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Your Piece of Cyber Real Estate

by S. Denise Hoyle

In a landmark case, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals has just
stated that domain names, despite their virtual nature, should
be treated exactly as a "plot of land" would be. This is a huge
victory for all domain name registrants, not just for Gary
Kremen who can now continue his lawsuit against Network
Solutions for allowing the theft of his domain name.
NSI had argued that domain names are intangible property and
therefore they could not be held liable for damages. (Kremen vs.
Cohen Case #01-15899)

This ruling means that traditional property protections can now
be legally applied to domain names. Further, the ruling firmly
establishes that domain names are valuable properties and shows
that old-fashioned property laws also apply to the registration
of web addresses.

While this ruling may also aid victims of electronic fraud and
identity theft, this article focuses on the impact on domain
rights. Since domain names are now officially looked upon as
cyber real estate, domain holders should be aware of their
rights and take steps to protect them. For instance, a domain
name can be extremely valuable on its own - as examples sold for $7,500,000 and sold for
$3,000,000. Domain names can also have a "value in use" - an
example of this might be, which doesn't have a
defined meaning and probably wouldn't be worth very much on its
own, however it provides a valuable service and is ranked #5 in
traffic on the internet and as such has a very high value in use.

Just as your home or other property is considered to be an
investment, so are your rights to a domain name. In the event of
your death your domain rights will become part of your estate.
If you were to get a divorce, it may be left up to the courts to
decide who gets to keep the domain name, and whether one party
will need to pay the other party for half of the value of the

Since your domain name is your piece of cyber real estate, it
should be valued in the same fashion as your home or other
property would, using the same tried and true principles.

Additionally, you should take any necessary steps to protect
your domain as you would your other properties - such as
including your wishes regarding your domain name in your will.
Although registrars are now legally responsible for safeguarding
the rights of domain name holders, domain registrants should
also take all available steps to protect themselves.

About the Author:
S. Denise Hoyle is President and co-founder of, the domain name portal offering
expert domain name and developed web site appraisal services
from certified appraisers.

© Copyright 2003, S. Denise Hoyle. All Rights Reserved

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