Welcome to the Internet: What is a domain name and how does it work? | Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig LLC

Part 1

In January 2021, nearly 40 years after the first iteration of a communications protocol capable of transferring and linking various computer networks together, there were over 4.5 active internet users. [1] However, although sixty percent of the world’s population uses the internet to share vacation photos, fireworks/concert videos (that no one ever wants to watch) or buy that third plastic flamingo – because two don’t weren’t enough – very few people know what they do on the Internet or how it works. If you’re planning on owning a business in 2022, you’ll undoubtedly need a website, but what does that entail? This series will cover broad domain name topics including what a domain name is, the rights granted to a registrant, how to protect your domain name, domain name disputes, cybersquatting and the use of domain names in bad faith.

The rules governing the operation of the Internet are called the “Internet Protocol” or “IP”, which allows computer networks to communicate with each other and essentially allows the Internet to function as we know it.

To know what information is transferred/communicated from one device to another, each device accessing the Internet has a unique set of numbers to identify the device, also known as an “IP address”.

Likewise, every website has its own complex IP address made up of a string of incomprehensible numbers (for you or me, that means a computer can understand them well enough).

To make this more user-friendly, the numbers are linked to a word, phrase, or string of letters and numbers that one can type in to get to the website they want to visit. For example, “www.google.com” or “www.amazon.com” are the respective domain names of Google and Amazon, while “www.dbllawyers.com” is the domain name of this law firm. attorneys, Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig PLLC. .

When an individual wants to access a website, they type the domain name of the website they are trying to visit into their web browser’s uniform resource locator (“URL”), which people often refer to as “the Web address”. The domain name contains several subparts, including the top-level domain (for example, .com, .org, .net, .gov, and .edu) and the secondary-level domain (for example, “google”, “amazon” and “dbllawyers”) In addition to these domains, there are also “subdomains” such as “support.google.com” and paths that take you to a specific page on a website, such than “dbllawyers.com/team”. The whole system that manages this interaction is called the Domain Name System, which allows the user to enter a domain name. The DNS server translates the friendly word into a string of digits which constitutes the actual IP address of the website.

Domain names are managed by domain registrars (such as VeriSign), which rely on domain registrars (such as GoDaddy), which are accredited organizations that sell domain name reservations to the public .

Registries and registrars answer to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”), which is a not-for-profit organization comprised of representatives from more than 100 governments, Internet service providers, registries, bureaus Registrar and other Internet stakeholders who coordinate these IP interactions around the world. A domain name holder is a person or entity who wishes to reserve a domain name, and upon registering the name with a registrar, the person or entity becomes the holder for up to 10 years, depending on the length of the registration. [2] The holder must then renew his domain registration before this termination date; otherwise, they might lose the domain name.

So, say, for example, you’re about to open Tom’s T-Shirts, LLC, an exclusive brand of high-quality t-shirts. You know that direct-to-consumer sales through a website is the best way to grow your business, so you turn to a domain registrar to purchase (effectively reserve) an available domain, such as “tomstshirts.com”.

Unfortunately, this domain is taken, but ‘tomstshirt’ is available, so you buy it.

Congratulations, you now own this domain for this limited reservation period. At the end of your reservation period, your registrar will ask you if you want to renew the domain or let it expire. If you do not renew the domain name, it will be released again and sold on a first-come, first-served basis to another buyer.

What if you decide you don’t like working with your registrar anymore and want to change? Easy. You have every right to transfer your domain registration from one registrar to another (although you may need to follow certain procedures set out in the reservation agreement you have with your registrar initial). Also, what if you buy a few domains and someone wants to buy one from you? Again, easy.

You can sell and transfer ownership of your domain to a third party, usually through a broker.

It is crucial that you keep your registration account information and transfer codes secret during any transfer, and in general.

Once the transfer is complete, or in the unlikely event someone learns your account information, it becomes difficult to recover your domain.

This is because domain registrars often opt out of any disputes over domain name ownership and rely on court orders and resolutions provided by a government-approved dispute resolution service provider. ICANN under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (“UDRP”). Either way, it’s recommended to keep all your domain information safe and only use a trusted provider so you don’t risk losing it to a malicious third party.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Welcome to the Internet: Bad Faith Domain Name Registration and Cybersquatting.


[1] https://www.statista.com/statistics/617136/digital-population-worldwide/

[2] Notably, there is a “lifetime leases” process where your registrar reserves the name for 10 years but then automatically renews the domain for another 10 years without needing to go through the renewal process. This is somewhat risky in the event that the domain registrar goes bankrupt.

[View source.]