Redirecting Domain Name and Cybersquatting

Redirecting Domain Name and Cybersquatting

One of the most common BHSEO strategies is to purchase a bulk batch of domain names and redirect customers to the original website using a 301 redirect[1] or 302 redirect function.[2] The Uniform Resource Locator ('URL') address is often changed or permanently moved from one page to another page while a website is migrated or updated. Redirects are then required to reach to a new page or new URL address. Technically, it is called a "Sever-side Redirect".[3] A 404 error[4] often occurs as a result of broken links, which can seriously harm a website's ranking.[5] A 404 error will not only have a negative impact on web users, but also on web spiders since 404 error pages degrade the performance of a web spider.[6] To solve this issue, a 301 redirect is used. BHSEO experts intentionally purchase domain names with typographical errors. These become relevant when a web user accidentally inputs an incorrect website address into the search box on a search engine site. When this occurs, the user is hijacked and forced to visit the targeting website.[7] This is known as "typosquatting" or URL hijacking[8] which is a form of cybersquatting.

In the USA, "cybersquatting" is regulated under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act ('ACPA') which was enacted in 1999. This Act specifically targets cybersquatters who purchase and register domain names although they do not have any intention of using them.[9] Unlike the USA, there is no direct legislation, which regulates cybersquatting in Australia. Instead, the conduct of falsely suggesting a connection between a registrant and their business is potentially caught by section 18 of the ACL in Queensland. Section 18 states that a person must not, in trade or commerce, engage in conduct that is misleading or deceptive or is likely to mislead or deceive.

The issue of “in trade and commerce” is well described in Concrete Constructions (NSW) Pty Ltd v Nelson (‘Concrete Case’).[10] The respondent (‘worker’) was employed by the appellant corporation (‘the company’). He was injured after falling down an air conditioning shaft while attempting to remove a grate. He was told by the foreman that the grate was secured by three bolts so that it was safe to remove. He brought proceedings against the company for the breach of section 52 of the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth) ('TPA'). The court ruled that foreman’s conduct was not conduct in trade or commerce under section 52 of the TPA and allowed appeal. The majority chose narrower interpretation of ‘in trade and commerce’. Under the narrow interpretation, ‘in trade and commerce’ is a conduct which is itself an aspect or element of activities or transactions which, of their nature, bear a trading or commercial character.[11] Unlike Concrete Case, SEO companies which provide BHSEO service to Australian consumers will be captured under section 18. Also, the term, 'trade or commerce', is defined in section 2(2) in the ACL, and states that the conduct of the business must be in trade or commerce within Australia or trade or commerce between Australia and a place outside. This is quite broad and thus will catch all SEO’s working in Australia or with an Australian consumer.

To be caught under section 18, the conduct must also be misleading or deceptive or likely to mislead or deceive. In Parkdale Custom Built Furniture P/L v Puxu P/L,[12] the court adopted an objective approach to determine whether the public at large was likely to be misled. Chief Justice Gibbs stated that the relevant person who may be misled is the reasonable member of the class directly affected by misleading or deceptive conduct. Here, if an article was properly labelled and displayed the name of the manufacturer, ordinary reasonable member of the public would not be misled: Collins Marrickville Pty Ltd v Henjo Investments Pty Ltd & Ors.[13]

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[1] Jon Rognerud, Ultimate Guide to Search Engine Optimization: Drive Traffic, Boost Conversion Rates and Make Lots of Money  (Jon Rognerud SEO, 2008) 59-60; Mike Moran and Bill Hunt, Search Engine Marketing, Inc.: Driving Search Traffic to Your Company's Website (IBM Press, 2014) 289-290. A 301 redirect permanently redirects old URLs to a new URLs. A 301 redirect is the most common type of redirect that indicates to spiders and bots that they should visit a new page and crawl through the information on the page.

[2] Ibid. Along with a 301 redirect, a 302 redirect is used for the temporary redirection.

[3] Jonathan Weber, Practical Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager for Developers (Apress, 2015) 186-187.

[4] Scott Mitchell, Designing Active Server Pages ("O'Reilly Media, Inc.", 2000) 73-76. A 404 error page is showed when the page is not found on the server. The broken link pages should be fixed as quickly as possible as it impacts the website's ranking.

[5] John Jerkovic, SEO Warrior ("O'Reilly Media, Inc.", 2009) 91-92.

[6] B. Barla Cambazoglu and Ricardo Baeza-Yates, Scalability Challenges in Web Search Engines (Morgan & Claypool Publishers, 2015) 23. A web spider thinks that a page which contains a 404 error massages is not worth being indexed.

[7] Aaron Schwabach, Internet and the Law: Technology, Society, and Compromises, 2nd Edition: Technology, Society, and Compromises (ABC-CLIO, 2014) 59. A form of indirect cybersquatting known as typosquatting which attempts to cash in on the traffic generated by high volume website.

[8] Yi Pan, Security in Distributed and Networking Systems (World Scientific, 2007) 22. A domain is hijacked under the control of an attacker and the users are redirected to another website or webpage that an attacker targets also, DNS hijacking is also known as redirection.

[9] Mark T. Carroll and American Law Institute-American Bar Association Committee on Continuing Professional Education, ALI-ABA's Practice Checklist Manual on Advising Business Clients III: Checklists, Forms, and Advice from The Practical Lawyer (ALI-ABA, 2004) 359.

[10] Concrete Constructions (NSW) Pty Ltd v Nelson (1990) 169 CLR 594.

[11] Concrete Constructions (NSW) Pty Ltd v Nelson (1990) 169 CLR 594, [7].

[12] Parkdale Custom Built Furniture P/L v Puxu P/L (1982) 149 CLR 191.

[13] Collins Marrickville Pty Ltd v Henjo Investments Pty Ltd & Ors (1987) ATPR 40.

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