Should registrars allow anyone to renew a domain?

The case brings up an interesting question.

Picture of clock with words "expired domains"

Earlier this month, the domain name expired because the domain owner didn’t renew it. He had a pretty good excuse: he’s in prison.

Parties interested in the domain tried to renew it. It’s not clear what they did to try to renew it, and I’m not sure it actually was renewed. I think people who think the domain was renewed might be confusing the registry expiry date with the registrar expiry date.

But this case begs the question: should anyone be allowed to renew a domain name on behalf of someone else?

Some registrars allow this. Tucows’ retail brand Hover enabled this in 2010. It found that over a third of support tickets were related to renewals. People forgot their login or wanted to renew the domain for someone else who wasn’t able to do it at the time.

This change probably saved Hover and its customers a lot of headaches. And it means Hover keeps a subscriber who it otherwise might have lost.

So why would a registrar not allow people to renew domains for other people?

There are some edge cases that could create headaches.

Say I discover that one of the domains in my account infringes a trademark I wasn’t aware of. I decide to let the domain expire but someone else renews it on my behalf. I get hit with a cybersquatting lawsuit a year later. Who’s fault is that?

Or, in the case of, the owner of the domain is in prison for helping North Korea evade sanctions. If someone renews the domain for him, who is the actual registrant? The person who renewed the domain hasn’t entered into a contract with the registrar (GoDaddy in this case).

Contracts and registration agreements are likely a key reason more registrars haven’t enabled no-login renewals. A registration agreement is in effect as long as someone is the registrant of a domain. If they want the contract to end, should someone else be able to extend it on their behalf?

I’d be curious what other registrars think.

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