Google’s Annual Rev. From Typosquatting Put At $497m

Search giant criticized over "ill-gotten" traffic, money

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Most people regard typos as nuisances, just inconsequential mistakes that cause them to lose a second of time hitting the backspace key.  But for Google, typos may equal big business, as Benjamin Edelman and Tyler Moore have estimated that they make the search giant $497 million per year.

Google LogoEdelman and Moore, who both call Harvard their home, coauthored a paper titled "Measuring Typosquatting Perpetrators and Funders."  In a blog post summarizing it, they presented several sets of statistics and wrote, "According to our analysis, 57% of typo sites include Google pay-per-click ads."

Then they made a rather more interesting comment regarding the effect of Google’s connection: "Combining our observations with financial reports and others’ estimates, we conclude that Google’s revenue from typosquatting on the top 100,000 sites is $497 million per year."

Also, Google’s pretty much the only search engine they point a finger at, since not nearly as many ads from Yahoo and Microsoft appear on typosquatting sites.

Now, it’s necessary to mention that Edelman is involved in a lawsuit against Google ("arising out of Google’s use of typosquatting domains to display advertising"), so he may not be the least biased person in the world.  The numbers he and Moore presented are still stunning if true.

UPDATE: Ben Edelman was good enough to drop by in the comments section, and he wrote,  "Surely it’s not Google’s fault that some people misspell. But our study [shows] that typosquatters register more domains targeting companies in sectors with high PPC prices. That tells us that PPC funding is *causing* and *exacerbating* typosquatting. Without PPC payments, there would be fewer typosquatting registrations — much less reason for squatters to register these domains. Google’s payments put the system in motion; squatters register domains exactly in anticipation of getting paid by Google. Google knows where it’s showing ads. (Example: Google shows Expedia ads if you misspell Expedia, but Travelocity ads if you misspell Travelocity!) So it’s natural to look to Google for resolution of these problems." 

>> Click to read the rest of Edelman’s comment

Google’s Annual Rev. From Typosquatting Put At $497m
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  • Guest

    would have been nice if the biased disclaimer regarding edelmen would have been disclosed on his recent google click fraud adware accusation article.
    His loose comments triggered a witch hunt in which several white hat, google syndicated partners lost their contracts.

  • Shay

    So its now Google’s fault that people cant spell. Huh? The people who domain squat should be the ones looked at. Especially those like sedo.com

    • http://www.sitebyjames.com James

      You got it… I think in the next while GOOG is going to take a lot of flack from people in general. No matter what they do.

      Just Kidding… Nobody said it was GOOG’s fault. Precious Precious GOOG… My Precious…

      Good for them… GOOG deserves to Pocket and extra few hundred million a year all in the name of THE FUTURE!

  • http://www.dougwead.ru/ ??? ???

    Well, at least in my humble opinion, Google isn’t being evil in this practice, only smart. I am usually the first to criticize Google and the evil that is budding more and more, but this practice doesn’t bother me.

    Glen Woodfin

  • http://www.benedelman.org Ben Edelman

    Shay: Surely it’s not Google’s fault that some people misspell. But our study shos that typosquatters register more domains targeting companies in sectors with high PPC prices. That tells us that PPC funding is *causing* and *exacerbating* typosquatting. Without PPC payments, there would be fewer typosquatting registrations — much less reason for squatters to register these domains. Google’s payments put the system in motion; squatters register domains exactly in anticipation of getting paid by Google. Google knows where it’s showing ads. (Example: Google shows Expedia ads if you misspell Expedia, but Travelocity ads if you misspell Travelocity!) So it’s natural to look to Google for resolution of these problems. And the federal ACPA statute is squarely on point: Your elected congressmen chose to prohibit not just “register[ing]” domains but also “us[ing]” domains. Showing ads on domains is surely a kind of “use.”

