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You really don’t want to be ‘that guy’ taking advantage of COVID-19

Seriously. You don’t.

Man covering his face wearing a yellow shirt

“There’s no such thing as bad press.”

That’s mostly true but there are exceptions.

Like this guy. He traveled around Tennessee and Kentucky, clearing shelves of critical supplies to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus and then sold them on Amazon and eBay. Then he decided to give an interview to the New York Times after the marketplaces shut him down. Now, under investigation by the Tennessee attorney general’s office, he donated everything he bought.

What he did might have been illegal. There’s nothing illegal about buying domain names related to the coronavirus with the goal of selling them. It’s just…dirty. Reprehensible.

Any why be “that guy”, when you probably aren’t going to make money off the domains anyway?

This morning on twitter, attorney John Berryhill has been calling out a person for filing a trademark application on ‘Covid-19 Vax’ and registering related domains:

I understand that people do things in the moment. But history doesn’t smile favorably on it.

Please, don’t be that guy.

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Reader Interactions


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  1. Perfectname.com Sales says

    I like the video where the lady loaded up her cart with all the toilet paper left and would not give another lady one package. A fight ensued. The store manager took away all of the toilet paper.

  2. Common Sense says

    Please! Many people have purchased CoronaVirus terms and they have every right! This is as absurd as saying don’t buy Crypto domains when they have ZERO use unless there is a panic basically!

    What about people making websites showing where areas are infected? Not the same thing right? Big lol!

    You are peddling bad information and making it into the context of hand sanitizer! Really?


    • Martin says

      You didn’t get the point, and that’s fine.

      You are free to buy whatever you want. Andrew gave you very good advice for free – take it or ignore.

  3. Jon Schultz says

    Give us a break, Andrew. As I said in the other thread, you do more damage to society every time you drive for a non-essential purpose than anyone does buying any domain and putting any price on it. You cannot compare buying and selling domains to hoarding essential goods, they are two different animals.

    • Jon Schultz says

      “It’s just…dirty. Reprehensible.”

      In saying that you are only bragging how morally superior you are, trying to elevate your social status at the expense of the people you are criticizing for no good reason, which includes me. I had enough of that from the reporters and publications which criticized me with regard to Ebola.com. PLEASE STOP!

        • Jon Schultz says

          You may be right that I am emotionally too sensitive to criticism for my own good, but there may be people who have refused to do business with me, since 2014, as a result of seeing those Ebola.com articles, so I’m sensitve about the material effects of unwarranted criticism as well.

          What you are doing, imo, is trying to incite a virtual, if not real, lynch mob of morons so you can feel like a big man. Again, PLEASE STOP.

          • Jon Schultz says

            Or, you may be trying to distance yourself from people who have coronavirus-related domains for sale because you know how how the media will criticize it and don’t want any of the criticism directed at domainers in general. You’d rather throw us under the bus with unwarranted criticism than be subject to any unwarranted criticism yourself.

            If that’s the case, that’s real thick skin…

  4. thelegendaryjp says

    Not sure how I feel about this, owning NightmareBacteria.com I recently had a “threat” more insults made after being asked how much first. This is a touchy subject, I believe there are lines but simply owning the domain… to each his own. No one is saying how horrible Frank was for owning coronavirus.com, unless I missed that, lets not be hypocritical.

      • Jon Schultz says

        He didn’t donate to the WHO, he had a PPC page up and was asking $188,000 for the domain for over a month while thousands of people were dying in China, until he sold his portfolio to GoDaddy and GoDaddy decided to point the domain to the WHO website. I’m not criticizing Mr. Schilling in saying that, just pointing out the facts.

        GoDaddy has now removed Covid-19-related domains from GoDaddy Auctions and Afternic, however you can still buy their domains PandemicOutbreak.com, BirdFluPandemic.net and BirdFluFears.com at their private sales site NameFind.com (as well as at GDA and Afternic).

  5. thelegendaryjp says

    Andrew, so because he had foresight it was therefore morally acceptable even though the end game was to sale it? I am not saying what he did was wrong but to say he is absolved because he did it in advance is not the strongest argument you’ve ever made my friend. Frank knew what a “corona virus ” was and Frank knows why you buy names on speculation, there was no accidentally fell into something here.

    • Andrew Allemann says

      The common cold is a coronavirus. I don’t see anything wrong with owning domains related to medicine. I do have a problem with no going out and trying to profit off of a pandemic.

      • thelegendaryjp says

        Fair enough, you have a right to feel that way but keep in mind up until this point that “common cold” kills many many more globally. Your defense of Frank owning coronavirus.com (which I feel is fine btw) vs. how you feel about others has issues with justification. It doesn’t pass the test Andrew, Frank is no different than anyone else in this matter. How long ago he reg’d it, “common cold” (which more die of still) or not, end game was the same, for profit. Again, I support Frank and owning this name and others, I am no different but mystified at how you feel he is justified while others are not. Pot and Kettle in my opinion.

        • Andrew Allemann says

          I look at this as trying to take advantage of a tragedy, such as a hurricane. I respect your viewpoint, but I do find a difference between registering a coronavirus domain before COVID-19 and doing it at this point.

