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Cybersquatters
Various ways of defeating them or helping towards their downfall


If you know of any cybersquatters who have been killed, bankrupted, jailed, or been persuaded to give up, please tell me and I will help in publicising it! I have a set of anti-cybersquatting links which may help.

The first thing about defeating cybersquatters is to increase public awareness that it is not a nice, safe, secure line of business to be in. Whether it's legal or illegal is not very relevant. It's probably less safe than drug-dealing, illegal gun-running, conventional blackmailing, or running various kinds of racketeering. Sooner or later the probability is that among the many tens of thousands of people being cybersquatted, someone will get upset who feels so strongly that they will bring about the death of a cybersquatter even if doing so it results in their own death. I have seen many people who have feeling in that direction, especially authors, artists, anyone with a personality they hold sacred, and sooner or later we will read in the newspaper that someone has killed a cybersquatter.

Also, vengeance is not limited to physical attacks, as wealthy people whose personality is being stolen by the cybersquatters, are often willing to sacrifice huge sums of money on law cases as a matter of principle rather than give in to paying a blackmailer's ransom.

But as well as the dramatic high-profile stuff, there are things that everyone can do to help to defeat the evil of cybersquatting. It's a bit like defeating rats by remembering not to leave discarded food about. There are two main fronts, so I'll deal with them separately on this page. The first is about defending yourself against cybersquatters, protecting yourself and your own name, and anything else on the basis of your own identity. The other front is to do with the general world-scenario and the awareness of cybersquatter-defeat generally.

How to Defend Yourself against Cybersquatters:

The first thing is to bag all the domains FIRST. If you invent a name for yourself, make sure you buy all the domains which are at risk immediately. One of the most obvious openings which cybersquatters exploit is that you might register a .co.uk and fail to register a .com at the same time. If that's you, here's a convenient domain-buying link: 123-reg . The cost is minimal, and there's a FREE relink as standard with every domain. Always buy the .com and link it to your real domain, even if you're at heart an org or a .org.uk! If you want to make REALLY sure, buy the .com / .net / .org / .co.uk / .org.uk / and maybe even the .tv and a few others (you can get the .tk free). Also check for spellings, for example any words that are spelt differently across the Atlantic, you should buy BOTH, etc. Typical cost 70 GBP the lot! If that's too much, it's a matter of weighing up your current fame versus the likelihood someone will be parasitic upon you. If in doubt about whether to buy a domain, buy it! It's better to regret wasting 20 / $35 on a domain than to regret being blackmailed for a few thousand dollars later by a cybersquatter!

Having registered your domains and relinked all those you're not currently using so they all point to your main site (if you have no website yet, you're welcome to link any spare domains to my holding page for now, not that I'd expect it - It's just that it's better than leaving domains pointing nowhere!), you should next make a note of what domains you own and when they are due for renewal. Don't rely on your Internet hosting company or your web-designer to do this. It's just a matter of doing this yourself, like a future appointment typically two years hence. It's important to avoid any of your domains expiring, as cybersquatters are known to hijack expiring domains. Even if you have a corporate makeover name change, it's best to keep your old domains (with hit-counters) as a forwarding-address.

If you become more famous, buy more domains to cover the risk before the cybersquatters decide to.

Make sure everyone knows your actual Internet address, so impostors can not make any money. Keep everything unambiguous. This is part of the "starve them out" strategy.

If someone phones you and claims that they know someone else is about to register your domain, or that they have already registered it but you have a chance to buy it from them now, DON'T. They are often liars! Go to a reputable independent place such as 123-reg and buy the domains yourself. I personally know of someone who had this happen to them, and they raced the cybersquatter and got the domain first. (This is possible because cybersquatters can't afford to buy all the domains up front and are betting on people falling for a bluff!)

If you get caught out and find you are the victim of Internet domain blackmail where the cybersquatters are trying to sell you your own name back, DON'T PAY THEM! It's important that no-one pays the blackmailers. That way there'll be no money in the racket and they'll give up and move into a more honest line of work. Smuggling, for example.

And now onto WHAT EVERYONE CAN DO:

You don't have to be a domain owner to help to defeat cybersquatting. There are many things that everyone can do. It's like everyone hanging up some flypaper to keep the insect pest population down.

The first thing is, don't ever buy stuff via a cybersquatted site. This funds the business and allows the finance of misery. Cybersquatted sites are easy to spot. They almost always have stupid annoying pop-ups, far too many adverts, too many cookies, have all the links on the front page, NO CONTENT, and have "this domain is for sale" in clear sight on the front page! If you ever see anything like that, close all windows and pop-ups, and don't follow any links. Whatever you do, never buy via a link on a cybersquatted site, as one of the sources of revenue is by such links. If you're going to buy via links on a site, buy via links on a site you like! (You can buy stuff by links on my site if you like my site!).

Cybersquatted sites are often expired domains, so if you find an honest site linking to a cybersquatted site, send an e-mail to the owner of the honest site and report it! If you find any of the thousands of links on my site is going to somewhere like that, I want to know! e-mail me! I'll try to disconnect the link THAT NIGHT! See Bad Link Reporting

When linking to a website, make sure you know what the actual web address is. Don't just guess it's .net or .com or whatever. It matters, because if the honest owner of the site has failed to register all the guessable domains, then you could end up in the wrong place as cybersquatters will probably have hijacked such domains. It's often not the fault of the owner of the site, as they may have been unlucky enough to have a near domain that gets cybersquatted before they could do anything about it.

When doing the Internet equivalent of Direct Dialling, ie typing a web address into the address bar, Take care when typing the web address! If you get the "wrong number" you could end up inadvertently supporting cybersquatters!

Another thing that can be done is to avoid the ".com" mentality. It's what's known as a COMformity, where everyone is expected to all be the same as each other by default. Fortunately, most sites are not .com, and there are now some good alternatives as proposed by the dot-tv registration system. What's important about this is not ".com" as per say, (as it would be just as bad if everyone was assumed to be ".net" etc), but the daft idea that there's only one main domain. This idea was demolished to some extent after the bursting of the Dot-Com Bubble, after which it became rather less fashionable. What's important is that a good spread of .net /.com / .org / .co.uk / .org.uk / .tv , and other diverse domains helps to break any monopoly and hold that cybersquatters may have.

Also, as cybersquatting is big business, there are things that it is vulnerable to. They have premises, and phone numbers, and overheads, and have to pay peoples' wages. Cybersquatters typically register many tens of thousands of domains. Some, even more. To help to defeat them, it's important to keep their expenses as high as possible. No business can survive if it's having to pay a fortune for expenses. The more people know the whereabouts of the premises of such companies, the better. Plus, it costs a fortune to keep paying to be dog-in-the-manger to so many domains. The more worthless domains the cybersquatters buy, the poorer they will end up. In the end the whole structure may be caused to collapse.

For more information, see Anti-cybersquatting links and also the feature page Down with Cybersquatters!

Final note: There are people who take a much less severe view on cybersquatting. That's because they are not victim to it, and/or because they feel no sympathy for those who are the victim. In that way it's like rape or burglary or any other severe personal invasiveness. The way to think about cybersquatting is to consider this: You wouldn't sell your soul to the Devil. But if you found someone else had already sold your soul to the Devil on your behalf, and you actually believed in such things, what would you be prepared to do to get it back?! You can't put a price on such things, and to pay blackmail is sacrilege. Cybersquatters steal your identity; Therefore, the most severe forms of action are contemplated. Plus, I'm not the only person who believes this.