|Hey, maybe Jim can comment on this. I bookmarked a Japanimation website a few months ago. When I clicked it tonight, I got the following:
"You have reached the webservers of the American Cancer Society, although it appears that you are trying to reach the website of the Anime Web Turnpike, at www.anipike.com. That website is temporarily incorrectly mapped to our address.
"Please rest assured that the American Cancer Society is working with the Anime Web Turnpike to resolve this problem as quickly as possible.
"The Anime Web Turnpike is available via a mirror site at http://www.anime.jyu.fi/~anipike/."
I've never gotten this message before when clicking on this link, and it seems dishonest to me. My take is that the ACS attempted to reserve the URL, found out it was taken by an organization with less clout, and/or a weaker domain registrar (ie, pimply fans), and just muscled on in. Fine, but why couldn't they say this:
"You thought you were clicking on Anime Turnpike, but, surprise, we finessed them out of their URL. Eventually we won't even post this message, you'll just have to get back to the search engines and find Anime Turnpike on their second choice URL. If you don't like it, let us remind you that we're trying to cure cancer here, and if you have a problem with that, then may God have mercy on you, heartless person."
Is there any possible scenario where Anime Turnpike was in the wrong here? Maybe they started using it and found out ACS had it in reserve. Still, it seems to me that prior, extensive use should count for something.
Sorry I never answered this. I'm not really sure what the deal is, but I know a little.
A whois lookup on the domain anipike.com gives this result. I wish I had tried this before. There are 2 important pieces of information here. One is the domain servers, which point to machines in the astraweb.com domain. Astraweb is a web hosting company. Apparently, from their front page, they use the FreeBSD operating system (plus Apache on intel hardware.) The second piece of information from the whois page is that the database was last updated on 16-Nov-2001 (yesterday.) That's why I wish I had looked earlier.
Now, if we check what the anipike.com site is running using the handy netcraft what's that site running? feature we can see that something strange did happen. Remember that the whois above pointed us to the FreeBSD running Astraweb. The netcraft results contain a bit of history. At the bottom of that page you can see that as of 4 november 2000, anipike.com was running on a FreeBSD machine in a netblock owned by Astraweb. But then on 13 november 2001 it was changed to a Windows 2000 machine in a netblock owned by USinternetworking. I'm guessing this change resulted in the screw up involving the american cancer society. I'm also guessing that the changes recorded in the whois as being made yesterday (nov. 16) are even now propogating throughout the system. Probably by Monday most people will be seeing the correct site again (that's my guess.)
But as to why this change was made, it's hard to say. The DNS can be cracked. So it could have been a malicious change to the DNS records made a third party. Why they would point it at the American Caner Society I do not know (you'd think if it was malicious they would point it at a porn site, or a rival animation site, or at something that seemed funny.) Or it could have been a legitimate error.
Tom's theory of domain snatching by the ACS is possible, in one sense. There are lots of cases where big companies have wrested domains from small owners. And the internet governing bodies seem more and more reluctant to go against big business in these matters. But this situation doesn't feel like that. They just convene some committe and decide in a more above board way. But the big interest has to have some claim to the name. Anipike? Does that have anything to do with the ACS? Doesn't seem like it to me.
As for the scenario where anipike.com "started using it and found out ACS had it in reserve," this couldn't happen. If ACS had registered the domain already then anipike wouldn't have had anyway to register it themselves. If anipike was ever using that domain (as we know they were) then they have that domain. ACS, or any party with deep pockets, could try to gain control through legal arguments involving patent or trademark infringement, but it doesn't seem like that happened here. I think this was just some administrative error, made on the 13th of November, and it looks like it's being corrected as we speak.
Great detective work! Your theory makes sense, especially pinning down the change of server. You're right about the hole in my theory--what does the word "anipike" have to do with cancer? When I encounter an anomaly, I tend to jump to the most paranoid explanation, regardless of whether it jibes with the facts.
Slashdot just put up a good story on something like this if you're interested in how screwed up things are. This is the important link from the /. story.
Obviously complainants are getting to write the law right now, and the panels are making a strict trademark/intellectual property analysis without weighting the free speech aspects of using domain names as a protest. The only way to get more favorable rulings would be through class actions by little guys against big guys, which won't happen soon because it isn't economical.
One positive way to look at the decision is that if you want to hit a company in its wallet, as opposed to just bitching about it, register a "____sucks.com" name and make it incur high legal bills to take over your name. That is, assuming the panels don't assess legal fees against you if you lose.