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ThePirateBay.org to sell for $10 million

Kevin Murphy, April 27, 2010, Domain Sales

A failed corporate calendar company, Business Marketing Services, says it has made a deal to buy controversial Bittorrent domain thepiratebay.org for $10 million.

This is a strange one. On the face of it, the deal looks like a reverse acquisition with a shell company, designed to get The Pirate Bay a US stockmarket listing.

BMS is listed on the OTC market. According to its last 10-K filing, Hans Pandeya bought a controlling 78% interest in the company this January, for $325,000.

Pandeya is the majority shareholder of Global Gaming Factory X, the Swedish company which last June said it was going to buy The Pirate Bay for $8 million.

That deal, which was widely questioned at the time, does not appear to have ever closed.

Today, BMS said it will buy the thepiratebay.org domain name, and has issued a promissory note in the value of $10 million, deliverable on June 30, 2010.

That’s the same date that GGF thinks it will close the acquisition

Are you following this? Basically, GGF is buying thepiratebay.org, and BMS is buying it off GGF on the same day, assuming the cash exists. Both firms are owned by Pandeya.

As for BMS, it’s a phenomenally unsuccessful company that tried, and failed, to build a business making corporate-branded calendars.

The company is so small it’s barely there. Check out its last 10-K.

We planned to initially print 3,000 wall planners for each industry group that we targeted and distribute them to members of the targeted industry or profession free of charge. Our plan was to generate revenue solely through the sale of advertising space on the wall planners. These wall planners would have been produced upon our sale of all the available advertising space. To date, we have not produced any wall planners… As of December 31, 2009 we had $946 in cash.

This outfit couldn’t even print 3,000 calendars, and now it is the shell into which The Pirate Bay will be reversed.

BMS said it is planning “to use the acquired assets to launch a paid for service with licensed content based on next generation filesharing technology”.

The Pirate Bay was the internet’s most popular source of bootleg torrents. Its back-story is all very complicated.

Wikipedia’s probably your best bet.

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Band loses domain, gets $300k anyway

Kevin Murphy, April 27, 2010, Domain Sales

A British pub band forgot to renew its domain name, but wound up £200,000 richer anyway, courtesy of an original work from the popular graffiti artist Banksy.

According to the Bristol Evening Post, Exit Through The Gift Shop was gifted a painting valued by Sotheby’s at £200,000 ($307,000) after it agreed to change its name to avoid a clash with the title of Banksy’s new film.

But was there also another benefactor, the person who caught exitthroughthegiftshop.com when it dropped and sold it to Banksy?

The band’s drummer said:

“We had lost the domain name as we had forgotten to renew it, and when we phoned up to ask to buy it back, the man said no, that we wouldn’t be able to afford it, and that he was the agent for the person who had the domain name.”

Whois records show that exitthroughthegiftshop.com dropped in March 2008, when it was promptly re-registered by somebody who hid behind an eNom privacy service.

The domain was transferred to its present owner (no, it’s not Banksy, I checked) two days before it was due to expire in March last year. Presumably, it was sold.

Did a domainer make a killing in artwork?

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Go Daddy plays down “massive” attack claim

Kevin Murphy, April 26, 2010, Domain Registrars

Malicious hackers have compromised a number of WordPress installations running on Go Daddy hosting, but the company claims very few customers were affected.

Slashdot carried a story a few hours ago, linking to a blog claiming a “massive” breach of security at the domain name registrar.

(EDIT: as noted in the comments, this blog may itself have been hacked, so I’ve removed the link. You can find it in the comments if you want to take the risk.)

But Go Daddy says the problem is not as widespread as it sounds.

“We received reports from a handful of Go Daddy customers using WordPress their websites were impacted by the script in question,” Go Daddy security chief Todd Redfoot said in a statement.

“We immediately opened an investigation into what happened, how it was done and how many sites were affected,” he said. “The investigation is currently ongoing.”

The attack is certainly not ubiquitous. I host a number of WordPress sites with Go Daddy, including this one, and they all appear to be working fine today.

And a Twitter search reveals no references to an attack today prior to the Slashdot post, apart from the blog it was based on.

That doesn’t prove anything, but when Network Solutions’ WordPress hosting was breached last week there was a lot more tweet noise. That attack had thousands of victims.

For those interested in the details of the attack, this WordPress security blog appears to be the best place to get the nitty-gritty.

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.co enters pricey global sunrise

Kevin Murphy, April 26, 2010, Domain Registries

Trademark holders can from today apply for their brands as .co domain names, even if they do not do business in Colombia.

The second stage of .CO Internet’s sunrise period allows owners of non-Colombian trademarks to apply for their domains through one of 10 chosen launch registrars.

Prices vary from $225 with OpenSRS to $335 through Dotster, with most deals comprising non-refundable application fees plus first-year registration. Go Daddy is charging $299.99 and Network Solutions is charging $279.99.

With the possible exception of .xxx, I’ve got a suspicion that this could be one of the last “generic” TLD launches with such expensive sunrise periods.

It’s quite possible there could be pricing pressure if ICANN quickly approves a few hundred new gTLDs next year. If each charges ~$300 for a pre-launch, it could cause some some registrants to rethink their defensive registration strategies.

The .co sunrise ends June 10. General availability begins July 20.

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Comwired buys DNS.com for relaunch

Kevin Murphy, April 26, 2010, Domain Services

Comwired has acquired the domain name DNS.com in order to relaunch as a provider of managed enterprise DNS services.

