Protecting Your Domains – Going Offshore to Canada

November 4, 2008 · Print This Article

In an increasingly hostile legal environment in the United States, your domains are at risk. Whether it’s the US Treasury Department blacklisting your domains because they are about Cuba or the governor of a backwards state trying to put his cronies’ competitors out of business, this legal risk is growing every day.

A lot of savvy domainers are proactively dealing with this by moving their domains offshore – to registrars located outside the United States. By using an offshore registrar, you are providing yourself with a layer of protection against these attacks on your domains.

There has been a lot of discussion in the domainersphere about what options are available, ranging from the Bahamas to Australia. However, I haven’t seen discussion about what I consider one of the best options – Canada – and its most domainer friendly registrar – Rebel.com.

There are a lot of advantages to keeping your domains in Canada. It’s a large, wealthy, politically stable country. It’s about as close to the United States as you can get. It’s an English speaking country. There is a solid British based legal system that avoids the excesses of the American legal system, as well as a solid, constitutionally entrenched bill of rights.

Rebel.com is a great registrar. I first started using them during the .asia landrush, and have been very happy with them. There was good support – it was prompt, responsive and friendly. Their interface is slick and intuitive, and seems to have been built with domainers in mind rather than your average domain customer. The pricing is reasonable, with prices going down the more domains you hold with them. Plus, Rebel.com is very domainer friendly, being involved in and supporting many of the domainer conferences, and participating in the domainer forums. They also seem to be one of the fastest growing registrars since the Kentucky court case started, so it looks like a lot of people are seeing things the same way that I do.

I asked Rebel.com what they do if they are served with an American court order, and they told me that they simply ignore it. They confirmed with me that they have no offices or staff in the United States.  They also stated that when they are served with a court order, they immediately notify their customer of all the issues involved, unlike a lot of the registrars in the Kentucky case.

The recent attacks on domains are just the beginning – it is going to get much worse in the years to come. There is not really an advantage to keeping your domains at a US registrar, and many risks to doing this. Moving your domains to an offshore registrar certainly isn’t going to provide you with bullet proof protection (and unfortunately, there is nothing that will). However, it is an additional step you can take to increase the security of your domains. Canada is one of the best options for that, and we have a well established, domainer friendly registrar at Rebel.com.

Comments

19 Responses to “Protecting Your Domains – Going Offshore to Canada”

  1. WhyParkInsider on November 4th, 2008 4:10 pm

    I recently set-up an account at Rebel and was wondering about the level of protection from over reaching US courts. I love the domain merge feature where you can keep track of domains at any registrar. This is a great feature if you get a name from snapnames or namejet and end up with lots of different accounts with registrars you’ve never heard before. I’ll probably end up transferring these names from far flung accounts to Rebel. I guess they won’t register a .us domain, but this is a good trade-off if they can ignore a US court order. Good post…Please ask Rebel to post a position about US court orders!

  2. chrispian on November 4th, 2008 4:35 pm

    What about my rights in other countries? At least in the U.S. I know there is a process. What happens when I move my doms to Canada and someone up there decides to do shady things? Is it any better?

    My main fear is that moving it to another country then leaves me with little or no resources since my domains are outside the country.

  3. admin on November 4th, 2008 8:16 pm

    @WhyParkInsider – thanks for your comments!

    @chrispian – Two main things. First, the United States seems to be the only Western country that is attacking domains, and certainly is the most litigious by a wide margin. Second, one of the advantages of Canada is that the legal process here is very similar to that of the US – they both come from the same British system.

  4. Chart Name on November 5th, 2008 8:52 am

    I filed for an acccount at Rebel a while back and either they never got back to me or I lost the email, but this is a good reminder to get back with them. I think once you hit over 500 domains not only is tracking impossible but you really need a way to protect yourself from the most litigious country in the world. I was concerned about one thing though – if I had a forum for a Canadian company at Rebel, technically that would be more risky than having it at a US registrar?

