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NSI Class Action Lawsuit Over Domain-Squatting 125

Mr_Reaper writes: "Some people from started a class action lawsuit against NSI for not releasing expired domain names. If you've tried to grab an expired domain name and couldnt get it this maybe something to look at." See our previous story. The law firm is seeking affidavits from people who have attempted to register expired domain names which Network Solutions is holding on to -- you can email for more information if you want to submit such an affidavit.
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NSI Class Action Lawsuit Over Domain-Squatting

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    • Let's see - if Network Solutions hangs onto names after they expire, they're cybersquatting, plus they're failing to protect the trademarks if any associated with the names, so they're Bad People.
    • But if they let them go the second they expire, cybersquatters will snap up the good names, so NS are Bad People also.
    • And if they give the previous name owners lots of extra slack on renewing their non-trademarked names, they're favoritism-showing Bad People that way also.

    And I thought everybody hated them just because of their customer service and pricing :-)
  • "There should also be a reason for owning a domain, it isn't right to buy a domain and just hold it down for a prolonged period."

    I don't think so. For example, I wanted to put up a web site and mail server for my family. I wanted the domain name of (where xxxxxxxx is my surname), but it was already taken by an insurance company. was already taken by a real estate company. In order to get the domain name, I ended up getting, which is still pretty appropriate. But when I bought it, I bought it because I didn't think that it would be available by the time that I get got around to setting up the server. And nine months later, I'm just now getting around to setting up the server.

    Does that make me a cyber-squatter? Well, in the sense that I bought a domain name and "squatted" on it for nine months, yes. But it certainly wasn't for nefarious purposes.

    But if I had to prove to NSI before I bought the name that I had some sort of a use for it, that would have been ridiculous.

    And now everyone in my family has cool email addresses.
  • It's good to see NSI get what's coming to them. Although, in the end, only the lawyers will make money off the whole gangbang. But it will be fun to watch.

    In the meantime, boycott NSI and use one of the alternative registrars, like Gandi []. The cost is reasonable ($10), and seem to be fairly quick at getting things set up (less than a few hours in my experience).

  • NSI sucks. I have been trying to get several domains that they are holding, even though the person who originally had them did not renew them. Yet, NSI would not release them. I'm joining the suit!! I have emails to prove what they said...
  • Actually, the guys were selling more than just the domain. They were selling off the whole trademark and i believe the business behind it as well.

    All they would need to do is "Ebay auction for trademark etc, and we will include free domain (under $35) that matches."

  • I've been trying to pry a couple of my domain names loose from NSI for a while now. Maybe after this I'll finally be able to...
  • Simply regulate the industry so that nobody's allowed to sell a domain name for more than, say $35. That removes any reason for NSI to hang on to "good" domain names to auction for higher prices and removes the whole market for domain squatters since they're going to pay the $35 to register it and still only get $35 for it if they sell it, minus administrative overhead, making it a losing proposition in the end.

    It's not a "silver bullet" solution, and I bet people like the guys would be annoyed, but it sure seems like it would cut out the majority of the dirtbags involved in domain reselling.


  • I can vouch for the fact that NSI has released, albeit several months after expiration, an unused domain that I have always wanted to aquire.

    So, it does happen...
  • A guy I work with here has been trying to grab a defunct domain from NSI for many, many months. They will not release it. I will notify him immediately, as I'm sure he'll be interested in participating.

    More fun than eating raw salmon. The Linux Pimp []

  • Knock that off!

    "I think therefor I'm not."

    Where's my lawyers?

    I think not; therefore I ain't®

  • The market is best exemplified by NSI at this time.

    I for one find it hard to picture 'government bureaucracy' being more actively malicious...

  • I should have qualified my "boycott NSI" statement by suggesting an alternative root system, such as Opennic []. There's a lot of progress being made in pulling together all the separate alternate DNS roots into one comprehensive root that can resolve all the alternate NICs as well as the ICANN NICs.
  • This all really goes back to the debate about whether domain names are property, and if one can "own" the rights to a domain name. In the case of a trademark, such as Microsoft, try that one at and see what it says

    This is actually a misconception. "Microsoft" is a trade name, not a trademark (because it doesn't identify any specific physical commodity). Under U.S. law, trade names are not registerable [].

    Of course, Microsoft's lawyers would financially drain anybody who was foolish enough to think they could actually fight this and win. So it's just an academic exercise in the end.

  • How is one suppsed to prove that they "attempted to register" an expired domain name? I know I was looking at an expired name, noted that it wasn't released by doing a whois query. None of the registrars I know of allows you to register an expired domain name held by NSI. Is intent to register an expired domain name enough by itself?

    Perhaps I shouldn't speak up. The registrant renewed their domain 6 weeks after expiry. It might go toward NSI's argument to hold on to expired domains.
  • I had one that expired in April of this year - it was just released last week. So I guess now the one that I want to buy which has expired I can get around June!
  • The comic anacdote seems to not be a million miles away from record labels buying copies of their own releases.


  • Hey, SFB, _you_'re the one who mentioned "dumping", not the original poster. If you are too stupid to work out how a scheme of limitting supply to drive up prices can be made to actually work in reality, then _you_ are the economically naive one. I'll give you a clue - it does _not_ involve "dumping" all of the copies simultaniously.
    Nintendo and Sony etc. do this kind of thing deliberately all the time.
  • Isn't that how Great Britain screwed up their train system, having one outfit own the track while others ran the trains?

    That is exactly right, and I pay dearly for it every morning and evening. However, with trains and tracks, there is not a large conflict of interest - there is not such a dynamic marketplace for tracks.


  • Hmm. I just check Anne Marie's recent posting history, and she has just one post moderated down to 0, lots at one, and a couple at 4. Average is way over 1, and therefore (unless she's posting at +2) perfectly fair and probably better than a lot of people that post here (me included).

    I think that moderation is working, and if people are marking Anne Marie as overrated then so be it. Just because you agree with what she's saying doesn't mean that everybody else does.

    As an aside, if Anne Marie is posting at +2, and people are marking her down as 'overrated' then the obvious answer is to not use her +2 bonus.

