–Dan Kelly, Attorney

One of the shortcomings to living in the 21st century is that all of the land rushes are over.  What an amazing way that was to get some land:  just run right out there and put a stake in the ground.  No messing with title insurance and mortgage bankers, and no need to inspect the property prior to purchase.  Caveat emptor, indeed.

Oklahoma Land Rush

A loose analog to the old-time land rushes exists today, and that is the practice of domain name warehousing, or “domaining.”  Unlike trademarks (at least in the U.S.), it is permissible (so far) to buy, sell, and store Internet domain names without using them.  Not surprisingly, people do this.  They are called “domainers,” and some of them make lots of money.  The trick to making money off of a domain name portfolio is not just to buy low and sell high, although as you can see from my post last week, that may be lucrative enough.

The real trick is to make money while holding the domain names.  This is called “monetizing” domain names.  The most common way for a domainer to monetize a domain name is to place an array of pay-per-click (“PPC”) advertising links on a web page and hope to make more money on the revenue generated by those clicks than the domainer spends in maintaining the domain name and site.  Even if this is only a few dollars a year on any given domain, a portfolio of thousands or hundreds of thousands of domain names (not uncommon) can start to generate a noticeable revenue stream.

Like land rushes of old, the Internet is still a bit of the wild west in our midst, and some domaining is legitimate, but much of it is not.  Next week, I will touch on some of the abuses in this area, including cybersquatting and typosquatting.

Now, if you want to see a sample of what real domaining geeks talk about, look after the jump . . .

Antiques.  Rarities.  Yes, even in the domaining world.  For instance all “LLLL” domains in the .COM top-level domain (TLD) space are taken — that is, owned.  There are only 456,976 of them.  It may be possible to buy them from current owners, but none are hanging out in the Internet ether any longer.  This post discusses some of the interesting aspects of LLLL domains.  The author handicaps values based upon letter content, in a fashion somewhat inversely proportional to Scrabble® letter values.

So why buy gobbledygook combinations of random domains?  For instance, why buy, say, VHEM.COM?  Well, because someday, some nutjob may come along and want that domain, and some happy domainer may be able to sell it at a premium.  Strange days indeed.

Incidentally, there are only 676 LL.COM domain names, and 17,576 LLL.COM domain names.  True collector’s items, those.  LLLLL.COM domains?  There are almost 12 million of them.  Save your money.