    To the Guest: I gather you’re referring to http://www.benedelman.org/news/011210-1.html . Can you say more about what happened? Which specific Google syndicators lost their contracts? Depending on where they were in the chain, I can certainly see why they’d get in trouble here: Fact is, they were passing along — and charging Google and advertisers for — traffic that turned out to be tainted in a troubling and (for some methodologies) hard-to-detect way. Perhaps some of the partners did this on purpose, and others by accident. But isn’t Google entitled to insist on the very highest of standards from all partners? Advertisers pay Google big money, and advertisers naturally want assurances that they’re getting what they’re promised. If Google loses confidence in a given partner, based on that partner’s track record, then termination of such a contract may be the only sensible way forward. I’ve always been surprised that Google doesn’t terminate more partners’ contracts.

  • http://www.seofill.com SEO

    Most businesses that succeed do so by profiting off of mistakes…….McDonalds mistake was frying burgers which allow Burger King to steal market share by grilling their burger thereby presenting a product with little grease……^^whiners make the rest of the world a hard place to thrive in……

    • Major Tom

      Focus my friend, calm down, put the mouse down and just settle down. we are discussing Google Adwords here…not burgers, its not smart; its not clever to bring abstract, irrelevant illustrations into an intelligent debate. Go grab a cup of coffee, smell it, listen to David Bowie’s Space Oddity and join us back on earth.

  • Tim

    What makes Google so great to where they can profit from typosquatting on trademarks? That goes for Godaddy also and their millions of expired domains in which they put ads on. It does not matter if it is Verizon Wireless or Microsoft domain typo GoDaddy profits with it’s split with Google.

    NOW……if an individual or small business does it on one or a handful of measly domains then they are held to the letter of the law and raked over the coals in a trademark lawsuit.

    This also applies to ISP’s. Go type in a trademark domain typo domain in your browser and see what comes up. If it is not a website already, then most likely your ISP like Windstream , or whoever, has also hijacked your search and loaded the page with ads with no regards to trademarks.

    So here’s what we got:

    It okay for search engines, domain registrars, and ISP’s to put up ads on trademark intent searches, but not okay for individuals or small businesses to do?

    Why do the giant multi-million/billion dollar corporations have some kind of special rights that allow them to break the law?

    It’s disgusting really. They dilute trademarks more than anyone out there….period.

  • Guest

    to Edelman:

    I totally agree with some of your findings. And I totally despise fraud etc. it’s no doubt hurting us all.

    But here is where I think you stretched a bit: In your screenshot you showed a circumstance in which the targeted advertiser – I believe Southwest – happened to also be bidding on the monetized keyword with Google. “cheap airfare” or something – This is a rare occurrence.

    Users with adware on their computers are not new to the whole popup experience. They would have to be completely ignorant or void of all literate skills to reclick on the same advertiser they are on – especially if they’ve made that mistake before. Keep in mind, the other advertisers on that window who are likely the beneficiary of the click- if the user clicks at all- that traffic is gold to them.

    Even if the targeted advertiser was the unfortunate recipient of some reclicks.. they are also the beneficiary If/when any those same users visit any of the other domains in that ad window and in turn that traffic becomes golden to the “victim”. Yes, some of this is based on hypothesis.. But can you afford the same courtesy?

    I can totally see where a publisher could try to target these types of clicks.. but I totally doubt it happened in this case. I’ve mistakenly had a situation with this type of targeting.
    The ctr is the same whether the targeted advertiser is among the list of advertisers on that keyword or not.. it’s a very low percentage regardless. It’s so low I don’t even bother with domains anymore. For the ones that do-as in this case- it was probably by accident.

    Now, if that window was made to look like the site they were on, that’s a different story completely. In this case however it was pretty obvious this was an ad, complete with alternative urls/advertisers and thumbnail pics.

    I totally agree with you. Google and the advertisers have every right to set the rules and hold everyone to their standard. I also agree that more contracts should be terminated.