    Just to confirm, I have no idea who Anne Marie is, I have noticed her name in the past, I do read what she has to say and I draw my own opinions. When I feel strongly enough I reply. I can't remember ever moderating any of her comments, but then, I never look at the name of the person I'm moderating.

    Maybe people with moderator points should not be allowed to view the names of people posting comments until they've used up their mod points.

  • >> Simply regulate the industry so that nobody's allowed to sell a domain name for more than, say $35. >Goodbye capitalism, hello communism. Now I don't know what brings the communism hello here? Hey, you have laws, hello communism hello! Oh you really don't. Good capitalism, good boy, now roll.
    when everyone gives everything,
  • by tgw ( 88434 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2000 @03:49PM (#563948) Homepage
    NSI squatting on expired domain names is definitely an issue. The other side of the same coin is that they don't delete domain names, either. I bought a domain name a year or so ago to play a prank on a friend. Only needed it a short time. Since NSI sends junk email & snailmail to every domain holder, I wanted to get rid of the no-longer-needed domain - to cut down on junk mail from NSI. I submitted the request to delete the domain weeks ago. It processed through their system okay. Then I got an email that said that it had to be "reviewed" for approval, or some such thing. It's weeks later and the domain name still hasn't been deleted.

    Over a year ago I sold a domain name to somebody. I submitted the paper work to NSI to change possession of the domain. They still haven't done it. I eventually just changed the IP addresses on the domain to point to the new owner's hosting service, since NSI didn't do their job.

    This is what government-sponsored monopolies get us. It's pretty sad. And maddening. I hope this law suit costs NSI a lot of money.

  • Moderation Totals:Offtopic=1, Total=1.

  • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2000 @03:50PM (#563950) Journal
    Sure it's a "silver bullet" - you're trying to get rid of werewolves, and you think it'll magically help the problem. As another poster pointed out, it'll just drive the problem underground. If the free market thinks names have value, which it apparently does, it'll apply economic processes to them, and price controls never do work well.

    Besides, there's an easy workaround, which the free market will discover about 15 minutes after you get such a rule passed, which is that corporations are cheap and fungi-bull. Instead of Joe Cybersquatter buying "ValuableName.Com", and selling it to Valuable, Inc., he

    • spends $50 setting up a Delaware Corporation "FooBarClone Inc.",
    • sells the name "ValuableName.Com" to FooBarClone for $35, and
    • sells Valuable Inc. the keys to FooBarClone Inc. for $Negotiable.

    So it's raised the cost of cybersquatting the name by $50, which may keep a couple of the small players out, but doesn't change anything fundamental. Alternatively, if Joe's more of a technical guy than a business guy, he could do a technical dodge around the rules

    • Sets up Joe Cybersquatter's DNS Outsourcing Service,
    • Hosts a couple of nameservers at a colo vendor,
    • Provides primary and secondary DNS service for customers who own their own names,
    • Provides primary and secondary DNS service for customers who want to use one of Joe's names, like ValuableName.Com, for $Negotiable/year,
    • Charges extra for complex subdomain structures
    • Keeps renewing the names with NSI so they don't get away.
    • Offers "Cybersquatter Prevention Service" to keep those nasty cybersquatters from stealing the name you've been renting if you don't renew your service promptly every year. You wouldn't want something bad should happen to your name, like some pr0n site renting it after you, now would you.....

  • I do hate them because of their customer service. It's appalling. It makes me wish I was stuck in an airport during a snowstorm, or stuck at the DMV all day.

    • Your first point is correct - but it's apparently one you are trying to make seem absurd.
    • Your second point is supposed to make the first seem absurd, but I don't recall anyone ranting at NSI about cybersquatting; more at cybersquatters themselves, and NSI for favoring corporations with deep pockets over individuals with a legitimate claim to a domain. At least "first come, first serve" is a rule that can be understood.
    • And the third point is just silly. It is fair to hold domains for a period before re-releasing them to effect this; in every other arena of business, this is the way it would be done. If you fail to re-negotiate a rental contract at its expiration, you don't get thrown out that second; there are time periods and resolution procedures for these things. What is more, the rules apply the same to everyone.

    What DOES suck is that they are playing games with the rules, changing them midstream, and refusing to disclose procedures and follow them. That's the behavior of corruption. They have no legal, moral, or ethical right to keep valuable domains back from the market simply because they feel like it. They should be castigated, denounced, and thrashed in a public court of law.

    Boss of nothin. Big deal.
    Son, go get daddy's hard plastic eyes.

  • I think you might have missed what I was saying a little with the "Sign Police" analogy. Yes, storefront busineses are required to pay the town and federal govt for taxes, licences, and other costs. The situation I was trying to describe is the town would take a successful businesss, and say

    "Hey, that sign you have outside and that phone number that everybody knows gets a lot of response, we are going to charge you 5 times as much this year to keep that telephone number and keep that business name. If you do not pay us more, we will take over your telephone number and name, and use that to make money because even though we didn't come up with the name we controll it and can charge you as much as we want to use it every year."

    And it is the same with the telephone company. They charge you every year for advertising, but do they charge you MORE if they detect that you got a lot of telephone calls last year? No, they don't. I am not saying that the NSI does not have the right to charge yearly for re-registration, or inital registration, only that if they ask $25, any available name should also be $25. They didn't come up with the name, they should have no control over it's sale price. That creates an unfair advantage over smaller business or companies that may have interest in a name, whether it is an expired name, new name, or renewed name they already own. First come, first serve. The only time I can justify the sale of a domain name for a high cost is if the business is going with it, ie: if Taco sold Slashdot... oh wait he did.. eh... well you know what I mean. But in that case it's the business as a whole that is selling for a premium, the domain is only a part of that business.

    One other thing to clarify here; I realize that this article deals with expired domain sales, I am talking a little more in the unexpired sense, but this really scares me. If the NSI wins here, that might mean (or make them think it means) that they have 100% control over what happens with all domain names, and that when a contract for a domain expires that they have the option to charge higher premium to renew that name. It's not that inconcievable to see them not renew unless you pay their premium for your own domain name, using the excuse that because the contract expired (they could force this, I'm sure) that they now own it and can charge a premium. As this could affect every internet business (and nonprofit) site out there, I feel this deserves mentioning.

