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What If You Die Tomorrow?

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Yeah – that would suck, right?   Well, what would happen to all of your domain names?   How would all of your Internet-based colleagues and friends find out about your demise? There’s an article on Yahoo News discussing how some online gamers have dealt with death, and how their families had to inform friends and colleagues about a death. Now is the time to start thinking about this type of stuff while you are alive (and healthy).

There have been a couple of websites established that can help family members notify friends and colleagues. One thing I strongly recommend to domain owners is to   extend the registration on the top 10-15% of their domain names for as long as possible.   In the event something happens (even if it’s injury and not death) the extended registration will ensure that domain names do not accidentally expire.   Most of my best domain names don’t expire for 10 years, and I extend it every time I can.

Secondly, on a flash drive that will either be stored in a bank vault or in a safe place within your home, write out all of your domain accounts and/or passwords.   If this scares you, you probably won’t need passwords if something happens to you and you at least give control of your possessions to a family member.   It’s important that they know where your domain names are registered at the very least.

Thirdly, on this emergency flash drive, add the names of your forum ID, email address, friends’ names and contact information, and other vital information.   It might also be smart to list a domain attorney or someone trusted within the domain community. Oftentimes a trusted family member or a friend won’t have much of a clue about domain names.   Since you won’t want your domain names to be a burden to them, put them in touch with a trusted person who can give them unbiased advice. If it’s difficult for you to sell a 5 letter “brandable” .net, do you really want to make it tough for a loved one to do it?   Give them an idea about what you think are your best names if they really don’t have a clue.

Think about some of these things and start planning, because you never know what tomorrow brings.

WIPO Wants Registrars Held Responsible

I was reading Mike’s Blog today about WIPO wanting domain registrars to be held responsible for their registrants’ trademark infringing domain names, and I give it a thumbs up.   In fact, I said the same thing back in March of 2008, “Registrars Should Help Prevent Cybersquatting.”

I believe that many people register domain names that have trademarks in them without really knowing the risks involved. When I first started buying domain names circa 2003-04, there were a few trademark names that I purchased.   I didn’t know the legalities of this, and when I found out, I canceled the few that I owned and bought back a few that I had sold, and cancelled them, too.   Although the likelihood of getting sued for names I created out of thin air was small, I didn’t want to deal with them.

I do understand why some companies invest in trademark domain names that receive traffic and generate revenue. It’s a business decision that some companies have to make, but in most cases, new registrations are way more of a liability than a profitable business.   I cringe when I see names for sale on Ebay like MicrosoftProductDownloads.com (or something similar), because they are screaming at Microsoft to file a lawsuit (this one happens to be unregistered). I attribute some of these new registrations and sale attempts to people who aren’t aware of the legal ramifications and liabilty a name like this can have.

I think the domain registrars should be a bit more responsible when it comes to names that are obvious trademarks.   Sure, there is a considerable gray area, but if they were required to warn registrants about potentially infringing domain names (like the Surgeon General warns smokers), there would be a lot less cybersquatting – and consequently less revenue for the registrars.

Upon further review, back in July of 2007, when I first started blogging, I said the following, and I still agree with it today (aside from the term “crime” as it’s not technically criminal).

In my opinion, a majority of trademark inclusive domain names aren’t owned by malicious people, but rather those who don’t know it is against the law. As a measure against unlawfully registering a domain name with a trademark, what if registrars required consumers to check off a box acknowledging that they are aware of the Lanham Act and its penalties before every registration? Perhaps even a brief summary of the law along with the possible penalties of owning/selling/profiting from a trademarked name would act as a deterrent to people who may be unknowingly committing a crime.

I believe the sooner we police our industry, the better things will be for us all.

T-Minus One Month

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I am sure you know it already, but as a reminder, taxes are due in one month from today, April 15th. If you have been procrastinating, now is the time to buy the Domainer Tax Guide, the resource I gave to my accountant in order to figure out my tax obligation. The guide is written by an accountant, who happens to be married to a domain investor.

Adam Strong posted on Twitter, “Entrepreneurs, what’s more fun? Visit with the accountant or the dentist ?”   I am not sure yet, but my taxes are being prepared this week.

Anyhow, don’t procrastinate any longer, and get your taxes done ASAP.

Breaking: GeoDomain Expo on Schedule

I received confirmation this evening that Associated Cities’ GeoDomain Expo will go on as scheduled in San Diego. The event will be held April 23-25, and the conference agenda should be posted in the coming days.

Josh Metnick, Director and largest shareholder of Associated Cities, has assured me that conference dates are an absolute, though “AC is experiencing some serious internal planning and corporate mission issues which we expect to have rectified by then.

For more details about the conference, visit the Associated Cities website.   I am going to see what I can do to attend, as I was informed that San Diego is just a couple hours from Burbank.

As reported in DNW today based on survey results asking about the most popular domain conferences, “the biggest gainer this year was the GeoDomain Expo.”   Based on some initial feedback from acquaintances in the industry, attendance is expected to be strong.

SEO Contest on Net Builders | Sulumits Retsambew

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Calling all SEO Experts!   One of my readers sent me a link to a neat SEO contest being held on Net Builders. The objective is to get a website ranked in the top three of Google’s organic SERPs for the targeted keywords, which will be announced on the site tomorrow (March 15).

Not only is this a good opportunity for a great SEO professional to win some prize money, it will also allow others to see what types of things go into getting a website highly ranked in Google. Additionally, it will presumably lead to new business for the winners.   It’s a cool idea all around.

The keywords that were selected were sulumits retsambew, which is “webmaster stimulus” spelled backwards. 🙂

“Forced Entrepreneurship” and Domain Names

There’s an interesting article in the New York Times today discussing how difficult economic conditions and a tough job market are forcing people to think about how they can make their own work. “Forced Entrepreneurship,” as it is referred to by Mark V. Cannice, (ED of the entrepreneurship program at the University of San Francisco), is where people figure out a way to make money from their own work.

One of the easiest ways for a person to do this is setting up a website and complementing it by using online social media venues like Twitter and Facebook. I’ve seen an uptick in domain offers, although they are mostly for brandable domain names owned by friends and colleagues.   I believe this is a sign that many forced entrepreneurs are looking to build their unique brand online, and when they find their idea domain name is already registered, they are trying to buy it in the aftermarket.

I personally don’t really care to invest in brandable domain names, as I liken them to lottery tickets, but I think there is growing interest. With the job situation poor for several months and getting worse, many people are going to give up on their job searches, and some will try to build a business on a dream they may have had for years. I think this is going to lead to more domain sales and registrations.

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