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Graduate Student Defends Right To Own Chicago2016.com 461

Posted by timothy
from the but-all-he-did-was-think-of-it-first-and-register-it dept.
An anonymous reader points to a story in the Chicago Tribune about another domain-name battle. Quoting the article: "As Chicago wages its battle to host the 2016 Olympics, it also finds itself scrapping over a valuable piece of cyberspace: the domain name of Chicago2016.com. The bid team along with the U.S. Olympic Committee are trying to wrest that online address from Stephen Frayne Jr., a 29-year-old MBA student. Frayne snagged it back in 2004, about two years before the bid was launched. ... 'We certainly see Chicago2016.com as the logical default domain for our site, and we believe having someone else control it is misleading for people seeking information about Chicago's bid,' said Patrick Sandusky, a spokesman for Chicago 2016, a moniker protected by trademark."
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Graduate Student Defends Right To Own Chicago2016.com

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  • Looks Legit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SolarStorm (991940) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @11:10PM (#25066035)
    This does not a case of someone trying to make a buck on the name. It looks like someone smart who registered a domain name for the purpose of discussion. The domain is not parked, not defamitory and is in use. Case closed. If this he looses his domain name, then who is next?
    • Re:Looks Legit (Score:4, Interesting)

      by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday September 18, 2008 @11:14PM (#25066083) Homepage Journal

      It looks semi-legit. While it's a discussion site on the Olympics, it appears that he intentionally intercepted the domain by registering a bunch of <city><year> combos that happen to match Olympic years. Coincidence? I think not.

      Generally speaking, ICANN tends to frown on such speculators. The originating entity has a right to their trademarks. Just because someone is crafty enough to beat you to it doesn't mean they should be rewarded.

      This is quite different than someone like MikeRoweSoft.com; a domain registered with the guy's actual name to perform his own business.

      • Re:Looks Legit (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mortonda (5175) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @11:18PM (#25066133)

        The originating entity has a right to their trademarks.

        And exactly where is this trademark that is infringed by this domain? If it was chicagoolympics2016.com, they might have an argument.

        • Re:Looks Legit (Score:4, Informative)

          by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday September 18, 2008 @11:30PM (#25066241) Homepage Journal

          And exactly where is this trademark that is infringed by this domain?

          According to TFA, "<city> <year>" combos have become a common method of referring to a specific instance of the Olympics. e.g. Syndney 2000 [wikipedia.org], Athens 2004 [wikipedia.org], Beijing 2008 [beijing2008.cn], etc. Such naming has all the trappings of a protected mark.

          This fellow registered the domains in 2004. Which was AFTER the practice had become commonplace among Olympic cities.

          • Re:Looks Legit (Score:5, Interesting)

            by RodgerDodger (575834) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @11:36PM (#25066307)

            It doesn't matter. The Chicago 2016 Olympic organising committee sought their trademark 2 years after the domain name was awarded and put into use.

            McDonald's have a pattern of naming burgers with a Mc-prefix. If I started a domain named 'www.mcchocolatecake.com', and McDonald's started to offer, two years later, a McChocolate Cake, they wouldn't have a right to seize my domain. Same deal.

            • by houstonbofh (602064) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @11:56PM (#25066511)
              Oh, God. If McDonald's ever sells Hammers, I won't know who to root against!
            • by oodaloop (1229816) on Friday September 19, 2008 @02:17AM (#25067569)
              So ICANN has choklet kake? Sorry, I just couldn't help myself.
      • The MikeRoweSoft thing really isn't comparable. That name was meant to be a play on an existing company's name. Maybe if he had started the company in 1973 and Microsoft wanted to make him change his company name.

        Be it shady to try to grab a bunch of domains like that, I don't know if .com can be trademarked like that and the trademark be made retroactive by a couple years.

      • Was it a trademark at the time he created the domain? If the domain predates the bid, that seems unlikely.

