Domain Name Woes Highlight Tangled Web Of Legal Issues
Failing to register a Web site domain in one’s own name could lead to a legal battle over ownership of the site and leave it inoperable in the meantime, Web experts warn.
Freelance Web developer Carl Lahindah says he learned the hard way about the importance of proper registration.
“I’d just finished redeveloping a Web site for a health foundation and it was ready to go live,” he said on Friday.
“But I couldn’t upload the new content because apparently the domain wasn’t registered under the foundation’s name but under the name of the initial Web developer, who held the identity and password to the site.”
The foundation was unaware its domain name was not registered under its name, meaning it could not reclaim its proprietary right to it.
Because of that hitch, Carl was only paid for half the job, his contract stipulating that the other half would only be paid once the site went live.
Though he did not lose much, he said the incident made him aware of the “unfair practice” in registering a domain name.
He said groups in a similar quandary might be able to legally reclaim the domain if it was registered through a local reseller that sold international domain names such as .org, .com or .net, or the local .id suffix.
“But it would be a hassle if the domain was registered through a foreign reseller,” Carl said.
Teddy Sukardi, the chairman of Indonesia’s Internet Domain Name Manager (Pandi), which registers the .id domain, said site owners must familiarize themselves with the regulations for domain name registration before registering through a third party or reseller.
Pandi manages domains with the .co.id, .web.id, .or.id, .ac.id, .sch.id, .net.id, .go.id and .mil.id suffixes, with many clients government institutions and corporations.
Teddy said many domain names were now the subject of overlapping claims as a result of the “unethical practices” of those registering the domain.
Whether a registration oversight was intentional or not, Teddy said it meant the domain user had to depend on the party that registered it in the first place.
“It’s difficult to stake a claim to a domain name if the legal right to it lies with the party that registered it rather than with the domain user,” he said.
“But there would be less of a hassle if it was initially registered with the supporting documents of the individual or institutional user.”
Teddy said that while this option initially might seem complicated, it ultimately provided legal protection for the rightful domain owner instead of the Web services company that made the initial registration.
“It saves the domain owner the trouble of having the Web site’s operation disrupted and their e-mail accounts inaccessible because the Web registration can’t be extended or is transferred to another Web host,” he said.
The proposed process is in contrast to that for registering an international top-level suffix such as .com or .net, which requires only a payment transfer to the reseller without having to show any documents and requires no particular web designation.
Hendra Saputro, the managing director of Web host and developer Bali Orange Communications, said he had noticed an increase in cases of overlapping claims since 2002, when a boom in the number of skilled IT workers entering the market led to a mushrooming of IT service providers.
Many such outfits were manned by a handful, sometimes only one, qualified person, and usually were poorly managed, Hendra said.