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Edelman: Domainers Cause Harm, Add Little Value

March 3, 2010benjamin edelman, Domaining, Domainnamewire, Policy & Law, TyposquattingComments Off on Edelman: Domainers Cause Harm, Add Little Value

Author of typosquatting report says domainers add little value, and questions the right to register large numbers of domain names.

Cyber intelligence company Cyveillance has interviewed Benjamin Edelman, one of the authors of a recent report on typosquatting, and he has this to say about domainers: they cause harm and add little genuine value.

It should be pointed out that Edelman is co-counsel in a lawsuit against Google and several other industry players over typosquatting.

In the interview, Edelman states that he doesn’t see “much genuine value coming from the domaining business.”

Yes, some users guess domain names, and domainers can cause results to be shown to users who might otherwise receive error messages. But most web browsers already show results that are at least as useful as domainers’ placeholders – often better, with genuine organic results rather than merely advertisements.

This seems strange; as if he’s saying the ISPs and web browser manufacturers should be able to monetize non-existent domains, instead of domainers.

As for domainers that own generic domain names?

Meanwhile, domainers cause some important harms: For one, as detailed in my article, domainers deplete advertisers’ budgets. Domainers also make it more costly for entrepreneurs to obtain the domains required to run actual substantive businesses: A domain might truly be unclaimed, in the sense that no one has ever used it for anything interesting, but a domainer would nonetheless be able to withhold that domain from a would-be user until they agree on a price.

But isn’t that like real property?

Domainers will vigorously defend their right to advance-register large numbers of domains, as if this is some kind of moral entitlement. I’m not so sure. In many areas, landowners are (and, historically, have been) required to improve their property lest they be a blight or eyesore to others. The analogy here is less direct: Which domains are “near” an unimproved domainer domain? But certainly unimproved domains harm others, by impeding what could be direct navigations, and by driving up costs to others.

Cyveillance asked Edelman about certain web sites blocking Edelman’s research computers from gathering information. Edelman doesn’t directly respond to the question. As I pointed out in my earlier story on his report, this is likely the result of anti-bot systems rather than some sort of proactive blocking of his research.


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