Your website address, or ‘URL’ (uniform resource locator) is like your street address on the information super-highway. Like a street-address a URL is a commodity, like a property. Unlike a physical address, however, URLs are portable and can be changed, moved and re-registered at the push of a button. Another difference is that URLs can only be leased through the registration of that URL. Herein lies a potential problem for all webmasters and website owners. There is a large number of squatters out there watching popular URLs to see when the registration expires and if the webmaster or site administrator has or will renew it. Quite often, the squatters get to the renewal before the site-owner or administrator does and ends up with a lease on the use of that URL. The onus is on the site owner or administrator to keep their domain registration up to date and out of the hands of entrepreneurial squatters. Recently, a well visited community news site in Canada, lost its domain to a porn-squatter. When folks in that community logged in to read the news one morning, well… let’s say they saw images that generally don’t appear in local newspapers.

Most domain registrars will send a notification letter when the domain is about to expire. Unfortunately, there is also a number of scam-domain registration letters circulating out there. Even if you haven’t received a registration letter, it might be a wise idea to ask your IT staff, (or check for yourself), when your business URL is due to expire. You should also ask your staff where the domain was first registered to avoid the false renewal notices that are spamming-up the system.

– Jim Hedger