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WHOIS Running the Internet: Protocol, Policy, and Privacy by Garth O. Bruen

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2 USING WHOIS

There are many uses for WHOIS data, a diverse set of sources, and a surprisingly large number of formats. Aside from the domain name registrar using WHOIS to contact a registrant, the most fundamental and most common use of WHOIS is to determine if a domain is already being used. If you perform a query for a name you want and there is no record, the domain name is likely available. Most registrars have this built in to their online shopping cart, and when you try to purchase a domain name, the registrar will tell you if the domain is already taken, which leads us to the next most common use. WHOIS is frequently used for contacting the current owner and offering to buy it. There is an entire industry around buying and selling domain names, but many never even deployed as a website, which leads us to the third common use. Because of the explosion in domain name sales in terms of speculation, there are a number of domainers who buy domain names that contain brand names or look like brand names in the hope of selling the domain to the brand owner at a higher rate. Because of this intellectual property, attorneys have taken to suing or filing dispute resolution claims against the domain owners. In most cases, the registered brand owner is awarded possession of the domain, but trademark investigators will use the WHOIS to track serial cybersquatters, often with considerable difficulty. Investigation actually makes up the bulk of WHOIS use, in terms of identifying ...

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