registration hit the point where, say, the guy who owns "waterfalls.com" would have to develop it in a meaningful way or surrender it. Sitting on a domain and putting up generic ads should be a losing proposition financially, and an increased annual fee would correct this situation and work to the public good.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Increasing registration costs increases the barrier of entry for people who want just a single name.

      They should increase the registration cost as a function of the number of domains a person or company owns. So if you own 100 domains, each domain would cost you $100, if you own 1000 domains, each domain would cost you $1000.
    • by rs79 (71822) <hostmaster@open-rsc.org> on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @09:33PM (#19247761) Homepage
      "I think it would be very much in the public interest to raise annual registration fees to, say, $70 a year"

      The 20th century called. They want their pricing back.

      When the NSF directed netsol to begin charging it was $100 for 2 years and $50/yr for renewal. There was widesperead consensus this was WAY too much.

  • by sauge (930823)
    This whole selling of other people's domains without permission is BS.

    Big corporations can protect their property through the courts via trademark etc. So obviously one cannot just arbitrarily use someone elses domain... if that someone else has the money and legal talent to protect it.

    But many people and small companies can't. Obviously some people can protect their domains from being sold/ripped off to speculators and complete strangers.

    What makes these internet registrars think they can sell off someon
  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @07:38PM (#19246931) Homepage

    Somebody is paying for all those clicks, and they're probably not getting much actual business from them. Advertisers are getting fed up with paying for "clicks", just as they did with "banner views" a few years back. The trend is towards paying only for actual sales directly derived from an ad. That's what "Google Checkout" is really about.

    It's not hard to filter out typosquatting sites. We do it with SiteTruth [sitetruth.com], which tries to find the real-world business behind the web site, and down-rates the ones where it can't be found. Almost all the typosquatting sites are anonymous. Some of them have reasonably high Google rankings, because they have inbound links, but as soon as you look behind the facade of the web site, it's clear there's nothing behind them.

    With all this "domaining", link-based page rank is no longer meaningful for small and medium business sites. With hundreds of thousands of phony domains, all linking to each other, a growing fraction of business links are just noise. Search engines try to filter out this stuff, but it's like spam filtering; it mostly works, but isn't airtight. With a high volume of junk sites, enough bad links get through to affect ranking.

    The other two web-based sources of credibility, user-provided ratings and blogs, are also collapsing. Blog spam is a huge problem. Not only do existing blogs get spammed, millions of automatically created dummy blogs full of spam have been created. Until recently, user provided ratings had some credibility, but now there's a Collactive [collactive.com], which has a sort of spam engine for ratings, Digg, Reddit, and such. (Their slogan: "It's good to be popular").

    Amusingly, in this world of spam, Usenet, where spam began, has become almost spam-free.

  • by goathens (924972) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @07:43PM (#19246967)
    Really, taking up domain names for typos, or just about anything other than actually creating a developed website is just plain breaking the internet. If the domain doesn't lead to a website of any worth to the user, it should return "not found" not send you to some boiler-plate trash loaded with keywords and ads.

    I'd love to see some system that detects these sites and delivers you a simple 404-ish message for a typoed domain or one that has fallen out of use and been replaced by a squatter. Really cut out that ad revenue from accidental page views.

    Anybody know of any sort of firefox plugin for such things?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It's a reality of the internet.. the same ease of registration and freedom of use that enables EVERYONE to have domains also enables a secondary market in domain squatting. That's life.. the business world is no different.

      The kind of controls necessary to prevent this are exactly the kind of controls we should be scared of, and not want.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by escay (923320)
      I guess you are not the only hater. FTA:

      He once used a Vancouver post office box for domain-related mail -- until the day he opened a package that contained a note reading "You are a piece of s**t," accompanied by an actual piece of it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @07:58PM (#19247099)
    If you read the article, you find that this guy took a whole list of registered domains for any given day, compared them with a list from the previous day, and figured out which domains had expired. He then apparently used some sort of automated registration script to grab the domains that had expired.

    I want to register the .com, .net and .org domains of my family name. The .com is currently taken, but expires in about a month. If what I read is correct, some slimebag domainer will use their lists and bots to automatically register the domain name I want mere seconds after its expiration.

    All registrars should prohibit scripted registrations by using human verification picture codes. In the mean time, I need to figure out how to make sure I can instantly register the domain I want.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CastrTroy (595695)
      That's the catch 22. People want to be able to instantly pick up a domain name when it becomes available, yet they want it to be impossible for a script to automatically grab a domain name as soon as it becomes available. I think either way they should verify that there is an actual person registering each domain. You should also be able to put your name on a list so that you can buy it when the domain expires. I think that a 1 month period is enough lead time to put your name on the list. So 1 month b
  • All greed, no value (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenisNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @08:23PM (#19247289) Homepage
    Once advertisers switch to pay-per-sale from pay-per-click these people will disappear. They provide next to no value and routinely snap up useful names and host garbage on them.

    For example, look at libtomcrypt.org. The links there have NOTHING to do with LibTomCrypt. Someone looking for my projects will be disappointed to find links to random commercial shit [most of which is snake oil]. Of course in that case I didn't care about the domain [after Dan Kaminsky failed to renew it, it was taken by a usenet troll, then lapsed again and was immediately bought by the domainer].

    Personally I wish all the worst in the world for this person. He spends his time and energy ruining what was supposed to be a good and just goal of widespread communication and equality. If he thinks he's a "good person" he's sadly mistaken.

