Hi SN. Hope you can help me with this: I wanted to overhaul the existing website of an old video store. However, the video store owner told me that the agency which did create their website went broke and the person with which he had contact and which bought the domain died.

Using whois <url> returned this:

% Restricted rights. % % Terms and Conditions of Use % % The above data may only be used within the scope of technical or % administrative necessities of Internet operation or to remedy legal % problems. % The use for other purposes, in particular for advertising, is not permitted. % % The DENIC whois service on port 43 doesn't disclose any information concerning % the domain holder, general request and abuse contact. % This information can be obtained through use of our web-based whois service % available at the DENIC website: % http://www.denic.de/en/domains/whois-service/web-whois.html % %

Domain: ***** Nserver: ns1112.ui-dns.biz Nserver: ns1112.ui-dns.com Nserver: ns1112.ui-dns.de Nserver: ns1112.ui-dns.org Status: connect Changed: 2018-07-26T19:50:27+02:00

I then went to http://www.denic.de/en/domains/whois-service/web-whois.html and used their contact form to establish contact but haven't heard back from them. I wrote in January this year. We would really like to continue using this domain. We think no one is paying for it anymore so it should be free to grab again, right?

Already thanks for your time reading this.

Looking forward to any help.

-- also posted here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=35053535


It's possible that the domain is still paid. Domain services often have default autorenew settings and offers to pay years in advance for a domain at a discounted rate per year.

Mhh okay. I think it's been over 3 years or more but not sure. Could still be that they payed in advance yet but why pay in advance for so long? Is the discount that much worth it?

Maybe that's why they went out of business lol

But still weird that they didn't reply.

It is weird.

Have you talked to an IP lawyer about this?

The #1 advantage that centralized, human run, systems like DNS have over decentralized systems is precisely situations like this. There is probably a legal way to get the domain returned to the rightful owner. Likely to be expensive of course – lawyers are not cheap. But if you have the appropriate paper trail of who should be the true owner there is likely a legal way to make the transfer happen.

No, not yet. I am also not sure who is the rightful owner. An agency created the website for the video store owner but they went out of business. And his contact person at the agency died. The agency has been paying for the domain. So it's weird the site is still up even though it's been some time since no one is managing it anymore.

The video store owner told me he got this website back in 2015.

Or do you think the video store owner could have legal rights since the website is about his store?

If he hired the agency to make the website and register the domain for him, I would expect the law to consider him the one with true ownership of the domain.

13 sats \ 6 replies \ @legxxi 7 Mar

Wait for the domain to expire and grab it as soon as it does.

Contact anyone still responsible for the agency, otherwise maybe even a relative of the deceased, I'm sure they wouldn't want to pay that extra money.

Where can I see this? Normally, the expiry date is visible with whois but not for this domain.

This this tool, it should show registry expiration dates:


No registry RDAP server was identified for this domain. Attempting lookup using WHOIS service. Failed to perform lookup using WHOIS service: TLD_NOT_SUPPORTED.

.de TLD

72 sats \ 2 replies \ @legxxi 7 Mar

I didn't know about this:

.de domain names, like some other ccTLDs do not have expiry dates. They live on as long as long you pay for them. That's why German providers often charge for the domain names by the month (around €1 or less/month is typical).

So basically there's no way for you to know when the domain expires as it's still being paid monthly. Contact Denic.de indeed, seems like all domain name registrations are centralized there but my guess is they'll tell you there's nothing they can do if the domain it's still being paid regularly.

I'll try to contact the relatives in that case.

Okay, interesting, thanks for looking this up!

If the domain is still getting paid for, I have no problem. Since we are pretty sure no one is paying for it anymore. If so, that would be really mysterious.

Hopefully they will reply soon. I used info@denic.de now and I got at least an automatic reply now.

As the former owner of a webhosting company, you'd be surprised at how often this kind of thing happens. There are sites that live on for years after people have died, it's kind of wild how long some things will keep auto-renewing on billing for, even to a dead guy's credit card.

You should contact the agency to transfer the domain or wait until the domain expires (however if they have auto-renew and don't bother with the extra money leaving the company's pockets it will not happen soon).

Also, there is no company anymore. It went out of business.

I wrote them a mail which was linked under "general request". I just noticed it was in even in December 2022, not January 2023.

I just wrote them again asking if they received my mail and forwarded that to their info@denic.de address. Just saw they have more contact info on their website.

If they still don't reply, I'll give them a call. I won't give up that easily haha

Nice, I at least received an automatic reply now from info@denic.de

BTW, SN has been very helpful! No comments on HN yet ...