Domain Name Owning
November 19, 2006 5:32 AM   Subscribe

Do you "own" a domain name that you register with a site like godaddy? ie, could you sell it in a couple years? If not, how can you buy a domain name. I'm looking for investment purposes.
posted by Maia to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yes, you own your domain name, and yes you can sell it (I've done it). Domain names are sort of like unclaimed property in the wild west. You register it, occupy it, and it's yours..

Now, you need to keep up the registration (typically about $10/yr) or you lose your claim (and a porn site will snap it up immediately). But you can change registrars as well.

To buy one, you go to a registrar site (like Godaddy/Dotster/etc), create an account, search for the domain you want, and if it is available, click the "add to cart" button. That's about it.

Actually using the domain is another question. All the registrar services will offer you hosting services as well.
posted by adamrice at 5:54 AM on November 19, 2006

I'm not sure what kind of investment you have in mind, but if you have a specific company you think would be interested in the domain, there's a good chance they have some sort of trademark claim that would allow them to take the domain without giving you anything, so domain squatting can be a risky venture.
posted by scottreynen at 6:19 AM on November 19, 2006

"Investing" in a resource that is constantly expanding and has no particular limits anyway is stupid. There are enough domain names available to give every human on earth a different domain name for every trillionth of a second that they are alive, and that pile of domains would be only a negligible fraction of the total available.

Read the section of this page that talks about second-level domains.
posted by jellicle at 6:28 AM on November 19, 2006

There are enough domain names available to give every human on earth a different domain name for every trillionth of a second that they are alive...

... but all the good ones are taken, no? Your theory only holds up if we assume people will be happy with or some such. In reality, people want words, names and .coms.
posted by reklaw at 9:14 AM on November 19, 2006

Yes, there are basically an infinite number of possible domain names. There aren't an infinite number of memorable or easily used domain names.

I'm skeptical about domain name speculation, but I know people who have made a nice little profit off a portfolio of them of them as well.
posted by Good Brain at 9:35 AM on November 19, 2006

Be careful to check the terms and conditions when you buy: some unreputable registrars have been putting clauses in that gives them legal title to the name. Use a big-name reseller.

But, as far as investment goes, bear in mind that a) a company who owns the trademark could just take it from you (there's an ICANN process that allows this) and b) it's ethically dodgy, and reduces the pool of realistic names for the rest of us, leading to websites with godforsaken stupid names. Don't make the web suck (even more)!
posted by bonaldi at 1:03 PM on November 19, 2006

You can buy and sell domain names, yes, but as investments they are a terrible idea. Just don't go there.

All the really good domain names have long been taken. And the UDRP essentially gives any organization the right to a domain name that uses their trademark, so forget domain squatting. The UDRP can render your "investment" null and void in a single fell swoop.

What's left when you account for the above is a grey murky area that has already been saturated by scumbags for years.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:59 PM on November 19, 2006

There aren't an infinite number of domain names! "Pretty big" does not mean "infinite". The total length of a domain name can't go over 255 chars for a start.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 10:17 PM on November 19, 2006

I have to disagree with almost everyone here.

Registrants don't own domain names -- if registration were a transfer of ownership, registrants wouldn't have to renew the transaction by paying more money every year. Domain registration is more like a lease than a sale -- dig into the small print of the registry and registrar argreements, and you'll usually find something saying the transaction is not a transfer of ownership, along with the list of reasons your "lease" can be revoked.

On the other hand, it's a "lease" that you can sell/transfer to other parties, in most cases. (As others have said, the registrar and registry may set restrictions on transfers -- in particular, some of the ccTLDs (country codes) have residency requirements for registants that would limit who you could transfer a domain to.)

That said, domain names as investments are a bad idea -- it's a business that only works if you're willing to buy in bulk and wait a long time for an iffy payoff. The "professional" speculators buy in bulk, knowing that one domain out of a hundred will actually make reasonable money, then drop the unsellable domains, which then get picked up by another "professional". It's like a lottery where the losing tickets keep getting passed around from loser to loser.
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 3:07 PM on November 20, 2006

« Older Dayton to Port Columbus   |   Attorney jobs in San Diego? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.