The company announced this morning that it bought the domain, first registered in 1991 and previously parked, for an undisclosed amount.

The transaction appears to have happened at the end of last month and the site is already live.

With the acquisition, Comwired looks like it’s targeting the market for high-availability DNS resolution currently occupied by the likes of Neustar, Afilias and Dynamic Network Services.

The company was perhaps previously best-known for the geographic traffic-splitting service it offered to domainers and others.

The Whois record for DNS.com still shows a Moniker private registration, which I speculate would not be an exactly comforting sight for would-be enterprise customers.

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Kurds seek new cultural gTLD

Kevin Murphy, April 26, 2010, Domain Registries

A Kurdish company will apply to ICANN for a .kurd or .kur top-level domain to represent cultural Kurds.

The application will join the likes of .cat, and expected gTLD applications including .scot, .cym, .bzh, and .gal, which promise representation to “cultural”, but non-geographic, user bases.

The potential community for .kurd is around 35 million people, according to Wikipedia, over three times the size of the international Catalan community represented by .cat.

While many Kurds live in middle-eastern nations such as Iran and Iraq, there are almost 14 million living in Turkey, likely soon to be part of the European Union, according to the CIA World Factbook.

I’ve been told that a non-profit cultural gTLD needs only about 10,000 registrations to stay afloat; this seems easily achievable.

The dotKurd application has a web site and a Twitter feed.

The brains behind the TLD is a German-resident software developer called Aras Noori. He recently wrote to ICANN chief Rod Beckstrom, outlining his plan.

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Two-letter .info auctions get go-ahead

Kevin Murphy, April 25, 2010, Domain Registries

ICANN has approved Afilias’ request to auction off its reserve of one and two-letter .info domain names.

The company seems to be planning to allocate the names both at auction and through a request-for-proposals process that would see registrants promise to develop and market their .info sites.

Any big partnerships could provide a welcome profile boost to .info, which has been around for a decade but still only grows about as much in a year as .com does in a month.

While auctions could also bring a nice windfall to the company, Afilias can expect to come under pressure from certain trademark holders to keep their brands off the market.

Volkswagen’s lawyers apparently “threatened every action in the book” to keep vw.biz out of Neustar’s allocation process for two-letter .biz names last year.

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ICM launches .xxx letter-writing campaign

Kevin Murphy, April 24, 2010, Domain Registries

ICM Registry looks like it has taken a leaf from its opponents’ playbook, and is encouraging supporters of the proposed .xxx top-level domain to send form letters to ICANN.

The company has revamped its web site this week, to make it look a little less 2005, and part of the revamp is this page, which allows users to quickly send emails supporting the TLD to ICANN’s public comment forum, which ends May 10.

The letter addresses the substantial concerns of the comment period — namely, how ICANN should process the .xxx application in the light of February’s IRP decision, which says ICANN was wrong to reject .xxx in 2007.

In recent weeks, Christian groups and the pro-porn Free Speech Coalition have organized campaigns aimed at protesting .xxx. Both campaigns have resulted in large numbers of emails flooding ICANN.

The Christian letters are way off-topic, basically just anti-porn rants.

While the FSC letters do address ICANN’s question, they largely challenge the idea that .xxx has community support. This may end up not being a consideration for the Board.

By contrast, ICM’s letters go directly to ICANN’s core mantras of accountability and equality.

Its letter says: “Picking and choosing elements of the Panel’s declaration, or adding unnecessary procedural steps in adopting the review’s findings, would be a clear sign to the global Internet community that the organization cannot be relied upon to do its job fairly and objectively.”

The new ICM web site does, however, bear the new slogan “It’s time for adult websites to self label”.

It seems to me that this could be quite easily interpreted as a call for all adult web sites to use .xxx, which I’m pretty sure is not ICM’s intention.

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A timely domain drop – iquitfacebook.com

Kevin Murphy, April 23, 2010, Domain Sales

The domain name iquitfacebook.com is dropping this weekend, and it couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time.

Facebook has walked into a bit of a privacy nightmare by announcing it will start to give third-party sites access to user data, leading some people to quit the service.

The site has already been called “Privacy Enemy Number One”, and there are dozens of other pieces of commentary and news picking holes in the new Facebook features.

Widely followed Googler Matt Cutts also raised eyebrows when he said he had deactivated his Facebook account today, and others are following suit.

“I just deactivated my Facebook account using the guide at http://goo.gl/rhpE Not hard to do & you can still revive it later,” Cutts tweeted earlier today.

Is there an opportunity for an enterprising domainer to capitalize on a trend here?

The name iquitfacebook.com is pending delete this weekend. It’s listed on SnapNames with an April 24 deadline, and has already attracted six bidders on Namejet, with a high bid of $79.

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ICANN picks Colombia for December meeting

Kevin Murphy, April 22, 2010, Domain Policy

ICANN chief Rod Beckstrom has just confirmed via Twitter that Cartagena, Colombia has been picked for the organization’s December meeting.

Judging from US State Department reports, the country is nowadays not nearly as scary as it was when Joan Wilder made a flying visit to rescue her sister in 1984.

Still, I’m guessing we’ll still see a little bit of that nervousness and paranoia that usually rears its head when ICANN heads for cities with a reputation for violent crime.

Terrorism concerns in Kenya caused many US stakeholders to stay at home and brave unreasonably early mornings participating remotely.

Even the choice of Mexico City caused a bit of a stir last year.

Personally, I’d love to see ICANN hold a meeting in Oakland or Baltimore, just to see what the security advisory looks like.

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