    But at the same time, do you think it’s fair from day 1 you

  • Janis

    I think it sucks how you guys truncate the comment section……it makes it seem like there are almost no comments and the “click to read all XX coments” is hidden really…..even though it is red.

    What gives with that? I really dislike that feature.

  • http://seocairns.seovoodoo.com.au/ Rob Johnson

    Back in the day there used to be telephone number squatting where savvy people would try to buy telephone numbers one digit away from major brands’.

    Good luck to them I say. They take the risk, they sometimes get the rewards.

    It’s interesting how Google has become the new anti-authority whipping-boy rather than Microsoft :)

  • Guest

    I can say that Google is certainly no more a player in this game than anyone else. They have the most popular ad placement program that is used by legitimate players as well as typosquatters, but they don’t have a specific program that openly encourages typosquatting, unlike one well known company who offers to “park” domain names that the owner may or may not ever deveolop into legitimate websites.

  • joe

    I think the point of the article is/was that is if Google had a policy against Typo-swatting advertising as do most other affiliate programs.. typo-swatting as we know it would not be a $1 billion dollar industry… Google isn’t the only one getting fat at this trough..

    Does anyone remember when goto used to bunch mispellings with plurals for keyword bidding purposes, maybe that is why there is no more goto…

    I think this issue is only a small part of a bigger issue.. called search relevance / user experience..
    as long as GOOGLE and the others reward auto generated keyword sites this issues will persist.

    It’s just part of being inter-connected… does anyone want to go back to pre-computer days…

    no ipods, smartphones, laptops or any of the now must have wigets…

    we all would be out of work.. and doing fun stuff like busting rocks…

  • http://www.car-insurance.tv The System

    I might be missing the point but what is the fuss all about? google does a pretty good job for typo’s eg Did you mean……..
    As for sites carry adwords -so what? The people still find what they were looking for, and yhe click throughs are relevant – where’s the clickfraud?

    As for setting up sites for misspellings – good luck to them!

  • http://tomorriscat.ecrater.com/ ceebee

    that’s a lot of money. No wonder why Google has been buying everything in site lately.

  • http://firearmparts.snickslist.com AR-15

    I am caught between being grateful for articles like this and wondering how many people are now going to jump on the band wagon. I suppose not talking about it isn’t the answer though. I do enjoy the information in these, so thanks.

  • http://www.internationalbibles.com dbstewart

    If you can find a nitch in mis-spelled words, bully for you. I find nothing wrong with the idea or the practice. It seems fair in this dog-eat-dog world of words.

  • http://www.advertising-techniques.com Guest

    There are a lot of domain names that are intentionally misspelled to gain traffic and ppc revenue and there are legitimate once based on ideas and rhymes. Bing for example is a name of a co-worker, had anybody knew it would be a Microsoft’s search engine it could have been registered and sold to Microsoft. Boingboing is another one that rhymes very well and there are some misspelled like Digg, Yigg, Mixx, Tumblr and many more. These sites I’ve mentioned are authority sites of their own.

    I think the PPC bidders/adertisers are all part of the scheme.

  • http://howtomakemoneyinrecession.com Thomas Hoi

    Many internet marketers have made big affiliate commissions by
    bidding low cpc for typo keywords, so typo sites are not new…

  • T-SQuat

    Where is the Problem?

    If there were no domain at the typo address then where would the user be sent? Domain not found land – try again? That they are directed to a website which allows them 1 click to the site of their choice should be considered a Valuable Service! If anyone has a problem with this it maybe could be the advertising entity who paid for the click through. But… why didn’t they register the typo domain and point it to their site in the first place? Why don’t they buy the typo site and point it to their site? Maybe they should reject / block / boycott the traffic coming from the typo site, nahhh then they would loose a customer.

    Where is the Problem?

