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The Man Who Owns the Internet

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the what-a-way-to-make-a-living dept.

Businesses 369

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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So the market sure is promoting innovation (5, Insightful)

andy314159pi (787550) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246485)

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.

Re:So the market sure is promoting innovation (4, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246609)

IF I made a fortune gobbling up prime real estate, nobody would care. why is this different?

Re:So the market sure is promoting innovation (1, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246641)

Property is sold at market value. Domain names are sold at a flat rate. They should be auctioned.

Re:So the market sure is promoting innovation (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246785)

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.

Re:So the market sure is promoting innovation (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246861)

If they simply auctioned them then the squatters would bid each other out of business.

 

Re:So the market sure is promoting innovation (4, Informative)

QuickFox (311231) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:So the market sure is promoting innovation (4, Informative)

QuickFox (311231) | more than 7 years ago | (#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] .

Re:So the market sure is promoting innovation (3, Informative)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246707)

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 profiteers then developed the real estate (which they bought on the cheap) and turned around and sold/rented it back to the suckers they had previously screwed (in the .com bubble) at five, ten, even hundreds of times the cost. There's no better example of the paradigm: "Create debt, maintain debt, keep people in debt, milk them dry while they're in debt."

nobody would care
That's not true at all. Some people have cared but the people who took part in the .com bubble scam (and coupled it with the real estate swindle) made certain to grease their politicians ahead of time. They knew exactly what they were doing and made sure that they could do it without being caught. They had years to set up the rules, regulations, and laws concering those sorts of things so that they both knew how to skirt the law and slip through the loopholes.

why is this different?
For one--there's a finite amount of real estate but domain names can be created to (near) infinity. For another--nobody accidentally clicks the housing market. For a third--you can't set up a botnet to buy your real estate.

On that last point: well, yeah, you can set up a "botnet", of sorts, to ensure that the real estate is bought at a certain profit. That has to do with greasing the politicians ahead of time.

Re:So the market sure is promoting innovation (2, Informative)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247363)

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.

That's a big "if" (n/t) (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246759)

hehe. no text

Re:So the market sure is promoting innovation (3, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247477)

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 millions during their lifetime? They are the biggest leeches of all.

Re:So the market sure is promoting innovation (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246615)

It's just an indication that domain names are under priced.

 

Re:So the market sure is promoting innovation (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246915)

Poorly regulated.

Re:So the market sure is promoting innovation (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246955)

Same thing.

Re:So the market sure is promoting innovation (2, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247101)

Not entirely. If slashdot.org exists, slashdot.com should actually be slashdot.com in order to be able to buy the domain(or google.com vs google.org, etc.). So the existence of themightystink.com wouldn't depend on anybody actually being in business as the mighty stink or whatever, but if someone then wanted to register themightystink.org, they would have to pass a much higher bar than themightstink.com did. That would mitigate one large set of problems, but it wouldn't do much about squatters. Higher prices would certainly help some there. It does seem like there should be a way to own five or ten domains without paying out the nose though.

Re:So the market sure is promoting innovation (1)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247001)

agreed. They should have 3 classes minimum imho

business class: if you make profits off your website - $1000/year.
personal class: cannot make profits or have ads. For personal private use by individuals only (no orgs/incs) - $50/year
non-profit class: cannot make profits from website, but for orgs/incs - $300/year.

Re:So the market sure is promoting innovation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19247183)

It's just an indication that domain names are under priced.

You're the same kind of asshole who says, when unemploynent is low, that workers are overpriced. Then, in the next breath tries to explain why unlimited amounts of money should be made to attract the highest quality executive talent. I suppose you think Enron got great value from the money they spent on executives.

Remember the sorrow that wracked the nation when the Enron CEO's wife revealed that they had to sell one of their twelve mansions while "struggling to maintain liquidity"?

Bull SHIT. Kevin Ham is a Domain Squatting cunt. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19246729)

All he does is piss in a rag and wring it out in everyone's asscrack to piss them off. He practically steals domain names. So if I don't use my legal name for 4 years does this shit-faced non-productive fucktard go squat on my legal name just to resell it to me?

People like Kevin Ham are to Americans as the Jews were to Germany; when they get headway in a free market, they start trading only among those in likeness to themselves to deprave actual workers that have born the burden to actualy use the market for its purpose. Just like the non-Jewish Germans, the market will be unfree and the people will begin to spiral into starvation and withdrawals.

