back to article Thousands of sites go dark

Thousands of UK small businesses woke up this weekend to find that their websites had become collateral damage in a legal fight between a domain name company and its founder. Sites using addresses all went dark on Saturday, after the former boss of the registry, CentralNIC, took control of the whole extension without …


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  1. Nuke


    ", GB.COM, "

    Why is it shouted sometimes?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      The obvious answer: = the extension = the domain = the company

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Asking for it

    Anyone relying on a subdomain of someone else's domain for critical business purposes is just asking for problems.

    If you're running a business, just because you couldn't get doesn't mean you should put faith in some shady organisation who managed to get a short .com address. At some point they *will* disappear. All it takes is for some other customer to post something legally questionable, and the whole domain gets shut down - as far as ICANN is concerned, you're all sharing it, doesn't matter what your contract says.

    Get a .com, or a, or some other OFFICIAL TLD (or second-level extension thereof) that comes with a certificate and a WHOIS record saying you OWN IT, or expect trouble.

    1. JimC

      >some shady organisation...

      Sounds like most of the damn domain registry companies anyway... Whole industry is a curse on the internet...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Certificates are where it's at

        At least with the dodgy registries, you still get a certificate from Nominet (or whoever for the TLD you pick), meaning the dodgy firm can't hold your domain to ransom, all they can do is completely balls up your billing. They will, of course.

        With the 2nd-level resellers, you don't have a record of ownership to pull the rug out from under them and go elsewhere, you're completely at the mercy of their incompetence.

    2. Pondule

      They're small businesses

      They don't know anything about DNS. The fault's really with .COM registry for allowing these sort of domain names.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Although domain names are bought and sold and transferred, nobody actually owns them. Ask anyone familiar with the basics of property law.

      BTW, it's beyond stupid say that is 'not an officially registered top-level domain'. It's not a top-level domain at all. A top-level domain is the right-most string in the domain name,. Which would be .com for Likewise, isn't a top-level domain either.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        RE: ownership?

        While it's true that nobody "really owns" a given domain, there is a huge and very important distinction between a domain on an official TLD, and one on someone else's domain under a TLD.

        Saying " isn't a top-level domain either" is misleading - .uk is a TLD with a number of officially sanctioned second-level extensions, and domains under those are just as official as those with a .fr or .de extension (some countries allow you to register under the national TLD, some - like the UK - do not).

        If you get a certificate when you register your domain, you're as close to owning it as you can be. Buying a or is not the same thing as buying a, no matter the terminology.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        RE: They're small businesses

        They may be small business, and not know about DNS, but they might also not know about accounting standards - still no excuse for not finding out. It's their own fault for underestimating the importance of what they're dealing with.

        As always in business, if you're not sure, do the research, or pay someone to do it for you.

        As for it being the .com registry's fault - I don't see how. If I want to sell subdomains on my domain, and people want to buy them, who are they to stop me? Plenty of companies do this for all sorts of services. A few idiots getting burned isn't a good reason for extra regulation.

    4. Silver

      Re: Asking for it

      That's all very nice and well in theory - but out here in the real world this advice spectacularly fails when there is no .com, or any other official TLD available for your company name (or variant) without you ending up with something that implies that you're based out of the Cayman Islands or Antigua.

      Hence why we have all these alternatives.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Devaluation and risk

        You're devaluing your company name more by buying than you are by just using

        If you can't get the one you want, be creative. It's not ideal, sure, but don't resort to using the an "unofficial extension".

        If you can't get office space in the building you fancy, move down the street and make do. Don't think that "the guys upstairs said we can use some of their desks for a few quid - no contract!" is a good solution.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No dispute is a regular2-letter domain like any other, and kudos to the person who first thought to buy, registser, and exploit it. Likewise A registrar has no right to take ownership, unless there was an arrangement beforehand.

  4. Lee Dowling Silver badge


    Deserve everything you got.

    Can someone please do this to and all those other incredibly, horrendously useless "bottom-level domains". If you'd had the, you could have at least complained to Nominet or someone. And if you couldn't get the - either you don't have a right to it, or you're being far too fussy about having an exact domain name when nobody even cares (some people never type in domain names at all - that's what Google is FOR, you know, and even the addresses for that are hidden behind search buttons and toolbars).

