Domain Name Privacy In Whois
As mentioned above, domain name registrant details are available to anyone who cares to look for it. Information is minimal but provides enough details to contact the owner or the person who registered the domain name.
However, many domain owners use a third-party service to submit the name in an effort to protect their own identity from fraud, harassment, spam emails, spam calls, and marketing lists.
In cases where the owner is not listed as the registrant, youll need to contact the registrar or registrant and they will forward the information to the actual domain owner.
Website Ownership Contracts: What You Should Own And What You Never Will
Understanding that your website is made of parts, below are the basics of whats in a website ownership contractand what you should legally* claim as yours.
* I am not an attorney and am as qualified to give you legal advice as my 10-year-old nephew. Have your legal counsel review your website contract and help inform you of your specific rights.
How Is The Gdpr Applicable To Webnamesca
Under Recital 23 of the GDPR, Webnames.ca claims no nexus with the EU, EEA nor the citizens of either, and therefore claims non-applicability of the GDPR to any and all aspects of its business.
Despite this, many of the domain Registries that Webnames is partnered with to provide domain extensions must comply fully with the GDPR. The changes to policies and procedures required of these partners will affect what information is collected, shared and displayed, and may result in changes to agreements and terms.
Notwithstanding, many domain Registries with whom Webnames.ca contracts must fully comply with the GDPR, and therefore these Registries may implement policies or procedures relating to WHOIS data which result in changes. These changes may include, but are not limited to,?variations in what WHOIS data is included and how it is displayed via the Webnames’s WHOIS lookup page.
Therefore, in regards to WHOIS output:
Where the domain Registry is the sole source of Registrant WHOIS data for the queried domain, the WHOIS data will be displayed by Webnames in whatever form it is received from the Registry, without alteration of any kind. This may result in some fields, particularly those containing Personally Identifiable Information being absent, blank or redacted.
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Check Your Billing Records
Checking your billing records is probably the easiest, and therefore, the first method you should use. Typically, your domain name registrar is who you bought your domain name from. If you dont remember who that registrar is, try searching your email archives for records regarding your domain name registration . The domain registrar should be listed on your invoice.
Its imperative that you keep your domain registrar up to date regarding changes to your email address and/or contact information. Registrars send renewal notifications to the email address they have listed.
Are The Domain Owner And The Website Owner The Same
In most situations, the domain owner and the website owner are the same. But technically, that doesnt have to be the case. So, who is the owner of a domain?
Businesses are a great example to look at. A business website is part of the company, which can be owned by a partnership or corporation. However, domains are usually registered to one individual.
When a domain is registered, it will have several contacts listed for it. These are Registrant, Admin, Technical, and Billing. The Registrant contact is the legal owner of the domain.
If you hired an agency to build your website, someone on its staff might have registered the domain. If its not under your contact information, you wouldnt be the websites legal owner.
And finally, sometimes, domain registration services retain ownership of your domain. If they charge you for managing your domain, such as updating MX or A records, then thats a good sign that you dont legally own your domain.
However, if you find the domain owner, it will be easy to get to the website owner and vice versa.
Lets look at five proven ways to find out who owns a website.
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Why Search For A Domain Owner
The most obvious reason to locate a domain owner is to try to purchase the domain, but that isnt the only one. If a site claims to be a legitimate one owned by a major corporation but appears suspicious, checking its ownership is a way to verify its authenticity. Likewise, if a website has no contact information on its homepage or a contact page, a visitor could track down its owners in order to contact them with questions about the sites products or servicesor to report a technical problem.
Another reason to check domain ownership information is to safeguard the security of your own site against incorrect or incomplete contact information. Looking up the domain ownership records on an existing site allows owners to ensure that their information is correct and that nothing has been changed without permission. Searches for domain ownership can be accomplished through public WHOIS databases, website searches, and even email, depending on the reasons for conducting the search.
How To Find Out Who Owns A Website Or Domain
You can also find out when it’s going to expire
Wouldnt it be nice to know who owned a certain website? Previously, I wrote about how you can find out who is hosting a website, but that only tells you where the server is located. If you want to verify the owner of a domain name or see when one expires , performing a WHOIS lookup is the way to go.
If you perform a search in Google for WHOIS, youll get a bunch of results, but normally the first one is whois.net. By visiting www.whois.net, you can not only find out who owns a certain domain name, but also when it was purchased and more importantly, when it is due to expire.
Looking up a domain name on www.whois.net is very simple. All you have to do is enter in the web address you want to look up and presto all the information you wanted will appear. For example, if you look up the website address for the WHOIS site, you will find out some important information. In the screen shot below, we can tell that the domain name was purchased in 1997 and they have paid for it through 2018 .
While WHOIS is a great reference for when you want to find information about someone elses website, but it can be a problem when its the other way around. When purchasing a domain or even afterwards, most companies provide a private registration benefit that will remove any personal information about the owner.
How To Hide Your Information From Whois Lookups
Online privacy is incredibly important and some people do not want their contact details publicly available on the internet. For anyone who does not want to sell their domain or be contacted by those browsing the Whois directory, we highly recommend purchasing Advanced Security for all of your domains, which includes Whois Privacy, Domain Lock Plus, and a free SSL certificate. It masks your contact information and prevents spammers and telemarketers from using your information for no good.
What Is A Whois Domain Lookup
A Whois domain lookup allows you to trace the ownership and tenure of a domain name. Similar to how all houses are registered with a governing authority, all domain name registries maintain a record of information about every domain name purchased through them, along with who owns it, and the date till which it has been purchased.