Look at California! 30 million criminals from Mexico are about to be made legitimate, even though they are already lied into the country to be Citizens thereof. I have friends that have already pledged to sell their house and all their unneeded property to start a new life in the countryside like Wyoming or Wisconsin. Even Canada is on their minds. The initial cause is always due to the racial profiling being done against them, whether in medical service or the results from a collission from one of those ogrish spicks and trolls.

I have respect for Mexico, they think they own California even though they stole it from the natives and complain when the natives or English returned the squat by taking it from them and pushing their burrito asses back to the sea.

Re:So the market sure is promoting innovation (2, Insightful)

KillerCow (213458) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246933)

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.

Re:So the market sure is promoting innovation (3, Informative)

QuickFox (311231) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247179)

Sarcasm is supposed to be funny.
No, that's satire. Sarcasm can be funny, but very often it's bitter instead, or sad, or cold, and so on.

Re:So the market sure is promoting innovation (1)

kendbluze (683376) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247203)

Perhaps the market includes some dynamics you haven't taken into account? Technical innovation is a great catalyst for developing new markets, but so is good ol' fashioned human nature.

Re:So the market sure is promoting innovation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19247315)

I have one thing to say to this - All your DNS are belong to us

Re:So the market sure is promoting innovation (1)

klenwell (960296) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247513)

To quote Sideshow Bob (sort of):

Just the thought of all those raw, surging ads makes me wonder why the hell I should even care.

Having a bunch of domains == "owns the Internet"? (5, Insightful)

dn15 (735502) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246495)

Sensational much?

Re:Having a bunch of domains == "owns the Internet (0, Troll)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246623)

Not anymore different than Al Gore "inventing" the Internet. I wouldn't be surprised if Al filed a lawsuit to protect his invention. :P

Re:Having a bunch of domains == "owns the Internet (1)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246873)

It's no different from owning any other commercial real estate. The profits are great at the moment, but it can all suddenly turn.

Just as it would be unacceptable for a town to have its main street full of empty shops, so it might be that long-term parked, unused domain names may become an unwanted scenario and fines or increased fees could be imposed.

Not really a very sustainable business model in the long term, methinks.

Re:Having a bunch of domains == "owns the Internet (2, Funny)

roger6106 (847020) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246875)

Having a bunch of domains = "owns the Internet"

Now it does.

What? (1)

msimm (580077) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247123)

I think the preposterous nature of the heading was a fair give-away that it was a title and not a fact. But...thanks for clearing that up? ;)

Really? (5, Interesting)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246501)

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.

Does ANYONE click on those ads? (3, Interesting)

khasim (1285) | more than 7 years ago | (#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:Does ANYONE click on those ads? (4, Informative)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246575)

Yes. Because people will click on anything.

There are good examples. (3, Interesting)

emj (15659) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246619)

Take a look at http://weddingshoes.com/ [weddingshoes.com] it's a very good link farm. I would click on those links if I really wanted wedding shoes.

Re:There are good examples. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19247103)

Argghh! I'm a compulsive clicker you insensitive clod! Now what am I going to do with 8 pairs of wedding shoes! It's not like I can wear them to work, for heaven's sake they're Wedding Shoes!

Re:There are good examples. (1)

QuickFox (311231) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247243)

It's not like I can wear them to work, for heaven's sake they're Wedding Shoes!
That's very simple. You can wear them to work if you simply quit your current job and become a transvestite stripper in a gay bar.

Re:There are good examples. (1)

seaturnip (1068078) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247381)

Yes but that page is actually custom-designed. We're talking about domains with 100% crap autogenerated with words that have semantic links to words in the domain name.

Re:Does ANYONE click on those ads? (1)

rayzat (733303) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246681)

I have, most of the time not intentionaly mind you, but there have been several occasions where I mistyped a domain got the page o' ads and then a window from another program pops up I click somewhere and end up accidentally clicking on an ad. There are other times where I'll go to some URL like www.aspecificplace.com the ad screen pops up and the first ad says the official web page of specific place, so I give it try, A good potion of the time 80% plus, it's the right palce. The other thing is how many people do you really need to click to be sucessful. You can get a domain for $9/year, let's say the ad get's you $.50, get 18 people to click on it and you paid the domain registration. So all you need is 2 mistaken or shot in the dark clicks a month and you're making money. If you get a couple a day you're making several hundred a year. I do know people who will go to an ad trap and click on each item, all 20+ of them thinking one click might take them where they want to go.

