One of my clients emailed me complaining that her internet was not working. She was probably discomfited to learn that the problem was that she had simply mistyped the name of The New York Times website. In doing so, she stumbled upon a case of cybersquatting I had not previously known about.
If you are trying to reach the website for The New York Times, just open any web browser and point it to www.nyt.com. Some readers may be thinking, “That’s not the address I type.” Maybe not, but whether you type www.nyt.com, www.nytimes.com, www.newyorktimes.com, or www.thenewyorktimes.com, you will end up on the same website. These other domain names are called “redirects,” and the NY Times bought many of them to make it more convenient to reach its website. Many websites have multiple redirects to make the sites easier to find.
Cybersquatting (also called domain squatting) is the shady practice of buying a domain name with the intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else. My client had discovered a cybersquatter’s domain for the NY Times. All the domains I listed above are owned by The New York Times; “www.thenytimes.com,” however, is not.
I have no inside knowledge, but it appears that on December 12, 1999, an opportunistic cybersquatter discovered that the domain “thenytimes.com” was not registered and paid $10 or so to buy it for a year. Then, I presume, the cybersquatter tried to offer it to the NY Times for several thousand dollars and was politely rebuffed. For those who have never dealt with The New York Times, the management and editors have an awe-inspiring command of language. They have a way of telling you to go to h*ll that will leave you looking forward to the trip.
In any case, all those domain names in the second paragraph above belong to the newspaper, and if you type in any of them, you will arrive at the front page of the paper. The domain name “thenytimes.com,” however, is not owned by the NY Times and directs to a dead website. My client had inadvertently typed in the address of that dead website rather than one of the valid names, and that is the reason she thought her internet connection was down. Once she typed in the correct address, all was well.
And just to prove that sometimes there is justice in the world, not only did the cybersquatter not get paid thousands of dollars from the NY Times, but every year since 1999 has had to continue paying to keep “thenytimes.com” domain name. As soon as the cybersquatter stops paying, the NY Times organization will most certainly snatch it up for just a few dollars, not the inflated price the cybersquatter was probably asking.
Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant, a frequent visitor to San Miguel since 1981, and now practically a full-time resident. He may be contacted at 415 101 8528 or email FAQ8@SMAguru.com.