GoDaddy service : Suggest I go GoDaddy?? owning a persons name as a DN, legal?

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I thought I saw a thread around here on this........!!.

I am looking at getting a DN and it is a person that is in the news.

What will I do with it?? Nothing slanderious.....just park it and hope for clicks.

So is this legal?.


Comments (28)

He he he, there are other threads. Just look in the Legal section, you'll find.

The answers you seek.

But the link below will help shed light:

Comment #1

That article is about celebrity names. The question is about "a person in the news". That person might or might not be a celebrity.

Part of the value proposition of being a celebrity is, in fact, one's name. You can stick my name on a bottle of perfume and nobody will buy it. You can stick Britney Spears name on a bottle of perfume, and every teenage girl wannabe will flock to the cosmetic counter. The "right of publicity" is a recognition of the commercial value of the name.

Now, other people's names might have traffic value, but it is not derived from a protectible publicity right interest. Compare the name "Britney Spears" with, for example, "Natalee Holloway", the young woman from Alabama who went missing in Aruba. Fox News and various magazines have made a fortune off of her. Not because she is famous, but because their editors determined she is newsworthy.

Or take a group of people. "Green Day" is an entertainment group, and if you were monetizing their name, you'd probably have an issue. The "Taliban" is another group of people entirely, and I get about 25,000 uniques per month at

So what, exactly, do you mean by "a person in the news"?..

Comment #2

Running in a closely watched state election....not Hilary. Dont know if it matters that there is a "-" between first/last name...

Comment #3

You're right, Dr. Berryhill. I posted the link as a "starting point" for Ricky here,.

But he'll get better answers if he searches thoroughly or when experts like you.

Pass by.

Ricky, here's what I actually mean based on that article I posted: Going back to your query, the person in question has to somehow prove that.

Users will likely associate the domain with him/her. Coupled with your using it.

To show any hint of commercial use, and it could bring trouble.

But seek professional legal advice as always, especially from experts like Dr..


And don't worry about Hillary. She just won her domain name-sake...

Comment #4

Someone's "famous name" has never been looked upon by any court of law as a "trademark," including a "common law" one or otherwise. Trademark law is very clear, and only pertains to product producing companies, specifically those that manufacture material goods and services.

Furthermore, people that become known as "celebrities" - whether they are considered to be the "flavor of the month" in the music world, or a "classic star" from the movie world - are NOT products. It can be asserted that a performer does technically contribute partially to the creation of the marginal "service" of entertainment, but even in that view, actually MANY other people also contributed to the creation of said "service" (ie the writers and promoters, et al of movies, music albums, etc.); therefore a person can never be a trademark unto oneself.

But what DOES get celebrity domain owners into trouble is within the boundaries of engaging in things like online libel, slander, hawking bogus wares and even promoting competition AGAINST the presumable "good" (ie "in a positive light") name of particular celebrities. Such stupid blunders throw all "fair use" rights of the domain owner straight out of the window.

As long as you keep your celebrity domain as a traditional "tribute" site, including having it act as a gateway to proper links regarding the celeb in question, there can be no legal problem. But it is when a domain holder gets greedy (or malicious) that problems start. Morgan Freeman won just such a case in (ICANN/WIPO) online court recently.

Most holders of celebrity domains have had them since the mid '90s to the early '00s (aka the dot com cyber real estate "land rush") with never a legal problem from the celebrities they refer to, and never will have one. The internet has always been, and still is, a first come-first serve system, and it's only the celebrity's own fault that they became stars in 1995 yet didn't think of registering their dot com name until 2005.

Unfortunately, a few domain "nuts" out there do rear their ugly heads every once in awhile, which usually makes many other "fan site" owners look bad by their mere similarity. But awhile back one wacko went much farther than most:.

WIPO court documents show that he had the nerve to use the name of a long-established business in a negative light, including providing site links to competitors of that same business - but that isn't even the worst part - the business in question was... a legal firm specializing in the field of TRADEMARK violations!..

Comment #5

Celebrity names as used in domains are also actionable under the Anticyberquatting Consumer Protection Act. The ACPA applies to domain names registered before, on, or after November 29, 1999...

Comment #6

Actually, courts have ruled that a celebrity's name is their trademark since their name is used in commerce. However, a price for their fame is being subjected to the public. It is a double edge sword here. What this means:.

