How To Get Cheap And Reliable Web Hosting & Domains

I’ve been an Internet programmer for about 10 years now and in that time I’ve tried several web hosting companies for my ecommerce sites. Unfortunately most web hosting provider were a big disappointment, some were quite good for some months but after a while the service or uptimes became horrible. So far I’ve been with about 10 different hosts. Here are a few rules you should follow before forking out your cash.

1. Check some forums like Webhostingtalk and see what people say about a particular company. There are lots of experts who know what they are talking about. There is also a forum where you can basically post your needs and many companies will compete with great deals.

2. Go for a company which is not too big but also not too small. If its a one-man show you never know what this guy is doing with your files if nobody looks over his shoulder. Also what happen to your websites if he suddenly drops dead because of a heart attack or he’s involved in a car crash? On the other hand if the company is too big then there’s a good chance that its very impersonal and nobody really cares about you. Smaller companies tend to be more flexible and are more likely to suit your needs.

3. If you are already with a web host don’t move all your sites immediately. First test the waters for a couple of weeks or at least days. Use internet tools to check the uptimes.

4. Make a list of your needs beforehand. For instance if you need shell access (SSH) there’s no point if you test the host and like it but later you need shell access and they don’t have it. For those who do not need shell access it might be better to go for one which does not offer it because that will mean more security for you.

5. If you go for a new host check if they offer a 30 day money back guarantee like most do. However often there is a catch like its a pro-rated refund, that means you can’t be refunded for the period you used their service. This is of course in the small print, so make sure its a full money back guarantee. Also if you do not live in the US and you buy webspace from a US company you might lose money when they refund due to the currency conversion. So it might be better to pay only for one month and not pay for one whole year even if thats cheaper in the long run.

6. If you what to find a long term host go for one which has been in business for a couple of years. Web host tend to disappear very quickly due to the cutthroat nature of this business. Check the PageRank of their website (it should be at least 3 or 4) and go to the Wayback Machine at Archive.org to see how long the site exists.

7. During the trial period ask some questions even if you just want to test them. That way you can find out how competent they are and how fast they answer.

8. Find a host which is based in the center of where most your customers are based. Also be aware that US host are often the cheapest, so based on that the best location is often the East Coast in America since its close to US and European customers. The NAC center in Parsippany (New Jersey) in the North East of the USA is quite good and many webhosting companies buy webspace at wholesale prices from them.

9. If you not only want cheap webspace but a webhosting provider with a “community feel” check out if they have a busy forum and other community features like a most wanted list of new features, etc.

10. If it’s a smallish company it can never harm to ask for a special deal or a discount. Some even offer a free domain with the packages. However I prefer to separate webspace and domains to be more independent. I recommend Namecheap, Dotster and Godaddy to buy Domains. Don’t pay more than 15 US Dollar per year or you are wasting money.

So all in all there isn’t really a best web hosting service. Everybody has different needs. Don’t put up too long with a bad webhost, there are many good ones with great deals. Some even help you transferring your websites for free if you want to change web hosts. Check the original blog post here (http://www.bookmark-manager.com/permalink-71) I’ll keep it up-to-date and will be adding more tips.

Introduction to .uk Domain Disputes

The .uk registry is the world’s fourth largest (after the .com, .org and .de registries). It is administered by Nominet, a not-for-profit company based in Oxford, England. Nominet acts not just as the .uk registry, but also as the .uk dispute resolution service provider.

Nominet does not use the UDRP for dispute resolution, but has instead created a distinctive system inspired by the UDRP. The substantive rules governing .uk disputes are set out in Nominet’s dispute resolution policy document (referred to below simply as the “Policy”) and its dispute resolution procedure document.

Procedural rules

The Nominet dispute resolution procedure is a close relative of the UDRP procedure. However, there are some important differences.

There is a free mediation service built in to the Nominet procedure. The mediation process involves a neutral third party who tries to bring the complainant and respondent to agreement through “shuttle diplomacy”. If the parties can resolve their dispute before the mediation period comes to a close, Nominet waives its fee.

Another distinctive feature of the Nominet procedure is the possibility of appealing an expert’s decision (in Nominet proceedings, panellists are called “experts”). By contrast there is no appeal – other than to a court of law – from a decision under the UDRP or the EURid rules.