    If I see, my estimation of your business goes down hundred-fold immediately (almost as much as if your email is not @ the domain your website is on). A lot worse than just having a slightly obscure or unintuitive domain name. And, guess what, Google doesn't care what domain you have. Not a jot. Hell, the biggest search engiine in the word is called "google", and even that's a made-up abomination based on a "googol" (a big number).

    I can't even remember the last time I visited a (either deliberately or by clicking through something) and to my knowledge I've NEVER visited a Give it up and get a REAL domain name that you actually own a right to.

    1. Ragarath

      Wow you mad?

      And Google does care what your domain name is. Not noticed your index go up if it has relevant terms?

      But still would never touch one of these types of domains myself.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Wrong, so wrong

      "And, guess what, Google doesn't care what domain you have"

      Afriad you are wrong my friend on so many counts, your domain name does matter, although it doesnt matter if noone knows your name as a business, but it only really matters if you also having a and .com address , and this is way more important than having any other extension (for example .net).

      I agree you should be buying a relevant name you own, and certainly not any, name as that is not going to benefit you at all.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    This is the usual dipshit problem

    of not making sure that the domain is registered in the name of the company, instead of the guy setting it up. Fail on CentralNIC's part.

  6. banjomike

    Just an example of a basically duff system

    A lot of the tricks and techniques of domain registration seem to be DESIGNED to complicate matters. The idea that someone can effectively set up a "pretend" top-level domain seems strange to me. But no more strange than the loophole which prevents you from changing the administration address of a domain if the company it was registered with goes bust. Admin address MUST be changed through the registrar, but the registrar is not there any more. Clever design.

  7. Anonymous Coward


    Nominet may have improved their procedures and rules (I suspect they probably have), but I certainly had a big headache with one domain back around 2001. All domains were sold via Nominet agents (web hosts and ISPs), and so if you had a disputed bill with a host, even if it did not related to the domain, the host could effectively hold you hostage and prevent changes to the dns for your domain simply because it was on your account. Because they held the IPS tag, you could not transfer the domain from them.

    Luckily for us, we found a loophole in Nominet's Ts and Cs which let us surrender the domain... and then it was free to be re-registered. Nominet were not very happy, they'd drafted their Ts and Cs to put all the power with their clients (the hosts), but their lawyers confirmed that we were right. They pointed out to us that someone else (i.e. our disgruntled host) could re-register the domain before us, to which we pointed out the 'good faith' requirement of registration in their Ts and Cs which would certainly forbid this. So they backed down, we surrendered the domain, and re-registered it without a problem.

    Our .com domains were not a problem, because NetSol ultimately would take instructions from the listed domain owner, not the reseller we purchased the domain via, or the host the name servers were pointing to. Which is how it should be.

    Since then we have always used our .com domain and built our company around that. I just could not trust the one afterwards, as it was clear that Nominet was effectively owned by the web hosts and operated for their sole benefit.

    1. Keith Langmead

      Re: Nominet

      Yeah they changed all that years ago. From memory I believe registrar's are no longer allowed to withhold making changes to a domain for any reason. In any case if you do have issues getting a domain transferred to another registrar you can simply go direct to Nominet, pay them £10 (again going from memory) and they'll do it direct without involving the troublesome registrar.

      1. Jeremy 2

        Re: Re: Nominet

        "if you do have issues getting a domain transferred to another registrar you can simply go direct to Nominet, pay them £10 (again going from memory) and they'll do it direct without involving the troublesome registrar."

        Yep, dead easy too. Did this not too long ago to get a domain that 1&1 wouldn't let go of. Moving a site for a friend, they started playing silly buggers for reasons best known to themselves and wouldn't do it. So I paid Nominet their tenner to change the IPS tag, yanked it out from underneath them and instructed the owner to cancel their DD with the company. Job done in 15 minutes & friend freed from crazily overpriced and under-featured hosting account...

        1. Equitas

          I'll echo that one .....

          Rarely come across any problem resolved as quickly and easily as Nominet enabling me to transfer a domain from an ISP which had effectively gone under and had nominally been taken over by another ISP which could not be contacted.

  8. Joe 3


    Infuriatingly written article! Why keep referring to these companies as registrars? Why say that is a TLD extension? They're just regular companies selling subdomains, nothing more.

    I could start selling subdomains to one of my domains this afternoon, would that make me a registrar?

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