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wrenching ownership of a domain name from an asshat

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  • wrenching ownership of a domain name from an asshat

    heya,

    i'm uncertain about specific legal and administrative aspects of domain name ownership and perhaps someone can point me in the direction of a solution for a local school where i consult.

    this school (hell, i'll just mention the name here since we're talking about the domain and DNS records) is called Saint Mary's Hall. their domain, thehall.org was registered before i ever was associated with the school... and a bunch of things were done wrong, at least in my opinion. as you can see from a WHOIS lookup, the school itself is not listed as the Registrant, Admin, or Tech contact. the ISP or tech services guy (who was probably a relative of someone at the school) who registered the domain put his own info in all those fields. that's horseshit right there, in my book. you never let someone reg a domain for you and populate the fields 100% with their own data.

    but that's neither here nor there. mistakes made in the past are in the past and i'm concerned with fixing things going forward. this guy Rob (the owner of the "northlab web services" company that did the domain registration) who is currently exercising control over the domain has been a problem for us in the past. when we expressed a desire to change from his hosting to another provider he first asserted that it was fine and "he wouldn't stop us" only to later refuse to change our authoritative name server info. after a good deal of arguing (during which time i also explained that the school should be listed as the domain's owner) he said all necessary changes would be made. the school switched web site hosts and, i felt, all was well with things.

    later returning to do more work at the school, i have now noticed that the listed owner information in the WHOIS database was never changed. furthermore, the domain record now also lists the Status as "CLIENT TRANSFER PROHIBITED" which i've never seen before. all this is preventing us from moving the DNS again. i expect another round of 20 questions and unecessary back-and-forth which would never happen if the school was in charge of its own domain.

    the Northlab company registered this domain directly at the school's behest years ago. the school paid for it and they paid for their hosting during the time that their site was on Northlab servers. does the school have a legal right to exert full control over this domain, and if that is the case... through what channels do we have to go to get Northlab 100% off of the domain name record? will this sort of thing involve lawyer's fees, etc? (the school is non-profit and has very little cash)

    any advice?
    Last edited by Deviant Ollam; September 14, 2005, 15:40.
    "I'll admit I had an OiNK account and frequented it quite often… What made OiNK a great place was that it was like the world's greatest record store… iTunes kind of feels like Sam Goody to me. I don't feel cool when I go there. I'm tired of seeing John Mayer's face pop up. I feel like I'm being hustled when I visit there, and I don't think their product is that great. DRM, low bit rate, etc... OiNK it existed because it filled a void of what people want."
    - Trent Reznor

  • #2
    Unfortunatly as far as WIPO and ICANN go, your screwed. The information in the Whois record is considered to be the owner (hence the owner, admin and technical fields for delegating some control and responsibilities).

    Short of reasoning with him (doubtful), your best course of action would be a civil suit to reclaim your intellectual property.

    Invoices indicating the school paying this guy to purchase the domain for them would go a long way to getting a judgement on your site to 'convince' him to relinquish it.

    It's not easy though since domains are world property and no specific court has final jurisdiction to get the record changed (except for WIPO, but that's an ugly process in and of itself).

    as I said, persue it as a 'breach of contract' or some other civil matter. At the very least dig up invoices, payments, etc to track the history of it's purchase. If you paid for it, it's yours (gifts notwithstanding).

    Just my IANAL $0.02 CAN
    Never drink anything larger than your head!





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    • #3
      Originally posted by renderman
      It's not easy though since domains are world property and no specific court has final jurisdiction to get the record changed (except for WIPO, but that's an ugly process in and of itself).
      fortunately (or unfortunately) the web service business was such a little operation that they're located right near the school. same county, etc... so handling matters in civil court would be pretty easy as far as jurisdiction is concerned.
      "I'll admit I had an OiNK account and frequented it quite often… What made OiNK a great place was that it was like the world's greatest record store… iTunes kind of feels like Sam Goody to me. I don't feel cool when I go there. I'm tired of seeing John Mayer's face pop up. I feel like I'm being hustled when I visit there, and I don't think their product is that great. DRM, low bit rate, etc... OiNK it existed because it filled a void of what people want."
      - Trent Reznor

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Deviant Ollam
        fortunately (or unfortunately) the web service business was such a little operation that they're located right near the school. same county, etc... so handling matters in civil court would be pretty easy as far as jurisdiction is concerned.
        Pulling out the barking dog of a civil suit might hopefully make him reconsider the value in keeping a $10 domain so he can be a prick
        Never drink anything larger than your head!