  • http://mindyrobertson.com Mindy

    I tried to figure out if the story is for or against Google’s practices. However, in the world of business opportunities present themselves in a variety of ways. And capitalizing on this type of opportunity just seems like a borderline practice but nothing worthy of pointing a finger at Google. Especially when it is will known that they perform much more dastardly deeds than this on a daily basis…

  • http://www.cyberknotz.com DrJohn

    Typo domains have been an issue since day one. I advise my clients to register every common mistype or misspelling of the domain they are branding and have all redirected to the correct domain. This way, all bookmarks return to the correct URL. Anyone who does not do so shouldn’t blame Google, or even typo squatters, but whomever is advising them on their web marketing strategies.

    Finally, Disney had a problem years back with a typo squatter having registered numerous mistyped domains. The company successfully sued and were awarded millions in damages, so the precedence is now on the books for similar cases to follow. Therefore, if a company or celebrity is incurring loses due to typo error misdirects of traffic they should sue.

  • http://www.caledonianlife.com Guest

    The owners of the domains should be the ones being looked at, ok GOOGLE makes money, a lot of money, but the domain registers also make money.

    Just think about the number of different spelling mistakes people make, it human nature.

    Not being a great fan of GOOGLE, I can honestly fault them for other peoples errors, only wish I’d thought of the idea!

  • rick

    Google shows Expedia ads if you misspell Expedia but Travelocity ads if you misspell Travelocity.

    Doesn’t make sense. Must be a typo.

    How appropriate.

  • Venkyb

    Yes Google tries to make money by hook or crook. They even display ads on google search on sites that they disqualify for adsense! This is a neat way of earning entire ad revenue without sharing it with website owners!

  • http://www.21to21.com/blog/ Andrew Anderson

    What a whiny elitist story about enacting measures to protect the great stupid unwashed. Is this something even worthy of discussion?

    Yet another insight into the elitist views of managing Capitalism to protect those of us that have typos. And they are worst, as not only are they Elitists but they scum sucking leeches trying to suck truly unearned money from Google. What true an example of true low lifes.

    If there was ever of an example for Tort Reform, this is it.

    More power to Google and those people that were smart enough to buy up otherwise worthless domains and make money. Got to love Capitalism.

    Be nice to see Google counter sue them into bankruptcy for being leeches. Is that possible? :)

    And they wonder why Harvard is no longer thought of being a great Business School anymore and more like a great school for Socialists.

    They would not last two seconds outside Academia. Those that do, do, those that can’t, teach.

    • http://a1-articles.net Jeff

      Hey Andrew,

      I think your saying, “Those who do, do, those that can’t, teach.” is actually… “Those who CAN – do, those who can’t – teach.” Or sometimes even- “those who can’t do, teach.”

      Everyone knows that “those that do, do”…then wipe!!” 😀

      Should have went to Harvard.

      TA DA

  • http://www.peakbusinessequipment.com/ Greg Polk

    I might be a little jealous of Google and the squatters, but I can’t say that I see a crime being committed here.

    It’s a potential loss for the targeted domain owner and I feel for them, but still can’t see how this could be worthy of a lawsuit unless one’s looking for a quick settlement….thereby also benefiting from the very thing they’re crying foul on.

    • http://thecomputergal.com Nora McDougall-Collins

      You are so right. It’s not illegal. But then, it’s not illegal to sell cigarettes to minors in third world countries either. And, it’s not illegal to clear cut the forest around villages, if you promise them a clinic and a school, in some countries either. But, none of these are responsible.

  • Guest

    It is not google’s fault if people misspell the words especially the domain names. Like http://www.girlzfashion.com I am sure it is not by mistake

  • http://str82u.com Str82u

    I get beat up all the time by typo- and real squatters. Doesn’t cost me a million and I’m not in the top 100,000 with any site. Regardless, I can estimate a couple thousand a year in agrivation, purchases of domains around squatter domains and hours of demand letters.

    If I’m not mistaken, the AdSense policy is supposed to be against any black hat, enfringing or typo related content. That’s a very large estimate of earnings, I would think the larger (top 100,000) site ownsers would report these other site owners to Google or have their own legal deprtment shut them down.