A person name is his TM. Anyone trying to prosper off of the person's name or disparages it, will be found to be using the celebrity's name is bad faith. Since the celebrity's name is his TM, they have rights to perserve their name and will be awarded domain. See

A celebrity willing to put himself out in the public domain, their is public interest and the public do have some rights to the name. "fan sites" are consider not to be in bad faith if done properly. The public has a right to talk about the artist or have some sort of "memorial" site to the person.

So what it comes to, how is the domain being used? If the owner is making money, he should lose, if he isn't and is not disparaging celebrity, he should win.

Yes, celebrity can come under the ACPA since their names are considered TMs, but that does not automatically mean a person cannot own another persons name...

Comment #7

In a nutshell, "fair use" will proably determine whether you have a right to it. Free speach, or historical reasons could give you fair use of another's name. There pretty much isn't a fine line on this one, but a very wide grey one. The cases I've seen have gone both ways, but the more famous they are, the less likely you can show fair use because of it...

Comment #8

Incorrect, per se. And why use the "Nov. 29" date at all, if it includes before, during and after? Why not just say "since the beginning of time?! Regarding "actionable," it is NOT - unless the use of the domain (via it's related website) can be proven to not be in fair use. Again, incorrect on the face of it. All people that have jobs "use their names in commerce." And by extension, therefore the mere names of (working) people on their birth certificates are NOT the same as registered trademarks. Also, domain name sites that do NOT profit from using the fame of a celebrity will NEVER lose their website.

See the landmark, precident-setting and cases, both of which ruled in FAVOR of the domain owner and NOT the celeb. 100% correct - except for your last sentence there. It doesn't matter how famous anyone is, since fair use rules can be followed and demonstrated in any event. Again see the and cases, both of which the celebs LOST...

Comment #9

Bluesman, sorry to say this, you are wrong about a celebrity names as a TM. It have been cited numverous times that a performer name is indeed a TM. Yes, fair use still applies and some one else can own the domain. But it IS still TM...

Comment #10

You have apparently made a false assumption based only on a few court cases wherein "unfair use" was proven by celebs. Many other cases have also been decided the opposite way. But the fact is that a person merely signing a record deal or a screen actors guild contract does not also defacto make their name a trademark.

(Your other claim was also odd - that while all celeb names are trademarks, non-celebrities can still own that trademarked site, if they show fair use. Huh? No, the last I checked, nobody was handing out trademarks to fansite webmasters!).

Think about it: if your claim was true, that not just manufactured products and services (such as mechanical inventions, drugs, foods, etc.) were to be considered trademarks in the eyes of the courts, then NO celebrity domain name fansites would ever exist in the first place.

If all new celebrities had to do was have a judge declare them officially "famous," then their name would also instantly qualify (under your definition) as a "trademark." Likewise, the types of businesses traditionally covered under trademark rules for the last several decades would also now be able to lay automatically lay claim to all dot coms reflecting their name on the same day they file for their general trademark.

The result would be that all business trademarks would therefore also come with a twin dot com of that business, just as all celebrities would automatically be awarded a dot com of their name right after joining the screen actors guild.

It also follows that there could then be no more celeb domain name fansites. And you're talking about many THOUSANDS of famous names here, both past and present, in the arts of music, TV, movies, cartooning, animation, etc., etc.

In other words, if all celebrities were also considered to "be" trademarks unto themselves, even webmasters easily being able to show "fair use" on their tribute sites would still have no protection whatsoever against courts taking their domains away.

All the important legal precidents (see cases like and affecting domain name fansites built up for over a decade since the internet began would now mean absolutely NOTHING...

Comment #11

I would say it is legal. Because they are several people with the same name etc. Like I can't get my because someone else with the same name as me already had it and I can't sue them and say it is my name because it is there name to lol. But I bet like say there for example we will say jessica simpson well simpson as a last name is common and jessica is common to so I bet there is alot of girls with that name etc...

Comment #12

Exactly right, but bear in mind that I wasn't claiming all fansites can be as negligent as they want to, and still be entitled to a hassle-free future. If your name was Jessica Simpson and you registered the dot com for that name for a fair use site before she did, then she (or more accuarately her managers/lawyers/agents) cannot touch you. However...

...that still would NOT mean that you could advertise the site as being for sale, post nude pictures of Jessica Simpson, or have site headlines and/or text saying things like "Jessica Simpson stinks." So even if your name really was also Jessica Simpson, and you beat her to grabbing that dot com, you still have to follow the fair use rules at all times...

Comment #13

Blue, you seem to miss the point, a celebrity's name has been ruled as their TM. It is not my opinion, it isn't anything made up out of the thin blue air. It is a fact. It has been ruled that a celebrity's name alone is a drawing point to bring in revenue (IE- thier livelyhood).

