In January of 2013, President Obama launched a new 501(c)4 nonprofit named “Organizing for Action.” The purpose of this non-profit is to:
“Organizing for Action will support the legislative agenda we voted on, train the next generation of grassroots organizers and leaders, and organize around local issues in our communities.”
What the President and his team of techies forgot to do is register the corresponding .com (and .org/.net/.us) as a placeholder for the organization.
Instead, and as many of you might have guessed – several savvy individuals saw this as an opportunity to leverage internet traffic and registered it themselves.
Enter: Derek Bovard, the savvy individual who registered organizingforaction.com (now offline as of October 2015). By the time Obama’s team noticed this had happened, that organizingforaction.com was rerouted to the NRA homepage, which made Obama’s team quite angry.
In retaliation, Obama filed a complaint with ICANN, the organization that is responsible for domain names on the internet. His complaint was filed under the “Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy” and Obama was given a case number and told to stand in line just like everyone else.
Derek Bovard was quoted saying that he felt that he owned the domain name outright, and should not suffer any repercussions. He told sources that he planned to use the site to provide “information on the US Constitution and Conservative Values” and also stated that he has no intention of selling the site to Obama’s organization or anyone else.
We’ve seen these disputes happen time after time, and the results vary depending on how the company’s legal structure is and how tight the legal representation is. In this case, I think Obama has a bit more resources than anyone else.
Lesson: if you are about to launch any idea, plan, website, etc – register the domain name and any variances as well.
In terms of Google’s algorithm, it appears as though it is doing its job and picking up on the “correct” version of the President’s website:
It also appears as though the .com, .org, and .net didn’t even make the front page. We can thank Google’s EMD update for that.
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