    So no, I am not saying that the NSI does not have the right to charge for a service, only that the service they provide should be limited to selling a blank space between the "//" and the "."

    What is between the // and the . should not matter.

  • As usual, this whole thing is patently absurd. Quit bitching about NSI; start up some competing DNS and coordinate a campaign to get users/ISPs/etc on board. I know, it's been stated before, and is happening, and this post is likely a duplicate among many. But I'm saying it again, because I think this whole thing is hilarious. The idea of whining about dollars traded for a string of names in an arbitrary system is just absurd. The solution (from the technology end) is not only obvious but simple. As soon as people decide to stop catering to NSI and giving them media attention, their function will become redundant. -b
  • []

    I've used Domain Discover and am now trying out Gandi. Phroggy's comments make sense.

  • This lawsuit won't fix that.

    Instead of NSI sitting on your old domain name, they'll be forced to sell it to the domain squatters who will jump on it the instant it expires.

  • I think the problem with your marvel analogy is that a company like that wishing to be unscruplous could simply re-print a first release quietly and sell them anyways.
  • A more appropriate Marvel senario would be this.

    Thay 'lease' you the comic for $3 to start. A year later they tell you to pay another $3 to keep the comic for another year. Seeing as you have already read the comic you tell them no and give it back.

    A little while later you realize that you really should have kept that particular comic for some reason and want it back. So you go shopping for a copy.

    But alas Marvel has made it so that comic book stores can no longer sell back issues and the only place you can now buy that old comic is from Marvel for $300.

    Oh by the way you are not buying that comic you are again leasing it and Marvel will want thier money again in another year. ;(
  • That's what's happening now, yes. But many people, including I assume NSI, are betting on the possibility that the rights to these names will be extremely hot property, and that even NSI will be able to offer them at prices based upon demand, not a the flat rate for the serivce they actually provide. They are hoping to truly acquire ownership over the names so they can auction them off later.
  • Actually, despite the fact that the original poster overestimated the return to Marvel (as you point out- because the price is dampened by the release) this does, and is well known in modern economics. Study up on what happened to the copper market a few years ago- a Japanese corporation basically cornered the market, and made huge profits doing just what you're claiming is impossible. Of course, it screwed up and got screwed- but most economists know that it can happen in practice, given the right coniditions.
  • At the justice system's current rate, this is going to take forever, and good ol' NSI will keep squatting domains. So I'm not too surprised about it. But hey, we might know the outcome of this lawsuit before the Supreme Court decides on who the next President is...

  • No I'm not saying that if you want a domain it's squatting but getting the domain, asking how much a person would like to pay for it and then giving it to the highest bidder is squatting.
  • I also sent them many emails threatening to sue them for lost revenue because my site was down and it was their fault
  • Affadavits can be used to negotiate with the other side, and as evidence in the summary judgement phase of a trial, to show what evidence will be offered at trial. So, they are useful.
  • A little offtopic and probably answered somewhere on slashdot already, but with all the people that frequent slashdot out buying domains, what is the best company to do business with. Who is stable, won't spam their customers and has very easy setup. Low fees aren't really an issue since $35 a year isn't anything as it is. Quality of service is much more important. Is there a real person somewhere that can answer quesitons when things go wrong? Can domains be added easily. has had some good reviews, but has anyone out there had personal experience with them?

    Currently NSI seems to be the best bet since they know what they are doing and seem to have the favor of the big bad people that run the Internet. :P But with all their wacky tatics of late, I wonder what will happen to them when people realize you can use other companies.

    What people don't want though is Uncle Bob's Deep Discount Domains (UBDDD) running on some Mac Classic in Patagonia.

    "Do you hear the Slashdotters sing,

  • There should be some kind of expiration period where the original owner can pay an extra fee and get the domain back, but this amount of time should be automatic with no exceptions.

    Including when NSI claims to "have technical problems" releasing expired domains? They claim it's a bug in the script that expires the domains.

  • I believe NSI is pure capitalist evil, but I remember reading that they hold onto a domain name up to 6 months after it expires to give the owner a chance to buy it back and to reduce your risk of having somebody waiting in the shadows and ready to jump on your domain name the day it expires.
    Please correct me if I'm wrong, but dont get angry at me for being ignorant
  • I checked NSI's site, and they seem to be linking a lot to an entity called Great Domains [] where you can purchase already registered domain names. What is's relationship with NSI ? Does NSI own them or part of them ? If anyone finds an expired domain name on there, that would explain a lot !!
  • People, I think, are more likely to find somebody's page via a search engine like Google than by typing in a name.

    Proponents of domain names claim that it makes business easier to find. They say that it's easier to type "" than "" but fail to mention that it's even easier to go to a search engine and type in keywords for what you're looking for.

    A similar thing is happening down in Palm Bay, the next town over. A Chevrolet dealer bought the old Builder's Square when it closed and wants to re-open the place as an auto dealership. Currently there's only one dealership in Palm Bay; they'd be the second.

    Our local paper is reporting that the dealer wants the name of the road that the site is on changed to "Chevrolet Avenue" or somesuch, reasoning that people would be more able to find their lot. Other people on the street are opposed to it; they're not involved with auto sales. Somebody even wrote the paper demanding that the street they live on be changed to their last name so that friends and relatives would more easily find their house!

    Both cases-- domain names and street names-- entirely miss the point. There are better methods than everyone having their own domain: register with the big search engines and have meaningful data in the META tags! Since there is a (large but) limited number of meaningful domain names, that means that they're a scarce resource. If people want to speculate on their value, what's wrong with that? Do you get mad when people "squat" on their investment portfolios? I mean, how dare they hold on to their stock certificates, waiting for them to go up in value when you want and deserve them more!

    The whole domain name fetish also is contradictory to the ideals of the "web," where everything is interconnected with links. If your site is useful, people will link to it. If people need to find you, they'll do a search.

    That said, if NSI is holding onto names that have expired and should be available again, I would liken that to insider trading. The broker is paid his commission for doing his job; it's unethical for him to hold the merchandise hostage! Imagine going to a real estate agent in a town peppered with "for sale" signs and him telling you that nothing's available!

