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Thread: Client's webhost and domain are in another's name...

  1. #1
    Senior Member RDesignista's Avatar
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    Client's webhost and domain are in another's name...

    Hi everyone,

    I have an odd problem on my hands. I've made a redesign for a client using Wordpress (or turdpress, as some like to call it). The client does not own their webhosting nor their domain. It's registered by someone else. We can't get in touch with that someone else. All we have right now is FTP logins, but those aren't the same as the webhost login for Godaddy cpanel. We've made a lot of efforts to contact the person who registered the domain, but no luck.

    So... what is my plan? I don't know right now. If this "someone else" died or something, then I'm not sure how I would get access to the cpanel and the database/phpmyadmin. I'm guessing I'll have to file a claim with ICAAN? Is that what I should do? Please help. This is just an awful situation.

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Webzarus's Avatar
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    Is the clients name anywhere on the "domain record"?

    if not, its gonna be tough. But it is doable.

    thats the reason why ICAAN requires a domain record contain a name, email address and phone number. I have had good luck with godaddy in the past, when one of my clients former "web people" could not be contacted. Godaddy at one time had a process, I you can prove the domain is being used by your client ( since you have FTP access to the site, you can prove that ), they will make all efforts to contact to person on record, if they can't contact them, they may give you temp access and account details, and help you file the proper claim to take over ownership.

    if your clients name is as a "technical contact"... Or anywhere on the registration, a phone call is all you need to get access to the site.

    this is actually a circumstance where having the domain hosting and registrar the same is beneficial.

    of all the registrars I've ever worked with, GD has always been able to resolve issues like these. Sometimes it takes a couple weeks, sometimes its resolved on the phone when I call... But they always have resolved the issues for me.

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    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    Welcome to the web, Ron. You haven't truly lived until you've tried to get back a domain that belongs to someone else. I had a fight over a .ca domain that one of my clients let expire and a squatter took it over. Took me about 3 weeks to get it all squared up.

    I know with .COMs, certain registrars will accept a fax on company letterhead that states that "we are the rightful owners of this domain and the domain was registered by our previous designer in his/her name without our permission". Yes, I said a fax...this is one of the rare uses for a fax machine. So you may want to try that.

    By the way, it's ICANN. Two Ns, one A. Get y'alls spellin' c'reck, ya Yankee hick bastiges!
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    Senior Member Webzarus's Avatar
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    iPhone Spell check strikes again...and yes the fax thing does work, if the site in question contains the same business info and fax info. If the site on the domain doesn't contain any contact info, ( no don't post it and then call )... If it doesn't have the contact info, they won't accept it. The FAX is to protect them from legal ramifications ... Believe it or not, a FAX transmission is stil a "legal", transmittal of info here in the states. With all the ways to communicate, most lawyers, banks and brokers can't accept an email... But they can accept a fax ... All the freight brokers we use, REQUIRE fax transmissions ( psssst... They cannot tell between a fax via email or a regular fax )...

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    Senior Member RDesignista's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info guys. And I also appreciate legal tidbits about faxes > email.

    Thankfully, the guy finally responded to our emails. It took over a week and a lot of web research (aka googling) to find valid contact info on the guy (I looked through business registration records in Hawaii, Facebook, those random people-data websites), but he finally responded. Saved us the hassle of having to go about trying to seize the domain.

    By the way, I talked to Godaddy support about what we might have to do if the guy was unreachable (dead or in prison). They said that if we don't have the PIN or the last 4 digits of the credit card, we can't touch the account. They do have a special form for seizing domains though. I think one of my old clients had to do that when her ex husband/ex web designer decided to delete their business website as an aftermath of their divorce.

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    Senior Member Webzarus's Avatar
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    Their whole process is a CYA move. They have instituted several layers of security... But as a web consultant I always advise my clients to have their name somewhere on the registration. I setup and provide login credentials for all my clients. For clients that I consult with, but don't actually do their work or they have a 3rd party developer ... 1st thing I do is make sure the domain is in their control ... If not... I don't take them on as a client... Yes, I've gone through this before.. And more times than not, we needed up "starting over"... Which in some cases is a better option anyway.