Re:Does ANYONE click on those ads? (1)

ragefan (267937) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246809)

Does ANYONE here click on ANY of those ads?

If so, why?
Yes, sometimes. To make to people and/or businesses paying to advertise on those "sites" have to pay more for the clicks. Just middle-click in FF and close the tab that pops.

Re:Does ANYONE click on those ads? (4, Insightful)

QuickFox (311231) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247321)

To make to people and/or businesses paying to advertise on those "sites" have to pay more for the clicks.
You're just enriching the scumbags who make the sites. The advertisers don't chose to appear on such sites, they're just regular customers buying ads from Yahoo, Google etc. Most advertisers are probably completely unaware that companies like Google enable and encourage this sort of thing [google.com] .

Re:Does ANYONE click on those ads? (1)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247091)

What gets me, is do people click on them and actually buy anything at the places they go?
I honestly think too many sites just track visitors, and not what those visitors are DOING.

If you have 1,000,000 visitors, but only 5 sign up for an account or buy something, you're paying for a lot of bandwidth and that's all. So my question is to expand yours, and ask who is making those clicks profitable for the advertising sites??

Re:Does ANYONE click on those ads? (1)

seaturnip (1068078) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247419)

It's probably not that irrelevant, after all the ads are usually generated from words in the domain name using AdSense semantic analysis and such. Thus it is possible to be sent to someplace you are actually interested in. That wouldn't happen to us, since we know the difference between the address box and a search box and the only time we reach such sites is a typo, but it would happen to grandma who types some random words and slaps .com after it hoping to reach something.

Re:Really? (2, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246571)

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. And therein lies the real problem.

Re:Really? (4, Insightful)

Solandri (704621) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Really? (1)

complete loony (663508) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246953)

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.

That's what I thought at first (1)

Solandri (704621) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247061)

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've selected (usually Google), find the first hit on that search engine, and send you to that web site.

So essentially, Firefox is using the URL field as a search entry box for Google, and sending you to the first site that Google returns. You can try it yourself by typing in multiple words in the URL box and comparing to the same words on your preferred search engine. I've since started using this as a shortcut for some Google searches (it skips the search result page).

Re:That's what I thought at first (3, Interesting)

nolife (233813) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247257)

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

A true service then (1)

CustomDesigned (250089) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247067)

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.

Nope.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19246509)

Slashdot owns the internet...

Re:Nope.... (3, Funny)

glittalogik (837604) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247155)

No, Slashdot pwns the internet. Subtle distinction.

If a spellchecker is added to the location bar (3, Interesting)

Palmyst (1065142) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

What would be nice (1)

Zonk (troll) (1026140) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246721)

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 money off of that would be awesome.

* Does anyone know of a mirror? Their host file was pretty good.

Re:What would be nice (1)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247143)

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!? (3, Funny)

Neuropol (665537) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246531)

I can't believe you didn't use PWNS in the title of this story! I want my money back ;P !

Why is /. always 2 days behind digg.com? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19246541)

bbq?

Re:Why is /. always 2 days behind digg.com? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19246843)

because the submitted of the story had to search through 2 days worth of GARBAGE on digg to find it!
duh!

What? (5, Funny)

spellraiser (764337) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246547)

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

Re:What? (1)

emurphy42 (631808) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246961)

I thought Henry van Statten [wikipedia.org] did!

Re:What? (1)

Ice Wewe (936718) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247005)

I thought Bender owned it!

"Everyone was doin' it, I just wanted to be popular..."

Proper attribution - Business 2.0 (2, Informative)

Mr 44 (180750) | more than 7 years ago | (#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...

Re:Proper attribution - Business 2.0 (1)

Shabbs (11692) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247041)

I believe they are one and the same now...

http://money.cnn.com/magazines/business2/ [cnn.com]

Cheers.

Nope, just a partnership (1)

Mr 44 (180750) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247357)

Similar to http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032542/site/newsweek/ [msn.com]

If you link to something from there, I'd expect Newsweek to get the byline, not MSNBC.

Ya know, with all the hype around Creative Commons, I'd expect slashdot editors (I know, I know) to pay more attention to getting the attribution right....

uhm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19246603)

REDDIT

NUTS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19246645)

NUTS to CBS [nutsonline.com]

IP addresses (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#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".