With that said, a TM and owning a domain name with the TM are 2 different things. Anyone can own someone else's name, I am not disputing that. You are a bit clouded on this. What does matter owning a TM name (not just celebs, but any TM) is the usage of the domain. Anyone who uses a TM as part of a domain needs to be aware of what they can or cannot do with that domain. There is "fair use" and there is "bad faith".

If you did any research on me, you will see I am a huge advocate of fan sites. I have written many many posts on this site and DNF about the subject (both pros and cons). I have gone as far as listing all the dos and dont's about a fansites. You want to argue with me about actual facts already set in precedents and use "what ifs.." and "how abouts..."You will also see I pull no punches and I am very straighforward. There are people who have certain interests being on one side or another and give out advise which may not be accurate. I give the straightward line.

I do agree there are TM sites that fall under fair use and I do agree that there are sites that fall under bad faith. But either way, a registrant can still be challenged on the domain no matter what. It is the owners responsibiliy to maintain "fair use" if they ewant to keep the domain.

One more note on peoples names and TMs, ever hear of Dell or Ford or Merril Lynch or the many hundreds of thousands of owners who use thier names in commerce to run thier livelyhood?.

**My opinion** I do believe most TM domains fall under "bad faith". Many lawsuits challenging these owners went straight to courts and not recorded in WIPO. also, many owners have given up domains just based on C+D's which are not recorded. I also believe 100% of the questions someone asks about TMs have heard of the name before...

Comment #14

DNQ, coming back to this site after a brief "vacation," I see that you once again continued to make the huge blanket statement that all celebs are considered to also "be" defacto TMs, since they only make their money with their name, which is wrong. They don't - they instead ostensibly make their money with their TALENT. Should some specific cases come down to a celeb relying ONLY on their name and nothing else, that would indeed be a very sad comment upon a very untalented celeb.

As I indicated on a previous post, if it were true that all celeb names were automatically also TMs (and I know you cannot site which "court case" wherein that was supposedly decided), they could then grab virtually anyone's domain away from them, claiming "unfair use." If the courts ever allowed this, than we small-time members of the public, although we thought we were following fair use, wouldn't stand a chance against all the big famous complaining celebs. Armed with their bogus unfair use excuse, they'd be able to steamroller down any site they wanted to.

Bottom line: Britney Spears can use her name to TM "Britney Spears Perfumes" because that can be an actual marketed PRODUCT, but she is still not entitled to grab from someone who may have beat her to the registrar. That would be a classic case of a millionaire shafting the little guy, with the law helping them do it. These richies all want to have their cake and eat it too. They won't buy the site from us because they're too cheap, so they cry foul by yelling "cyber-squatter.".

That way they weasel out of paying even one red cent, having ICANN/WIPO do their dirty work for them. So if the day ever comes when ALL celebs can get away with that, then it's time for everyone to get out of the entire celebrity dot com business!..

Comment #15

Straw man argument. Nobody said they were "automatically also TM's".

Many are, and can be, even registered. Using your example, Ms. Spears does not have to sell any PRODUCT, but has in fact registered "Britney Spears" for precisely what she does (in addition to several other registrations):.


IC 041. US 100 101 107. G & S: entertainment services in the nature of live performances by a musical artist. FIRST USE: 19981030. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19981030.

Registration Number 2302300.

Registration Date December 21, 1999.

Owner (REGISTRANT) Spears, Britney INDIVIDUAL UNITED STATES 689 Fifth Avenue c/o Davis Shapiro Lewit Montone Hayes New York NEW YORK 10022.


So, yes, a celebrity's name can be a trademark - even a common law trademark - for the services they provide under that name as a celebrity name per se.

You want a court case on whether unregistered celebrity names can be protected as famous marks under the trademark law? Sure, no problem. You are dead wrong that there is no such thing, as you will note by the section I have noted in bold below:.

ROSA PARKS V. LAFACE RECORDS ET AL., 2003 FED App. 0137P (6th Cir.):

Plaintiffs often invoke 43(a) to protect intellectual property rights in "marks," or brand names, of ordinary merchandise, such as apparel, see, e.g., A & H Sportswear, Inc. v. Victoria's Secret Stores, Inc., 237 F.3d 198, 206 (3d Cir. 2000) (suit by manufacturer of "Miraclesuit" swimwear against manufacturer of "The Miracle Bra" swimwear), or of services, such as mortgage companies, see Platinum Home Mortgage Corp. v. Platinum Fin.

