Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from 188.8.131.52
It wasn't until recently, when the committee sold the operating rights to the fishing derby and the associated website to private person that we found out the webmaster had registered the domain name in his name, and not our committee name (they were naive about this potential discrepancy, assuming it was in their name, and the webmaster didn't inform them otherwise).
Now, the private person can't make changes or ensure the website (with online registration and database capabilities) is visible to the public, without paying hefty monies to the webmaster to allow us access and use of the content.
Finally, the question - do we have any legal recourse to reclaim the .org domain name and content in order to give the new derby master full and legal access, or make legal claims that the webmaster has been holding our content hostage to ensure his own profit?
He purges the derby registrants every year so that the derby master would have to pay him a lot of money to get and keep the database.
Any precendent I can research? Thanks!
[edited by: tedster at 12:32 am (utc) on Aug. 4, 2004]
[edit reason] remove specifics [/edit]
If the webmaster plays games talk to a lawyer. If it was an organization I'd sue him/her in a heart beat. No jury would believe the webmaster was intended to 'own' the organizations identity. It's one thing to handle the registration, which for convenience might include the webmaster using his identity - it's another for the webmaster to assert that somehow he's the organization, including it's identity.
Unless the facts were clear that for some insane reason the webmaster would own the organizations identity I'd say the webmaster is inviting trouble, which could include compensatory damages, punitive damages and attorney's fees if consumer fraud laws apply.
Talk to a lawyer in your jurisidiction. Free advice in a forum isn't worth a damn. A decent lawyer shouldn't charge you more than $250 for a conference and a little letter writing. A lawsuit would cost more but this is the type of case that filing a lawsuit should bring it to a swift end.
P.S. Is your webmaster paid in full for all services?
P.P.S. I won't field further questions on this.
Don't be confrontational or accusatory in your first conversation. I wouldn't even ask why he did this. I would just say matter-of-factly that the site has been transferred and the new owner wants to transfer the domain name.
Then if there's trouble, you can call in a lawyer.
If not, why not build another site? Just scrape the old site and have someone throw together a registration script.
Then nuke the selfish idiot.
[edited by: tedster at 10:51 pm (utc) on Aug. 5, 2004]
We won our domain back in very short order when we provided the registrar with copies of invoices for domain registration we had on file, along with copies of our company credit card statement that showed our company had actually paid for the registration fees, regardless of the individual name on the account. We didn't even need to consult an attorney.
Perhaps your organization has retained similar documentation that could help your case.
It does you no good at this point to destroy the webmaster's business. If there is an article, the webmaster will be interviewed. What will you do if this clearly unscrupulous person responds by a pack of lies about how he was cheated out of thousands of dollars that were probably skimmed off by derby organizers?
Get your domain back, report the guy to the BBB and the Chamber of Commerce and move on.
I once sold a domain to a midsize firm (4-figure sale) who contacted me asking to buy it. Their (independant contractor) website designer/webmaster asked me to transfer the name direct to him and be under his personal control, saying he always does that for domains he is developing.
I hesitated doing so and suggested to buyer that is not a good idea and advised against it, especially since my check for the name came direct from the buyer (not the webmaster). The firm sent me email saying I need to do whatever the webmaster said.
The name expired 2 yrs later as the buyers webmaster left the job and his email address in Whois also stopped working, so the name was never renewed and the buyer did not realize it was expiring. The domain was then grabbed thru a drop catching service and the firm ended up buying the name from its new owner for the second time for the same price they originally paid for it.
Moral of the story is never allow your domains to be reg'd and in effect controled by someone else, even if he is your webmaster or anyone else for that matter.
I just went through a domain name clean-up project with one client - they owned 100+ domains, most of which were in use. But they were registered to a hodge-podge of "owners" who were at some time loosely related to the organization.
Also a hodge podge of registrars was involved, with no central documentation and no consistent email address. It's the kind of thing many organizations do not appreciate until they've been bitten at least once.
In this case they had already purchased print advertising and them discovered that they had no control over the domain they just advertised. Ouch! But that alerted them to a much more widespread issue.
I read w/ gusto this VERY interesting post about a
domain name registered by someone else instead of
its intended owner. Great posts, everyone!
I especially got interested w/ Katana's post about
how she & her group got the domain name back using
Signal50, I'd definitely do what Katana did about
using receipts, credit card statements, et al.