Who Owns Your Domain Name
by Richard Keyt, Domain Name Law attorney
Are you sure you own your domain name? Chances are that neither you nor anybody in your company has ever checked to see who actually owns your domain name. It is very common for domain names to be owed by a company employee, a web site designer or an internet service provider. The initial owner of a domain name is the person or entity that is listed as the registrant on the application for the domain name submitted to the domain name registrar.
Using the internet, it is very easy to determine who actually owns a domain name. A domain name is owned by or licensed to the person or entity shown as the registrant on the whois database of the registrar. The registrar is the name given to an entity that is authorized by ICANN to issue domain names to the public. The first and most well known registrar is Network Solutions, Inc. A whois database is a database maintained by all registrars that lists pertinent information about all domain names issued by the registrar. Each registrars Whois database may be searched online.
To check the ownership of a domain name, go to the Whois database of either Network Solutions or Better-Whois.com. Simply type in the name of the domain name and the top level domain name such as .com, .net, .org, .biz, .info or .name and click the search button. If the domain name is in the Whois database, the search results will display the following pertinent information about the domain name:
How Can You Protect Your Information
To combat the negative things that can happen when your private information is published, registrars usually offer an optional WHOIS privacy service. Such services allow the registrar to act as a proxy of the registrant. They publish the proxy contact information on the WHOIS directory, and keep the registrants information private.
Ideally, you should purchase this kind of service when you register your domain. This prevents the information from getting indexed or cached by WHOIS look-up websites and search engines. However, it can be purchased any time after the domain is registered. The service GoDaddy offers is called Private Registration.
Its also important to note that not every type of domain is eligible for this privacy service. Some domain extensions dont allow registrants to use a proxy. Others provide their own privacy service. A good rule of thumb is if privacy isnt offered when you purchase the domain, it will either not allow a proxy or will have an alternative service.
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Create A Concept List
Take your project and write down of all the words, descriptors, phrases, ideas, mantras, etc. that come to mind. Aim for 25 50. Seriously, come up with as many as possible.
Use a thesaurus to help. I like to call this a concept list. Its the list before your final name list.
Remember: Its just concepts for now. This doesnt have to be perfect.
Some high level rules:
- Dont worry about SEO or keywords that doesnt matter.
- Avoid hyphens.
- Stick with a .com only. If you are in the UK, Australia, etc. then of course a .co.uk, .au, etc. is also good.
- The shorter the better, generally speaking.
I personally find a mind map useful for this process.
Concepts are intrinsically more generative than specific words because concepts can include other concepts. Operative Words
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Search For The Domain Name Youre Interested In
Now, simply type in the domain name you want to find out more information about into the search bar and press enter. Whenever a domain owner decides to register the domain, theyre required to include information such as their name, address, email, and phone number. A Whois lookup can also tell you which registrar the domain is at, when it was registered, when it could potentially expire, and more.
How To Find Out Who The Domain Owner Is
Youve spent time brainstorming domain names. Youve tried different domain suggestion tools. And youve finally figured out the perfect name.
But when you go to register the domain name youre set on, you find that someone has already claimed it. What a disappointment.
Before you give up on that perfect name and start the whole process again from scratch, know there might still be hope.
Registered domain names are sometimes still availableif you know how to find the owner.
People invest in domain names for a number of different reasons. Sometimes, its to start their own website at that domain. Sometimes its purely for investment purposes. And in a few cases, it may be for a website idea that either never comes to fruition, or that falls off the owners radar over time.
If the website youre interested in isnt being actively used and updated, then the owner may be happy to hear from an interested buyer. And even if the owner is clearly using the domain name right now, if youre willing to spend enough to make a sale worth it to them you may still have a chance.
In both cases, you should anticipate spending more for the domain name than if you went with something no one else owns yet. But if youre really set on that domain name, its worth trying your chances.
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Find Your Domain Host
Your domain host is typically who you bought your domain name from. If you dont remember who your domain host is, search your email archives for billing records about registration or transfer of your domain name.
Your domain host is listed on your invoice.
If you cant find your billing records, you can search for your domain host online. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is a non-profit organization that collects domain information. Use the ICANN Lookup tool to find your domain host.
Some domains are hosted by resellers through a separate registrar. If you cant sign in with your listed registrar or the registrar field is blank, your domain host may be a reseller.
If there is no reseller listed, contact the listed registrars support team for help.
How Much Domain Names Cost
There are two options when it comes to getting your domain name:
Regardless of which option you go with, youll pay an annual registration fee of $7$15/year on average. If you are acquiring the name on top of that, youll pay an additional acquisition price.