    “Shay”, That comment was a bit off, the point isn’t that people are misspelling, it’s people buying domains to catch misspellings of branded/tradmarked/established domain names or sites. There are ways to combat it like buying every possible misspelling of your own names and products, but why, in the name of Federal law, should I have too?

    Typosquatting is for people who are too stupid or got caught cloaking. Or maybe that’s just part of that toolkit.

    Keep it Str8!

  • http://www.simple-elegant-websites.com/ oiseaux

    At the risk of sounding dumb, could someone please explain what typosquatting is.

    • Stupidscript

      How to typosquat:

      1) Find a high-paying keyword

      This means you would discover which keywords on any pay-per-click search engine program that pays more per-click than another term. For example, “orange” is not searched for as many times as “blue”, so “blue”, being more popular, is more expensive for an advertiser to bid on in the pay-per-click advertising word, so “blue” is a higher-paying keyword than “orange”. So you want a site about “blue” to get the most money from this scheme.

      2) Register a domain name

      Here’s the “typosquatting” part. If my target high-paying keyword is “blue”, and the biggest company in the world that sells “blue” is named “Blue Stuff”, and they have a domain named “bluestuff.com”, then I want to register a new domain name that will capitalize on the REAL domain whenever someone misspells it. So I will register my domain name as “bluestuf.com” (Note the single “f” in “bluestuf”.)

      3) Build out your domain’s content featuring the high-paying keyword

      I will now make a web page with my chosen keyword as the main ingredient. I will feature the keyword “blue” several times in such a way that the search engines give me a really good position in the search results whenever someone searches for “blue”, because they are being tricked into thinking that my website is more about “blue” than the other guy’s website.

      4) Add a publisher ad network to your site

      (In the case of this lawsuit, it’s Google’s AdSense publisher network that is being examined, but every search engine of note has a similar program.) To do this, simply sign up with the ad vendor of your choice, copy-and-paste their little block of code into your web page and … voila … you now have pay-per-click ads on your web page that you will receive money for, every time someone clicks on one of them.


      Whenever someone goes to a search engine and types in “blue” they will see the link to my “bluestuf.com” domain (MY domain, not the real “bluestuff.com”), and if they don’t recognize the REAL domain, they will go to my typosquat domain and click on one of my ads to get the heck out of there, thereby making me some money.

      It’s called “typosquatting” because I am “squatting” (living without permission) on a domain that would only be found as the result of a “typographical error” (misspelling).

      Of course, differentiating between a domain that has been typosquatted and one that is legitimate is often difficult. This includes the distinction between a REAL company called Blue Stuff with the bluestuff.com domain and a REAL company called Blue Stuf with the bluestuf.com domain and a REAL company called Blu Stuff with the blustuff.com domain and another REAL company called Blue Stuff with the bluestuff.net domain and a REAL company with a … well, I’m sure you get the point.

      • Stupidscript

        Re: The comment by Marketing Web – Mon, 02/22/2010 – 03:01

        In the interest of completeness, “Marketing Web” is correct in that many times typosquatted domains are reached by mis-typing the address into the address bar, instead of using a search engine to find it. Basically any way you can locate a web site can be abused by typosquatting. The key is that once you get to the bogus site, you typically click one of the ads to get out of it, and therefore you make money for the ad vendor and the typosquat site manager as they split the per-click cost.

        We do not know, and CAN not know, whether most people who end up at typosquatted domains get there by searching or by direct entry into the address bar.

        (Note that Edelman’s research used extremely generalized information and very broad math to come up with their $497M figure, and so cannot be relied upon for anything significant. It’s really just an attempt to put a face on a figure he believes is important to his lawsuit. However that might work. His research does not include using actual pay-per-click data beyond the quarterly report type, and does not break down the data into actual revenues gained from typosquatting, so all we can do is guess about his guesses. His research also includes no information about how people end up at typosquatted domains.

