Questions

Should IT consultant keep domain name?

+
0 Votes
Locked

Should IT consultant keep domain name?

Balasteve
If an IT consultant doing work for a nonprofit organization snaps up the .com version of the client's .org domain name when he notices that it becomes available, does the consultant have a professional responsibility to transfer ownership of the .com name to the client?
  • +
    0 Votes
    Kingbackwards

    If he got it for himself because he liked the domain name and using it for his own personal stuff, not really.

    If he's using it to redirect to you're .org site. He should be willing to transfer ownership.

    Just explain you want to do it to keep all you're domains organized and kept with a certain provider on a single account.

    Otherwise you could end up in a weird limbo if things go sour if he decides to redirect to competitors or pornographic site.

    You should make an offer to buy it from him. Hopefully at a increased rate from fair market value for his quick thinking and proactive decision.

    If you don't trust him, you should just get the domain and hire a consultant you do trust.

    +
    0 Votes
    Balasteve

    We have severed our relationship with the consultant, and we asked him to transfer the domain name to our organization. He refused - said we had no right to it and he was keeping it. He is currently redirecting it to a silly little rant (without mentioning any names), but who knows where he might redirect it in the future.

    +
    0 Votes
    OH Smeg

    Who pays for the .com Name?

    If your company is then it's yours but if they where not forward thinking enough or unwilling to buy this level of protection then they have no claim to it.

    What makes things worse is that you have now severed the connection with this person and I'm assuming it wasn't a Mutual Agreement. Then started making requests that the company may have no legal standing to ask. Here it all depends on what is on the .Com Site if it's identical to the Dot Org Site then there may be a Copyright Claim made by the .Org Owner to protect their Propriety. But if the .Com site is different to the .Org Site there is nothing that can be done as there is nothing stopping anyone buying a Domain Name from a different Dot Suffix and doing what they like. Just the same as there is nothing stopping anyone buying a Domain Name with different Country Suffix's on them and doing as they please. So it's possible that a Big Multi National Company say someone like Bank of America could have a similar Web Address except for a China Designation with the owners being completely different and no relationship between the two.

    Col

    +
    0 Votes
    Balasteve

    Smeg,

    I understand that anyone can buy up any available domain name, but in this case the consultant was working for our organization and bought the .com name because of his relationship with the organization. He even notified the exec director that the .com name was becoming available and he would snap it up. Does he have a professional or ethical responsibility to turn it over to us in that case?

    +
    0 Votes
    Kingbackwards

    At the point, be the bigger person, make him an offer or ask him how much he wants for it. To some degree your at his mercy. Just be sure to get some paperwork for the transaction in case he decides to change his mind at the last second.

    As Smeg mentioned there may be some legal ramifications such as copyrights, lost revenue or if you had him sign any agreements. There may even be some legal "good faith" laws for consultants where you live but this is a tech forum not a legal one

    So consult legal council to see what you're options/rights are, and find out how much he wants for the domain and go from there.

    +
    0 Votes
    OH Smeg

    Well he did what was required by telling the Exec director what he was doing and assuming that at that time he was not offered any Finical Help to do this he can do as he pleases without any Ethical Duty to hand over the Domain Name. After all if he paid for it he owns it. Would you think that if he had of bought a car that was the same color make & Model as the Company Fleet he had to hand that over as well when he left?

    If he buys something that may be useful to the business it's the business responsibility to pay for it. If they chose not to them they can not complain when things don't go their way. End of story.

    The only possible way in here is look at the actual site and see what is on it. If it closely resembles the companies Web Site there may be some Legal Recourse provided that this person didn't design that site as well. So basically if you want this site you have to pay the asking price for it. Just like any other buyer in a sellers market. In this case the person who owns it may not even want to sell so they can keep the Name and host whatever they want to on it. Though I must admit that the entire situation sounds very childish to me but then again I'm not privy to what has been done here and how much any person has been Peeved Off. You upset the wrong people and it's likely to come back to bite you in the A$$ just like any thing else in this life.

    Your only real recourse is to have what is displayed on this site removed if it closely resembles your Companies Web Site and even then there is nothing stopping anyone from buying that name with a different country Suffix and doing as they please.

    As it's not that companies Domain Name they don't really have much to complain about. As anyone can buy any Domain Name not being used currently and do with it as they like.

    Col

    +
    0 Votes
    Kingbackwards

    I don't think comparing a car to domain name is a fair analogy. If what I understand to be correct as the circumstances, the domain name is identical except for the .com vs the .org. and was redirected to their .org domain for a period of time.

    A domain has the ability to increase revenue and customer base. A car would only increase productivity. (and if they printed any material using the .com version even more so.)

    Plus depending on the consultant you hire, you get some "free" services or "freebies". Like going to a body shop and getting a free estimate, or them throwing in a free wash and wax after the repair.

    Those things do have a cost, but its usually so minimal they get rolled in to the over all cost of doing business with that vendor.

