Post-Death Celebrity Domain Squatting is Deplorable and Not Legitimate Domain InvestingPosted: February 14, 2012
Another sudden and tragic celebrity death occurred two days ago when the music world lost Whitney Houston. Unfortunately, one of the stories highly reported on since her death has been about the hundreds of Whitney Houston domains registered trying to capitalize on the press of her death.
It should go without saying that this is a despicable practice. Sadly, it happens without fail every time a popular celebrity passes away. There may be a few registrations among them by people intending to honor the celebrity and in no way profit from the domain, but most of the domains are found being monetized or being auctioned off on eBay. There is simply no way to defend the ethics of taking advantage of such a tragedy.
Sometimes, people go even further than simply attempting to register sellable or monetizable domains with the celebrity’s name. There was a huge controversy last summer when Amy Winehouse’s father discovered the domain AmyWinehouseFoundation.com had been squatted on. In the linked article, the squatter even admits having no remorse or guilt over doing it.
Simply put, this sort of practice is morally wrong and in no way resembles legitimate domain investment. In fact, it is an illegal practice – such domains can be taken away via UDRP and their owners can be sued if it’s clear they registered the domains in bad faith (easily proven if there is any monetization of the domain or if it is for sale).
Unfortunately, these bad apples that take part in this practice are often wrongfully grouped with legitimate domain investors. Because of how deplorable this practice is, it tends to get a lot of press coverage, and some articles mistakenly indicate it to be a widespread practice among domain speculation when it really isn’t.
This leads many people to use the term “cybersquatter” incorrectly to include anyone who speculates in domain names. The law that defines cybersquatting defines it as “registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name with bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else.”
The people that partake in posthumous celebrity domain registrations are truly cybersquatters, as a celebrity’s name is in fact their own trademark since it’s the name they do business under. Moreover, they should be ashamed of the depths of depravity they’re willing to sink to in order to try and make money.
It should never be worth considering to any decent human being.