A single expert always decides “first instance cases”. Should either party appeal the first instance decision, a three member panel will be appointed to decide the appeal. At the time of writing, there have only ever been six appeals.

The Nominet fee is always paid by the complainant. At present, that fee stands at £750 plus VAT. There is also a fee of £3000 plus VAT payable by a person invoking the appeal procedure.

The remedies available are cancellation or transfer. Unlike in UK litigation, there are no provisions for the unsuccessful party to pay the successful party’s costs.

Substantive rules

Basic rule is that: “A Respondent must submit to proceedings under the Dispute Resolution Service if a Complainant asserts to us, according to the Procedure, that: (i) The Complainant has Rights in respect of a name or mark which is identical or similar to the Domain Name; and (ii) The Domain Name, in the hands of the Respondent, is an Abusive Registration.” (Paragraph 2(a) of the Policy.)

“Rights” are treated in a similar way to rights under the UDRP: the test is not a difficult one to meet.

The idea of an “Abusive Registration” maps imperfectly on to the concepts of legitimate interest and bad faith under the UDRP.

Rights in a name or mark…

Paragraph 1 of the Nominet Policy provides that: “‘Rights’ includes, but is not limited to, rights enforceable under English law. However, a Complainant will be unable to rely on rights in a name or term which is wholly descriptive of the Complainant’s business.”

In practice these rights are often rights arising out of registered UK or Community trade marks.

However, the rights can also be rights in the tort of passing off. This is a complex subject, but most experts will be prepare to accept that a complainant has unregistered trade mark rights which could give rise to an action in passing off where the complainant can show substantial use of a mark or name as a trade mark in the UK. It is probably fair to say that the standard of proof required by Nominet experts of these unregistered rights is significantly lower than that required by the English courts in a passing off action – although in passing off cases the evidence is usually being used to prove a different point.

Rights can also mean contractual rights – e.g. where one person has contracted with another to transfer the domain, but then refuses to do so.

…which is identical or similar to the domain name

Because most Nominet experts have at least some expertise of trade mark law, the concepts of identity and similarity are heavily conditioned by the comparable concepts in trade mark law.

As regards identity, the domain name extensions are ignored, so that the trade mark MERCEDES is identical to the domain name mercedes.co.uk. Similar formal differences (e.g. the use of hyphens in a domain name in place of spaces) should not upset a finding of identity.

Similarity is more difficult. In European trade mark law there is a concept which may be called “confusing similarity”, and it is this concept which experts are accustomed to apply when comparing one mark to another. The question is: would the public be confused by the use of the marks or names, or associate one with the other. Judging by the detail of experts’ decisions, a similar question is often asked in .uk domain name dispute arbitrations.

Abusive registration

“‘Abusive Registration’ means a Domain Name which either: (i) was registered or otherwise acquired in a manner which, at the time when the registration or acquisition took place, took unfair advantage of or was unfairly detrimental to the Complainant’s Rights; OR (ii) has been used in a manner which took unfair advantage of or was unfairly detrimental to the Complainant’s Rights.” (Paragraph 1 of the Nominet Policy)

Note that the abuse can take place either at the time of registration/acquisition or subsequently. In either case, the key ideas are those of taking “unfair advantage of” or being “unfairly detrimental to” the complainant’s rights.

Proving an allegation of abusive registration

A non-exhaustive list of factors which may be evidence that the domain name is an abusive registration is set out in paragraph 3(a) of the Nominet Policy:

“(i) Circumstances indicating that the Respondent has registered or otherwise acquired the Domain Name primarily: (A) for the purposes of selling, renting or otherwise transferring the Domain Name to the Complainant or to a competitor of the Complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of the Respondent’s documented out-of-pocket costs directly associated with acquiring or using the Domain Name; (B) as a blocking registration against a name or mark in which the Complainant has Rights; or (C) for the purpose of unfairly disrupting the business of the Complainant;

(ii) Circumstances indicating that the Respondent is using the Domain Name in a way which has confused people or businesses into believing that the Domain Name is registered to, operated or authorised by, or otherwise connected with the Complainant;

(iii) The Complainant can demonstrate that the Respondent is engaged in a pattern of registrations where the Respondent is the registrant of domain names (under .uk or otherwise) which correspond to well known names or trade marks in which the Respondent has no apparent rights, and the Domain Name is part of that pattern;

(iv) It is independently verified that the Respondent has given false contact details to us; or

(v) The domain name was registered as a result of a relationship between the Complainant and the Respondent, and the Complainant: (A) has been using the domain name registration exclusively; and (B) paid for the registration and/or renewal of the domain name registration.”