    If the consultant said he was buying the domain for the company and was doing a redirect to their .org site for a significant amount of time and was doing it as a free service, that's something. Then if he changed that without the company's request there is a possibility for a negative business impact. Thus the grounds for legal action.

    Now granted I'm using a different set of assumptions than you, but ultimately I do agree. The whole thing is rather petty.

    +
    0 Votes
    OH Smeg

    But I should say if it was me there wouldn't be an issue as I couldn't be bothered messing around.

    However as some others take things personally when things do not go their way or they feel picked on or whatever while there is no ethical need to pass things over I personally would. But as I said above I can not speak for others.

    Col

    +
    0 Votes
    CG IT

    which only lawyers could answer.

    +
    0 Votes
    Charvell

    I believe legal precedence is on your side, as "domain squatting" is illegal. You can't go out and buy pepsi.com, for example, if you were able to catch it and even if the domain name was relevant to your independent business and you weren't doing it just to make pepsi pay you oodles of money for it. You should definitely consult an attorney sooner rather than later.

    +
    0 Votes
    Churdoo

    I've seen this happen before, and a well written letter by an attorney and threat of a lawsuit hopefully will scare the dude into transferring the domain.

    You ask about ethics, clearly if this (db) has directed this domain to a rant page, then ethics are not part of the equation.

    The dude was consulting for the Organization when he registered the domain and clearly it was that relationship that caused the purchase, if he notified the director at time of purchase. And if the db's rant site is slanderous to the Organization, well then that just makes it look even worse for the db. If push came to shove I don't think there's much question how a judge would side, but I'm not an attorney. Hopefully the cost of a legal consult and well written letter from said consult will lead to quick resolution.

    Many of us, as Smeg has stated don't have the time for the BS, and do follow a high ethical code, unfortunately however, there are those in the profession, just like any profession, that will stoop to such levels, sorry to say.
    Good Luck!

    +
    0 Votes
    OldER Mycroft

    In as much as eventually this Domain became valuable or expensive?

    I'm a bit on the same wavelength as OH Smeg on this - did you ever actually PAY?.

    'Non-Profit' doesn't mean non-cost.

    +
    0 Votes
    Balasteve

    Your comments have all been very helpful. We did offer to reimburse the consultant for his time and expense, but he turned us down. We will explore our options carefully, with your advice in mind. I'll let you know how it all turns out.

    Balasteve

    +
    0 Votes
    oldbaritone

    Particularly since the (ex-)consultant is merely re-directing to a rant about the organization, that's exactly what the policies were created for.

    Tell them that you have asked nicely, and the consultant refused to transfer the name, and continues to besmirch your organization using the dot-com variant of your dot-org name.

    You may need to retain a lawyer to help, but perhaps just asking ICANN nicely might be enough in your case.

  • +
    0 Votes
    Kingbackwards

    If he got it for himself because he liked the domain name and using it for his own personal stuff, not really.

    If he's using it to redirect to you're .org site. He should be willing to transfer ownership.

    Just explain you want to do it to keep all you're domains organized and kept with a certain provider on a single account.

    Otherwise you could end up in a weird limbo if things go sour if he decides to redirect to competitors or pornographic site.

    You should make an offer to buy it from him. Hopefully at a increased rate from fair market value for his quick thinking and proactive decision.

    If you don't trust him, you should just get the domain and hire a consultant you do trust.

    +
    0 Votes
    Balasteve

    We have severed our relationship with the consultant, and we asked him to transfer the domain name to our organization. He refused - said we had no right to it and he was keeping it. He is currently redirecting it to a silly little rant (without mentioning any names), but who knows where he might redirect it in the future.

    +
    0 Votes
    OH Smeg

    Who pays for the .com Name?

    If your company is then it's yours but if they where not forward thinking enough or unwilling to buy this level of protection then they have no claim to it.

    What makes things worse is that you have now severed the connection with this person and I'm assuming it wasn't a Mutual Agreement. Then started making requests that the company may have no legal standing to ask. Here it all depends on what is on the .Com Site if it's identical to the Dot Org Site then there may be a Copyright Claim made by the .Org Owner to protect their Propriety. But if the .Com site is different to the .Org Site there is nothing that can be done as there is nothing stopping anyone buying a Domain Name from a different Dot Suffix and doing what they like. Just the same as there is nothing stopping anyone buying a Domain Name with different Country Suffix's on them and doing as they please. So it's possible that a Big Multi National Company say someone like Bank of America could have a similar Web Address except for a China Designation with the owners being completely different and no relationship between the two.

    Col

    +
    0 Votes
    Balasteve

    Smeg,

    I understand that anyone can buy up any available domain name, but in this case the consultant was working for our organization and bought the .com name because of his relationship with the organization. He even notified the exec director that the .com name was becoming available and he would snap it up. Does he have a professional or ethical responsibility to turn it over to us in that case?

    +
    0 Votes
    Kingbackwards

    At the point, be the bigger person, make him an offer or ask him how much he wants for it. To some degree your at his mercy. Just be sure to get some paperwork for the transaction in case he decides to change his mind at the last second.