        Hopefully the court will demand more complete data for use in their calculations, should they make any.)

  • http://www.livetrainingsession.com/training/flash.html Flash CS4 Training Online

    Whenever one types keywords or keyprases containing some misspeling, Google always display “Do You mean ….” so the person doing the search has the opportunity to make the corrections.

    Didn’t we always recommend companies to always register misspellings of their domain name for those very same reasons we are talking about now. I cannot blame someone for seizing an opportunity and register misspelled domain name. They pay the price, they own it. It’s not like they hijacked somebody’s website.

    • http://www.consumertechblog.com John

      …this shows that Google is aware of the money they make on misspellings and at least they show the user the word is wrong. I use Google as a dictionary myself sometimes.

      I am also not going to rag on the people grabbing up all the misspelled domains. It’s as much of a business as Google making money from misspellings.

      • http://www.marketingweb.com.au Marketing Web

        I think the people saying “Google has a did you mean function”, this is NOT what typosquatting is about. Rather it’s about registering domain names that are typos and relying on what are called “type ins”, ie people typing in the domain name address directly into the address bar and getting it wrong. It happens enough for a while “industry” to be based on this, albeit a dodgey industry!

        This has very little or maybe even nothing to do with Google search results. The reason Google is mentioned is due to it’s adwords/adsence products which make money from these miss-spellings from typeins. Very little of it comes from search traffic and ranking, so be careful not to confuse Google the search engine with Google the advertising network!

        • Stupidscript

          The point is: Edelman is mad because Google owns and runs the AdSense program which is frequently used by typosquatters and so he is trying to force Google through litigation to stop allowing AdSense ads to be published on typosquatted websites.

          After this, he will go after Yahoo and Microsoft and every other publisher ad network out there because they all do the same thing as Google, just at lower levels.

          So this really isn’t about Google at all. It is about Edelman being irritated that this type of thing is possible, and Google is his first target. Once these publisher ad networks are under control, he will be satisfied and stop suing people.

          Of course, he’s a bit deluded, as evidenced by his definition of “use” (“Does Google ‘use’ a domain when it parses the letters of that domain, decides what ads to show, measures clicks on those ads, bills the advertiser, and pays the domain registrant? We think so.”), but he can sue, if he wants to. (BTW, as a viewer of those domains, he becomes a “user”, too, but don’t harsh his mellow by telling him that. It’s hard enough figuring out what to sue Google for, and there MUST be something to sue them for, without getting caught up in defending himself for violating the same law he accuses Google of violating.)

          So the point is … Edelman needs a real job to keep him busy. Nothing to do with Google.

  • Rob

    Google makes a lot of money from its shady practices, and the company should spend some time policing and cleaning up its ad network. There’s no incentive to do so, though, because they make a ton of money from it.

    It goes beyond cybersquatting, too. Google also makes tons and tons of money via sites that do NOTHING other than republish content taken from other places. What’s worse is that Google then “chooses” to propel the unauthorized duplicates to the top of its search results while dumping the original sources where they can’t be found. Not cool, not fair, not right.

    People will steal. People will cybersquat. People will do a lot of things. Especially since technology makes it easy to do it anonymously.

    The problem is that Google makes these things rewarding. If Google eliminated the incentive, people wouldn’t do these things.

  • http://www.naplesnetwork.com Jonnyg

    All i know is I live in the United States of America, built on freedom of being able to get as creative as we can to squat, mispell or re invent the wheel. Most people use the blam game because they did’nt think of the idea first and forget that they need to keep on their toes when in the Internet Arena. It is a battle out here and you need to prepared to play the game if not get out and go build cars for Toyota.
    Companies like hostingoxygen.com and godaddy have always offered suggested domains that are very close or never spelled right in the first place. There is no spell check as i recall when registering a domain on any registrar.

  • http://www.fixpcfreeze.com Fix PC Freeze

    “Hmuan Biengs Raed Eevry Tihng Crorect as Lnog as teh frist and teh lats ltetrs aer in thier corerct palce.”