  5. Jason Lavigne - Rebel.com on November 5th, 2008 9:24 am

    Firstly I would like to say thank you for this post, we appreciate the support.

    @WhyParkinsider our position on US court orders has always been that they do not have jurisdiction over us or the domains we manage for our customers. We have received US court orders in the past and our position has always been to inform the complainant that the order is from the incorrect jurisdiction and not to act on the order. We then make sure our customer is aware of the order we received and the steps we took to protect their domains.

    @Chrispain what type of shady things are you concerned about? If you can provide a specific example I can tell you how the issue would be addressed. In general security has always been a primary focus of Rebel.com and we go through great efforts to ensure our system is safe and secure. The legal system in Canada is very similiar to that of the US and processes are in place to address any type of issues that may arise with your domains.

  6. Jason Lavigne - Rebel.com on November 5th, 2008 9:30 am

    @ChartName with regards to the forum it would be no greater risk running the forum in Canada VS. the US. If the company being discussed has grounds to come after you such as slander they need only file their case in the proper jurisdiction. The Canadian company can file against you in a US court in the same jurisdiction as your US registrar.

    To be clear, Rebel.com is not exempt from court orders, if we receive a court order from the Ontario Provincial Court or the Federal Court of Canada we must honor the court order. However more often than not the court orders we receive are from US based courts that hold no jurisdiction.

  7. Brooks on November 5th, 2008 9:36 am

    I have started and sold many business in my 72 years, being able to retire at 32 and do essentially whatever I chose. Having spent millions of dollars over the years in various legal proceedings, I can assure you without any mental reservation whatsoever that other than a trial by a jury of your peers in America, you would be much better off in many other countries INCLUDING Canada (by experience). If you have seen too many John Wayne movies and still believe in apple pie, motherhood, and the American flag, you probably will be offended by this so just ignore it . This whole idea of “your rights” is utter nonsense as many a lawyer can attest to.

    I will never forget what my brilliant Jewish lawyer told me when I filed my first anti-trust case against a telephone company when I was 21. He put his feet up on the desk, spit the tobacco he was chewing into a spit tune many feet away, and looked at me and said….”listen kid, forget the shit you learned in school, justice is a word in the dictionary. You are going to pay me x number of dollars and I am going to screw this thing up so bad for the phone company that they will not no if they are coming or going”. I was young and naive and thought the guy was a nut case.

    He did just that. Although I technically lost the case, he was able to get an order that essentially tied their hands. They wound up having to buy me out to get out of their problem. I quickly realized that the legal system in America could be played.

    To address the original basis of the article, yes they can and they will increasingly take your property (domains). Not maybe, not kinda, not sorta of. They will, or you will wind up spending thousands of dollars to fight them. Got that kind of money laying around? Forget the patriotic crap you hear. Get your domains out of the US.

  8. admin on November 5th, 2008 10:33 am

    @Jason – thanks for clarifying things!

  9. admin on November 5th, 2008 10:33 am

    @Brooks – Interesting story – very insightful, thanks.

  10. J Jonah Jameson on November 6th, 2008 9:38 pm

    Has anyone looked into namevault.com? New company starting up in Bermuda. Anyone?

  11. Jason Lavigne - Rebel.com on November 7th, 2008 8:13 am

    I believe Namevault uses logic boxes to power the registrar. Logic boxes servers are located in the US so there would appear to be ties to the US with this registrar.

  12. admin on November 8th, 2008 11:01 pm

    It looks like Namevault may be owned or controlled by Michael Berkins.

  13. David on November 10th, 2008 9:41 am

    It looks like Namevault may be owned or controlled by Michael Berkins.

    It is. He blogged about it somewhere, though I can’t recall at the moment.

    While Rebel.com is indeed not obligated to comply with any U.S.-court issued order, it’s a different story if the party files and enforces an order on the .com Registry in Virginia. Dell Computer got one that forced VeriSign to lock out 3 offshore registrars from their .com and .net registrations, though VeriSign may not always comply depending on the type of dispute.