Because of paragraph 3(c)(i) of the Policy, it is unwise to offer to sell the domain to a trade mark owner where there is a dispute or the potential for a dispute. Another effect of that paragraph is that it is easier for a complainant to prove his or her case where a domain name is used commercially. For this purpose, commercial use includes serving pay-per-click advertising or carrying affiliate links.

Paragraph 3(c)(v) is designed to deal with the all-too-common situation where an employee of a company (often in the IT department) or service provider to a company (often a web developer) registers domain name reflecting the company’s trade marks, and then refuses to transfer the domain name when a dispute arises.

Disproving an allegation of abusive registration

A non-exhaustive list of factors which may be evidence that the domain name is not an abusive registration is set out in paragraph 4(a) of the Policy:

“(i) Before being aware of the Complainant’s cause for complaint (not necessarily the ‘complaint’ under the DRS), the Respondent has: (A) used or made demonstrable preparations to use the Domain Name or a Domain Name which is similar to the Domain Name in connection with a genuine offering of goods or services; (B) been commonly known by the name or legitimately connected with a mark which is identical or similar to the Domain Name; (C) made legitimate non-commercial or fair use of the Domain Name; or

(ii) The Domain Name is generic or descriptive and the Respondent is making fair use of it;

(iii) In relation to paragraph 3(a)(v) [registration as a result of a relationship between the parties]; that the Registrant’s holding of the Domain Name is consistent with an express term of a written agreement entered into by the Parties; or

(iv) In relation to paragraphs 3(a)(iii) and/or 3(c) [pattern of abusive conduct]; that the Domain Name is not part of a wider pattern or series of registrations because the Domain Name is of a significantly different type or character to the other domain names registered by the Respondent.”

Paragraph 4(a)(ii) is arguably one of the most important in the Policy. Controversially, some experts have read this rather narrowly, such that domain names which are 100% descriptive of the business in which they are being used are being transferred to complainants in circumstances where it would be extremely difficult if not impossible to put together a credible case in the High Court.

Conclusions

The Nominet procedure is inexpensive and efficient, and the quality of expert decision-making tends to be reasonable. However, the procedure is by no means perfect: it is a blunt instrument and from time to time decisions are issued which seem unfair, at least inasmuch as they represent a significant extension of trade mark owners’ rights over the position in trade mark law. Moreover, the very fact that there is a distinct set of rules governing .uk domains (and a distinct dispute resolute procedure) means that, where a dispute involves other domain name extensions as well, there is extra expense.

Controlling Copyright: Stifling Creativity, Innovation and Growth?

Debate over copyright is not a matter of new. However, since the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act (“CTEA”) 1998 came into law in the US and The Duration of Copyright and Rights in Performances Regulations 1995 (SI 1995/3297) was introduced in the UK, (implementing the European Economic Community, Council Directive No.93/98/EEC), controls over copyright have been a matter of contention.

Copyright protects software, literary and artistic creations. It is a branch of intellectual property law, that protects the skill, labour and time spent in the production of creative cultural works (the ‘intellectual property’), also referred to as ‘public goods’ because of their availability in the public domain. Copyright protects the intangible asset imbedded or fixed within a physical object, for example, the text within a book, or the music on a CD rather than the book or the CD itself.

Historically, it has never been easy for any author of literary or artistic creations to successfully sell their cultural works without a contract from a large media corporation such as a major book publishing company, film studio or recording label. During the 1950’s and 60’s, the music industry in the UK, in particular, saw many independent labels (often set up by producers and artists as outlets for their work), fail as commercial enterprises or simply get taken over by larger corporations, as a result of the power held by these major companies. The inability of any author to fully exploit the rights vested in their works has generally meant they are forced to sell or assign their rights to a third party who has the means for production and distribution of those works. This essentially led to the growth and development of media enterprises that now exist as large powerful, media corporations. These corporations who buy copyright from artists, or invest and commission production of such products, concentrate copyrights within their own institutions. These are the organisations who are most concerned about misappropriation of copyright material and who have been seizing control through the use of technical protection measures (TPMs) and content management systems (CMSs), with the full backing of the law.

