Monday, November 20, 2006

15 Minutes of Shame? ...

OK, this is weird.

This morning, on my daily blog check (, if you don't already know about it), I saw a posting from Henry, whom I've mentioned before. He links to my blog from time to time. We went to school together a *long* time ago. Confirmation classes, too. I am a lapsed Lutheran. Henry seemed more inclined to be devout, but we don't talk about religion.

His blog entry in question is short: "I never figured I would end up the lead in a New York Times story (sub required)."

I'm a registered user, so I clicked, and yup, sure enough, the lede is thus: "Henry Treftz gets excited each time Barack Obama seems to inch closer to a run for president in 2008. Not, mind you, that Mr. Treftz is a fan of Mr. Obama, the Democratic senator from Illinois. He says he would not vote for him if he did run.

But Mr. Treftz, who lives in Aurora, Ill., owns the domain name, and he thinks he will make a tidy profit if Mr. Obama’s campaign gets around to wanting it."

Later in the story, we're given a different point of view: "But a better investment could be in names used perennially for campaigns on ballot measures. Joel Slatis, 36, of San Jose, Calif., owns and about 150 other names. Mr. Slatis made $8,000 this year renting 16 of them at $500 each to campaigns across the nation.

'They don’t need to own them, they just want them for the campaign season,' said Mr. Slatis, who expects the names to become a regular source of income.

'This is like owning beachfront property in Hawaii and renting it out to whoever wants to stay there for a season,' he said. 'But if you own and you’re not Giuliani, you’re just a jerk.' "

And it's that final sentence that hit home with me: " ... if you own and you're not Giuliani, you're just a jerk."

I don't want to call Henry a jerk, because he's a nice guy. But I do take umbrage with people who buy the domains of well-known names in the hopes of selling them back to the named persons.

Barack Obama's camp shouldn't have to pay anyone for the right to use him own name in a URL. Bruce Springsteen should have the right to, but he doesn't. is an unauthorized site. Bruce's official site is

A lot of sites are owned by the artists in question, but I wonder if that was always so, or if they had to buy - or sue for - the rights to the URLs.

I can understand registering a domain if you have a common name and you're sure you're going to want a web site someday. (Interestingly, is just a blank page.)

But is available, if anyone would like to buy it.


Anonymous Official A-towner from the 60505 said...

Beth that domain is taken. Also, the buying and selling of domain names is a huge business. I won't write a long diatribe about contract law here. Instead here's a link that summarizes the practice, I grew up in Aurora and would state emphatically that Henry doesn't "really" live in A-town, he lives in wanna-be Naperville. True Aurorans, like native Californians, don't recognize the posers that the reside in the 60504 zip code as Aurorans. Which is OK with the 60504'ers because they really want to live in Naperville, they just can't afford it.


9:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does that mean I can stop paying city taxes?


11:44 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Oh, I'm aware that it's big business. I just think it's a crock that someone should have to buy the right to use their own name from someone else who's already bought it.
It seems to me that Norberto should have first dibs on his own URLs, just as Barack Obama should have dibs on his.

2:26 PM  
Anonymous Doreen said...

Henry wants his 15 minutes of fame ... and at least this is a harmless way of getting it.

2:54 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Come to think of it, do you know who owns your domain name? It's going to come in handy when you're a world-famous author. :)

Verification word: tlinis

10:14 AM  

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