        Comment


        • #5
          Do you know any friendly lawyers? You'd be amazed at what you can get done with an angry letter from a lawyer. I know an IP lawyer here in the Seattle area if you decide to go that route.

          I return whatever i wish . Its called FREEDOWM OF RANDOMNESS IN A HECK . CLUSTERED DEFEATED CORn FORUM . Welcome to me

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          • #6
            Lawyers/courts are certainly a possiblity, but sometimes it's easier to start from scratch. I've gone through this before with some clients. In fact, change the names, and the story would be exactly the same.

            Rather than fighting a protracted court battle, consider just registering a new name that the client can live with and go from there. Changing the web and email servers can be a pain in the ass, but in the end, sometimes it is the quickest, easiest, and cheapest route.
            Thorn
            "If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning." - Catherine Aird

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            • #7
              the school paid for it and they paid for their hosting during the time that their site was on Northlab servers. does the school have a legal right to exert full control over this domain, and if that is the case... through what channels do we have to go to get Northlab 100% off of the domain name record?
              Do you have a copy of the contract that the school signed with this outfit?
              jur1st, esq.

              Comment


              • #8
                I don't suppose you can get thehall.edu and then say that thehall.org is not associated with you whatsoever? Pretty bad graphics on that page too. There is an online giving page requesting donations. If this has nothing to do with the school then you have a federal case right there, literally.

                Comment


                • #9
                  If anything gets to the point of civ court, it must first go thought a "10 day". Courts don't want everyone and their mother suing each other willy nilly. They require that you send the other party a "10 Day" that states (in a nutt shell) "You have wronged me X, Y, Z ways, please take corrective actions within 10 days of recept, or this matter will be turned over to courts"

                  This is quick dirty and cheap ($.10 envelope and paper, $10 certified mail, $5 notary pulic signature) and usually scares people into doing what is needed without much grife.

                  Hope this helps!
                  "Never Underestimate the Power of Stupid People in Large Groups"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    from what i'm finding out now, it seems like way back before i ever got involved with the school there had been an issue with this guy not getting paid. he has assured me that if his outstanding bill is taken care of that everything will be released. i'm irritated at the school for not having themselves squared away. (they do this a lot, actually, with financial matters)

                    maybe everything will work out fine.
                    "I'll admit I had an OiNK account and frequented it quite often… What made OiNK a great place was that it was like the world's greatest record store… iTunes kind of feels like Sam Goody to me. I don't feel cool when I go there. I'm tired of seeing John Mayer's face pop up. I feel like I'm being hustled when I visit there, and I don't think their product is that great. DRM, low bit rate, etc... OiNK it existed because it filled a void of what people want."
                    - Trent Reznor

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Domain Ownership

                      Originally posted by Deviant Ollam
                      from what i'm finding out now, it seems like way back before i ever got involved with the school there had been an issue with this guy not getting paid. he has assured me that if his outstanding bill is taken care of that everything will be released. i'm irritated at the school for not having themselves squared away. (they do this a lot, actually, with financial matters)

                      maybe everything will work out fine.
                      Sorry to ring in so late on this thread. It is, however, an interesting thread; interesting enough for me to share it with IP legal beagle associates. Here is what they had to say:

                      Do not consider civil action if the school breached their contract with the service provider. It will only result in a pissing contest and the school will most likely lose.
                      It would be best to pay the service provider what he is rightfully owed, and if he still proves to be obstinate, follow the advice given earlier and register an .edu domain for the school. In the words of one of my pals (he happens to sit on the BoD of a private school), "Big Hat, No cattle." I will leave it to your wit and intelligence to translate. :-)

                      Good luck!

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