  • Here's mine...

    • I registered a domain name, paying by MC.
    • Two months later, I got a bill for the sum of $0.00 from NSI for said domain name
    • Since I've already paid for it, I ignore the bill, but receive another one a month later (again, for $0.00) threatening that they'll cut off the domain if the invoice isn't paid in full.
    • The bill says that I can pay online, and gives the URL - but when I go there, it says it's paid in full.
    • I email them about it, detailing the domain, the invoice number, and ask if the domain is really going to be cut off; I mention that their online payment system says that it's paid in full.
    • I receive an email from them saying that I can pay the invoice online, at the same URL that I told them I already visited.
    • I also conclude that they're a bunch of stupid bastards.

  • I find the swearing childish and immature. I'm always much more impressed by posts that seem intelligent to moderators (not that hard) at first, yet contain subtle misinformation which is picked up by fanatics later on. These fanatic posts then smack some sense into the moderators, who mod you down. It's much more elegant.
  • Thank you for clarifying that. Also, I just went to and looked up "microsoft", and it no longer states that it is a trademarked domain. Sorry for the misinformation, the last time I checked it had legal mumbo-jumbo from MS lawyers about how it was trademarked and Microsoft couldn't even be a part of the domain name, blah blah.

  • I had a domain w/NetworkSolutions and wanted to re-buy it with another company because they were ripping me off. So I let the site expire and guess what, i can't get it now.

    Kids, don't try this at home. I learned this same lesson the hard way myself. The next time the situation came up, I simply had my new registrar (verio) transfer the domain from NSI to them while it was still active. No problemo. Of course, this was a while back, so perhaps it was before NSI got completely up to speed on it obstructionism.

  • But this complaint does not allege a duty on NSI's part to give up those domain names.

    Three points on your thoughts (good ones, BTW. I haven't read the docs but if you're accurate here are some further thoughts).

    1. Under ICANN agreement NSI is explicitly forbidden from 'warehousing' domain names.
    2. NSI's June 2000 announcement to auction abandoned/unpayed
      (Read, domain expired but the customer did not formally notify NSI s/he would not further pay. IOW, they abandoned their registration. That NSI can laughably claim it needs to recoup costs for something as simple as using a deactivation script on unpayed domains, and/or levying a fee on laggard payments is ludicrous. Patently it's a ploy to leverage their monopoly garnered critical mass of registrations and therefore solely reap the boon in scam. Greed knows no bounds with these folks.)
      domains shows intent to never be timely, i.e., they can never be timely when someone else would be the new domain owner, under NSI's farcical, unilateral June 2000 rules.
    3. I'm aware of at least one case in modern computing lore, and involving the most famous player in it too, of a court ruling against one side in a case based solely (as the presiding judge later said, I didn't understand fully the ramifications of these new concepts but I understand a simple contract violation) on stated intent and contract violation.
    The case involves the then nascent M$, Gates and Allen; the ownership of the first available piece of software (Basic []) for the first personal computer -- the Altair. Ed Roberts lost the suit he filed against Gates and Allen, alleging ownership of Gates/Allen BASIC, because Robert's attorney had sent a letter stating Roberts' intent to suppress (do harm) to BASIC. IOW, the Gates/Roberts contract had called for Roberts to not 'make' harm or suppress Gates/Allen products. Similarly, (1.) NSI's stated intent to violate the non-warehousing ICANN clause, or to (2.) auction expired domains would lend moot the issues of 'timely' release of domains (the WHOIS output itself tells you that timely/correct WHOIS output: Netsol ``does not guarantee its accuracy.'') and or harm.

    Me pican las bolas, man!
  • NetSol's behavior smacks of greed. I'm thrilled that someone is doing something about it.

    Please , folks! If this has ever happened to you, give these guys a call and sign an affadavit! It seems that it will take a lawsuit to make Network Solutions do the right thing.

  • Is there any way to find out when a specific domain expired? Perhaps a dated whois database? I have a client which apparently allowed their domain to expire. I'd like to know when it was due to expire, if that is indeed the cause. Now, if NSI just up and deleted it from their database or something stupid, that would be a whole other story. Either way, I sure hope they can repurchase their name. It shows up on all the registrar databases as available...
  • NSI is chock full of questionable actions. Here's one that I'm 100% sure is going on in regards to their auctioning of expired names:

    The WHOIS query tool (which is now limited in function to a few select methods) logs every WHOIS lookup of a domain name, so that when that domain name expires, they know how many people have looked at it. This gives them a very unscientific estimate of how much they can (over)charge for that particular domain name.

    We, as an Internet Community, may benefit from a petition to NSI and ICANN, requesting that informational searches are open to all users in a method that does not contain inherent logging and is NOT logged by the registrar. Proof of compliance may be met in many ways, and I'm sure many of you would know something better than I'd propose.

    By cutting down on NSI's statistics-gathering, we can make it a little more difficult for them to price-gauge based on the popularity or perceived popularity of a domain name.
  • by tswinzig ( 210999 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2000 @02:06PM (#563978) Journal
    Simply regulate the industry so that nobody's allowed to sell a domain name for more than, say $35.

    Goodbye capitalism, hello communism.

    it sure seems like it would cut out the majority of the dirtbags involved in domain reselling.

    There are much better ways to do that without requiring the U.S. government to get involved in price-fixing.

    The first problem to solve is Network Solutions holding on to domain names after they are no longer being paid. This is simply a legal matter. They have no right to hold onto those domain names. Their job is to facilitate the sale of domain names to people and companies, and to run the root DNS servers. They should have no control over who gets to buy the domain names, I think that's clear.

    Second problem -- cybersquatters. It's similar to real estate. Instead of predicting where the next major boom is going to be, and buying all that land, 'squatters try to predict the hot names on the internet. The difference is that it is cheaper to squat a domain name than a piece of real estate. So what happens in the real world when a land squatter has bought up all the available land in an area, and wants a price the market considers "too high"? Simple... either the price comes down so the market will buy, or the market GOES ELSEWHERE. In the case of domain names, this means the market puts pressure on other top-level domains, e.g. .biz, .sex, .bank, etc. They can (and probably will) learn a lot from the usenet-style naming conventions before long. is just as easy to remember as

    And finally, technological innovations will eventually wipe out the cybersquatters just as it created them. If I still have to type "" in a stupid web browser in three years, I'll eat my hat.

