Registrar’s hoarding Expired Domain Names


Recently I discovered that a domain that I have been wanting for some time had expired in early February this year. I have registered with a couple of services that snap up expired domains to try to get it but for the purpose of this conversation it is irrelevant.

Registrars Policy

After 90 days had passed I expected that the domain would be released and ready to be snapped up (either by me or someone else) however to my dismay I found out something quite disturbing about domain names. The domain was registered previously at Register.com and they have the following policy (excerpts taken from http://www.register.com/policy/servicesagreement.rcmx ):

Domain Expiration Protection

“The Domain Expiration Protection program is a service that prevents a domain name registered to you from becoming available to other parties for purchase if it is not successfully renewed prior to the expiration of its then-current term. Under the Domain Expiration Protection program, you will have one year from the date of expiration of a domain name registered to you to renew such expired domain name (the “Expiration Period”). During the Expiration Period, the domain name will remain inactive, will not be registered to you and you will not have access to such domain name unless and until it is renewed by you along with payment made for our standard renewal fees. Only the registrant of the expired domain name will be permitted to renew the domain name during the Expiration Period and must do so over the phone by calling Register.com Customer Service team. Renewals of domain names during the Expiration Period will be subject to our standard renewal fees. “

And from further down:

“Specifically, with respect to domain names, you acknowledge and agree that Register.com may, upon expiration or termination, elect, at its sole discretion, to: (i) delete the domain name, (ii) renew the domain name on behalf of a third party, (iii) sell or auction the domain name; or (iv) otherwise make such domain name available to third parties. Any expired gTLD domain name that is not sold, renewed or otherwise made available to a third party will generally be deleted between 35 and 45 days from the expiration date.”

Now the issue that I have here, is in the first section it states that you have one year from the date of expiration to renew the domain, therefore Register.com reserves the right to keep the domain as expired for 12 months. I have confirmed this with them over the phone.
However in the second section quoted above they state that generally the domain will be released 45 days after expiration.

There are two critical issues that I foresee here, firstly it appearsĀ  that Register.com reserves the right to keep a domain for up to 12 months even though no registration has been paid for, the second is that even when that expiration lapses Register.com reserves the right to renew the domain themselves or sell or auction the domain name. This means that once a domain has been registered with them once, if they desire they never have to release it back to the public again.

ICANNs Policy

Personally I think this is a terrible policy so off to ICANN I went to see what the official policies stated luckily I found the following (excerpt taken from http://www.icann.org/en/registrars/eddp.htm):

“3.7.5.3 In the absence of extenuating circumstances (as defined in Section 3.7.5.1 above), a domain name must be deleted within 45 days of either the registrar or the registrant terminating a registration agreement.”

Now I have to believe that this means that Register.com in direct breech of the above agreement, although it does leave open an interesting question, it states “terminating a registration agreement” is that defined as the domain name simply expiring or in this case would it be that the 12 months has to elapse before it is considered as the agreement being “terminated”.

Thoughts?

Can anyone correct me if I am wrong please? I would certainly welcome any advice on if I am or how I can go about proceeding and trying to get the domain I want released.
Stuart