Without typo-squatters, how far would Google fall?
The riches of cartooonnetwork.com
How much money is Google making from the world's typo-squatters? God only knows. Or rather: God, Eric Schmidt, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, and a few Oompah Loompahs inside their Mountain View Chocolate Factory.
According to a recent study from McAfee and Harvard prof/cyber watchdog Ben Edelman - which relies on web data from May 2008 - at least 80,000 domains are typo-squatting on America's 2,000 most popular web sites, just waiting for innocent web users to misspell or mistype their next url. And 80 per cent of those typo-squatting domains are funded through Google AdSense.
For instance, the study (PDF) says, 742 domains sit just a few misplaced characters from freecreditreport.com, and 327 are shadowing cartoonnetwork.com. "Cartoon Network with three Os. Cartoon Network with two Ts. Cartoon Network that starts with a k. More ways to misspell Cartoon Network than you ever imagined," Edelman tells The Reg. "And almost all of them serve Google ads."
In the US, typo-squatting is against the law. The 1999 Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) prohibits anyone from "registering or using" domains misleadingly similar to a trademark or famous name. Yet Google is making money from typo-squatters - most likely a great deal of money. The trouble - as usual - is that there's no window into Google's black box of an ad platform. At least not yet.
Edelman is among the team of lawyers that filed a class action suit against Google in June 2007, accusing the ad broker of violating the ACPA, and he's confident that as part of the suit's discovery process, Google will have no choice but to reveal how much it's pulling in from typo-squatters.
In October 2007, Dell brought suit against 16 so-called domain parkers, claiming they were squatting on its trademarks, and a court freeze order indicated those 16 outfits were raking in as much $2m a month from Google ads - after Google took its cut.
Under the freeze, Google was ordered to shuttle a portion of the defendants' ad revenue into an account for safe keeping. Each month, the order said, the first million should go into the frozen account and the second million should go to the defendants. If revenues top $2m, the order said, half of what's left should be frozen too.
But that's just 16 companies. And who knows how high those revenues really went.
Next page: Domain Parkers
i dunno why so many of you are so quick to condemn what you're calling 'cybersquatters'. these people aren't cybersquatting. cybersquatting is when someone registers the name of a new product or company before the company itself gets round to registering it, or registers an existing domain name on an alternate TLD.
how can anyone complain that someone is cybersquatting, if they've registered a completely different name? who decides what is a 'deliberate typo' and what is just a similar but different domain? if i had a cardboard box distribution company, i might have a legit reason for registering 'cartonnetwork'. should the 'british commercial bureau [fictitious] be barred from registering BCB.co.uk because it's a typo of the BBC's domain?
when i first wanted to register my company's 'madra' domain way back in the 90's i initially tried 'madra.com' only to find that it already existed in the form of the website for the 'mid atlantic disaster recovery association' [i kid you not!]. not being a multi-million £££ multinational corporation, i wasnae able to call on any expensive lawyers, so i just registered madra.net instead. problem solved!
some of these megacorporations just need to STFU and realise that they dinnae have a god-given right to ownership of anything and everything that a user *might* think their web address *might* be.
* for some reason i used to always typo 'appple.com' when going to the temple of jobs and get taken to some enterprising desgn agency's page instead.
* the other one i was forever getting wrong was 'del.icio.us'. i knew the word was 'delicious' but could never remember where the dots went. a case of a domain name being to0 clever for its own good there. tho' i see they've changed it now
* and finally, and another irony, the word 'domain' itself is one that i typo regularly. half the time i seem to type 'doamin'. maybe i could cybersquat the whole intarwebs by starting a company that sells 'doamin names' for slightly less than the equivalent 'domain name'?
@ Steve Roper re: "who types URLs ?"
Maybe not such a good idea for sensitive data unless you can guarantee that you don't have a naughty key-logger lurking about somewhere.
Check out the excellent KeePass application which, among other things, allows you to store sensitive data in an encrypted database and drag-n-drop the data into appropriate fields. Works for me.
I am confused
The OP wrote: "Cartoon Network with three Os."
Of course there are 3 Os; toon and wor.
Seems correct to me.
What am I missing?
Oh, Oh. I know, the British spelling is Cartoun Netwourk.