Then you imagine that the name of the carrier or his business could not appear on a business card? Or that a judge ordered to remove a huge light sign from the headquarters of a company? Despite being two surreal situations, both perfectly illustrate some problems that can be faced by individuals and organizations that do not take into account all legal issues when registering a web domain. However, here we should highlight a small difference: in the previous cases, this incidence would affect a much smaller audience than in the third case, whose potential audience is the 3,200 million Internet users in the world today, according to the consultancy IDC.
So that this does not happen to you, I summarize in this post the main legal aspects that affect the property and the registration of online domains. Do you want to know more legal issues that you should take into account when launching a website or digital marketing campaign? Click here and download the guide Legal aspects of online marketing
Legal aspects of online marketing: domain management
When we talk about a domain – or the domain name, to be exact – we mean the name that identifies a website. Therefore, it would be the internet equivalent of a company’s physical headquarters. Hence the importance of clearly defining who owns the domain . And at this point is where one of the most recurrent errors arises: although we tend to use the expression “buy a domain”, what is being done is actually to reserve or register a domain. That is to say: obtain, upon payment, a concession to use it for a period of one year, renewable for the same periodicity.
In the same way that when a house is acquired it is necessary to contemplate who we will register as an owner, the network of networks requires something similar: when a company registers a domain (which in legal terms makes it a registrant, understood as the owner of the domain ), you have to indicate to whom it belongs, who is the owner of the domain (that is, who is the company that owns the website).
However, in addition to indicating the name of the owner, when booking a domain, three emails must also be notified to contact three people who perform various functions in the company. There are the following types of contact:
- Administrative contact. It corresponds to the person who must manage the bureaucratic and administrative issues of the domain. For this reason, it is recommended to provide a generic email, which is not linked to the name of a specific employee and that is in operation (for example, email@example.com). Likewise, it is also advisable that this administrative contact have legal or legal notions.
- Billing contact This contact will be the one in charge of processing the invoices linked to the domain. Since you have to follow the same considerations as in the previous case, a type of email account would be firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Technician contact This is the only email that can be in the hands of a person outside the organization. In fact, there could be a provider to whom the technical management of the domain has been outsourced. In any case, do not confuse technical contact with the IT provider.
As regards the most common mistakes when registering a domain, it is worth mentioning that many companies provide as a registrant the name of the computer provider, a worker or, ultimately, someone who is not from the company. On the other hand, it must be borne in mind that, when registering a domain, the Domain Name System (DNS) is also configured, which is used to indicate to the registrar to which server the domain will be assigned. use. This question is of vital importance since the person linked to the DNS will be the one who will have the effective control of the domain. C any change of ownership to be asked about a domain will only be authorized if it is sent from the email of the registrant, according to the rules that apply to registrars.
Who grants the use of a domain?
The ultimate responsibility for the concession of domains is the Internet Corporation for the Assignment of Names and Numbers (ICANN), based in California (United States) and subject, therefore, to the legal provisions of this country. This institution manages both the so-called top level domains (or generic domains) as well as the code top-level domains (or geographic domains), which encompass all references to national, regional or local demarcations (for example, .es, .de, .cat, .barcelona …). However, each country has its own organization subject to ICANN, which is responsible for authorizing the different one-to-one registrar agents (for example, Nominalia or Telefonica) to cede the management of their domains. In the case of Spain, this function is assumed by Red.es, an entity that depends on the Ministry of Industry, Energy, and Tourism.
When registering a domain, it is recommended to go to a registrar agent, instead of opting for the reseller of domains (resellers) or intermediaries (on the website of Red.es, the official list of authorized agents is collected). In this way, the registrant will obtain more guarantees and support in case of incidents, since the registering agents are subject to more legal obligations than the resellers. Likewise, it is also advised to prioritize local registrars, since problem management is usually more agile than if a foreign agent is chosen.
When registering a domain, it is recommended to go to a registrar agent, instead of opting for the reseller of domains (resellers) or intermediaries (on the website of Red.es the official list of authorized agents is collected). In this way, the registrant will obtain more guarantees and support in case of incidents, since the registering agents are subject to more legal obligations than the resellers. Likewise, it is also advised to prioritize local registrars, since problem management is usually more agile than if a foreign agent is chosen.
What to do if a domain is already reserved?
When a domain is reserved, the natural person or company that carries out this action must sign an adhesion contract , which obliges the registrant to submit to an arbitration procedure for dispute resolution in names and domains if there is any dispute by any natural or legal person interested in the use of the domain. This situation may occur if assumptions such as the following occur:
- Involves the name of a registered trademark. In this case, the plaintiff usually manages the domain without problems.
- It is a generic domain (for example, cocinas.com). When this occurs, the claim would not be appropriate, since no individual or entity has the right to use these types of words exclusively.
On the other hand, it should be noted that, if a buyer-seller reserves a domain and contacts third parties to offer it in exchange for a certain economic amount, or if he works in bad faith to harm third parties, he automatically loses all rights over the domain.
Likewise, it must be taken into account that any change requested on a domain will only be authorized if it is sent from the registrant’s email, in accordance with the regulations that apply to registrars.
Finally, it is advisable to adopt these two simple precautions when you want to reserve a record:
- Make sure that the domain in question is duty-free.
- Register the three or four most important domains (for example, those finished in .es, .com, .net, etc.).
Anyway, the registration of the domain is just one of the many legal issues that must be taken into account when creating a website. If you want to know what these essential aspects are, you can download the free guide Legal aspects of online marketing, jointly developed by Derecho.com and InboundCycle. I am sure it will be very useful. Check it out!