1998) (suit between mortgage service companies using the "Platinum" name). However, the scope of 43(a) extends beyond disputes between producers of commercial products and their competitors. It also permits celebrities to vindicate property rights in their identities against allegedly misleading commercial use by others. See Waits v. Frito-Lay, Inc., 978 F.2d 1093, 1110 (9th Cir.

Nat'l Video, Inc., 610 F. Supp. 612, 624-25 (S.D.N.Y. 1985) (celebrity suit against a video retailer for use of a celebrity look-alike in it's advertisements); Landham v. Lewis Galoob Toys, Inc., 227 F.3d 619, 626 (6th Cir.

Gen. Motors Corp., 85 F.3d 407, 410 (9th Cir. 1996) (professional basketball player sued car manufacturer for using his birth name to sell cars). Celebrities have standing to sue under 43(a) because they possess an economic interest in their identities akin to that of a traditional trademark holder. See Waits, 978 F.2d at 1110.

Thomas McCarthy, McCarthy on Trademarks and Unfair Competition 28:15 (4th ed. 2002)(discussing cases).

A related right is that of the "right of publicity": The right of publicity protects the identity of a celebrity from exploitive commercial use. See Carson v. Here's Johnny Portable Toilets, Inc., 698 F.2d 831, 835 (6th Cir. 1983). "The theory of the right is that a celebrity's identity can be valuable in the promotion of products, and the celebrity has an interest that may be protected from the unauthorized commercial exploitation of that identity." Id. As such, the common law right of publicity forms a species of property right.

Scripps-Howard Broad. Co., 433 U.S. 562, 573 (1977); Herman Miller, Inc. v. Palazzetti Imports & Exports, Inc., 270 F.3d 298, 325 (6th Cir..

Comment #16

I can't believe no one made comment on the ownage of :-) haha Nice catch btw...

Comment #17

The taliban might not send a U.D.R.P. but they might try a B.O.M.B.

Said in jest and I wish no ill will by it...have a laugh..

Comment #18

"Taliban" is Farsi for "student". It's a generic word. There is an interesting story behind that domain name, and someday if I have time...

Now, the name of the White House Press Secretary... that would be a political figure...

Comment #19

If I remember correctly, didnt bruce springsteen take the .com of the same name away from a fan site - that owned the name..??.

Precedent for fan sites / critique sites not withstanding..

Comment #20


What has your experience been of Domain Hop? Seems like there has been mixed reviews about accounts going inactive and revenue not being delivered to the user. Any issues?.



Comment #21

What if MYNAME = celebrity name.

Can they still take it ?

Comment #22

Can? Yes.

Will? There's only one way to find out...

Comment #23

The key issue most names are lost over whether the domain is registered or used in "bad faith". It would be hard to prove that if your name were the same as a famous person that you registered it in bad faith. However, even if you did have the same name, if you [b]used[p/b] it in bad faith as in using their fame for your own gain, then you still would probably be in for a fight. They would probably refute that you did register in good faith based on use. In that case, deep pockets often do win, or they buy you out to avoid bad PR from a reverse hijacking charge...

Comment #24

Do people even bother to read this stuff? c. How to Demonstrate Your Rights to and Legitimate Interests in the Domain Name in Responding to a Complaint. When you receive a complaint, you should refer to Paragraph 5 of the Rules of Procedure in determining how your response should be prepared. Any of the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be proved based on it's evaluation of all evidence presented, shall demonstrate your rights or legitimate interests to the domain name for purposes of Paragraph 4(a)(ii):.

(i) before any notice to you of the dispute, your use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the domain name or a name corresponding to the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or (ii) you (as an individual, business, or other organization) have been commonly known by the domain name, even if you have acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or..

Comment #25

Would having a single Google AdSense ad on a fan site qualify the domain as being used in "bad faith?"..

Comment #26

I don't think it would if you effectively argue that the ads just cover the cost of the site and are not profit generating...of course an effective arguement costs money because you'll need a lawyer...but what do I know. This reminds me of the case.

Correct me if any of this is wrong, but the guy who owned last name was "Nissan", he owned a company (computer related) named "Nissan" and the car maker "Nissan Motors" sued him. The individual won, in that he could keep the domain to promote his business, but the court did stipulate he absolutely could not have automotive ads on the site because that would be using the name in bad faith...

Comment #27

Well, like said above, it depends entirely upon the name in question. you can make something such as a, but if you make something such as, then it's Michael Jordan's right to take it. either way, it also depends on the person in question, some celebs will be mean and take it, but others seem to be in a state of not caring..

Comment #28

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


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