Risks in Buying ccTLD Domains: Example of .LY Domain Name Taken by Registry

ccTLD investing is probably most interesting to me because of my travels, not because I am a ccTLD investor, or because I use ccTLD domain names regularly. Businesses in many countries outside of the USA favor local ccTLD domain names over .com, although there are still a number of countries whose citizens prefer non-ccTLD domain names.

One of my biggest fears with ccTLD domain names is that the country in charge of the registry can set rules and regulations that wouldn’t be expected in the US. It’s one thing if you live there and are accustomed to those local laws, but it’s another thing if you’re a US citizen and you use a ccTLD in the US, but your domain name is governed by a foreign entity.

Internet consultant, Ben Metcalfe, reported about a situation his company is facing with regards to VB.LY, an important .LY domain name his company owns – well owned.   According to a post on Ben’s blog,

The domain was seized by the Libyan domain registry for reasons which seemed to be kept obscure until we escalated the issue. We eventually discovered that the domain has been seized because the content of our website, in their opinion, fell outside of Libyan Islamic/Sharia Law.

It seems odd that a domain registrar is taking over a domain name based on its content, since the content is hosted on servers that reside outside of Libya. When I reported an instance of copy theft to Godaddy, they told me it was out of their scope since the domain name is only registered at their company, and the actual website is hosted elsewhere.

This is something every ccTLD investor and web developer MUST consider when buying ccTLD domain names. I wrote an article about how domain hacks can lead to confusion in the market place, but I think this is a far more important consideration. A company like Bitly, whose primary domain name operates on Bit.LY, needs to be mindful, especially when Bitly has very little (or no) control over the content to which they are linking.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. Making Sharia complaint sites can, very well be a problem here in USA unless you want to post islamic hymns. Bottom line is that they can take your name for no reason too, who are you going to complain to in a dictatorship?

    The only cctlds worth taking a chance on are European ones /those that have EU laws.

    IIRC, hotel.in was take from an American because an Indian created a …Hotel Company or something similar. Now go an fight it in the corrupt Indian courts and 15 years later you may have an answer.

  2. I’m a ccTLD domainer, before I register a ccTLD domain, I will read the rules first.

    Many countries don’t allow people use their ccTLD domains to make adult websites or other contents because it is illegal.

    For example, .ie Irish domain extensions, the website of .ie domains must be related to Irish culture or business.

  3. @ Showfom

    How about it your website relies on user generated content? What if one of your millions of subscribers/publishers posts something objectionable on your website and the registry takes your domain name without any notice? You’re basically SOL.

  4. As I’ve just said elsewhere, I don’t really think businesses like bit.ly risk anything as long as they don’t break the (strict) rules of .ly TLD. Each ccTLD has its own rules: most registries seem to have major issues with adult stuff/pornography and gambling.

  5. Just so you guys know, if the .ca is ever opened up to the world, you have to promise to promote maple syrup and hockey on each and every .ca site you launch

  6. @ Joe

    Don’t you think the Libyan government *could* threaten them with a domain seizure citing a link to pornography?


    If you don’t give us $200,000, we will take Bit,ly because we found a link to adult websites.

    Seems plausible to me.

  7. @Elliot: I agree with you on the link issue, but I don’t think the .LY registry would be that greedy to send them such a threatening request. In that case, what seems most likely to me is that they would send them a warning to remove the link from their database and to avoid linking to such websites in the future.

    Note that I’m not saying this wouldn’t impact Bit.ly, it obviously would represent a problem to them, because they couldn’t manually approve every single url shortening request.

  8. Jo, you’re talking about Gaddafi: a terrorist, blackmailer and a dictator. Think bad press will stop him?

    Two months ago he said that unless EU gives him billions a year EU would blacken up with tens of millions poor un-educated Africans (paraphrasing)

    he then demanded billions from Switzerland, threatened them with an oil embargo and said they should not exist as a country, should be broken up. He’s a certified wacko.

    And ‘maybe they won’t do it,’ is not enough for a multi-million business, even if the other side is normal.

  9. @priv right point! I never understood, why someone outside Libya is using a .ly domain! A few weeks ago I saw, that Mr. Obama is also using bit.ly!

    Try to register a .us domain as a non-american domainer! It is nearly impossible. NeuStar put a lot of restriction on this ccTLD.


  10. Why even have TLDs if they are not going to be used in a meaningful way? I use them to filter search results. Besides the fact that URL shortening services like bit.ly are basically just big 3rd party cookies, I’m not going to trust a site controlled by Libya.

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