GoDaddy just lost a major lawsuit handed down by the Film Academy. The Academy filed the lawsuit this past May claiming that GoDaddy allowed customers to purchase and park pages – a form of cybersquatting. In this particular case, GoDaddy clients purchased names like OscarAtTheMovies.com and various other sites.
For obvious reasons, the Academy did not like the fact that random people were using these Academy-related names. Cybersquatting is actually illegal in the U.S., so GoDaddy had a hard time getting out of this lawsuit.
Some Names Went Unscathed
GoDaddy lawyers did their best to keep some of the purchased domain names intact. The company argued that some of the names had nothing to do with the Academy at all. For example, one domain name was Oscar-Mike.com. This site has no relation to the movies, film, or the Academy, so the judge let the GoDaddy client keep the name.
However, GoDaddy clients were allowed to keep just 13 names out of a very long list. The other domains have been shut down – even if those sites did not actually connect or relate to the Academy in any manner. Whether or not the sites were related, the judge in this case ruled that the sites were still too similar.
Cybersquatting Is Tricky Business
GoDaddy sold the cybersquatting software to various clients as a domain registration tool. There's a lot of money to be made in site names that sound a lot like famous names or famous academies, in this case, but it's still illegal. How can you prevent this kind of a lawsuit from happening?
It's really tough to go over every single site that someone registers through your cheap hosting company. But, that's what you have to do in order to avoid an issue – almost. You see, you can't let someone use software that purposely searches for sites that are similar to other names, trademarks, people, or companies. However, if one site out of a hundred comes under copyright attack, all you have to do (as a hosting company) is close that site down.
Is it Really a Big Deal?
In the case of GoDaddy, though, there were too many sites to shut down, and the software was at the crux of the problem. There's no exact word right now on how much money GoDaddy spent fighting the lawsuit. Or, how much money GoDaddy gathered with the cybersquatting software. It seems as though the two would be largely comparable, but it's possible that GoDaddy still made a profit here.
Let this be a lesson for cloud hosting, or other, companies: don't sell cybersquatting software. Or, do so at your own risk! Eventually, someone is going to catch on to what you're doing, and that could cost you a lot of money if you manage to capture a business or organization with a lot of cash!
What do you think of cybersquatting? Was this case tried fairly or is this something that is just silly all around? Please let us know below