School Wins Cybersquatting Case, But Was It Worth It?

from the no-this-isn't-a-school-site-.com dept

A school in the UK has won a three-year domain-squatting case against some Canadian domain parkers. The school, called Framlingham College, wanted to set up shop at framlinghamcollege.co.uk, but the domain parkers beat them to the punch, and put up a page with links to, among other things, online dating sites. Apparently these sites then had links to "mature porn," which upset the administrators of the Christian school, and gave the BBC justification for the tasty headline "School's links to porn site end." It seems right that the school was able to wrest control of the site back from domain parkers, illustrating that in this instance, the dispute and resolution system worked. That said, was it such an important battle? The head of the school notes "I have no doubt that people who were seriously interested in the college will have found this site and then run a mile" -- so it's not as if people were being fooled into thinking it was the school's actual site. And there are these things these days called search engines that many people use to locate sites they're looking for, rather than just trying random URLs. Perhaps the College would have been better off using some of the resources it devoted to this battle on search-engine optimization, since its real site doesn't seem to appear in the first five pages of Google results for a search on its name. Isn't people being able to find the school's site more important than the URL it uses?
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: cybersquatting, framlingham college, school, uk


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    inc, 14 Jan 2009 @ 10:17pm

    I'm sure it would've been cheaper to make the domainer an offer to buy the domain rather then pay lawyers to have it forcefully taken.
    I bet the owner of the domain would've taken $10,000 upfront then pennies per click.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 14 Jan 2009 @ 11:34pm

      Re:

      It might have been cheaper, but I bet the school would not have done any such thing on principle. The squatters had not right to the domain, and certainly no right to $10k just for having bought it first. Besides, the legal system does work differently outside of the US, and the school may have been awarded their legal fees on top of the domain (if this did make it to court - it actually looks like a simple dispute process with Nominet, which doesn't need lawyers AFAIK).

      As for whether this whole case was worth it, it depends on how you see it. The domain was clearly their rightful property to begin with, so simply getting it back may have been worth it to them. Besides, having a relevant domain name such as this can help search rankings in Google without further action. Some people will still try to guess domain names before they go to a search engine, so it's probably a good move.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Analyst (profile), 14 Jan 2009 @ 10:27pm

    Ethics Matter

    A thought on value: Albeit delayed, search engine optimization will still occur, and now with the optimum URL and a clean neighborhood. Framlingham College has won a moral and ethical victory here. This is a strong indication of character to prospective students, alumni and the community alike.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2009 @ 11:09pm

    Squatters get nothing. That was the whole point of the fight. Sure it may have been cheaper and quicker to pay them off, which is what the domain grabbers wanted, but they get nothing.

    tl;dr:ROW ROW FIGHT THE POWAH

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    joe, 15 Jan 2009 @ 4:16am

    the dispute resolution system is a farce. it is front-loaded, through heavy arbitration fees, in favor of the squatters.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Donkey beater, 15 Jan 2009 @ 5:59am

    No right?

    PaulT... why in the world would they have no right to the domain? Just because someone else has a similiar registered or are operating under a certain name, doesn't give them absolute control over that name. ESPECIALLY since they weren't trying to convince anyone they were the school in question.

    Even copyright only copyrights and EXPRESSION of an idea... not the idea itself. If the school's name was trademarked AND an idiot in a hurry might mistake the squatter site for the school site (obviously not the case) THEN they would have had a case.

    Instead, this was an example of a school who used the system to bully someone else because of their own lack of foresight.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Your Gawd and Master, 15 Jan 2009 @ 9:41am

      Re: No right?

      I just love how you use the word "bully". Tell me, if I kidnap your family and ask for a ransom, if you call the police, are you bullying ME?!?!?

      Do you realize there is actually a process that you go through to settle domain disputes and it doesn't involve "bullying". Hell, it doesn't even involve the courts(most of the time).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jan 2009 @ 6:07am

    I hate domain-squatters!
    I can not even get a decent domain name any more. I have goofy or excessively long urls which is not practical.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Jan 2009 @ 6:21am

      Re:

      AC -> "I hate domain-squatters!
      I can not even get a decent domain name any more. I have goofy or excessively long urls which is not practical."

      Isn't it true that most squatters are the registrar ?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jan 2009 @ 7:44am

    Maybe they just didn't optimize for the Google search? Live and Yahoo bring them up right at the top.

    Regardless, it's a complete dodge to say they should have invested in search optimization when Canadian squatters were essentially extorting their school's "name as a domain" and linking it to mature content. And it taking 3 years to resolved does not sound like the dispute and resolution system "worked". It sounds more like they eventually lucked out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Another Paul, 17 Jan 2009 @ 5:17pm

    If the school had taken the time to file a remotely adequate complaint back in 2005 they would have won the name 3 years ago. Instead, their 2005 complaint was deemed inadequate even though the domain holder didn't even bother to respond to it. The "battle" was only brought about by the schools incompetence.

    As for the importance of the domain vs seo - having the most logical domain helps those who directly navigate and also helps with seo.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Discord

Introducing the new Techdirt Insider Chat, now hosted on Discord. If you are an Insider with a membership that includes the chat feature and have not yet been invited to join us on Discord, please reach out here.

Loading...
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.