      • Re:Looks Legit (Score:5, Interesting)

        by BitZtream (692029) on Friday September 19, 2008 @12:10AM (#25066629)

        ICANN frowns on it, but doesn't do shit about it. I HATE cybersquatters. My own domain was stolen in my opinion due to a glitch on Network Solutions part which allowed it to lapse before they even removed my name servers from the root servers, for this I am very mad. Even worse is that it is now parked, by some jackass who refuses to sell it back to me at a reasonable price. Feel free to mailbomb him, the domain is schizo.com and his information is accurate in the whois records ...

        The point to my rant anyway is that, while squatting pisses me off, it would appear that this (and other domains like it) were registered by someone who thought ahead, more than 12 years ahead in fact. He IS using the domain, and what he's using it for doesn't matter. The fact that its used for Olympic discussion doesn't matter either. He had the forsight to register it before they did. Business is all about getting the right idea before someone else, and the name really is essientially a vanity domain, they can come up with plenty of other names to use.

        So ... he's not really squatting, he's using it, and for a good purpose I think.

        To me, the name isn't something that can be considered a trademark or any thing, I can't see how a city name can be considered property and more than the word 'shoes'. A post below this as I write says 'if it was chicagoolympics2016.com they might have an argument' ... I can't see how any of the parts of the name can possibly be considered a registerable trademark, I'm not saying they aren't, I don't know, they probably are.

        But they olympics have been around far longer than trademarks and copyrights. If anything Chicago should be considered public property at best.

        While he might be taking advantage of the situation, thats all the Olympic committee does anyway, they pull shit like deals with Visa so no other cards work, which is just ridiculous and in no way something that can be considered for the good of the sport, spectators or anyone other than those who get paid by the Olympic organization.

        So in short, as someone who has been screwed out of his own domain, I cant' really say I'm sorry they were screwed out of it. He took a gamble on many names, if they really were concerned they should have registered the possiblities themselves long in advance like everyone else does. Google owns wwwgoogle.com, microsoft owns wwwmicrosoft.com, many companies have the insight to think ahead on things like this. They didn't, fuck'em.

        And really, I can't imagine they can't afford to buy it from him, they'd just rather try to strong arm him into losing it rather than dealing with the fact that they weren't planning far enough ahead.

        Just because someone is crafty enough to beat you to it doesn't mean they should be rewarded.

        Evolution, business, and pretty much everything else in nature disagrees with you. Craftiness is a very GOOD reason to be rewarded, its part of what drives innovation. Next you'll be telling us that the runner who is faster in a race than everyone else shouldn't be the winner, because its not fair to the slower people.

        I'm tired of all this 'its not fair' crap. Lifes not fair and no one even cheated the system on this one.

        Good for him. I hope he makes a fortune from it.

      • Coincidence or not...too bad. He got there first. What happened to capitalism?

        Oh I forgot, it is only allowed when the big company is screwing over the little guy. It is not allowed the other way around.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by mysidia (191772)

        However, he registered it before there was any thought of trademark of the name; he could have trademarked the name, if he had a product.

        And he built a site that is about speech of a somewhat political nature, not mere commercial speech.

        The courts in the past have acknowledged that political speech is among the speech most protected in the US by the first ammendment, far more than any commercial speech.

        IOW, the 1st ammendment should be in full force here.

        If he loses the domain, then it really does

      • by piltdownman84 (853358) <piltdownman84@ma c . c om> on Friday September 19, 2008 @12:37AM (#25066897)

        It looks semi-legit. While it's a discussion site on the Olympics, it appears that he intentionally intercepted the domain by registering a bunch of <city><year> combos that happen to match Olympic years. Coincidence? I think not

        Great idea, I just picked up Baghdad2018. I'm going to be rich when hell freezes over and they get the Winter Olympics.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mrchaotica (681592) *

        The originating entity has a right to their trademarks.

        They shouldn't have been granted a trademark for somebody else's preexisting domain in the first place!

    • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Thursday September 18, 2008 @11:57PM (#25066521) Homepage

      If this he looses his domain name, then who is next?

      Or even worse, what could happen if he were to lose his domain name?

