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21st century real estate

The AP is running a story about the rapidly growing industry that has grown up around buying, selling, and speculating in Internet domain names. The story calls domain names "21st century real estate" and quotes experts who predict that the industry’s market value could reach $4 billion by 2010 as people continue to purchase approximately 90,000 names a day. At least 128 million domain names have already been registered worldwide, a 31 percent increase over last year.

Meanwhile, Wired News has looked into just how hard it would be to register a new domain using a familiar English word and found that it would be just about impossible. According to Wired, the .com versions of nearly all popular words have already been taken. Of 25,500 standard dictionary words they checked, only 1,760 are still available.

Warning to website owners. If you get into a fight with the folks who manage your site, you may discover that they actually own it. The fine print in many web hosting contracts,  upheld in several recent court rulings, gives the web hosting company that registered the site intellectual property rights to the name you thought you owned.