I have no hesitation (5, Insightful)

jeevesbond (1066726) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246659)

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 for double-posting... (1)

jeevesbond (1066726) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246699)

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.

Re:I have no hesitation (1)

megaditto (982598) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246731)

Is your post supposed to be funny?

Re:I have no hesitation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19246779)

it wasn't even me that lost the domain but the previous owner of my site

Is that a joke?

Re:I have no hesitation (1)

jeevesbond (1066726) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246957)

Is that a joke?

No, I was involved with running this site for a number of years before buying it. We own (and owned) several variations on the domain name of the site. Imagine the joy of sending everyone on the member list an e-mail saying: 'don't use the .com to visit us, use the .net instead'. The previous owner was somewhat useless, hence why he was selling it.

Wow, bet you're pleased you asked now (that was a joke, well sarcasm anyway ;) )

Re:I have no hesitation (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246893)

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.

Re:I have no hesitation (1)

jeevesbond (1066726) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247027)

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 complaining on Slashdot.

Why? You think this guy isn't doing something scummy? Am not looking for a shoulder to cry on here, just warning people what these spammers are like.

Re:I have no hesitation (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247145)

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.

Re:I have no hesitation (1)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247167)

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 days.

2. An email is sent to the registered email address for the domain. It's not a "renew your domain!" notice (presumably those would already have been sent). It's actually the opposite: "If you intentionally didn't renew your domain name, click here." If they do so, the domain is instantly released and available to whomever. Presumably if they got the email but DIDN'T mean to let the registration lapse they will go and recover it; they should be permitted the exclusive right to do that during that holding period. (Registrars also shouldn't rip people off. It should cost the renewal fee to get back, not some extortion "we own your domain now!" fee.)

3. If they neither register nor acknowledge they don't want it within, say, a week, they are contacted at their registered mail address. The letter basically says "you have until ___ to renew or your domain will be released." That's their final chance. Either they renew their domain or it is open to anybody at the end of the hold period.

4. Nobody cries if all of this happens and their domain gets snagged by somebody else.

Obviously there would be a significant cumulative cost to the registrars, so perhaps the cost of a stamp or maybe a little more to handle international registrations could be added to the cost of a registration. It is not perfect and it's not going to prevent everybody who wants to keep their domain from losing it, but there comes a point where if a good-faith effort is given to allow people to keep their domains--often important property--that losing it leaves them nobody to blame but themselves.

Re:I have no hesitation (1)

FreeKill (1020271) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247279)

The problem is who would decide what is "doing something" and what isn't? You'd be amazed how much effort and time goes into perfecting those advertising pages or product marketing pages to generate profits. I think the system is fine as is. If you want a domain name, figure out what you want quickly and buy it before someone else does.

Re:I have no hesitation (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247303)

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 want to buy an airplane, or rent a room - being able to find one is a legitimate service!

2) Who is going to police it? Really? With the bazillions of domain names expiring every year, policing this is just an absurd task.

3) Just because I haven't done anything yet with a domain, EG: doesn't mean I don't have plans for it. [virtualtradeschools.org] Granted, the plans may be a year or more before completion, but that's not to say that nothing is happening!

4) And even if problems 1 to 3 could be addressed, whose standard are you going to apply? Remember, the Internet is INTERNATIONAL and ICAAN is more of a technical body than a regulatory or legislative one.

Personally, I think that the way to handle this is to take out some of the profit potential for being a sleazebag like TFA is about. Domain squatting is a civil offense, and the loser is the person who can't own an otherwise useful domain because the squatter has, in a classic case of "tragedy of the commons", already taken the domain name.

So I suggest that

A) ICANN publish a set of rules for what determines a legitimate use of the domain. These rules would allow for defense of trademarks, and parking for intended future development.

B) Provides a procedure for arbitration, where there are fees which are paid by the LOSER of the arbitration.

Thus, if I need the domain Watermelon.com [watermelon.com] and find it squatted, I could initiate proceedings with a reasonable expectation of getting the domain free of charge if the domain is legitimately squatted according to ICANN rules.

This would drastically deflate the profit potential of the domain-name land-grab that's been going on and provide a reasonable expectation that domain names have something to do with who registers them. This would effectively shift the cost of dealing with the scumbags onto the 'bags themselves.

Re:I have no hesitation (1)

Target Drone (546651) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247457)

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-registering them, filling income tax for the profits on the page views, etc.

