All too often, businesses invest significant time and money for a designer to build a website only to later discover that the designer owns the domain name, not them. If your designer owns your company’s domain name and you split ways, your designer technically owns part of your online identity. This could cause significant inconvenience and potential loss for your company.
Domain Hostage: A True Story
A nonprofit organization depended on their website to collect donations and promote fundraising events. Their domain was the name of their organization and had been public for a number of years until the designer decided to drop the ball. Frustrated words followed and in response, the designer took down the website. As the registrant, the designer had access to the domain and changed the DNS which removed the website from public. In a panic the nonprofit sought help and was shocked to discover they didn’t have ownership over the domain or the hosting account where the website files were published. Although they had paid for the domain renewal and hosting, they had no access to it. The designer refused to transfer ownership without $2,000. The nonprofit was forced to let it go and had to start all over again with a new domain and website, including re-establishing page rank with the search engines. Understanding the basics on domain registration could have prevented this from happening.
Own it and save your business
Every domain name has a Registrant, Administrative, and Technical contact. The Registrant is the person or company that legally owns the domain name, so be sure that your company name and contact is listed as the Registrant. The Administrative contact is the approved person authorized to make changes to the domain, including changes to the Registrant. Your designer may have this in their name during the development stage of your website, but once completed, this also needs to be changed to match the Registrant. The Technical contact receives notifications about renewals and so forth. When all is said and done, your business should be the only contact in your domain account. If you aren’t sure, you can check your domain information here.
What to do if you are NOT the registrant
If you are on good terms with the person who registered on your behalf, ask them to transfer the registrant information to you. If you are unable to get a hold of the person or they refuse to transfer, then you can file a claim with ICANN, the organization that oversees domain regulation. They have a Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy created to handle domain disputes. Larger domain registrars, like Godaddy, offer a service fee to help reclaim your domain for you. Although it’s unethical, sometimes a registrant will release a domain for a small fee that costs a lot less time and hassle if you are depending on your website for your business revenue. Worst case scenario is to contact an attorney who specializes in Internet law.
Ideally, it is best if you to register your own domain. If you are unsure of what to do or you find yourself in a dispute over your domain name, we can help. As a domain registrar, Simplicity is experienced in handling domain issues.