Reclaim a wayward domain name?
May 12, 2005 3:51 PM   Subscribe

I gave up my old domain name (which is a made-up word meaningful only to me) in February. The domain is still getting serch engine hits for some pages I had up as a tribute to a Christian band I was in; the problem is that the domain was bought by some kind of speculator and is redirected to a very unsavory adult website. He'll sell the domain back to me - for $500. This really makes me sick. Any ideas of what I can do to mitigate the damage?
posted by DandyRandy to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
Pony up, or get over it.

I suppose you could try to track down any site you know that links to the old domain and have them update their links to some other site. It'll still take a while for the changes to affect the search engines though.
posted by furtive at 4:20 PM on May 12, 2005

Best answer: Well, if it really is a word only meaningful to you then you are his primary buyer. That means you have some negotitaing power but you have to know how to negotiate. Something like:

"Well, look, I'll give you $60 for it. Any more than that and, honestly, its not worth it for me. Thanks."
posted by vacapinta at 4:37 PM on May 12, 2005

If you direct the search engine to it's own link, that should (depending on the engine) update the content it associates with that address, and thus kill the false association. It's been years since I last used search engine submission pages, so I don't know if it still works this way, but back then, submitting a search request for an address would typically get the search engine's content for that address updated in a matter of days.
posted by -harlequin- at 4:38 PM on May 12, 2005

Besides convincing the new owner to either give or sell the domain back to you, I think you really only have two options.

First, you could attempt to reclaim the domain via a UDRP action. If you currently own your made-up word as a trademark, there is a very good chance you would succeed in such an action. If you don't own your made-up word as a trademark, this is not likely to be successful. I suppose you could file for a trademark, threaten a UDRP action, and then hope the new owner surrenders the domain, however the fact that he acquired the domain before you acquired the trademark would definitely count in his favor at a UDRP hearing (but maybe he doesn't know that). Paying a lawyer to file a trademark costs around $1000, but if you are willing to apply for a trademark pro se you could likely do it for less than $400. These costs are high enough that it would almost certainly be better to just pay the $500.

Second, you could make the effort to get search engines to link the name of your former band to a new site rather than the old one. Set up a new site, and like furtive suggested, ask everyone who links to the old site to instead link to your new site.

In the future, or for others considering abandoning a domain name, if your domain name has established substantial "good will" it is probably best if you gift that "good will" to a legitimate site rather than allowing it to be fall into the hands of a domain name speculator. A good way to do this would be to redirect visitors and search engines by returning appropriate "301 Moved Permanently" results for all pages for the last 90 to 180 days before the domain expires.
posted by RichardP at 4:54 PM on May 12, 2005

You can dispute the domain with ICANN if it falls under one of these categories, which if you argue it properly, may work for you.

See the complete page and process here: Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy.

See section a, number iii:
your domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

Good luck!
posted by Blue Buddha at 10:45 AM on May 13, 2005

You may be the primary buyer but so long as it gets hits there's some value for him in keeping it. You need to exceed his cost of registration + whatever income the hits get.

So what vacapinta said, plus make it clear all hits are a result of something you control and you'll make sure to turn it off, resulting in no hits. Check the Google Pagerank and use the google advanced search options to find everything pointing to that old link. (Google toolbar will tell you pagerank, dunno what other sources for that info there are).
posted by phearlez at 10:55 AM on May 13, 2005

Response by poster: The speculator's final price is $400. But after an email to Google for some magic, Google no longer points to the page as a result of even specific searches, so I guess I can live with that. Thanks so much, everyone.

BTW, Blue Buddha, the dispute has to fall under all three categories to be valid. Thanks for the tip, though.
posted by DandyRandy at 11:34 AM on May 13, 2005

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