    If you could read the above sentence correctly then you could type it also wrong. We do not read letters we recognize the words and sentences. As long as the first and last letters are usually placed correctly we read it correctly. But computers actually read what you type into it. Google just happened to find this loop hole long back and cashed in on it. What is wrong in it?

    • Smart asre

      oh aren’t you a smrt ars…

  • http://technochase.com/ Bogcess

    Google certainly isn’t the one accountable for people making typos. But it’s also a very hard work to screen all incoming PPC ads. I wonder what they’ll do about it. Its a good thing other seo sites aren’t listed here.

  • Anon

    This article sounds like academics making the common mistake of looking too closely at the trees to see the woods…
    Typos are a common phenomena caused by human error to which we all fall foul from time to time.
    So to define typing errors as ‘Typosquatting’ and fraudulent is ill conceived and ill considered in my opinion; The figure of 497 million is guess work at best and attention grabbing and completely false at worse. Sure, like the banks, it would appear that Google have a license to print money via their Adwords system. They cannot fail to make money and increasing larger sums of it too if there offering remains unchallenged by competitors or market forces.

  • http://www.bigeasyweb.co.uk Guest

    If I misspell a search keyword, Google usually comes up with a “Did you mean… ” link followed by the two most relevant search results for the suggested keyword.

    Even if the suggested keyword is not correct, it is a strong hint you should check your spelling.

    One wonders how someone can ignore these, go past them to the typosquatters site and then click on a pay-per-click ad.

  • http://bbmedia.com.au Garth

    Where’s the felony here? Why is this a bad thing? If you don’t like it, learn to spell. Sorry, but I just don’t get why this is a problem for anyone?

  • Guest

    Come on, Edelman does the research, and Edelman does the case against Google. And still you manage to write ‘if it were true’.

    The figure can’t be true, and the publishing of it by Edelman is an entire conflict of interest. He surely has overstated the figure by several hundreds of percents. Has anybody verified his method of calculation? Go ahead and check the facts first, this is pure propaganda.

    Not that I condone what Google is doing anyway. Their stance is hypocrite the least. Don’t be evil etc, but in the mean time they screw you left and right.

    Funding of typo squatting can be frowned upon for sure. And personally I don’t like the whole domain ads business that Google is in. But I can’t see how it is illegal. As some posters before have suggested, the proper legal route would be to challenge the squatters on trademark infringement.

    I don’t think Edelman should be entertained from a legal perspective, and he should refrain from sending out this kind of propaganda while claiming to be on the moral high ground.

    • http://www.benedelman.org Ben Edelman

      Guest: The statute at issue is the federal Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA). As you point out, this statute prohibits “register[ing]” typo domains. But the statute prohibits more than that: It also prohibits “trafficing in [and] us[ing]” infringing domains.

      Does Google “use” a domain when it parses the letters of that domain, decides what ads to show, measures clicks on those ads, bills the advertiser, and pays the domain registrant? We think so. In the litigation in which I serve as cocounsel, the court agreed — denying Google’s motion to dismiss. (Google had argued that even if it did everything we claimed they did, that’s not illegal, and the lawsuit should be dismissed. The court disagreed and allowed the lawsuit to continue.)

      As discussion participants on this site have confirmed, certainly folks have different views as to what the law *should* be, and that’s fine. But that’s a different question than what the law *is*.

      To the suggestion that this paper is “propaganda”: I emphatically disagree. On roles: Tyler, the first-listed author on the paper, has no role in the litigation; and other attorneys in the case had no control over the paper. (For example, they did not ask me to write it, and they did not approve it or attempt to influence its contents in any way.) On process: The paper was peer-reviewed and assessed favorably by a selective academic conference. Indeed, the paper reflects the fruit of extended study over more than a year, using hundreds of hours of computer time to collect data, then careful analysis in the manner detailed in the paper. On substance: If a person wanted to know, for example, what brands are most targeted by typosquatting, what industries are most targeted, or what nameservers, parking companies, or ad networks are most involved, I believe our paper is the best source of this information. Given the size of the typosquatting industry, the money at stake for advertisers, and advertisers’ limited understanding of where their ads are actually shown, we think this sector is well worth the careful study we provided.

