The recent media attention about the Chris Bosh case is worth noting. While the case itself is not news, it is noteworthy because it raises public awareness around the alternative courses of action that are available beyond UDRP. It is also a reminder of the the potential consequence of registering a name in bad faith even where there is no registered trademark as is often the case with celebrities.
The Epik network powers a number of person-related fan sites across several categories: actors, athletes, politicians, etc. The notion of a “federated Wikipedia” that maps domains to relevant content is a core aspect of the Epik vision for the future of the web. I view it as unfinished business related to the architecture of the namespace, and in particular the dot-com namespace. I sometimes call this “Cleaning up the web”.
Why does the web need to be cleaned up? I believe that to a large extent the “original sin” was allowing first come, first serve registrations. This applies to any TLD. There are even TLDs whose business model is heavily predicated on people and businesses reserving names just for the purposes of protecting their brand. That makes no sense to me. The namespace is polluted enough. This is the main reason I am actually against new TLDs.
So, how can the domain community go about the process of cleaning up this mess? There are several proactive steps that can be taken.
- The Epik network has created a platform that matches what we believe to be authoritative content to domains. If a domain matches the identity of a famous person, it is easy to know it. Domainers can check their portfolios free of charge just by submitting the names here.
- The sites that get created about celebrities are evolving as we experiment with new templates. Here is a typical site. It merges community, content and relevant cross-linking.
- In some cases, Epik’s site has been named an “official fan site” by the subject matter of their site, or their authorized representative. In all other cases, we include a footer that prominently states that the site is not affiliated with the celebrity.
- Once a fan site is live, any correspondence that comes to a fan site that appears to be intended for the celebrity is routed onwards to the extent that their contact details are known. Otherwise, the correspondence is kept on file for eventual forwarding.
- We offer the subject of a fansite direct editorial influence over the site. In the vast majority of cases, they are delighted to see a professional organization developing a fan site, all the while knowing that they have editorial influence (unlike Wikipedia, YouTube, etc).
While there is no best way to clean up the web, I believe it is the responsibility of all domainers to do their part.