Legislative changes in favour of commerce

The ease with which copyright material can now be copied and disseminated, particularly via the internet means the cost of enforcing the law within and beyond national boundaries is a burdensome task for any State. Media corporations who have invested in intellectual property, are primarily concerned about protecting their investments, and the threat perceived to be posed by cyberspace has driven industry to lobby the state for changes in the law to protect these investment. As a result, the responsibility for enforcement of rights has shifted to the author to determine access as they see fit, the legal foundations for this having been laid down by law.

Following on from the Berne Convention, the WIPO Treaty of 1996, established the initial framework, providing authors of literary and artistic works, the “exclusive right of authorizing any communication to the public of their works, by wire or wireless means”; it provided contracting States, the power to employ “effective legal remedies against the circumvention of effective technological measures” which the authors may use to exercise their rights and “effective legal remedies” against unauthorised removal of electronic rights management information and distribution, broadcast or communication of any material that has been subject to removal of rights management information.

For some time now, corporations have been employing TPMs (electronic means to protect against access, i.e. encrypted material that can only be accessed after purchase of key) and CMSs (visible or non-visible material design to track use of copyright material) to control use of their intellectual property. The film and tv industry have also initiated public campaigns to make people more aware that unauthorised copying or downloading of copyright material is theft. Many in the UK, will be familiar with the “knock-off Nigel campaign”, initiated in 2007. For some time, the finger has also been directed at ISP providers to cooperate in the war against copyright theft and in 2010, the UK introduced the Digital Economy Act. This acts grants powers to rights holders to work in conjunction with ISP providers, to facilitate tracking down and suing persistent infringers of copyright. The process involves the rights holder gathering IP addresses of acts of infringement, supplying this information to the ISP provider who in turn is requested to provide an anonymous list of all subscribers deemed to have reached the threshold level of infringement (as determined by Ofcom). This information is then presented before a Judge, for a Court Order requesting the names of the subscribers, and from this, litigation against the alleged offender can be instituted.

Are we moving in the right direction?

It is not unreasonable to expect there to be fair compensation for the time, effort, labour and skill invested in cultural works. However, a balance needs to be established between commercial rights and society’s right to gain access to knowledge and information. The fundamental flaw of a system in which law passes enforcement to the hands of commerce is that with their self-interests at heart, public interests are not a consideration for these private companies. This contradicts the basic and historic principal purpose of copyright as a means of incentivising creation, encouraging learning, and enabling the cultural enrichment of society. Simply put, a vested right to the author and user.

Advances in digital technology, the internet and growth of social networking sites, have been instrumental in facilitating access to the means of production and distribution of cultural works enabling creators of such to market their work. The movie, Blair Witch Project,1999, was an early testament to this, and it is now easier to self-publish and distribute your own book online or make your music available to others globally. However, this technology has also created another avenue for corporations to seek out and acquire more intellectual property rights. A number of recording artists like Justin Bieber have been discovered, signed up, and packaged after being spotted on YouTube. This in itself can be a barrier to individual creativity, as the artist is generally obliged to comply with some formulaic economic marketing model designed and determined by the record company.

In exploring the argument that copyright laws stifle creativity, we need only look at the continued exploitation of works in the public domain by the Disney Corporation. This organisation strategically chose to create films from public domain material (such as Little Red Riding Hood; Jack and the Bean Stalk, and Snow White), because audiences were familiar with these characters (from traditional folk tales), and they provided an already established fan base, which created a safer economic bet that audience would come to see the latest version of the tale. A sensible, strategic commercial decision, most would agree. However, such was Walt Disney’s commitment to using public domain works, he would wait until he was quite sure all rights had lapsed before proceeding with any project (the reason his Alice in Wonderland movie was put on hold until 1951). No doubt, using public domain material is a safe option in economic terms, but on the flip side, it thwarts effort in new creativity as what we have is a regurgitation, albeit adapted, of already existent material.