    "Hello Search Engine. View Slashdot."


    So please, let's not get the government involved in yet another area of our lives.


  • People, I think, are more likely to find somebody's page via a search engine like Google than by typing in a name.

    This is entirely true - but it misses the bigger point... and that is that domain names are designed so that people remember the URL easier.

    Yes, people will find the site initially with a search engine, but what if they don't remember the exact search terms later on when they want to re-visit the page (or, if the search results have changed, or if it's eight or nine pages through the results?)...

    If people want to speculate on their value, what's wrong with that?

    Gee, and if scalpers want to buy up all the concert tickets, and sell them at 1000% (or higher) markup, what's wrong with that? Gee, why are there laws against it?

    BECAUSE IT'S WRONG Domain name scalpers (I refuse to call them 'cybersquatters') are parasites.. they add nothing to the value of a domain, but increase it's price. This is contrary to common sense. Domain names have a fixed value.

    Your comment about stocks is pretty short sighted.. if a stock price rises, it's because the stock is doing well - the person who holds the stock has put money into the company so that it can become more valuable - they are contributing. A scalper does nothing to contribute, in any way.
  • Last week, I tried to register when it expired, as the boys at VA/andover didn't bother to renew it. NSI wouldn't let me! I was going to give it back to VA, just after I have my fun.
  • Baloney.. This will allow people trying to register names for a valid use to actually get the names they want.

    The reason NSI has been doing this (holding onto expired domains) is because they think that it will be more profitable for them to auction off the site instead of selling it at the "normal" rate...

  • It certainly is valuable to have a relatively short domain name, and one that is somewhat pronouncable. A couple years ago, when my little web site could no longer be hosted at the university, all four letter names even somewhat pronouncable were taken, so Robin and I went for PJRC, taking a couple of our initials each.

    A while ago, a couple people mentioned that someone had taken my domain name and was selling it. It turns out that, not being pronouncable, PRJC is a common misspelling, and these bastards [] are squatting on it, along with nearly every other imaginable combination of four letters []. I sent them an email asking if they'd be willing to sell PRJC, thinking maybe I'd throw $100 or maybe even $200 at it... more than ten times what they probably paid for it in their bulk purchasing. They wanted $2000. They were willing to entertain "reasonable" offers, which more or less means four digits.

    Lately, I've been doing a little bit of looking at the web logs, and it looks like the traffic comes from more or less three places:

    • Search Engines: vast majority of visitors leave quickly
    • Links: this how people who really are interested in the site usually find us
    • Archiver Programs: a lot of people run programs like Teleport Pro to grab a complete copy of the site
    From that, I'd suggest that MCMay has a valuable point that search engines' results are much more important than the domain name, links from other sites are the most valuable. Fortunately, we get quite a few links because I've spent years slowly building up quite a number of pages with lots of info.

    In the last several months, we've started selling parts, circuit boards and kits for a couple the projects, and it certainly seems like the best way to spend money to promote the site is with an affiliate program []. I'll probably end up doing a bit of cgi coding sometime in the next several months and add something like this. Even if we end up sending out $100/month (if we actually sold enough stuff in a month to pay that much, I could quit my day job and work on the web site full time!).... that'd be a lot better use of money than giving it to those damn squatters.

    So, dear reader, if you've got any experience setting up one of these affiliate programs or you've had good or bad experience participating in them, please drop me a message [mailto] with your experiences.

  • They control the master whois records and they control all (I think) of the TLD's (Top Level DNS Servers) so effectively they DO own (or at the very least, control) every domain.

    The idiots there are forcing me to create/maintain a record for a DNS server that exists on a domain registered/maintained with They want control. Too many people just stay with them because it will possibly be less hassles in the long run.

  • Baloney.. This will allow people trying to register names for a valid use to actually get the names they want.

    Right; and domain squatters are people, and they're trying to register the names that they want, for a use that NetSol considers valid.

    I didn't say this was or wasn't a good thing, I merely commented that it wouldn't fix the problem that particular poster suggested it would.

  • Even *if* you can get NSI to release a domain after it's expired Tucows will register it the moment it becomes available if it is a decent name. They pick out all the good names and then register them. You can either pay them the $700 they ask for it or go through the dispute procedure (Minimum $1500) if you feel that it rightfully belongs to you or you accidentally let it expire. There should be a rule that Domain registrars can't use their inside information to resell domains.
  • But waiting for it to expire is some weird kind of brinksmanship I don't understand

    In my particular case, it was because some idiot had 'helped' us by registering the .com version of our .org domain. Then he promptly left his company and no one there knew anything about it. Had to wait for it to expire to get control of it, but NSI waited a good 6 months after it expired to finally make it available. Luckily it was such a peculiar name that no else wanted it. But I've borne a grudge against NSI ever since. Their responses to my emails about the situation look like someone put a retarded child at the keyboard to amuse itself by sending out random snippets of their policy manual.

  • I had a domain w/NetworkSolutions and wanted to re-buy it with another company because they were ripping me off. So I let the site expire and guess what, i can't get it now. Bastards. I Just want to go postal on network solutions' ass
  • Isn't that how Great Britain screwed up their train system, having one outfit own the track while others ran the trains?
  • NSI deserves this after all the shit they've put us through. I hope the suit wins, go for it! :)

  • As all of us who've made a practice of transferring domains from NSI on renewal know, NSI's systems don't even realize that's happenned, and they send out scarey last chance to renew notices - despite that the root servers properly show the new registrar. Now, they could be doing that on purpose (some idiots must pay), or it could just be that they never figured out how to make their databases relational and why would they want to when after all some idiots will pay.

    Well, if their systems don't fully reflect that your domain has been renewed elsewhere, why should you expect them to reflect that your domain has expired? Like, they should pay a programmer to connect these things? (Isn't the whole problem when outfits like NSI connect too many things and violate our privacy or something?)