  • http://www.yain.com Edward Han

    Personally to me, as long as it is an advantage for me to find what I am searching for, I do not really mind whether it is a typo error.

    • http://httpproxy.co.cc Guest

      As long as the users don’t compliant, google may act as they wish

  • http://dotcomreport.com SEO basics

    That is astounding. All that money because of people with fat fingers. Thanks for the read.

  • http://www.europeandomaincentre.com Christopher Hofman

    Why is Google to blame? Where the problem lies is that anyone can register a .com domain (any other gTLD and most country TLDs) including cocacola, kellogs, nike etc and make money on users typosquatting or guessing a URL. The legal steps to recover a domain is too long and costly – E.g. 1500 USD at WIPO and 4 weeks processing for any case.


  • Guest

    Here we go again!

    Lots of people being led by the nose into starting an argument and generating dubious claims of damage and hurt so that the legal profession can live in the style they have become very very accustomed to.

    In the scale of perceived ‘wrongs’ the so called ‘typo squatting’ is very near the bottom and doing little harm to anybody. In fact those who claim that ‘typo squatting’ must be stopped are undermining the very foundation of the freedoms we enjoy and giving more power to those who want to exert absolute control over everything and everybody.

    Get a grip on reality! Treasure the freedoms that we have. Don’t destroy them!

  • http://www.ppc-deal.com Guest

    goverment shall create rules according to protect the advertisers

    • http://www.free-homes-listings.com Guest

      yeah, i agree with that, advertiser shall spent their money and gain their repripocal investment

  • http://www.mainlyarticles.com KeithW

    Both Google and the lawyers are in it for the money. The only difference is that Google gives some value for money. Lawyers are just leeches.
    The way things are going all of us will soon need to consult a lawyer before doing anything on the internet.

  • Guest

    I don’t understand what the problem is. Exactly who is being harmed here. So Google makes money because someone spelled incorrectly, then saw the site they wanted and clicked on it. The advertiser loses a penny, but gets a sale. I think someone doesn’t like Google or it’s management and is looking for any reason to find fault.

  • El Wyatt

    It seems to me (IANAL) that if somebody owns and trademarks domain xyz.com, they can hardly claim that xyy.com infringes their trademark. They are distinctly different. How can XYZ claim it is a typo and infringes in any way their rights? The whole idea is absurd! If XYZ wants to own xyy.com in addition to xyz.com, let them buy each and every permutation of the alphabet they want for their domains and build them out and trademark and protect them like anybody else would. If the law really protects against “typosquatting” like this, as Bed Edelman claims, well, the law is an ass.

  • http://www.tradesmen.ie Oliver D

    There is a bigger problem with Google. If I do a search for my own domain name Google puts up ads from people who are trying to falsely mislead my customers into clicking on their domain name instead.

    Surely if someone is looking for my domain and they have typed it in correctly, it must be wrong for Google to mislead my customer like this?

    Oliver D

  • http://www.craig-west.co.uk Karl Craig-West

    Yet another example of Google-bashing in my view.

    There’s nothing illegal about it and, as best I can tell, nobody gets hurt in any way.

    We’d all like to live in an ideal world but until that happens people will always profit from the mistakes of others.

    Karl Craig-West
    Business Public Speaker in the UK Midlands

  • Guest

    I would suspect that all the people saying things like “I don’t understand what the problem is” or “Why is this a bad thing?” do not run a legitimate Internet based business. Look people, this wastes money and the cost will be put right back in to product pricing, which is out of your pocket.

    Besides, do we do need more lame sites then we already have?

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