Google Combats Domain Name Loophole
Google intends to start looking for domain names that are repeatedly registered and dropped within a five-day grace period for full refunds. This would help make it less lucrative for anyone to tie up millions of Internet addresses using a loophole and make them inaccessible to legitimate individuals and businesses.
Google’s AdSense program would exclude those names so no one can generate advertising revenue from claiming them temporarily, a practice known as domain name tasting – the online equivalent of buying expensive clothes on a charge card only to return them for a full refund after wearing them to a party.
“We believe that this policy will have a positive impact for users and domain purchasers across the Web,” Google spokesman Brandon McCormick said.
The company said it notified participants via email Thursday.
Name tasting exploits a grace period originally designed to rectify legitimate mistakes, such as registrants mistyping the domain name they are about to buy. But with automation and a burgeoning online advertising market, entrepreneurs have generated big bucks exploiting the policy to test hoards of names, keeping just the ones that turn out to generate the most revenue.
The practice ties up millions of domain names at any given time, making it more difficult for legitimate individuals and businesses to get a desirable name.
Jay Westerdal, who earlier wrote about Google’s change on his DomainTools blog, said in an interview that the ban should make domain name tasting far less lucrative. He noted that Google’s chief rival, Yahoo Inc., already tries to ban tasted addresses that infringe on trademarks and account for much of the problem.
“If Google and Yahoo are not monetizing these types of sites, I think domain tasting as we know it will come to a screeching halt,” Westerdal said. “The alternative advertising is just not as effective.”
In October, Yahoo sued several domain name registration companies over tasting, accusing them of targeting trademarks owned by Yahoo and other leading brands. The lawsuit is pending in US District Court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Dell Inc. and BMW have filed similar federal lawsuits in Florida.
The Internet’s key oversight agency, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, already is looking into name tasting and will soon ask a committee to review the issue and craft recommendations. A public comment period on draft procedures closes Monday.
The operators of the .org suffix already won approval to charge companies that make too many returns. The number of deletions dropped to 152,700 in June, compared with 2.4 million in May, after the new fee took effect.
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