Harvard Professor, Lawrence Lessig, has been vocal about developments in the law thwarting creative expression. In a speech he gave at New York Public Library, on 26 February 2009, he spoke about the video of a 13 months old child dancing to music, that was uploaded YouTube by the child’s mother to share with her mother, and how the rightholder demanded the social networking site remove this video because it infringed their copyright. He spoke also of a photo of Obama, which had been graphically adapted, and the rightholder subsequently demanding payment from the artist for the right to that creative expression. Lessig questioned where we are heading when “serious people sitting around a serious conference table” feel it necessary “to invoke the laws of congress” to such expression or personal rights of enjoyment (as in the aforementioned case). Equally I ask, is the direction we are heading really where we want to go?

Conclusion:

The current system is without doubt weighted in favour of commercial interests in copyright. The objective of the Government is to encourage innovation and growth. However with the emphasis on infringement, and developments in the law that force ISP providers into becoming enforcers of copyright law (the Digital Economy Act, is a clear illustration of this), it is likely the direction we are heading will be counter-productive to innovation and growth. A system that is too weak can no doubt limit innovation and reduce the incentive to produce and supply cultural goods, by failing to provide the opportunity for a satisfactory return on investment. However, a system which overly protects IPRs can be both socially and economically counter-productive as it can hinder the dissemination of cultural works, and also reduce innovation by stifling opportunities to explore and develop new models that exploit the internet and digital services. Past technological developments are testimony to this. The popularity of television in the 60s was initially viewed as a threat to the studios, before they realised the potential revenue that could be gleaned from old movies left sitting in their archives. Equally so, video recorders, cable TV and DVD were seen as a threat to the studios until they recognised the economic windows of opportunity available through an extended distribution chain.

Balancing commercial interests in public goods against the provision of public goods for the cultural enrichment of society, whilst incentivising innovation and creating growth, is by no means a simple task. So, in trying to establish a system which balances both objectives, where should the focus lie?

The answer is likely to be found in exploring the concept that infringement is not the most critical barrier to innovation, and by revisiting current economic models and exploring options for developing new ones.

Industry claims some £400m a year is lost due to acts of copyright infringement in the UK, but does the amount of revenue claimed to be lost as a result of acts of infringement actually outweigh the costs of enforcement? Following a Freedom of Information Act request, Ofcom revealed, the cost of implementing the DEA between 2010-2012, to be c. £6 million. These costs are expected to be recouped from rightsholders and ISP providers who will be responsible for the cost of enforcement to the ratio of 75:25 respectively. Realistically, these costs are likely be clawed back from consumers, which means that prices would need to rise to accommodate this.

Perhaps we should take some lessons from the past, and consider the money spent on legislative changes, tracking down infringers, and the litigation and prosecution of individuals for acts of infringement, might be better spent in researching new ways in which the internet and digital technology can be exploited to provide new business models, and also putting in place more effective methods of working with consumers/the public at large to build respect for copyright. If energies were directed as such, maybe we would move much closer to a system which rewarded commercial investment in cultural works, encouraged innovation and growth, whilst facilitating fair and reasonable access for all members of society.

Industry Secret Revealed – .com Brand Abuse – And What You Can Do to Prevent It

Of all 288 top level domains .com is still the Godfather. It is by far the most registered top level domain. Companies use it as their main domain and investors confide in it to generate revenue traffic.

And here emerges the potential clash as brand-related domains are great for revenue traffic, hence converting investors into domain pirates and companies into victims of brand abuse.
If you are not Google with a budget to secure thousands of brand related .com domains then a less ambitious approach will still work. First action step is to test your brand against the top 10 most common terms for .com domains used by domain pirates and register domains still available. the terms can be tested at our web site.

Here are the 10 terms for .com which are used together with company brands

1. wwwbrand.com
2. mybrand.com
3. ebrand.com
4. thebrand.com
5. buybrand.com
6. brandonline.com
7. brandsucks.com
8. brandusa.com
9. brands.com
10. brandcom.com

A new study conducted by Corporation Service Company concludes that domain pirates are more skilled than brand owners at using domain names to obtain direct traffic to their own web sites.

47 top brands were examined for 100.000 brand-specific domain names and the results were surprising. 72% of all domain names did not belong to the brand owners. The traffic revenue generated from these domains was sufficient for domain investors to become domain pirates.
The study furthermore revealed that the most abused business sectors are :

– Banking and financial services
– Consumer electronics
– Telecoms
– Computer industry

.com is by far the top level domain where most brand abuse is happening. Other popular brand abuse domains are generic top level domains (org,biz,info,net) and European top level domains where there are no restrictions: .de, .co.uk, .be and .eu.