Toriyama.org ... Stolen!?
Imagine for a moment that you had an enormous website, delighting thousands and thousands of surfers worldwide. Millions of hits per year, and yet you stand and shout to anyone who would listen, "I urge all of you to not visit". Is it some kind of crazy nightmare? Not if you're Brian Real, a staff member for Toriyama.org... or, more specifically, what used to be Toriyama.org.
Brian Real urges everyone who reads this not to visit the site he maintains, because Toriyama.org is no longer under his control. DomainSource.com, a domain selling and re-selling service, has purchased the website and converted it into a banner ad haven.
Until recently, when anyone wanted information about Akira Toriyama (creator of Dragon Ball, and artist and character designer for the Dragon Quest [Dragon Warrior in North America] video games) one simply turned to Toriyama.org for information. Of course, when a non-profit site becomes as large as Tori.org, it becomes difficult to pay for the incredible amount of bandwidth used by its visitors.
Earlier this year, Toriyama.org temporarily closed up shop and moved to a bigger network capable of managing the immense amount of traffic the website generates, and on May 9th, after several months of downtime, Steven Simmons posted a brief statement to alt.fan.dragonball: "toriyama.org is back, albeit in a slightly "lite" version. Come on by and say hello." and Toriyama.org silently returned to the Internet.
At that time, it appeared that Tori.org was here to stay. Unfortunately, after a scant few months online, Toriyama.org went down again without any apparent reason. Tori.org staffers went back to work trying to restore Tori.org's functionality once again.
Early last week, Toriyama.org staffers discovered the problem involved their Domain Registry Service and things began to look up for the troubled website. Unfortunately, instead of Toriyama and his works, visitors to the site now receive a barrage of banner ads, ranging from FirstName.com to GoTo.com. Instead of Dragon Ball Z CD information, visitors can shop for CD Players. Certainly something was amiss.
One anonymous source likened DomainSource.com to a vulture, perched on a nearby tree, waiting for the Toriyama.org Domain Registration to curl up and die. When it did, DomainSource.com swooped down, picked up the juicy domain and flew off.
Brian Real quickly contacted DomainSource.com to try to regain the domain, and Domain Source's Andrew Sievright responded.
Although Toriyama.org is a nonprofit organization, Sievright's company planned to earn money via the domain name, as evidenced by the enormous number of banner ads now populating the website.
"We have some costs accrued so far with the name and planned developement [sic]. They aren't alot [sic], however, we would like to be compensated." stated Andrew Sievright. "We have at least $375.00 in costs associated with this domain at this point. This is a fraction of what the name is worth to us."
At least one Toriyama.org staff member has decreed the offer of $375 for the return of the domain as extortion. Domain Source appears unwavering in their offer, however. Currently Toriyama.org staffers have not publicly announced what plans, if any, they have to recover their domain.
However, is Domain Source "on-the-level"? A WHOIS lookup via Network Solutions website returned the following information about the current registrant of Toriyama.org:
aksjhdsadj, CT 06119
All domains must be registered through a Domain Registration Service. This includes the person who registered the domain name, as well as the administrative, technical, and billing contacts. All of this information is publicly available for any .com, .org, .net, and .edu website.
From the information provided at NSI and elsewhere, it becomes clear that Domain Source used Registrars.com to purchase their domain. Registrars.com's Registration Agreement includes the following statement: "You acknowledge that: (a) willfully providing inaccurate or unreliable information; ... Shall constitute a material breach of this Agreement..."
Domainsource.com's innapropriate use of a .org domain name as well as the false information they supplied to Registrars.com provides the legitimate owners of Toriyama.org with some legal amunition should they decide to pursue an arbitration suit. However, at press time, Toriyama.org has not announced what methods, if any, they will take in order to recover their domain name. Until then, Brian Real has a message for our readers:
To all who are reading this, I thank you for your concern. During the time that this con man has the domain I urge all of you to not visit the site. For those who insist on e-mailing this person you can go to www.domainsource.com directly to contact them. I'm in no way directly suggesting that anyone e-mail this person to blatantly mock him for failing so miserably in his extortion, though ¬_¬. Expect toriyama.org's content to be back up soon, with or without the domain.
Anime News Network will continue to follow this story as it develops.