Inside Cable News today is reporting on the sale of the domain names ireport.com and i-report.com to CNN. Domainer Rick Schwartz sold the names to CNN for $750,000.
Note that Rick bought the domains in 1997, long before CNN had ever thought of creating its ireport service (I wrote about its launch here).
So why does Inside Cable News title their story Cyber-squatting pays off? WIkipedia defines cybersquatting as follows:
Cybersquatting, according to the United States federal law known as the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, is registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name with bad-faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else.
Was registering the domain ireport.com almost 11 years ago something done in bad faith? Surely not. I would bet Rick’s wife thought he was crazy 11 years ago; buying domain names that had no present value. It’s called speculation, and there’s nothing illegal, immoral, or unethical about it. No one had any claim to the term “ireport” at the time.
Now his speculating has paid off, but please don’t paint it with the “cybersquatting” brush, ICN. That’s just incorrect. Registering “BruceSpringsteen.com” and hoping to sell it to the Bruce for a big payday is indeed cybersquatting, but registering generic terms and made up words is not. It’s just capitalism.
Update: ICN has changed the title of their article to Domain name speculation pays off, noting that the term ‘Cybersquatting’ doesn’t apply in this case. All media outlets should learn how to issue a correction like this one, with humility.