GoDaddy testimonials : Suggest I use GoDaddy?? Moral issue (sort of legal too)

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Hypothetically look at this situation.

There is a site been around 4-5 years. It's about to expire. You were a member at this site when it was active but the /img/avatar7.jpg vanished years ago and the site is mostly spammed phpbb forums now with no active members..NONE. Well the site is going to expire in 3 runs an old phpbb version you know is hackable. How wrong would it be to backorder the name and just in case you get it...hack the forums to save the database and prevent it from being lost?.

I ask this because I was in a situation like this just this week. I was so tempted to hack the site to save it. However on last day the domain was renewed. I assume auto-renew is on. But let's say it did expire and I did hack the phpbb and saved a copy of the database.

I guess my question is not is this wrong but HOW wrong is it and how many of you would consider doing it.

And really think about it...don't take the high road just to look good.

As for the legal question...if you rebuild the site with new graphics but you reinstalled the forums...are the forums copyrightable as far as users posts and membership? Wouldn't copyright be owned by the posters and not the site /img/avatar7.jpg?..

Comments (30)

See if you can contact the current owner ask them to see it.

If they are not using the site for a wile, they may sell it cheap.


Comment #1

They obviously do not want it if they have not updated it etc.

I wouldn't recommend hacking the site to get the DB though..

Comment #2

Is it really hacking if it's for the public good?..

Comment #3

Hacking is wrong period. If you need a copy of the database, contact the owner and ask him to sell you his database...

Comment #4

The actual database can be regarded as property. If you somehow hack the db and use it's data in your forum, then that constitutes two criminal acts: "breaking and entering" (at least in the context of internet hosting), plus theft. If the original db owner ever finds out and decides to pursue, then your new forum would be all the evidence that's needed...

Comment #5

I have a question, Labrocca: why? I guess the forum means so much to you.

You believe you can continue on where the owner left off, so to speak? So "legitimate hackers" like Kevin Mitnick are wrong? That looked like pretty.

Much an absolute statement...

Comment #6

I have spoken with the owner in the past. I so-so know him. He is a teenager (maybe 20 now) and I think has abandoned the site completely. Also...he has added whois guard to the site. Heck for all I know he may have sold it off and the new owner is a loser. That happens a lot too.

This site was doing well at one point and was a top 50k alexa site with about 3-5k uniques per day and good serp rankings. Now it's an empty shell.

While I know the legalities of hacking the forums..I wouldn't be too concerned about it. If I did do it..and he contacted me..I would gladly hand over the domain back to him free of charge. I would morally consider it a lost and found item until he asked for it back. Like I said..he was about to lose the site and I really just wanted to save it. I would have revived it.

I mostly posted this because I thought it would make an interesting topic. I also wonder has anyone ever gotten a drop domain then hit to recover pages?..

Comment #7

I was going to write a longer post but I felt it wasn't required, it might be required now. Most people think hacking means doing bad things, the term that's supposed to be used is cracking, a hacker is someone that modify's software to suit their needs in terms of e.g. Forum Templates, Forum Modifications etc...

Comment #8


Hacker has multiple definitions...good and bad I was using definition 2...

Comment #9

I see where your comming from. I do understand your points and I think you have good ideas about bringing a dead forum back to life. I don't think the courts would agree with you though...

Comment #10

For the sake of you mean a civil court or criminal court?.

If this is civil he has to prove damages which imho don't exist.

If you are talking criminal...possibly a problem...

Comment #11

Your honor, my forum caused me lots of sleepless nights and worry, so I finally decided to just let it die. Now that labrocca has resurrected it, the nightmares have started again. Please, sir, I need $1,000,000 to get proper therapy in Rio...

Comment #12

If I break into my neighbour's house because he has a computer I've always wanted that he never uses and doesn't even keep updated, and I also know he sometimes leaves a sliding glass door open behind the house, have I committed a crime?.

After all, he's not using it anyway, it is wasted on him, and if he really wanted to keep his stuff he'd practice better home security...

Comment #13

What about if your neighbor left his door wide open and was gone for 2 months. You may have gone in to make sure he was OK. You are a friend of the neighbor. When you go inside you realize he has some valuables laying around. You throw them in a box for safe keeping and keep them at your house until he returns.

As I said...criminally the act of getting his forums is a problem but there are no civil monetary damages here.

Oh well..this thread was all hypothetical anyways and it's interesting to hear everyones view...

Comment #14

I understand where you are coming from, but I don't think I can justify it morally or ethically. Yes, you may not be causing any real damage to anyone, but it is still theft no matter how you look at it. If I were in a similar situation I would definitely go after the domain if you want to continue the site, but I would probably just start the forums up again, and try to promote them back to the point where they were. An interesting discussion indeed, though.