    • Re:Looks Legit (Score:5, Insightful)

      by EveLibertine (847955) on Friday September 19, 2008 @03:12AM (#25067867)
      Maybe you're right, but according to the article he only launched the website with content a month ago. It's "in use" now, but maybe that's only as a result of Sandusky receiving communications from the Olympic Committee expressing interest in the domain name. He apparently also owns Tokyo2016, and is "in the process" of launching a discussion site there as well. And as per the article, Sandusky is claiming to have no knowledge of the lawsuit. This really smacks of domain squatting, albeit with Sandusky scrambling to cover his ass before the lawsuits start flying. It'd be interesting to sit in on the arbitration for this to see what kind of communications have actually been going on behind the scenes.

      I mean, if the Olympic Committee gave him and inkling of an idea that they might try to wrestle control of the site from him around a month ago, and all of the sudden a site pops up at that address to show that the domain is "in use" in preparation for whatever legal action might come about. Well, let's just say that I'm a bit skeptical. Besides, I haven't met a Kellogg MBA student that wasn't out looking for a quick buck (not that there's anything wrong with that per se), and I've met quite a few. I guess that's an admission of my being biased here. (Fucking Evanstonians) ::shakes fist::
  • Sandusky? (Score:3, Funny)

    by iowannaski (766150) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @11:12PM (#25066059)
    I could get a great look an MBA by sticking my head up his ass, but I'd rather take Chicago2016.com word for it.
  • Disconcerting. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @11:13PM (#25066065) Journal
    I can understand the notion that people who snipe domains associated with trademarks generally can't hold on to them. The idea that one can seize a domain that has been owned longer than a given trademark has existed seems downright dangerous, however.

    The notion is awfully close to essentially saying that anybody who can't afford a stable of relevant lawyers can have domain names taken at the whim of those who can, which is rather an ugly idea.
    • Re:Disconcerting. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday September 18, 2008 @11:24PM (#25066187) Homepage Journal

      The idea that one can seize a domain that has been owned longer than a given trademark has existed seems downright dangerous, however.

      Not necessarily. Let's say I participated in a survey from a company attempting to decide on a new product name. (My wife actually does surveys like this, so it's not far-fetched.) Let's also say that some unscrupulous individual notes all the names, then goes to register ALL of them. The company then chooses a name based on the survey feedback, only to find that every one of their choices has been locked out. Does the company have a right to demand their domain back? (Especially if we're talking about made-up words here.) Do they have a right to demand it back if the person starts a "discussion site" on the upcoming product?

      You can see the difficulty.

      Nearly the same sort of issue happened here. This MBA speculatively registered a whole bunch of (city)(olympic year).com combinations. Unsurprisingly, he got lucky on one of them. Does that make what he did right? Does it make it right because he added a "discussion site"?

      Food for thought, anyway.

      • I agree that there are circumstances where it would be reasonable, and I also agree that this fellow isn't necessarily too far from being one of them.

        My concern is just that the ruling will end up being "foocorp can take john smith's bar-domain if at any time foocorp concocts a trademark bar." rather than "under particular circumstances, with evidence of malfeasance on john smith's part, foocorp can take john smith's bar-domain."

        Given that domains are fairly cheap, I'd be more inclined, in view of the p
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Not necessarily. Let's say I participated in a survey from a company attempting to decide on a new product name. (My wife actually does surveys like this, so it's not far-fetched.) Let's also say that some unscrupulous individual notes all the names, then goes to register ALL of them. The company then chooses a name based on the survey feedback, only to find that every one of their choices has been locked out. Does the company have a right to demand their domain back? (Especially if we're talking about mad

      • I think guessing a bunch of names, even if it might be easily guessable or caught doing scatter shot, is different from being shown names and registering them. One involves some form of interaction between the person and organization, the other doesn't, the second means that someone took what might be considered a trade secret or something under similar protection.

        I do see your point, I'm just not sure what my position is. Archive.org doesn't show its history to be anything other than "coming soon" or err

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Digero (974682)

        I don't know the details about those surveys, but it seems like the type of thing that the company would require you to sign an agreement that you won't use the names for your own purpose before they choose one of them, plus an NDA so you won't share it with someone not bound by the agreement.