Read Also: How To Find Out Who Owns Domain
Domain Ownership Is Important
Your domain name identifies your brand on the world wide web. Its an important business asset and should be controlled by someone in authority in the business. This is doubly important if you ever want to sell your business. Whoever controls your domain can shut down your website or lose it for you altogether.
Often, the Registrant is the person who registered the domain in the first place. It could be an employee, someone who has since left, or your first website designer.
For obvious reasons, its important that your business owns its domain name. We have recently come across several businesses who have had problems because they dont. Heres just one of our examples, on the Portishead Chamber of Commerce blog.
In one case we came across, a website was hacked.
What Can Filing A Trademark Infringement Lawsuit Do To Help
If someone is found to have violated someone elses trademark, there are a variety of legal consequences. The most significant is paying damages for trademark infringement. There is also the ability to recover attorneys fees incurred when taking legal action.
If bringing suit for trademark infringement in the United States, a plaintiff will most likely rely on remedies available in the ACPA. If a court finds that there was bad faith intent to profit from a domain name, remedies may include:
- Injunctive relief in the form of transferring the domain name,
- Actual damages resulting from any trademark infringement,
- Attorney fees to the prevailing party, and
- Statutory damages ranging from $1,000-$100,000 for each domain name violation.
If taking legal action under 15 USC § 8131, a plaintiff will need to show that:
- The defendant registered a domain name that consists of the name of another living person, or a name substantially and confusingly similar thereto,
- The defendant did not have the plaintiffs permission, and
- The defendant acted with the specific intent to profit from such name by selling the domain name for financial gain.
An exception to liability under 15 USC § 8131 applies to good faith domain name registrations that are intended to be sold along with the lawful use of a copyrighted work of authorship.
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Keep Your Domain Registration Contact Details Private
The WHOIS lookup tool will display the contact details associated with your domain by default anyone can see them. But there is a loophole. Domain Privacy hides these details from public view, keeping your personal details private. Remain anonymous to strangers using the WHOIS directory and protect your identity with our Domain Privacy service.
Another Domain Control Problem You May Have
Sometimes the domain registration is created by a website vendor who uses a bulk domain name service to transfer a domain. In this case, even if the domain name is in your name, you cannot access it because you do not have the username and password to the bulk account. So in essence only the website developer has access to the name. If you want to use a different website developer to create a new website, you cannot put the new website on your domain because your previous developer holds the domain name in a bulk account. If this is the case, request that the developer transfer the domain to your name and domain registrar. Sometimes they will make the switch and sometimes they wont. Sometimes the website developer you are leaving will take down your current website since you are no longer using their services. This could happen before you are ready for your website to be taken down.
So it is important that:
- Your name appears as the owner in the domain registration.
- You have the username and password to access the domain registration account.
- OR it is a privately registered site and you have access to the private registration account.
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Identify Your Domain Host
A domain host is an internet service that manages your domain name, such as, example.com. Domain hosts use Domain Name System records to connect your domain name with email, websites, and other web services. Popular domain hosts include GoDaddy, enom, DreamHost, and 1& 1 IONOS, to name a few.
Google Cloud uses DNS records to set up online services. For example, to use your domain with Google Workspace, add DNS records with your domain host.
Where Can I Go If I Get Stuck
You can always ask us, well do our best to advise the best course of action. Weve overseen the domain transfer process countless times, so well quickly be able to advise the best way to proceed. You can also try contacting the registrar in question directly. If youre not sure what to do, please contact us and well let you know what to do.
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Go For A Different Domain Name
There is always a chance that even with all the aforementioned steps, the owner will flat out refuse to sell their domain or name a price that is way outside your budget. In this case, you can consider a different domain name.
Do not forget to try your domain name with different TLDs . If the .com version of the domain is taken, maybe the .net will be available. Check out our article about the different types of domains if you wish to learn more.
Even if that is not the case, sit down and try to brainstorm other domain names. Who knows? Maybe you will come up with one that you like even more than your original idea.
Who Else Might Own My Domain
The first place to check is with whoever built your website in the olden days, it was quite common for web designers to register the domain to themselves without realising that this could be a problem. In most cases, it was a genuine mistake and asking for the domain ownership to be transferred to the client was all that was needed to put things right. However, we have come across a few examples of web designers refusing to release the domain because they were unhappy that the client was moving on to a new web designer. As a result, even if youre really happy with your web designer, its always worth checking to see who owns your domain.
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If A Domain Is Registered To Be Sold For Profit
Some people register domain names speculatively, and often go after domains that include the names of big companies, popular products, media enterprises, you name it. Or maybe youre just a big fan and want to set up a fan site that the big media company that owns the popular product, franchise, etc. will want to pay you money for .
Making money this way is possible, but youre just as likely to get a legal notice. And if they own the trademark, which they very likely might, they have a much stronger case and can demand you hand over the domain for zero dollars.
Sometimes though, what looks like domain squatting can actually be a case of someone having a domain long before a company or product is created and wants its corresponding domain. In these cases, the new company may offer to buy the domain off of you, or they may lodge a UDRP complaint , which basically claims that you own a domain you dont really have rights to and arent using the best way, and the other company has a trademark or business case that is better suited to the domains ownership and use.
Once upon a time domain squatting and speculation were more common and easier to get away with, but those days are long past. Registering what you think is a hot domain in hopes of a big payday is not the likely windfall some people still think it is. Youre more likely to be threatened with legal action.