    Wouldn't it be a better legal case if you caught them later selling a domain name at a premium that they previously hadn't released in a timely way? That would show that they were really clever, which would surprise some of us. Still, when the attorneys get done with them, some idiots will pay. The judge just won't believe that guys who can run such fancy computers would be so innocently stupid. The judge won't understand they can barely run their computers.
  • What's happening at NSI? I tried several times to delete a domain name I don't want to use anymore (it expires in May). Although I did all required stuff, they never delete it. I used their domain.mod form at the site. DELETE MY DOMAIN NAME ASSHOLES. I WANT IT DELETED NOW, NOT IN MAY!
  • I registered with Reading their agreement, it said that they will hold onto the name until it expires, unless I pay them around £80.
    Fair enough.
    What I didn't realise is that when I moved house (and along with it, a new phone number) my dial-up account from freenetname (the only way to pick up mail from it) was hosed, because my caller id didn't match.
    No way to change it.
  • by n3rd ( 111397 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2000 @11:42AM (#563993)
    when a for profit company is in charge of something that should be independent, such as domain name registration.

    NSI, like any other company has to make money, moreover profits. Since they are in control of all of the domains, they can hang onto the good ones (or ones who's ownership has expired, such in this case) and resell them for a higher price, thus making a profit and helping the company.

    Imagine if Marvel Comics printed 10,000 copies of a hot first issue comic book. It then released 5,000 onto the market, and kept 5,000 for itself. Then, when the comic was selling for $300 each, Marvel sold the 5,000 it kept for $300 each.

    Every business has to make money, and maximize its profits. But the way NSI is going about it, is at least shady, and at worst illegal.
  • there was an article on /. a couple months back about it
  • I almost did this with my domain. Since I got the domain, I moved and changed email accounts. And through 2 attempts, I have been unsucessful in trying to get them to update my info.

    So I figured I could just let it expire and then re-register it at one of NSI's competitors. I'm not sure what stopped me, but I'm glad I didn't.

    At least they'll let you continue your domain registration without updating your info. They don't seem to care who pays the bills!
  • I'm trying to delete a domain name in the last few months. I too used their domain.mod form at the site and replied accordingly the e-mail they sent out. They never delete it. I sent the crap 10 times or so. As I last attempt I wrote directly and they replied 2 like: 1- Your form is wrong. We can't verify that you're the registrant of... 2- We'll delete your domain name in our schedule since you don't want to renew it.
  • Since when does NSI own ALL the domain names? Sure, they claim their legal rights to the ones they register, but have you not noticed all the other registrars out there? There are hundreds, and some of them are pretty DAMN good. Like, my personal favorite Domain Monger (

    So, NSI really does not own ALL the domains - they simply have legal rights (as in the agreement) to any domain they register; this is why I don't register with them - well, that and because they cost twice as much, and give half the service, as Domain Monger.

  • To me it sounds like your Marvel analogy and what NSI is doing is pretty much a like ... except that NSI doesn't really own the domains. The United States government owns the domains, and they let NSI manage them. So the question is whether or not NSI has the legal right to abuse the right to manage the domains by making (ridiculously) higher profits off domains that are in high demand.
  • A good point indeed.

    If this is true, then there won't be much of a way to fight back.

    The same is true for all land in the United States. The government actually owns the land, but you get to use it after you "purchase" it. If you don't beleive me, don't pay your property taxes and see who's in charge. ;)
  • by Thalia ( 42305 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2000 @11:55AM (#564000)
    I agree with the concept that NSI should be forced to give up those domain names. And I do think that joining is a good idea. Although, if you join a class action, the likely recovery is in the pennies, while all the money is received by the named plaintiff and the attorneys, so keep that in mind. But, on reading the complaint, I found a fairly major problem. In order to have an actual case, the plaintiffs have to prove that an action or lack of action by the defendant caused them harm, and that the defendant had a duty to act to prevent this harm. I see proof of harm, and that defendant (NSI) caused the harm. But this complaint does not allege a duty on NSI's part to give up those domain names. The closest it comes is by stating: "NSI is restraining trade ... despite the fact that NSI disclaims rights in domain names." (Statement of Facts, Paragraph 44). This is not enough to establish that the NSI has a duty to release those names. I expect that NSI's answer, which is not available online as far as I can tell, focuses on the fact that they have no duty to be prompt, or to release domain names. I do think that a case could be made by the other registrars that the NSI's actions is an interference with their business. But it is much harder for an individual to take on the NSI, and somehow prove the obligation to release domain names. Thalia This is not legal advice, so don't even think it.
  • by DiviN ( 246231 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2000 @06:53PM (#564001) Homepage
    if one's IQ exceeds the one of the plastic pot plant in NSI's main lobby, he/she has no chance of ever being hired by NSI...

    We've been transferring hundreds of domains in the past year and have been using their fancy online forms for dozens of NIC handle contact changes. Guess what 3 times these actions went smoothly. THREE TIMES. Three times out of hundreds.
    Whenever one of our less experienced clients decides that he/she needs to make some changes, we usually advise them to get things rolling, get the dreaded NIC tracking number and then immediately start spamming NSI on a daily base.
    For that purpose we use a variety of *real* NSI email addresses on a rotating base.
    Per average it still takes about ten days four emails and two faxes to get any changes done.
    So, for the heck of it, we transfered one unused domain name back to NSI, just to see what would happen [well, okay, the team was heavily betting as well].
    Guess what? Transferring *to* NSI took 4 hours!

    So, it's quite obvious, if there is money in it for them they have no staff shortages and the system works smoothly. If there is no money in it, then they make it as difficult as possible to deter people from changing.
    Talking about abusing monopoly powers...

    For a short time we even had accounts with NSI because we hoped that things would work more smoothly. Far from it! Our accountants are still in a clinch with their accountants about some missing funds...

    Just a reminder of the finer workings of the 'Great Equalizer' - which unfortunately tends to fail to reconscile.
  • by Enry ( 630 ) <enry@wayga.QUOTEnet minus punct> on Tuesday December 12, 2000 @11:56AM (#564002) Journal
    Wrong analogy. The 10,000 Marvel Comics are exactly the same. Marvel also gets to choose the price based on what the market will bear.