        Plus, it would make sense for the company to register domain names for all of its prospective names before sending out the survey.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Fluffeh (1273756)
        Any company that goes to the extent of doing detailed customer feedback surveys and can't afford to spend $20 per domain to register possibilities SHOULD lose out to someone with half a brain that will go register them.

        In my opinion, same deal here. What's that, you have a idea for your city to maybe have a shot at the 20xx games? Go register the domain for $20. Save the hassle later.
      • by BitZtream (692029)

        I see your point.

        However, our company does surveys for new product names, all of the ideas we have going into the survey are already registered. If the survey ends up resulting in a pick for one of the existing names we keep it. Those that don't get used are put up for sale, at cost, if no one buys it, we loose the year or two year initial registration fee, thats the cost of doing business.

        Interestingly enough, most of the domains don't get bought, and once they expire someone else snaps them up via place

        • However, our company does surveys for new product names, all of the ideas we have going into the survey are already registered. If the survey ends up resulting in a pick for one of the existing names we keep it. Those that don't get used are put up for sale, at cost, if no one buys it, we loose the year or two year initial registration fee, thats the cost of doing business.

          Such practice is common and altogether prudent. It's not that a company wouldn't have a case if they didn't pre-register the names, it's

      • Does the company have a right to demand their domain back?

        No. Unless the participants in the survey signed some sort of contract agreeing to not reveal details about the survey, etc. Otherwise, it is not their domain to demand back.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      just look at nissan.com it existed long before datsun switch names, yet the car manufacturer is still litigating to take away a guy, whose last name is Nissan's website...
      • Re:Disconcerting. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by _generica (27453) <{slashdot} {at} {whatevz.net}> on Friday September 19, 2008 @12:17AM (#25066709) Homepage

        Hmm.

        Datsun became Nissan in 1983. If someone managed to register nissan.com "long before" then, then I say he and his flux capacitor deserve the domain name.

  • The same thing happened with that guy named Nissan. He won the right to keep his domain name since it's his last name.

    I think anyone who snatches up a domain name should be entitled to that domain name. Now, registrars are using dirty tricks anyway like early bidding on domains. /me looks at .me

    What's next, grant the patent to the large organizations simply because they're large?

  • I know there are people here who have thought through the ramnifications of this longer than I have. Maybe someone can enlighten me.

    Why isn't this guy just a smart cookie for jumping on this domain before the city of Chicago or the IOC did?

    Makes me wish I had.

    • by Korin43 (881732)
      I think the idea is that he did it because it's someone else's copyright (or in this case he had good reason to assume it would be eventually). The problem with people snatching up domain names based on someone else's copyright is that it just makes it harder for the real owner to get the site, and the person snatching up the domain name isn't adding anything to the internet, they're just trying to get some cash from a big company.
    • by Fluffeh (1273756)
      It's not exactly rocket science. Think of possible cities and tack on a year in 4 digit increments.

      Domain names are the new slot machines.
  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @11:19PM (#25066151)

    a spokesman for Chicago 2016, a moniker protected by trademark.

    Awww, isn't it too bad that trademarks don't give you retroactive ownership of whatever you like? Next time, check BEFORE you secure the trademark to see if it's already available. In fact, I bet they did- and just assumed they could take it over, just like how the IOC and USOC shut down everything named "olympic", even stuff that was named because said business was near a (different) Mount Olympus.

    Raise your hand if you're completely fed up with the Olympics. Raise your hand if you think it's time that the IOC/USOC-bought legislation "protecting" the Olympic "trademark" was repealed.

    • by Brain Damaged Bogan (1006835) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @11:37PM (#25066319)
      *raises both hands*
      ...and the idea of mounting olympus is raising my wood.
    • by ookabooka (731013)

      Raise your hand if you're completely fed up with the Olympics. Raise your hand if you think it's time that the IOC/USOC-bought legislation "protecting" the Olympic "trademark" was repealed.

