Should registrars allow anyone to renew a domain? – Domain name thread
The eth.link case raises an interesting question.
Earlier this month, the eth.link domain name expired because the domain owner did not renew it. He had a pretty good excuse: he’s in jail.
Interested parties in the field tried to renew it. It’s unclear what they did to try to renew it, and I’m not sure it was renewed. I think people who think the domain has been renewed might confuse the registration expiry date with clerk expiration date.
But this case begs the question: should anyone be allowed to renew a domain name in someone else’s name?
Some registrars allow this. Tucows’ retail brand, Hover, made this possible in 2010. It found that more than a third of support tickets were related to renewals. People forgot their ID or wanted to renew the domain for someone else who was unable to do so at the time.
This change probably saved Hover and its customers a lot of headaches. And that means Hover is keeping a subscriber it might otherwise have lost.
So why a registrar not allow people to renew domains for other people?
There are extreme cases that could create headaches.
Suppose I discover that one of the domains in my account infringes on a trademark that I didn’t know existed. I decide to let the domain expire but someone else renews it on my behalf. I get a lawsuit for cybersquatting a year later. Whose fault is it ?
Or, in the case of eth.link, the domain owner is in jail for helping North Korea evade sanctions. If someone renews the domain for them, who is the real registrant? The person who renewed the domain did not enter into a contract with the registrar (GoDaddy in this case).
Contracts and registrar agreements are probably one of the main reasons more registrars haven’t enabled sign-less renewals. A registration agreement is effective as long as someone is the registrant of a domain name. If they want the contract to end, should someone else be able to extend it on their behalf?
I would be curious to know what other registrars think.
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