    Just thought I’d post that bit in case people unrealistically expect Rebel.com to completely “save” them from any and all kinds of legal disputes. After all, one can only do so much within their human ability.

  14. Jason Lavigne - Rebel.com on November 10th, 2008 9:52 am

    @David you are absolutely correct that a complainant can take their case directly to the registry and if this were done ther would be nothing your registrar can do to help protec you. This is something i have mentioned in other posts several times. Moving offshore can provide an additional layer of security but it cannot provide absolute security.

    I believe the thread on TheDomains.com http://www.thedomains.com/2008/10/31/tucows-responds-to-yummydomainscom/ discussing Tucows new domain selling site is where michael confirms that NameVault is his registrar. he formed it shortly after the Kentucky ordeal and moved his entire portfolio there. See comment number 20

  15. Michael Berkens on January 10th, 2009 12:13 pm

    Guys

    Just to clarify, Namevault.com is owned and operated by Homestead Limited a corporation, organized and operating, in and under the jurisdiction of the Bahamas.

    I am an investor in Homestead Limited but I do not run the registry.

    Homestead Limited has no office, employees or other ties to the US.

    Namevault.com servers are located in Nassau, Bahamas.

    Logic boxes only involvement is the interface between the central registry and Logic Boxes.

    Homestead Limited is not bound by any order of a US court.

    Someone would have to go to the Bahamas, file a case and get a judgment in the Bahamas for it to be effective in the Bahamas.

    Anyone who has dealt with Bahamian courts will tell you its a LONG process for that to occur. It is not uncommon in the Bahamas for the court system to take 5 years before some accused of murder goes to trial.

    There are very few lawyers in the Bahamas.

    As a percentage of population compared to the US or Canada, Australia or any other “Industrialized Nation”, the number of attorneys is extremely small.

    Homestead Limited is represented in the Bahamas by one of the biggest and oldest law firms.

    Also to be clear, all registrars, regardless or where they are located are subject to ICANN’s rules and Regs, so things like a WIPO action have to be honored no matter what jurisdiction the registrar is in.

    Therefore an offshore registrar has to operate in the same manner as a US based on. If any registrar screws with someone registrations, they risk there ICANN accreditation pulled, so risk to a domain holder using a non-US based registrar are the same as a US based one.

    To my way of thinking there is no benefit to having your domains in a US registrar, nothing good can happen and a lot of bad can.

    Homestead Limited also has dedicated offshore servers if you are interested in hosting.

    All inquiries should be directed to CustomerService@NameVault.com

  16. admin on January 10th, 2009 5:22 pm

    Thanks for clarifying Michael. You answered a lot of questions I had in my mind.

  17. T.J. James on July 18th, 2009 2:25 pm

    I’m in a slight pickle, so it seems. My registrar has been shut down by ICANN. I can not access the cPanel to change DNS, or transfer the domains to another registrar, for that matter.

    I’ve had tjjames.com, and tjjames.net for years, promoting my
    music and lyrics, and offering help to aspiring artist.

    Do you have any idea, what I may do, to prevent my domains from
    being lost, at renewal time? Considering that I will no longer be able to renew through the registrar I’ve been using.

    Thanks,
    T.J. James

  18. admin on July 20th, 2009 3:13 pm

    T.J.James – you should contact ICANN at:
    http://www.icann.org/cgi/contact/

    Eventually, ICANN will get the domains transferred to a new registrar. It looks like your domains have another 7 months left – I would expect the mess to be fixed up by then.

    However, who is your registrar? The domains look like they are at Tucows, which is still going strong.

  19. Anime on March 18th, 2010 7:39 am

    I’m having registrar problems, as well. An American Anime licensing company, FUNimation, keeps sending DMCA complaints to my registrar. What’s rebel’s stand on DMCA’s regarding posting a video to a website like youtube? would we have to remove it or will the whole domain be suspended?