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[ga-sys] Hijacked domain returned to rightful owner

Hijacked domain returned to rightful owner
By: Kieren McCarthy
Posted: 30/04/2001 at 15:42 GMT


The case of the dropped domain and the PR company that we covered last week
has been sorted out - with it returning to the original owners.

Last Monday, we revealed how Portfolio Metrica were aghast when their
company Web site disappeared to be replaced with an American site offering
free ISP access. We spoke to the site's new owner, Mark Duance, who claimed
he had grabbed the domain www.portfoliocomms.com legally. On the Wednesday,
he put the domain up for auction on eBay.

Over the weekend, Portfolio Metrica managed to take back the domain and
replace its original site by proving to Tucows (the new registrar) who they
were. Mark Duane emailed us to register his displeasure.

There are clearly several questions here: Was the domain legally
re-registered? How does the change take place first of all? And what can
companies and individuals do to make sure they don't wake up to the same

Portfolio Metrica clearly feels it was badly done by and is overjoyed it has
its domain back. "Our domain name was taken unlawfully," said company
director Mark Westaby, "but we've got it back and we're very pleased about

It would also appear that despite Mr Duane's assurance he did nothing wrong
that the name was not legitimately taken. The problem lies in renewal
notices. Because Portfolio Metrica's original registrar had gone bust, the
forwarding information was somehow lost. Mr Duane re-registered one of
Portfolio's domains and subsequently received the renewal notices. Thus he
became aware of the other domains that Portfolio had registered - including

Obviously this raises an enormous number of legal and protocol questions.
One apparent expert on such matters backed up the resulting decision to hand
back the domain to Portfolio. The new whois did not offer a new registration
date. "The domain was re-registered on opensrs," said Domaingator on
Afternic.com. "Opensrs automatically creates a NEW date the date it was
re-registered if the name was actually expired (ie., released by Network
Solutions Inc). No exceptions. The April date likewise is suspicious. The
name was ON Hold for Payment but was not yet released by NSI. Case closed."

Despite this, it would seem that we are looking in the mouth of an enormous
increase in these types of problems as the two-year renewal date arrives for
most companies' Web sites. Software is freely available on the Internet
which, with a bit of know-how, can get you first to any dropped names. It is
clear that the Internet's DNS is not sufficiently water-tight to prevent
argument of rightful owner of a particular Web site.

Unless someone - the NSI basically - gets their act in order, this will
become a big, big problem (maybe NSI is too busy working out how it entrench
itself in the .com domain to bother actually running it).

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