      Uhh, I know how us slashdotters are supposed to hate big-corp buying laws and whatnot, but if anything deserves an exception I think it would be the olympics. I mean, because it's such a massive international event there has to be some leeway between nations to make it all work, otherwise each olympics would be tied up in litigation across the globe. . .yeesh.

  • ChicagOlympics.com

  • chicago2016.org (Score:4, Insightful)

    by iamwahoo2 (594922) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @11:33PM (#25066275)
    chicago2016.org already contains an official site, so I cannot understand why they have to have the .com site as well. I am not a fan of domain squatters, but I am only for kicking someone off of their domain when there is blatant demonstrated abuse of the system and when no other alternatives are available. This does not appear to be the case here.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Semantics are important. .org means that the owner isn't focused on making a buck.

      • That convention went away a long time ago. I have a .com site that I have no intention of making much money on (just to cover the costs of hosting). Look at /.. It's a .org and makes some money.

  • It's Corporatism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @11:41PM (#25066353)
    Since when can someone snatch a trade name (which is basically what a domain name is), just because it "fits"??

    The old rules basically were: if you registered a name first, it was yours, unless it could be construed as misleading or confusing to consumers (i.e., confusing one product for another), based on someone else's EXISTING name.

    This might not be the best example, but a rocket and a tennis shoe could both be called "Nike", even though they were otherwise unrelated, because there was little possibility of confusion.

    Chicago did not have the name first. If the goddamned business people would have some foresight, they would have grabbed such names when they started thinking about bidding for the Olympics... not years later after someone beat them to it. I do not see where there is any legal principle that says, "We didn't think of it then, but it obviously should be ours, so we want to take it now!"

    I call "sour grapes". They fucked up, and now want to take advantage of someone who was smarter than they were. That does not a legal case make. If they want to make money on the name, then grab the name first! Why should they take precedence over someone with more business-savvy then they have?
  • by sleeponthemic (1253494) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @11:44PM (#25066393) Homepage
    .. Would be to give him the .org and they take the .com

    Whilst it is true that .org *should* go to the organisation I think a .org that is a forum for discussion on the bid is actually quite in line with what you often get on a .org.

    (I realise some will say he doesn't deserve to lose the .com atall and I am in agreement with you, however, I think we all know that he's going to get the shaft and I'm just pointing out a genuine solution whereby he gets to keep a legit domain for his forum).
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hejish (852589)
      Why shouldn't the olympics take the .org and leave him with the .com? Are the olympics listed officially as a for-profit business?
  • When I lose a domain I paid for because Register.com sent emails to the wrong email address, and sells my domain to a spammer, no one cared. My complaint to ICANN was dismissed. I see no reason why this valid domain should be removed from this non spammer.
  • Where is the damage? (Score:2, Informative)

    by eggman9713 (714915)
    IANAL, but I fail to see how the Olympics have been financially damaged (financially being a key word) by this guy having a piece of prime cyber real estate. How can they prove that they made less money without that domain? In property lawsuits, often objective proof of damage is required. Anything less is not proof. And on the side, if they want this prime real estate so bad, they should stop being cheapskates and cough up, just like in the physical world.
  • Chicago 2016 protected by trademark? Big deal!

    As we all know, from Apple Computers, Inc. vs. Apple Records, trademark infringment does not apply here because Stephen Frayne Jr. is not operating in the same line of business.

  • by Vexorian (959249) on Friday September 19, 2008 @12:32AM (#25066845)
    a) We move the Olympics year!
    b) Chicago gets a new name!
  • by GuNgA-DiN (17556) on Friday September 19, 2008 @12:46AM (#25066955)

    Dear Marketing Wonks:

    The next time you come up with some brilliant idea or name the FIRST thing you should do is perform a domain name lookup to see if your name is already taken. If it isn't then you should register it immediately! Do not wait until you make the presentation. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Trying to retroactively take a domain name from some guy who snatched it up because you were too lazy to register it makes no sense. If you have some brilliant idea then chance are there are about 2,000 people out there with the same idea. Cover your ass and do your homework. That is all.

