Company will no longer indiscriminately lock domains when they are subject to a legal challenge.
GoDaddy is removing domain locks on a set of valuable domain names owned by Brent Oxley and changing its policy going forward.
Oxley’s valuable domains, including Piano.com, Message.com and Distribute.com, were locked after domain investor Puneet Agarwal filed a lawsuit in India in 2019. Agarwal helped Oxley acquire some domain names, and alleges that he is owed commission on some of them.
Oxley said publicly that he hasn’t been served in the lawsuit and alleges that Agarwal filed the lawsuit as a way to hold his domains hostage in order to extract payments from Oxley.
GoDaddy’s common practice for many years has been to lock domain names when it is notified that they are subject to a lawsuit or other legal challenge.
While GoDaddy’s locking policy might make sense in some circumstances, it seems that it was being abused in this case. Domain names should not be locked in perpetuity due to a lawsuit.
Pressure built on GoDaddy to remove the locks after James Iles wrote about the issue.
In a statement today, GoDaddy GM & VP of Aftermarket Paul Nicks stated:
As we reviewed our policies and procedures, our goal was to do what’s right for our domain investors and to protect the industry from domain theft. Your domain names need to be accessible and sellable, we get it. To be clear, this isn’t just about Brent’s issue, it’s about the long-term health of the aftermarket. The aftermarket has changed in the last 20 years, and our long-standing policy needed to address these changes.
Frankly, we needed to evolve with the times. After many discussions with outside experts, lawyers, and trade groups, we believe we have found the right balance. The new solution allows domain investing businesses to proceed while having robust anti-theft measures.
Moving forward, when we are notified of a legal dispute between two parties, we will not lock domains by default as we had previously done. We will review each notification and reserve the right to impose a 30-day interim hold, in part to help protect against improper domain flight, until a court order is obtained by the complainant. If a court order has not been received within 30 days of implementing a hold, then we will remove the hold.
While we can’t guarantee we can stop all abuse of our system, we will use best efforts and multiple layers of review to root out potential bad actors.
As this rolls out, please let me know if you hear of any issue the new policy is raising. We’ll continue to listen to your feedback and review our policies to ensure they do what’s right for the domain investor community, while still maintaining antitheft practices.