Re:I have no hesitation (1)

jafiwam (310805) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247461)

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 using their "reseller status" fuck up the domain name registration process.

Even if you wanted to get them back, you can't. So it becomes so much of an internet cumstain on the wall doing nothing, looking ugly and nobody there cares to clean it up.

Stop it with the 'tubes' meme already (1)

lennier (44736) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247519)

"It's not as if the government(s) of the world are competent enough to deal with problems like these (tubes anyone)."

This smear is getting as tired as the old "Al Gore claimed to invent the Internet" one.

People working in an industry that routinely and without irony refers to "pipes", "sockets", "channels" and "flow" to describe data internetworking are in no position to laugh at people who (quite correctly) describe the Internet's structure as a "series of tubes".

Also, I seem to recall this little US Government agency called ARPA.

Basement (3, Funny)

zedturtle (987328) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246665)

Wonder if he's got a Dalek in his basement?

Sack of... (0, Troll)

MECC (8478) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246671)



Early on, he wrote software to snag expiring names on the cheap.

Since spam introduces meaningless noise in email, isn't what this guy is doing introducing meaningless noise in the DNS system? Maybe an RFC is needed to further and more specifically define such worthless noise and abuse in the DNS system.

Ham is a devout Christian, and he spends $31,000 to add Christianrock.com to his collection, which already includes God.com and Satan.com.

Why is that not surprising...

Re:Sack of... (1)

Yartrebo (690383) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246903)

He is just returning the favor to his dark lord by delivering the web name of his arch nemesis to him. After all, had he even a shred of morality in him, he would not have done what he did and he would be a poor middle class person earning an 'honest' living instead of living the good life.

failzoRs... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19246685)

kevinh.am is still avalible (1)

bunbuntheminilop (935594) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246701)

I gave my credit card to my gf. Someone buy this domain quick!

Alternative headline (4, Funny)

Zouden (232738) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246705)

"Ham Just As Bad As Spam"

I wish they would raise annual fees (5, Insightful)

Schlemphfer (556732) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246817)

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:I wish they would raise annual fees (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19247109)

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.

My domain is my property (2, Interesting)

sauge (930823) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246865)

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 someone else's intellectual property?

Sure - I can understand turning off TLD DNS resolution for a domain that is not paying for the service, but selling it to someone else? Bullshit. Complete Bullshit.

If the owner wants to use it again with that registrar, then pay them to "light" it back up again.

Registrars have no business selling other people's domains.

Who's paying for those clicks? (4, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#19246931)

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.

SO FULL OF HATE FOR CYBERSQUATTERS (3, Interesting)

goathens (924972) | more than 7 years ago | (#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:SO FULL OF HATE FOR CYBERSQUATTERS (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19247029)

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.

Excuse me? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19246997)

Why does this guy deserve an article? He is merely profiteering off other peoples work while providing absolutely nothing in return.

To romanticise it by saying he "owns the internet" is spitting in the face of innovation.

wtf-ness at its best (1)

Cili (687222) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247051)

Here's a simple, fair and elegant way to fix this:
Limit the number of different .com domains that one entity can own to, say, 100.

Why would any company own more domains?

OpenDNS as a solution? (1)

tran_man007 (1106397) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247063)

Isn't OpenDNS a solution against this? I set it up on my router years ago and I think that's what prevents me from going to random sites (food.cm forwards me to foodnetwork.com) most of the time.

Automated registration bots? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#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:Automated registration bots? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19247171)

You can register your domain name for another year before it expires - you don't to wait until the expiration date.

Re:Automated registration bots? (2, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247389)

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 before it expires you can put your name on the list (verified through picture codes) that you want to buy the domain. When it expires, it is automatically transfered to you.

All greed, no value (4, Interesting)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247289)

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

Kevin Ham? Isn't he related to... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19247463)

Kevin Bacon

Mmmmm, pork rinds... (4, Funny)

DeathElk (883654) | more than 7 years ago | (#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...

you f41l it. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19247521)

auDA (1)

Lachlan Hunt (1021263) | more than 7 years ago | (#19247563)

This is a perfect example of why domain names should not be a commodity that can be hoarded and resold. Currently, .au domains can't be sold or auctioned, they can only be leased from accredited registrars. AFAIK, the auDA is the only domain authority that gets this right, I just hope they keep it that way.
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