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My webhost owns my domain name. How would I approach getting ownership

They are screwing up my hositing account and I am loosing money now.

11:20 pm on Mar 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I signed up with a web host company around 4 years ago to host my ecommerence site.

As part of the package they "registered my domain name for me." Months later I find that that they registered it for me but it is in their name. They own it. Very deceptive and unethical.

I now pay $70 a year to re-register it under them.

A week ago I found out that webhost company dropped their small webhost plans and now only do big servers for corporate companys. How did I find out? I have been having email problems, FTP problems and my site has been down intermittantly all week.

I went to their site and the first thing I saw was they no longer offer hosting plans in my price range.

These guys are trying to get rid of me(?). No problem, I'll be glad to go however there is one huge stumbling block: they own my domain.

I can use another domain name but it will take up to 6 months for my site to get up in the search engines.

Another option I have is trying to get my domain name under my ownership.

Can anyone suggest a good way to approach the webhost about this? I have emailed them many times over the years but no responses. They have respond to all my other questions but do not in regard to my domain name.

I am loosing money now because my customers are not able to reach my site all the time, ebay images are not loading, and I am losing credibility in the community.

Any help? Or am I screwed?

Thanks in advance.


2:12 pm on Mar 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

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As you've just discovered, this is a "dirty secret" not too many people know when getting a
domain name thru a hosting company.

Many hosting companies, when offering a domain name for free or at a discounted price as
part of their hosting services, tend to put themselves as the "registrant". Whoever is listed
as the registrant is the legal owner, no ifs ands or buts.

It doesn't matter if the customer pays. The online legal prints are what matters.

If this is included in your hosting provider's legal prints, there's nothing you can really do
except retain legal help. If you have a registered trademark or your attorney can prove you
have common law rights, you might have a chance.

Otherwise, no, there's no way you can get the domain name unless the hosting provider says

3:52 pm on Mar 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for your reply. :)

My domain expires in a few months. After reading what you said I think I will let it expire and try to pick it up using another registar company.

Last night I figured out this may be an option. What do you think?

Here's my reasoning.

A couple of years ago I did not recieve a domain renewal notice from the webhost. I didn't find out until trying to visit my site and it was gone.

I enquired and they said that it had expired that that I had to renew. I did and it took 72 hours before my site was back up because the domain name had to make its way across the internet again, they said.

Perhaps if I let the domain name lapse and pick it up through the $8 regrestration service everone knows about I will have better luck. :)

Would that seem to be a rational solution or do you think that the hosting company will renew it for themselves and keep it hostage?

What have others done in my case besides litigate? I cannot afford a lawyer.

Thank you, again, for your reply. :)


4:04 pm on Mar 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

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If the site is ongoing today and has any meaningful measure of traffic, the odds of the domain name going into free for the taking land are remote, and nabbing it up through a lost cost registrar seems even more remote.

Think about this. The owner of the domain name, and I know you feel otherwise, but it isn't you, doesn't have to let that name expire, not even if you kill off the site and delete all your files from the host server. If they are the named owners, they can throw up an under construction page or anything else they choose. They own it after all.

So they can renew it quite cheaply, bill you their rate for the renewal service and when you don't pay, lock you out for non-payment. Their agreement with you most likely spells this out, though perhaps not so bluntly.

Unless they are willing to transfer the name to you, either as a goodbye present since they don't want accounts your size any more, or for a fee which you pay to them to transfer their ownership to you, then it's probably time to start building a new domain.

As Larry the cable guy would say ... Git R Done.

10:39 pm on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Even if you are able to pick it up after expiration, your site will be down for 2 months before the domain is released. And the chances of someone else nabbing it are high.

I would call the provider, be demanding and tell them that you are going to transfer YOUR domain to another registrar. Try to get them to agree, verbally, to let you.

If you do want to seek legal assistance, I know of a firm that charges a low monthly fee for day-to-day legal matters.
I think they even cover some business issues. I have no experience with them, just found their site.

11:05 pm on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Hang on a minute.....
Didn't you ask them to register this name for you?
That is to say, you contracted them to register the name 'for you'.

I think, I would slink in, ask them first to transfer the hosting, to wherever you like, then maybe a few months later, ask them to transfer the registry to someplace else (or do it yourself).
Or just ask for the user names/passwords to the registry, transfer the hosting, then later transfer the registry......

I have taken on a couple of sites recently in similar situations. On guy was paying ten times what I usually pay for hosting, with a tenth of the facilities┐┐
Three months later, I'm still waiting for him to get name register details to change hosting! I don't see they can refuse, without stating outright that they registered the name 'you ordered' in their name (go figure).
Patience and knowledge (perhaps in that order).

$70 per year seems a little excessive to me....
Isn't the 'book price' :) some $35 per year?┐?┐

11:31 pm on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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joined:Mar 25, 2005
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Hmm. this whole theory of a webhoster owning a domain name that a client has paid for scares me.
Can any of you PM me which webhosts practice this? I had a "free domain name" offer with the purchase of a 1-year web hosting contract from my registrar...
When I did a WHOIS, i'm the registrant, but then I also signed up for private registration and now it shows up with my name, but their addresss.. .is this ok?
1:20 am on Mar 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I just double checked my host, because you get one free domain registration with the plan and I guess I have a host on the "up and up". My free domain is in my name.

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