    As Smeg mentioned there may be some legal ramifications such as copyrights, lost revenue or if you had him sign any agreements. There may even be some legal "good faith" laws for consultants where you live but this is a tech forum not a legal one

    So consult legal council to see what you're options/rights are, and find out how much he wants for the domain and go from there.

    +
    0 Votes
    OH Smeg

    Well he did what was required by telling the Exec director what he was doing and assuming that at that time he was not offered any Finical Help to do this he can do as he pleases without any Ethical Duty to hand over the Domain Name. After all if he paid for it he owns it. Would you think that if he had of bought a car that was the same color make & Model as the Company Fleet he had to hand that over as well when he left?

    If he buys something that may be useful to the business it's the business responsibility to pay for it. If they chose not to them they can not complain when things don't go their way. End of story.

    The only possible way in here is look at the actual site and see what is on it. If it closely resembles the companies Web Site there may be some Legal Recourse provided that this person didn't design that site as well. So basically if you want this site you have to pay the asking price for it. Just like any other buyer in a sellers market. In this case the person who owns it may not even want to sell so they can keep the Name and host whatever they want to on it. Though I must admit that the entire situation sounds very childish to me but then again I'm not privy to what has been done here and how much any person has been Peeved Off. You upset the wrong people and it's likely to come back to bite you in the A$$ just like any thing else in this life.

    Your only real recourse is to have what is displayed on this site removed if it closely resembles your Companies Web Site and even then there is nothing stopping anyone from buying that name with a different country Suffix and doing as they please.

    As it's not that companies Domain Name they don't really have much to complain about. As anyone can buy any Domain Name not being used currently and do with it as they like.

    Col

    +
    0 Votes
    Kingbackwards

    I don't think comparing a car to domain name is a fair analogy. If what I understand to be correct as the circumstances, the domain name is identical except for the .com vs the .org. and was redirected to their .org domain for a period of time.

    A domain has the ability to increase revenue and customer base. A car would only increase productivity. (and if they printed any material using the .com version even more so.)

    Plus depending on the consultant you hire, you get some "free" services or "freebies". Like going to a body shop and getting a free estimate, or them throwing in a free wash and wax after the repair.

    Those things do have a cost, but its usually so minimal they get rolled in to the over all cost of doing business with that vendor.

    If the consultant said he was buying the domain for the company and was doing a redirect to their .org site for a significant amount of time and was doing it as a free service, that's something. Then if he changed that without the company's request there is a possibility for a negative business impact. Thus the grounds for legal action.

    Now granted I'm using a different set of assumptions than you, but ultimately I do agree. The whole thing is rather petty.

    +
    0 Votes
    OH Smeg

    But I should say if it was me there wouldn't be an issue as I couldn't be bothered messing around.

    However as some others take things personally when things do not go their way or they feel picked on or whatever while there is no ethical need to pass things over I personally would. But as I said above I can not speak for others.

    Col

    +
    0 Votes
    CG IT

    which only lawyers could answer.

    +
    0 Votes
    Charvell

    I believe legal precedence is on your side, as "domain squatting" is illegal. You can't go out and buy pepsi.com, for example, if you were able to catch it and even if the domain name was relevant to your independent business and you weren't doing it just to make pepsi pay you oodles of money for it. You should definitely consult an attorney sooner rather than later.

    +
    0 Votes
    Churdoo

    I've seen this happen before, and a well written letter by an attorney and threat of a lawsuit hopefully will scare the dude into transferring the domain.

    You ask about ethics, clearly if this (db) has directed this domain to a rant page, then ethics are not part of the equation.

    The dude was consulting for the Organization when he registered the domain and clearly it was that relationship that caused the purchase, if he notified the director at time of purchase. And if the db's rant site is slanderous to the Organization, well then that just makes it look even worse for the db. If push came to shove I don't think there's much question how a judge would side, but I'm not an attorney. Hopefully the cost of a legal consult and well written letter from said consult will lead to quick resolution.

    Many of us, as Smeg has stated don't have the time for the BS, and do follow a high ethical code, unfortunately however, there are those in the profession, just like any profession, that will stoop to such levels, sorry to say.
    Good Luck!

    +
    0 Votes
    OldER Mycroft

    In as much as eventually this Domain became valuable or expensive?

    I'm a bit on the same wavelength as OH Smeg on this - did you ever actually PAY?.

    'Non-Profit' doesn't mean non-cost.

    +
    0 Votes
    Balasteve

    Your comments have all been very helpful. We did offer to reimburse the consultant for his time and expense, but he turned us down. We will explore our options carefully, with your advice in mind. I'll let you know how it all turns out.

    Balasteve

    +
    0 Votes
    oldbaritone

    Particularly since the (ex-)consultant is merely re-directing to a rant about the organization, that's exactly what the policies were created for.

    Tell them that you have asked nicely, and the consultant refused to transfer the name, and continues to besmirch your organization using the dot-com variant of your dot-org name.

    You may need to retain a lawyer to help, but perhaps just asking ICANN nicely might be enough in your case.