I was reading an article by Purva Patel (I like to give credit since I once wrote for this paper so I know how important it is to give credit to the hardworking writers.) in the Business section of my Houston Chronicle about a criminal case that will create precedent when tried, and it's all about the value of a domain name.
Gist Of It
Marc Ostrofsky of Houston is known for having sold his domain Business.com for seven $7.5 million. He's back in the news because he was hacked and, I guess I'm supposed to say allegedly, had a domain name stolen. He and his business partners own a lot of domain names. The stolen name P2P.com was purchased in 2005 for $160 grand.
A year later someone stole the name and eBayed it, selling it to pro basketballer Mark Madsen of the LA Clippers. Madsen, poor guy, didn't know it was stolen.
A week and a half ago, New Jersey police arrested the suspected domain name thief, 25 year old Daniel Goncalves who left a cyber trail when he transferred ownership of the domain name to himself after hacking into the online account of one of the owners of it, then he resold the name to Madsen for $111 grand.
So What's The Problem
You may well be asking yourself why can't Ostrofsky just take back the name. Why can't the authorities prosecute the suspect? The main problem is that there hasn't been much prosecution for the theft of Internet real estate or assets.
In Dallas, intellectual property lawyer Jeff Becker used the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act to recover names that infringed on registered trademarks. Those were civil lawsuits. Unfortunately, that act and those kinds of lawsuits don't apply to Ostrofsky's recovery effort because he's trying to bring criminal action against the suspected thief.
Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch
Until things get sorted out, and the case is either tried or dismissed, ownership of P2P is frozen. In the meantime, Ostrofsky and his partners are filing amended lawsuits to include Go Daddy, the domain company where the names were parked. I know a lot of writers do this: buy several variations of names and park them with a web host that charges a nominal fee to "store" them.
A Duh Moment
As I read the original article, I realized that names can be big business. I never really thought about it before even though I'm familiar with the lawsuits famous authors had to bring against people who bought bunches of famous name domains and then tried to sell them back to the authors for huge bucks.
I'm always looking for a way to increase income. (Writers are the original starving artists I think. Well, we don't actually starve, it just seems like it.) I like brainstorming. Maybe I should create a list of domain names and then purchase and park them until someone wants to offer me a hundred grand for them. What do you think?
The Internet has changed the world, and now the world must change to accommodate this new world. (I had to fight to keep from saying "this new world order.")