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Your Piece of Cyber Real Estate

 

By S. Denise Hoyle

 

In a landmark case, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals has just

stated that domain names, despite their virtual nature, should

be treated exactly as a "plot of land" would be. This is a huge

victory for all domain name registrants, not just for Gary

Kremen who can now continue his lawsuit against Network

Solutions for allowing the theft of his Sex.com domain name. NSI

had argued that domain names are intangible property and

therefore they could not be held liable for damages. (Kremen vs.

Cohen Case #01-15899)

 

This ruling means that traditional property protections can now

be legally applied to domain names. Further, the ruling firmly

establishes that domain names are valuable properties and shows

that old-fashioned property laws also apply to the registration

of web addresses.

 

While this ruling may also aid victims of electronic fraud and

identity theft, this article focuses on the impact on domain

rights. Since domain names are now officially looked upon as

cyber real estate, domain holders should be aware of their

rights and take steps to protect them. For instance, a domain

name can be extremely valuable on its own - as examples

business.com sold for $7,500,000 and loans.com sold for

$3,000,000. Domain names can also have a "value in use" - an

example of this might be google.com, which doesn't have a

defined meaning and probably wouldn't be worth very much on its

own, however it provides a valuable service and is ranked #5 in

traffic on the internet and as such has a very high value in use.

 

Just as your home or other property is considered to be an

investment, so are your rights to a domain name. In the event of

your death your domain rights will become part of your estate.

If you were to get a divorce, it may be left up to the courts to

decide who gets to keep the domain name, and whether one party

will need to pay the other party for half of the value of the

name.

 

Since your domain name is your piece of cyber real estate, it

should be valued in the same fashion as your home or other

property would, using the same tried and true principles.

Additionally, you should take any necessary steps to protect

your domain as you would your other properties - such as

including your wishes regarding your domain name in your will.

Although registrars are now legally responsible for safeguarding

the rights of domain name holders, domain registrants should

also take all available steps to protect themselves.

 

 

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About the author:

 

S. Denise Hoyle is President and co-founder of

http://getitappraised.com, the domain name portal offering

expert domain name and developed web site appraisal services

from certified appraisers.

 

(c) Copyright 2003, S. Denise Hoyle. All Rights Reserved.