Comment #15

Alright...let's throw this into the mix...what if I only created static pages from the site by crawling it? So that once the site was captured from the drop I could upload the old pages and possibly redirect any links to a new forums on the site. The sad part is the loss of the member database. You will have to ask them to signup again. You also won't have their emails in order to let them know the site is back up...

Comment #16

That's still theft if you are taking their content though.

It's like plagiarism.....

Comment #17

If your intention was, to keep it safe for the owner. I personaly think your heart is in the right place.

However, to save this you have to force an entry, which could piss off the owner. Morally, you are taking something that is not yours.

Summing it up, unless I knew the person well, I would leave it to it's own devices but, if I spoke to the guy on and off which it sounds like you did, and I had half an idea how to do this act, I might consider it. But then again...i would feel wrong until I have it back to him.

It's like ...hmm, this is puzzling. I think it's a situational thing, I would need to be in that situation.

Lets put it like this:.

RJ runs away to the hills, Mark, the Virgo, takes over the world. The other mods disappear..

Members stop coming to NP.

The people who spam the place with NOKIAS FOR ONLY 50$ rule the place..

And I could do something about it. Yes, I would.

I think the amount of good it would bring overwrites the initial wrong action.

Yer, errm time for bed...

Comment #18

That's pretty close to the situation. Those at the forums know who I am. Most even left to start another forums since this place was dead and it's very much ruled by spam now...

Comment #19

I feel for you Labrocca, it can be a real shame when a board goes bad. You might be better just to start off all over and try and let as many old users know as possible...

Comment #20

Something bad could have happened to the owner..

Could be laid up in traction in hospital, or not.

No telling how they would react to you keeping the forum 'safe'...

Comment #21

It's been over 2 years the site has been dead. To be honest I believe it's been sold to an absentee landlord. This is all too common. I have a couple forums I sold where the new owner didn't even create an admin account for themselves nor delete my admin access. Since I am a nice guy I still take mod actions and make sure the forums run well...not sure why I do it but I guess I feel obligated to the members who trust me since I started the sites.

The site imho has gone so far off course that it's disgusting. Truly it was a great site doing very well for quite some time. Damn these teenagers and their poor attention span!..

Comment #22

2 .....

Basically it's illegal no matter how you frame it. No matter what analogy you use, at the end of the equation you do not have permission and the posts are not yours. At the very most, the posts are property of the site owner. At the very least they are property of the folks who posted.

Contact the owner and just buy the site if it's possible. That would be the only legal thing that I see possible...

Comment #23

My 2 cents.

If I were you I would register the name if it drops and start a whole new forum, different colors etc. How hard could that be? If it drops someone else will register it anyways if it still gets traffic. Put a note at the top of the main page about the old forum, welcome people back. Try and contact the members and see if they'd be interested in joining the new clean redone forum. But don't steal or hack the old content and posts. Hacking into someone else's forum and taking their old content would be considered illegal in court I am sure...

Comment #24

I was just thinking about this a little bit, and was wondering if the forum was still active for that day or so, could you not just send a message to some of the old more active members, telling them your plans to start the forum over again once it drops, and to come back in a few days/weeks/whatever amount of time it will take you to to start the site again? This way you are doing nothing legally wrong, and you have a greater likelyhood of being able to jumpstart the forum back to where it used to be.


Comment #25

What kind of forum is it and how many members?.

I am curious because I think it is useful to know how big a market there is for certain types of forums.

Obviously, I am not asking about the name of the forum, just the type...

Comment #26

Look at my sig links and take a guess.

Gaming forums in case you didn't figure it has about 8k members but few are posts are about 70k..

Comment #27

Just let it go. it's his not yours. Start over from scratch..

I wouldn't go around freely admitting that I hack sites if I were you...

Comment #28

I agree with others. Go for the domain, but leave the db alone. If it's that hacked by spammers, you would probably spend many hours cleaning up the database of fake users and spam posts.

Another issue is that the original postings are technically copyright of the person posting, but based on the TOS of the forum. I would think each poster could technically claim you illegally copied their post without permission. As a non-owner of the forum, you would have no rights to the actual text. Even if you purchased the domain in a drop, you would have no rights to the text of the posts.

Also, if the data is mostly two years old, that is a long time in something that moves as fast as gaming. Is that past history even still relevant or useful? I would think not.

Start fresh if you can get the domain...

Comment #29

Well it's been a great hypothetical discussion. Thanks for being involved and adding your 2 cents...

Comment #30

This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.


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