    NSI's domains are all unique - they must be. and (if they exist) are two completely different sites. The fact that one is held does not mean that the value of all other domains increase.

    NSI advertises their domain pricing at $35/year. It's not "ask us for a quote for". It's $35. Microsoft pays $35 for, just like Taco pays $35 for, and I pay $35 for each of my domains. I could care less if MS paid $2,000 for It will not influence my cost ($35).

  • They (NSI) are given the right to sell the domain names, as the legal contractor that the US has appointed. By accepting that task they submitted to a set of rules and regulations that should preventany abuse of this kind. Ofcourse I'm no lawyer so i totally have no idea how far these regulations do in fact go, but obviously blocking names from being sold because they sound extra-profitable to the registration company should be in there somewhere..

    So I think (& hope) that has a good chance of winning this case.
  • You honestly think that dumping another few thousand copies of a rare artifact into the marketplace would do nothing to dampen its unit value?

    No, but don't you think they'd rather sell those 5,000 issues for $300 each rather than 50 (Well, that's what they were the last time I bought one!)? I think that's his point.
  • was owned by a squatter up to a week ago :)

    The "real" Weather Channel finally got a judgment and got rights to the domain though. Check the whois: []
  • The facts:
    • Last summer, expired.
    • I tried to register it past the expiration date.
    • I could not, and sent a letter to NSI.
    • They sent me an email telling me how to check the WHOIS database.
    • I conclude that they're a bunch of stupid bastards.

    Any thoughts?


  • And introduce another "black market" for domain names? *playing devil's advocate*
  • The fact that I agree to sell it to you for only $35, might just happen to coincide with the fact that you just happened to agree to give me $5000 - completely unrelated of course to the domain.

    Yes, it's a little better in that it moves the transactions under the table, but how much better in practice will it be?

  • And mine too...

    I registered a domain, using my American Express- but then realized my registar didn't accept that card so I used my Visa.
    A week after- I told my webhost which domain to setup for.
    Soon after, I realized that I didn't spell the domain properly.
    So I registered a domain, with the correct spelling this time.
    Concluded, that I am a stupid bastard.
  • That way, next time Microsoft forgets to renew Hotmail, I can snatch it away from them and instantly get millions of hits a day!

  • by 1010011010 ( 53039 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2000 @11:43AM (#564020) Homepage
    Put them against the wall.

  • It's one of those companies that registers lots of names, so you can pay them to support or and are also registered. appears dead. has "Please upload your homepage and name it index.html. If you have any further questions, please contact:"

  • by Slngal 11 ( 257199 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2000 @12:01PM (#564029)
    The problem with NSI is that they are serving two roles. They run the root DNS servers. This gives them a guaranteed flow of income no matter how much the customers hate them. Their second role is that of a registrar.

    Now, they seem to do a pretty good job of running the root name servers. The problem is that this position gives them an advantage over the other registrars. For one, they are guaranteed to have income. No matter how badly they screw up, or how much market share they lose, they will still have money rolling in because all of their competition has to pay them. In addition, as in this case, they can arbitrarily snap up domains without having to actually pay for them. Any other registrar that wanted to play this game would have to fork over cash to NSI to fund it.

    What I think ICANN should dictate is this. One or more companies will be given contracts to register domain names, similar to what is done now. A second group of one or more companies will be given contracts to run the root servers. People who register a domain will pay the first group. The first group will pay some fee to the second group for each domain they want served. The contracts for both groups will stipulate that they are not allowed to own, be owned by, partner with, or be the same as any company in the other group.

    The abuse that is happening with the current system is out of hand. NSI is acting like a greedy spoiled brat who is causing untold amounts of grief for thousands of hard working admins out there. Unfortunately, with the current system, they can and will keep doing it. In fact, I would expect their behavior to actually get worse as their market share declines. As they lose customers, past behavior indicates that they will abuse their power more to make up for the lost profits.

  • by SlashGeek ( 192010 ) <petebibbyjr&gmail,com> on Tuesday December 12, 2000 @12:01PM (#564030)
    This all really goes back to the debate about whether domain names are property, and if one can "own" the rights to a domain name. In the case of a trademark, such as Microsoft, try that one at [] and see what it says. It will tell you that Microsoft is a Trademarked name and cannot be registered etc etc. Why should this be different for any other for-profit website? Even if it is only profit from banners, it is a business, and many online business have their domains as their (trademarked) business name. Is there a minimum profit or sales that the site or company has to maintain to have a name "trademarked" like MS does? It seems rather unfair that some companies have total control over their domains and other, smaller ones have to pay the piper for the rights to their own business.

    Think, there are perhaps hundreds of millions of small business on the web. If these were storefront businesses, could the Sign Police come around once every 2 years and tell them that because they have a really cool sign and buisness name, that it will cost them $xxxxx.xx dollars to keep their mom and pop store open for another two years? I seriously doubt it. I hope the courts rule in favor of and everyone else involved in the Class Action Suite. The Intellectual Property that represents a domain, particularly one that is registered to a for-profit site, is the sole creation of the registrant. NSI had nothing to do with thinking of a name, creating a business model, designing the site, etc. They are there only to provide a service, and nothing more. The Internet Chamber of Commerce if you will.

    Good luck to everyone at and company.

  • by Masem ( 1171 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2000 @12:04PM (#564031)
    Obviously, I agree that the NSI action of holding onto domains is bogus, but as others pointed out, NSI theorhetically holds all domains by their updated User Agreement, and therefore they have a right to sell them for such. This part *may* hold up in court.

    But this then sounds like the lawfirm has a more important goal in mind: point out the fundamental flaws of NSI, such as retroactive changes in User Agreements, poor customer service, etc etc, such that NSI is penaltized by the court system for their actions. The auctioning of expired names is merely a tip of the iceberg of abused that NSI has done for years.