    Tom
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @08:45PM (#19247463)
    Kevin Bacon
  • by DeathElk (883654) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @08:46PM (#19247475)
    Is Kevin Ham related in some way to Kevin Bacon? I wonder if there's a Kevin Pork or a Kevin Prosciutto out there somewhere...
  • by Jack9 (11421) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @09:02PM (#19247585)
    "generate an estimated $70 million a year in revenue" although the actual numbers are more like a couple hundred grand AT MOST. This is a market fluff piece blathering on about how it could be a goldmine but nobody can prove it other than he has a nice flat. Next article was about how someone invented cold fusion but couldnt show it to the public for fear of the power companies killing them. Yawn.
  • Flotsom and jetsam (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rinkjustice (24156) * <`rinkjustice' `a ... Mrocketmail.com'> on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @09:30PM (#19247745) Homepage Journal
    I remember when I had the website hardcorelinux.com - a fairly popular linux website back in the day - until I suffered a number of personal and financial setbacks and in the process my domain name expired and was yoinked from me. The site became a viagra-selling website and now it's a link referrer for software and oil and gas(?).

    The problem I have with squatters are they hang on to domain names and do nothing with them. It becames another piece of internet flotsam, and it offers no value to anyone.
  • when a domain expires, he squats on it and pays to register it in his name or his company's name. Then he puts up a dummy web site with advertising on it that looks like original content that pays him for click throughs so when someone surfs to an expired domain name, they think it is the original web page and start clicking links.

    Then when someone has a company of the same name, or sees that their domain expired and they didn't renew it in time, he will offer to sell it to them for a few thousand dollars. If he needs money he just auctions off some domain names on eBay, and when those expire he buys them back cheaper and tries to sell it again.

    This looks like it is more profitable than trading stocks. Just start buying off expired domain names for like $35 for a full year with a domain parking service that allows you to place advertising on it. Then sell the domain for thousands to some company that wants it that badly.

    I think this guy and guys like him are the reason why we can't get six letter domain names anymore and have to opt for twelve or twenty letter domain names.
  • Waste of life (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @12:02AM (#19248747) Journal
    On the Karmic scale this guy is marginally above Nigerian Investment scammers, and about par with spammers, which I guess makes him like people reselling essays to students. The good news is he's definitely above cigarette companies and pedophiles. Way to go Kevin! And for all his 'I'm a devout Christian' PR, what a waste of a life. This guy adds nothing to life on this planet. If he disappeared tomorrow, life for everyone else would be the same or better.

    The people who used to sell used cars or deal drugs have all moved onto the Internet.

  • by dinther (738910) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @12:41AM (#19248969) Homepage
    If advertisers (The suckers who pay Google good money for their word adds) switch on their brain then they will soon realise that their advertising budget needs to be reviewed urgently. At this rate most impressions of Google powered add words only get lost in nowhere land or only serve to create create irritation. I don't even see them anymore. Click - Squatter site - oops - back button - done. I could not possibly tell you if there were adds on that page or what they were.

    Once advertisers realise they are being ripped off then this anomaly will automatically stop. After all, the money gained by these domainers comes straight out of the pockets of advertisers. Advertisers should demand from Google to keep their adds impressions well away from domainer sites where they don't do any good anyway. Something that would be very easy for Google to do.

    So, I see this as a temporary problem, keep an eye out for the first wholesale domain name lists coming on the market soon.
  • by freaker_TuC (7632) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @06:37AM (#19250635) Homepage Journal
    I lost my domain xsrv.org after +12yr of registration. First some hell when I needed to let it expire because Internic (Network Solutions) could not transfer it after I called them roughly FIVE times from Belgium. I transferred it over to Joker; I am very satisfied about the service until lately I did not receive any renewal mail about xsrv.org; I did about the xsrv.net and .com domains so I took them ALL THREE and I renewed them immediately.

    xsrv.org failed and yet again I have not received a mail from that robot. A few weeks later I started to discover a spam-decrease and the missing end-of-the-month mailing list digests which I normally receive on my xsrv.org domain. Stuff stopped functioning as it should be functioning and I did not receive my regular correspondence; even my .be (government ID) correspondence is still blocked completely. I didn't look in the matter immediately since xsrv.org was also hosted on the same network/same DNS server; so it all looked "fine" to me. It's currently hosting a search-engine poisoning engine.

    Some while later the xsrv.org domain has been taken by Mr. Wilson; of the Wilson group. I've notified the WIPO about it and they tell I got a strong case about this; even in such matter that he could bail out before the panel decides. Still, it's a costly procedure to start this and I'd like to get my domain back in a normal way; without paying the $1000 RANSOM to Mr. Wilson ; or without getting it back by force using the WIPO with $1500. It's a double edged sword; both costing money; although the WIPO would sound lots more fair to me since his name *WILL* get published on their website.. I swear !

    Don't break open my mouth about these people doing business like this; this guy took my house and he will be evicted from it; still I am wondering how this will be happening in a best and easy possible way without hurting MY OWN wallet about this. I am still not done changing everything from .org to .net and have plentoria of documents with my regular normal "home" xsrv.org domain in it; which is bothering me even more... He interrupted my personal communications for almost a half year now!

    I already notified his and our registry about this; no changes happened yet..

The use of anthropomorphic terminology when dealing with computing systems is a symptom of professional immaturity. -- Edsger Dijkstra

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