The cost of acquiring a domain name varies widely: You can easily spend 45 figures on a name. In some cases you can find a good one for hundreds of dollars. Some domain names arent for sale at all, while others have sold for millions of dollars. Recently, someone bought CoolQuotesCollection.com for $2,500 and Boot.com for $70,000.
Unless you choose a more creative route, that is. See, you can get a domain name completely for free by choosing to host your site on Bluehost. This is a little bit easier for folks starting from scratchpart of getting a site up and running is choosing a domain, finding a hosting provider, and building a site. If youre in this boat, this is the way to take care of two of those three in one fell swoop.
Already committed to a hosting provider? Thats okay, theres still a way to save on your domain if youre still considering site builders.
Paying for a premium plan from Squarespace, Wix, or most of our other top-recommended website builders will open you up to a great deal more useful features.
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How Do I Find The Dns Provider Of My Domain
Once you purchase a new domain, you need to set up DNS records for it. With those records in place, you will be able to use email hosting and any other services you might have on this domain. A DNS hosting provider for your domain stores your DNS records.
While a DNS hosting service is commonly provided by a domain name registrar, it may also be a dedicated hosting company.
To find out who is responsible for DNS hosting of a domain, you need to find the authoritative DNS servers for that domain. A list of DNS servers authoritative for the domain is shown in the Name Server record. To find this record, you can use the NSLOOKUP tool. Read the Knowledge Base article on How do I use the NSLOOKUP tool provided with Windows? for more information. You can also use Who.is or MxToolbox, or any other website which provides the same functionality.
If you use MxToolbox, you may find your Name Servers using Whois Lookup: select Whois Lookup and type your domain here > click the button to proceed.
Check Name Servers for you domain.
In this example, Name Servers are NS*.DOMAINCONTROL.COM. These Name Servers belong to GoDaddy. Here you may see a list of most common Name Servers and the DNS hosting companies that own them.
MxToolbox also allows to find your DNS host the easier way: locate A record box and type your domain name here > click the button to proceed.
You will see who your DNS hosting provider is.
Free Methods For Finding A Domain Owner
First of all, theres the website itself, if active.
The three most obvious places on a site youd find info about the owner would be:
- Contact us page.
- Terms & conditions.
Less visible sources of info direct from websites include:
- Robots.txt file these occasionally contain info about the owner, usually visible at www.examplesite.com/robots.txt
In the case of the latter two, looking for the Google Analytics ID in the source code, and then pasting that into Google, occasionally shows up other sites using the same ID.
Off-site, there are also places where you can often find info. Most notably, Google itself. Some less obvious ways of using Google to find the owner of a site include:
- Do a site:examplesite.com email search, and a site:examplesite.com phone, and a site:examplesite.com contact search, which sometimes shows up email addresses or phone numbers on pages that arent obvious to find via the site itself, but have been picked up by google.
- www.examplesite.com as a search sometimes shows up other sites referencing it. In some cases these will contain contact details.
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Choose Your Whois Lookup Tool
Theres a bunch of different WHOIS lookup options online to check who owns a domain.
These tools help you quickly search the WHOIS database. They provide such information as:
- Contact details of the domain owner
- The domain name registration.
The Interner Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers provides a simple summary of the WHOIS records. You see:
- The expiry date.
- The owner of the domain.
- The registration date.
- Where the domain points to.
It is available in a number of languages. It also provides useful information about registration policies and other topics.
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.
Looking Up Who Owns A Domain Name
The first thing you need to know is that WHOIS is not an acronym. Its a rare internet find where the word just makes sense.
Who is the owner of this domain and how can I find them?
A WHOIS lookup is a simple method to gain contact information and find out who owns a site.
Heres an example of how WHOIS lookup works with ICANN WHOIS Lookup:
Ever wondered who is behind a certain website?
If youre looking for a way to check who owns a domain name, youre in the right place.
In this article, we discuss how you can find out a domain owners information easily by using a WHOIS lookup tool.
Why Is Whois Data Important
Every time a domain name is registered, registrars need to verify the identity of a domains owner or registrant. This information is important because any domain name disputes and technical issues will need to be resolved by the domain name owner.
Beyond this, WHOIS information is used by different parties in many different ways. In some cases, domain names may be put up for sale and having WHOIS information is a way to determine and generate leads in the sale of a domain name. WHOIS information can also be used by network administrators to combat spam, fraud, identify trademark infringement and track down registrants that may be engaged in damaging or illegal activities.