  • While boycotting NSI might sound like a good idea, unfortunately it is not feasible. They have too much control over the registries, controlling the DNS system. Registering a domain name with a rival is not effective enough because for each you register, NSI will take a fee from it for its DNS "services." It thus only appears to be boycotting NSI but really isn't. I still recommend using GANDI, though, since they do have great service and low prices.
  • I have news for you. Network Solutions isn't waiting for domains to expire before they put a hold on them!

    I tried transferring my domain to a new registrar BEFORE the expiration date -- in fact it still hasn't expired -- I just got word that there is a unexplained "hold" on it, and the registration can not be transferred!

    I've seen enough. It's time to form an unruly mob!

  • by aberoham ( 30074 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2000 @01:32PM (#564038) Homepage
    In late August I became a Tucow OpenSRS Registration service provider and accordingly transfered my domains from Network Solutions to Tucows.

    One domain transfer was specifically completed on 9/22/00. Part of the transfer process is that the new registrar contacts the old registrar to notify them of the request and asks for their approval. (Is the domain paid for and not caught up in a dispute?) Network Solutions ACKNOWLEDGED this transfer request, allowing it go thorugh.

    Now, a full two and a half months later, I get a nasty "FINAL NOTICE" bill from Network Solutions for the same domain that they acknowledged the transfer of. The envelope even has big bold writing on the front "Urgent: Your domain name is vital. Don't lose it." I'm not that stupid, and am not about to give Netsol another dime for a domain they're not even the registrar of, but what about non-techs who don't know any better?

    I think whomever's going after Netsol with a class action suit should go after them for this shady billing scheme. I'd be willing to bet that at least 30% of the folks who get one of Netsol's bogus 'FINAL NOTICE' invoices pays it even though they've transfered the domain to a different registrar.

    If you're looking for more info on duped out of $35 yourself, a long discussion about Netsol's hoaky billing system has taken place on the OpenSRS mailing lists. See l []...

  • by bnenning ( 58349 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2000 @01:34PM (#564039)
    The solution is democracy in the form of government control. This should never have been let in the hands of a private organisation. The US gov should take its responsabilities. Domain names are a public service and they should have a fair system. They would control the root servers and would control registration, at a flat fee, no reselling, no transfer allowed. This would just eliminate this ridiculous market of names.

    Nice in theory, and completely unenforceable. I could buy up all the domains I wanted, then offer a web hosting service where my customers choose which of my domain names they want to appear under. I haven't resold or transferred any domain names, I'm just providing a service for my customers. I suppose you could try to fight by making me declare the purpose for each domain name I register and using a huge content monitoring system, at which point you run into the pesky problem of the Constitution.

    The market is NOT the answer to everything.

    True, but it's generally a better answer than "government bureaucracy".

  • No, I'm thinking of affadavits. See Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e). On motions for summary judgement, parties can offer affadavits setting forth "such facts as would be admissible in evidence" (emphasis added). Plus, they are also of great weight when negotiating a settlement before trial...

    As far as their value in a trial goes, you are correct.
  • I have bad news for these guys too. Expired domains are indeed available for use. Recently, I purchased use of which was previously in use by someone else and had expired. There was no problem in registration and the prices I paid were the going rates for dns regs. This is not the only one I have obtained for myself or a client that was previously expired.

    Maybe Network Solutions is not presenting a level playing field for their services to everyone. If that is the case then I could see some attorneys being able to nail them on it. (more power to 'em if they can actually prove this)

    I can't really see that happening though as I have seen and purchased domain names from very large lists of expired and availables. The fact that those lists exist is not going to help the people in the suit. I wish them luck. NSI can be a bunch of hardasses to deal with nevermind get on the phone ala AOL back in '95 (or was it '96?)

    Hey maybe there is a case there: AOL got beat up for charging customers outrageous fees and not having a real method for customers to contact them to dispute the charges. If I remember correct they lost that class action suit bigtime...

  • it sure seems like it would cut out the majority of the dirtbags involved in domain reselling.

    Whatever merits your plan may have, it is exactly the sort of thing that would increase the number of dirtbags involved, because it would inevitable drive many domain transactions "underground" (you know, with the dirt).

  • I've posted this already months ago, but gotta do it again now.

    • Lost my email account access
    • Fax authorization form for []
    • Get declined, failed to provide bill
    • Email support, how to register a domain
    • Send response back, asking for a real response
    • Get response back telling me how to check WHOIS on their website
    • I also conclude that they're a bunch of stupid bastards []
  • In SlashGeek's storefront example, there are "Sign Police" who come around every year and demand that you pay them off or they'll shut you down - in the US, it's typically your town government, though your state and the Feds also want a piece of the action. The difference here is that NSI and ICANN are more recent and blatant in their attempts to control namespace.

    By contrast, the "Yellow Pages" will also come around every year and ask if you'd like a Really Cool Sign in their Yellow Pages, and they'll drop you if you don't pay, but nobody really minds because people can find you even if you're not advertising there (though they're an almost mission-critical advertising location for many types of business.) Also, nobody thinks they're thugs, even if they do use those "Dragnet"-themed radio ads on occasion.

  • I use, and I've been very pleased with the service. They're quick to update, and they don't try to cram marketing crap down my throat when I have technical questions.

    Advantages of NSI over

    At NSI, someone can list me as the technical contact for their domain, which gives me access to make changes (such as updating nameserver information), instead of my having to get the owner of the domain to make the change. Joker has a seperate technical contact, but the contact information is ignored completely. They just use the e-mail address and password of the person who registered the domain.

    At NSI, if I move a DNS server, I can update the host information, and all domains that use that nameserver will automatically update. With Joker, I have to create a new host with the new information, and then update every single domain one at a time (see the previous paragraph).

    Other than that, rocks. :-)


  • Would have been fun to swipe a year ago....


  • by zpengo ( 99887 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2000 @11:48AM (#564052) Homepage
    Isn't there some kind of loophole in the User Agreement that basically states that the users never actually *own* their own domain names, but that NSI officially owns them and is just letting people use them? This whole thing could have been an evil (but brilliant) trap from the beginning -- We're basically just creating a massive list for them of every domain name anyone could ever want; and then handing possession of those names over to them. [] all the way, baby!

If you suspect a man, don't employ him.