    Signed,

    The Internet

  • Solution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Miseph (979059) on Friday September 19, 2008 @12:56AM (#25067033) Journal

    The IOC or Chicago 2016 should hire this kid. He's clearly quicker than their people, and if he's getting an MBA he's probably qualified to do _something_ in their organization (like "supervise" a project completely outside his realm of competence). Make one of the conditions of his ludicrously high contract payments that he surrenders the domain, everybody wins (except for people who want the Olympics to be about something other than corruption and greed, but that's already a lost cause).

  • by DavidD_CA (750156) on Friday September 19, 2008 @01:00AM (#25067069) Homepage

    Dear City of Chicago,

    We regret to inform you that we have voted our 2016 Olympic Games be held at the fine city of Amsterdam, and not Chicago, IL.

    Our decision was based on many factors, and your city scored quite well on all criteria of the selection process.

    But when it came down to it, Amsterdam2016.com was actually registered to the right people.

    Sincereley,

    The Olympic Planning Task Force

  • Small world... (Score:5, Informative)

    by PhoenixFire213 (839961) on Friday September 19, 2008 @01:12AM (#25067157) Journal
    Bizarrely (and I'm sure no one will believe this), my friend is working for this particular grad student doing translation for one of his other sites. He does seem to be legitimately trying to build them into actual discussion forums on the pros and cons of the Olympic bid cities.
  • by Xtifr (1323) on Friday September 19, 2008 @03:26AM (#25067939) Homepage

    I've got no sympathy for either side in this one. The guy is clearly an asshat who is a hair's-breadth short of being a pure domain-squatting subhuman scum. The fact that he went out and registered a bunch of {city}{olympic-year} domains makes that clear. His only minor possible redeeming feature is that he doesn't appear to be in this for the money. But if he gets away with this crap, the next one will be!

    And in this corner, weighing in at the proverbial 2000 pounds, we have the extremely offensive, litigious bastards at the IOC who deserve to lose every trademark they can for dumping all over the Special Oly^H^H^HGames, among many, many other things. If they win, it's going to be a tragedy for everyone who has a legitimate, established domain that happens to conflict with some brand-new just-imagined trademark.

    I only see one way out. We have to kill everyone involved. The IOC, the Chicago bidders, the guy with the domain, ICANN, the rest of the population of Chicago, everyone who lives in a city that has or will ever bid on the Olympics, everyone with a computer, everyone with a trademark, everyone with a name...kill 'em all! It's the only way to be sure! :)

  • by RaigetheFury (1000827) on Friday September 19, 2008 @07:39AM (#25069183)

    Well that would be me. To avoid being slashdotted to hell I'm not posting the link to my blog but you can figure it out if you try hard enough.

    In 2000 I purchased the .net domain of my site intentionally avoiding the .com since I'm not a commerce site. Fast forward to 2005 when some wrestler named Raige came into being. On top of that I was sent a notice to immediately surrender my domain to this douche bag.

    I actually was lucky enough to have college legal resources available to me and brought the issue to them. Fact is, since he didn't exist when I purchased the domain he had no standing what so ever. I replied to the letter with some legal mumbo jumbo and they replied with a threat of a lawsuit. I told them to go ahead but that I was willing to fight all the way.

    The issues that come with this guys site are the following
    1) Did he create the site knowingly of previous site names the olympics used?
    Does NOT matter. You cannot trademark a naming scheme. You CAN trademark a name. So while a symbol, or McChicken can be trademarked... "Mc" cannot. It could be argued in court if someone made a McChickenWafer...
    2) Is this guy a commercial entity? He has a .com site... that means it commerce... if it's not he might be in trouble. However all that he would have to do is sell a T-shirt through www.geekstuff.com or something.
    3) Does he actively use the site? If he didn't... he would be viewed as a squatter and smished. However, the site is actively in use... meaning that this isn't a problem.

    In short, ICANN will not be able to take the name and the Olympics will have to create another site or purchase it from him.

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