Whether you’re a celebrity, a business owner looking to expand online, or a professional pig wrestler, you should buy a domain with your name on it.
It’s awkward to be online and realize that somebody else has the same name as you and got there first, but this is definitely workable. In my case, there are several legitimate Lori Randall’s out there doing good in the world that don’t happen to be me, so I differentiated when I got married and use Lori Randall Stradtman. It’s long and weird to spell, but at least it’s unique to me and I can claim it wherever I go online.
What happens when somebody wants to swipe your very name and either use the domain to create an icky site or just hijack traffic that you might be generating?
For example, WalMart jealously guards any domain name that looks like anything close to WalMart. They must have just died when People of WalMart became mainstream. I’m sure they took as much legal action as possible, and they’ve got deeeep pockets! Alas for WalMart, we get to see these photographic gems shared elsewhere online.
A close friend shared a blog post with me that exposes this issue.
That post is definitely not one for the kiddies because the author’s style is salty – to say the least! He discusses an issue where somebody registered a site in the name of somebody else’s 3 year old daughter. And it wasn’t a birthday gift. Just click on the link above if you want to know more.
Researching for this book has given me a whole new perspective and I want to equip you to navigate the wild west of the Internet as safely and joyfully as possible. Stick around. There are going to be some refreshing, challenging, and (hopefully) highly entertaining changes.
Back to my friend’s dilemma
My friend asked me what she can do about a less traumatic, but still damaging domain-napping that happened to her.
Frankly, I know I’m supposed to be the grand poo-bah of Online Reputation Management since my book about it publishes this September, knowing all details big and small relating to every conceivable area of ORM on any given day, but that’s obviously not the case. But I DO love to dig deep and am connected to amazing people who DO know the answers and are willing to lend me their expertise. So I went digging.
I also married well when it comes to Internet savvy. My husband is a world-class Network Engineer, and I don’t mean hooking up Cable TV, either. 🙂 He’s got friends in high places.
Chief among the amazing contributors for this series of posts are
- David Steele, Partner, Christie, Parker & Hale LLP and Adj. Professor of Law, Loyola Law School
- Karl Auerbach, one of the actual people who invented the (I kid you not) freaking Internet
My hubby posted the following question to his colleagues:
“What if somebody buys a domain with my name on it and then bills me to prevent them from putting up a ‘parody’ site that might very well damage my reputation?”
But let’s not put the cart before the horse. I can’t possibly sleep tonight knowing I gave you all the juicy details about how to minimize ruin after you’ve been threatened when I could have just told you how to AVOID the problem in the first place! Ole Ben Franklin had it right:
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure: Buy your own domain name! #SocialMD
— LoriRandallStradtman (@Lori_Randall) June 14, 2012
In Parts 2 and 3 I will share David’s and Karl’s surprising remarks/general advice on this murky question.
Please, please share this post with people you care about. It’s a BIG deal and will only get bigger in the weeks and months to come as more people get inventive on the internet.