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Domain Names Forum

Non Profit Organization involved in domain dispute
Should we pursue legal action? Would we win?

 4:41 pm on Oct 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'm helping a gentleman (I'll call him Bob), who runs a non-profit website dedicated to preserving a "vanishing" historical, and family resource. He started it by himself, and it's grown into a busy non-profit organization.

He's got some nice positive press, and doesn't make any money off of this whatsoever...

His original domain was registered in 2000, and is a ".com" domain.

Along the way, Bob has been assisted by volunteer webmasters and designers and others, as Bob has little technical knowledge of websites.

One of these volunteers registered the ".org" equivalent of Bob's original domain in 2002, and all of the domains were directed to the same site. This volunteer registered it in HIS name, not Bob's name, but listed Bob's non-profit as the "Registrant Organization".

To make a long story short, the volunteer who registered the ".org" died unexpectedly, and his family was going to turn the ".org" domain over to Bob, but now they've broken off all communication.

If the family doesn't turn the domain over willingly, what would be the best way to proceed with recovery of domain?

If it comes to legal action, does Bob stand a chance of winning?



 5:19 pm on Oct 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'd just wait for it to drop. As a .org, it's unlikely that somebody else will just snap it up once it drops.

I doubt it has much market value, or that the family is seeking to sell it.

They've probably been through a lot of agonizing paperwork and unraveling - each one reminding them once again of their departed family member. (I know - a friend of mine's mother died without a valid will. Even with a valid will, property in trust, etc. it's constant hassle, paperwork, and unwanted reminders.)

I'd say let it go, and you'll probably be able to pick up the .org later.


 5:33 pm on Oct 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

I agree; it's a pointless fight that neither a non-profit nor a bereaved family need. And the harder he pushes, the more they will resist - sad, but usually the way.

As it happens, he has the .com - and that trumps the .org in most respects.

In the unlikely event of a porn site picking it up, that's the time to fight. For now, just lay off the pressure and hope they'll come around - they may, when they get the renewal reminder.

Good Luck


 6:10 pm on Oct 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

IF it drops the "domain tasters" will more than likely test register it AND, if it has any spilloever traffic from the .Com website, they will likely hold onto it. Once in their byzantine offshore clutches you will have a hard time reclaiming it.

Consider using a drop catching service as a back-up strategy.

[edited by: Webwork at 7:28 pm (utc) on Oct. 11, 2007]


 6:14 pm on Oct 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

Well, to complicate things further...

This volunteer also had control of the website, so the website is still running at the ".org" address, although it's been abandoned. It appears to be the valid website of this organizaton, and that's no longer true.

We're going to relaunch a new site on the ".com" domain, but would like to get this cleaned up.


 6:38 pm on Oct 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

Have your friendly neighborhood lawyer send a simple letter, by regular and certified mail, explaining what needs to be explained and offering whatever guidance is needed to help them transfer the domain to the organization.

This asssumes that there are no real issues. Frankly, it's not the best idea to start laying out further details in a public forum in case such issues may arise. Anything you say can and will be used against you.


 6:39 pm on Oct 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

That's easier; just download the whole site and upload at the .com.

Ask them (nicely) to take down the old site; if they don't, a lawyer's letter may be required.

To get back to the original question and the 'big picture', provided what you've said is backed up by documents*, then I see no reason why 'Bob' shouldn't win; the feeling against is that in these circumstances, and being a no-profit, is it a desirable road to to go down?

*Not doubting your word, but the law will require solid evidence - or it will get very dirty and very, very expensive.

Why do you think the family is being difficult? Is it about their grief, or is there something else that may be - or may become - relevant?


 7:11 pm on Oct 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

Why do you think the family is being difficult? Is it about their grief, or is there something else that may be - or may become - relevant?

From my friend's recent experience - every day, one more letter arrives in the mail, asking for a photocopy of this, a notarized letter stating that. Then the bills you didn't know about. Oops, you cashed that pension check that you shouldn't have, and the money has to go back. Why did Mom file insurance papers under "rainy day"? And where DID she file the mortgage? And why are there five different wills in the safe-deposit box, none of them properly signed?

If the relatives tend to get emotional - well, then there's the first anniversary of this and that - their last vacation with the departed. Last birthday. Etc. oetc. etc.

I think at some point you just want to shut it off. Little stuff tends to just get ignored.

If you are personally close to the family, maybe bring it up in the context of the great volunteer work that Bob did. Remind them that Bob had been paying the yearly fees for a domain name for the organization, and that it would be expiring soon - that somebody else would likely take it after it expires, and that there's some paperwork to take care of to transfer it. And mention that they won't have to pay the yearly fees or gert pesky letters once it's transferred. :)


 8:09 pm on Oct 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

What everyone has said (!)

I would (especially) echo what webwork said: "Consider using a drop catching service as a back-up strategy.". It's very short money to spend, given all of the known and unknown circumstances.

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