  8. #7
    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    I'll still take someone who doesn't "own" his/her domain on as a client depending on the TLD, but I let them know upfront that the previous designer/developer "officially owns" the domain and that this can be a painful process. I outline the steps and while I'm working on the site try to get the client's domain back at the same time. It usually only takes, as I said, a few faxes and emails to get the job done.

    This is one of the rare occasions Canada has a setup that is superior to that of the US (I will not say this very often but it's true in this case). With a .CA domain name, anyone with legitimate business interest in the domain can challenge a registration and say "I'm XYZ Company, and XYZCO.CA was registered in bad faith." If the person who registered XYZCO.CA can't prove that (s)he has a legitimate business reason to register it, (s)he must surrender the domain to XYZ Company...even if XYZ Company has never owned the domain previously or had anything to do with it on any level. For example, if XYZCO.CA was registered by a domain squatter, then the domain gets turned over usually in a matter of days. Even the threat of going through CIRA (the .CA governing body) is enough to get it turned over, as if I remember correctly, CIRA can block bad faith registrants from registering future domains. In other words, if you register a .CA, you'd damn well better have a legitimate reason to do it.

    CDRP <-- if anyone wants to read it, it's here.

    If ICANN adopted a similar policy, a lot of this would be solved. It would also be much less likely for this sort of thing to occur if domain registrations were at least 5 years in length, as is the case for business name registrations in at least some jurisdictions.
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    Senior Member Webzarus's Avatar
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    Ok... Not to **** you off ... But ICANN is not a US entity, its an international entity... Sadly... They are based in the US and everyone assumes they are US... But even the US govt. wants nothing to do with them... The only TLD that the is could even think of putting "registry restrictions" on... Would be the .US domains, but the deabeats here don't even want to bother, so the .us domains default back to the loosely manage TLD structure.

    now... I agree for the most part that every country should have and SHOULD manag their own domains.... But when someone registers a domain for "international trademark protection ", it should be honored... That being said... Even china (.CN), when they started managing theirs have everyone with domains registered a chance to "meet their guidelines"... .ca yanked several domains from clients that only had them registered for protection ... Gave them all of 2 weeks to submits some off the wall BS paperwork... Which they did, and my clients got the same BS FORM letter response ... No appeals process, no option to use a proxy... Just ... You don't have a business here, so we are taking back your registration... And keeping the 8 years of registration fees.

    the good thing is, the legal document the provided as reason why my clients couldn't keep the domains, is also the form that will be submitted for any legal action, if they ever allow ANYONE else to register them.

    the bad thing... The CA registry is losing out on about 2k a year on domain registration fees from just 1 of my clients, and another 3-5k from several other clients that had multiple domains registered because of "international trademarks"... But that's ok... My clients get free protection now... Or better.

    ICANN has become about as useless and beauracratic as any govt. agency... Since they only get $.19 ( that's 19 cents ) for every TLD registered, how do they make money ? It cost about $15k to contest and arbritrate a domain dispute... Last year they handled about 4-5000 cases.

    they (ICANN) has no desire to change their process, it would cost the $$$ a year if they fixed their screwed up mess.
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  10. #9
    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    Right...I actually forgot about the international thing, mostly because what few dealings I've had with ICANN have been US-related. Didn't **** me off at all...I should have remembered that.

    I agree with you on the international trademark protection and that it should be honored. I haven't heard of that before, but then again every fight I've ever had involving a .CA domain was based on legitimate business interests on my clients' part (they had a business registration and they could prove legitimate business interests). I've never really had an issue with their paperwork myself, but then again my approach is different than yours.

    The .US thing is actually "managed on behalf of" the US Department of Commerce by Neustar, although the "management" is based on certain terms and conditions. If you look on the bottom of the neustar dot us home page, there are a few sites that have been built in exchange for the right to run the registry (not linked to by design). A couple of the sites are "inh, okay" but a couple are absolute disasters, and without getting into a lot of detail and revealing things I shouldn't, try dealing with those guys if you enjoy proverbial dog and pony shows...it takes them three weeks minimum to get two lines of text changed.
    If I've helped you out in any way, please pay it forward. My wife and I are walking for Autism Speaks. Please donate, and thanks.

    If someone helped you out, be sure to "Like" their post and/or help them in kind. The "Like" link is on the bottom right of each post, beside the "Share" link.

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