      • Jon Schultz says

        You still haven’t cited one example of how registering a domain to profit off a pandemic materially harms anyone. I’m sorry to be so critical of you but your complaint is all hot air and no substance. You are attacking peoples’ reputations for no good reason.

          • Jon Schultz says

            So you’re creating a bogeyman out of the darkness of your own mind, which affects the livelihood of people who own good coronavirus domains which they may have more difficulty selling now as a result of your accusing them of immoral behavior when in fact they are hurting no one, while you do things more destructive than what they are doing every day (i.e. the example I gave about driving unnecessarily). That’s called hypocrisy, Mr. Alleman.

          • Jon Schultz says

            I hope you’re right and I’m glad that you agree, at least, that the practice shouldn’t be illegal. I personally think it’s crazy to think there are moral principles totally apart from what should and shouldn’t be legal, and conceited to think your opinion as to what is moral should apply to everyone.

            I wouldn’t find it offensive if you said, “I find it offensive that you’re registering domains related to a catastrophe in an attempt to profit from the situation” – which, again, I think is foolish because the practice isn’t hurting anyone and isn’t much different than profiting from, say, Cancer.com (or Depression.com or Hypochondria.com), as others here have pointed out – but it’s another thing to call it “dirty” and “reprehensible” and say that we “shouldn’t” do it as if “God” or some other perfection is behind your point of view. When you do that you do encourage hate and the desire to punish, in my opinion.

            In any case, thanks for the stimulating discussion (my skin is actually a bit thicker today:) and great website.

  6. Snoopy says

    Who cares about people registering Corona domains? Why does it really matter and why would domainers stop registering these types of domains?

    Should we admonish Frank Schilling for registering coronavirus.com 20 years ago? How about cancer.com, is that an evil registration also?

  7. thelegendaryjp says

    I am not saying Frank shouldn’t have owned coronavirus.com btw or anyone any other disease, my argument is with it being ok for him and not others. That is all.

    • snoopy1267 says

      I absolutely agree with you. All big domains would own disease registrations, nothing wrong with it.

      I could write an article about how evil just about anyone is based on some moral argument about what someone should or shouldn’t register. This common practice by blogs of “registration shaming” needs to stop.

    • Andrew Allemann says

      To be clear, if you registered a coronavirus domain a year ago, no big deal. The issue is when someone registers domains to take advantage of a tragedy, such as COVID-19, a hurricane, a flood, etc.

      • snoopy1267 says

        The only person who loses here in the registrant. They haven’t taken advantage of anything.

        The idea that a registration can be ok when Frank Schilling registers it but not ok now is nonsense in my view.

        Nobody cares about this stuff except domain bloggers and news agencies because they want to write a sensational domain shaming story and get eyeballs. That is the real story.

        • Andrew Allemann says

          Frank Schilling registered Coronavirus.com. There are lots of coronaviruses out there, including the common cold. To register a domain name about the common cold would be no big deal. It’s not taking advantage of a pandemic that is destroying lives and the economy.

          • Jon Schultz says

            So you’re saying that it was alright and not immoral, dirty or reprehensible for Mr. Schilling to be asking $188,000 for the domain for weeks after thousands of people were dying in China and it was clear the epidemic could easily become a pandemic, because he bought the domain years ago and some coronaviruses only cause mild disease? Is that correct?

            I’m so glad you’re here, to help us understand what is moral and what isn’t. Are you in direct communication with God?

  8. Snoopy says

    That doesn’t mean registering them is a good idea! Don’t waste your money, they won’t sell.

  9. David says

    I get the point of registering domains in bad taste. I could see WatchCoronavirusDeath being one of those.

    Otherwise, I don’t see a problem with a domain investor creating a domain name on the general subject matter.

    If an artist paints a picture of people suffering from a plague, and then gets a million dollar offer, should the artist not sell the painting?

    I think it’s better if each person does what they want. Noone is the judge.

    However, if you own a domain on that subject, be ready for some to possibly unfairly judge. Comes with the territory.

  10. steve says

    What’s worse?
    1) Domainers registering “corona virus” domains and hoping to flip them for xxxx?
    2) Healthcare system(s) padding bills with “out of network” and/or “exorbitant” charges, sending customers (i.e., underinsured or insured patients) into bankruptcies, foreclosures, ruined credit scores, suicides?

    I didn’t include pharma jacking up insulin prices in the USA, due to, uh, er, supply/demand and making billions while the financially challenged people with diabetes ration insulin and have to choose rent or insulin

    • Kevin Murphy says

      The second one is worse.

      Let me ask a question.

      What’s worse?

      a) Killing a guy?

      b) Killing a thousand guys?

      The answer is b)

      Does that make a) okay?


  11. Markus Schnermann says

    Just out of curiousity: I own Virus.com, acquired it in 2018 and created the current site in March 2019. I constantly received offers for the domain though I guess through the current crisis the interest in this name increased significantly. I am considering to sell it now but did receive some comments like it isn´t socially or ethically acceptable now. What are your thoughts?

  12. Hypatia says

    Nothing wrong with profiting from a covid-related domain name if you believe that the whole thing is being overstated and that the virus isn’t deadly at all and is comparable to the common cold or flu given the facts.

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