For more than seven years, everyone has been happy with going to lindaikeji.blogspot.com for their daily fix of Nigerian gossip. It didn’t matter that the site was hosted on Blogger, and that it had an unintuitive URL. Consistently one of Nigeria’s most trafficked websites, LIB was…er…is insanely successful.
If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it, right?
Well, it broke. Linda Ikeji’s blog has been pulled down by Google on account of alleged copyright infringements. It is not certain when the site will be reinstated, or indeed if it ever will be. Linda seems to be aware of this possibility and appears to be in the process of setting up a brand new website.
Oh wow! Thanks guys for all the love and support. I’m overwhelmed. Trying to get a new site…please bear with me. Long live LIB. Kisses..
— Linda Ikeji (@lindaikeji) October 8, 2014
The problem is, she has no domain name to even begin with. At least, not one that is convenient. Right now, all of Linda Ikeji’s domains are belong to someone else.* How the hell did this happen? How could Linda look on while her domains were getting nabbed by squatters? One might be tempted to jump to the hasty conclusion that she was extremely negligent, but if you look closely, and think about it, she wasn’t probably wasn’t more careless than the average blogger on the web with just enough web savvy to set up a blogspot. From accounts of people familiar with her, LIB’s success surprised Linda herself. One thing led to another and now, she’s in this situation. Linda started blogging in 2006. She is one of Nigeria’s first bloggers, and perhaps the first to take it seriously. In 2006, nobody was thinking of acquiring domain names. Except maybe they were Seun Osewa.
Enter Mr. Santos
By 2007, Linda had attracted her first squatter, and they went for the jugular. One Jonathan Santos from Belize acquired lindaikeji.com. At the time, it must have looked like a joke, but that error is one that must have haunted Linda for the past seven years, and has definitely been keeping her awake for the past few days. Whoever Jonathan Santos is, something about LIB at the time must have tipped them off to its potential and led them to make the bet. Sources close to Linda say that Santos offered the domain to her at a premium of between $2,000 to $5,000 a few years ago. But she passed, refusing to be extorted. Unfortunately, the more successful Linda Ikeji is, the more valuable and thus expensive lindaikeji.com will get. Right now, the domain is parked, earning adsense pennies, but it seems that Jonathan Santos will not part with it for anything less than $20,000. Linda’s current copyright predicament has obviously upped the ante significantly.
MrAyeDee http://t.co/Mrx4Mpsu0M has gone from $5k to $20k, Mr Ayedee, re u disappointed that she didn’t come to U. N pls don’t block me.
— Laura Ikeji (@lauraikeji) October 7, 2014
If Linda’d had the foresight to purchase lindaikeji.com before Santos did, most of the current drama would have been averted. Even if the blogspot doesn’t survive Google’s crackdown, it would simply be a question of salvaging what content she can, porting it to a new content management system and changing nameservers.
Hello, Mr. Efremov
But what of the other domains? At first, nobody was interested. But by 2011, not only was LIB doing insane amounts of traffic, advertisers were also lining up to pay for advertising. Linda’s blog presented such a huge target that cybersquatters could no longer ignore all those unclaimed domains. So in December of 2011, one Mr. Emmanuel Efremov decided to register lindaikeji.net, which is obviously the next best thing after lindaikeji.com.
It gets better. Linda says (Google cached content) Mr. Emmanuel Efremov and a @MrAyeDee on Twitter are one and the same person. If that is true, this is the same individual that played the pivotal role in getting Linda’s blog taken down by Google. On the face of it, his copyright infringement claims appear legitimate, but doesn’t being in possession of an important domain of Linda’s make you wonder if this isn’t a case of cybersquatting gone bad, turned shakedown, turned scorched earth warfare?
New York based cyber lawyer, Uduak Uduok penned a blog post that makes a strong case for that. According to that article, Emmanuel Efremov has in the past been been found to have wrongfully squatted on a Volkswagen domain.
For what it’s worth, lindaikeji.net now points to lindaikeji.blogspot.com. We’re not sure if that was a recent measure in the light of recent events.
In 2012, Twinpine’s Ayodeji Balogun registered lindaikeji.mobi. The site scrapes LIB content and overlays it with Twinpine advertising. I’m guessing they have Linda’s blessing, because at one point after her blog was taken down, she directed her readers to go there instead.
Dear LIB readers: These cybersquatters have taken all my names o lol http://t.co/z8J0Vz0jcD
— Linda Ikeji (@lindaikeji) October 8, 2014
One by one, Linda’s domains have been picked off. In the past 9 months, it’s practically become open season, with people grabbing the the .info and .org extensions too. Right in the middle of the copyright snafu, one Abiodun Balogun decided to grab as many lindaikeji domains as he could. On the 3rd of October, he’s became the proud owner of lindaikeji.biz, lindaikeji.us and lindaikeji.me. This one just bought his own yesterday.
The battle had already been lost since 2007. If the legitimate owner of a trademark owns the .com, there is almost zero incentive to squat on the other domains. Linda doesn’t own her dot com, so the squatters probably figure there is a chance she’ll pony up some cash for the ones they are holding.
I’m willing to bet that Linda can get more than half of these domains back if she really wants to, and at a fraction of the cost that they would be willing to pawn it to her. With a great lawyer, cash (because lawyers don’t work for free), and lots of patience — it could take a while.
In the meantime, she appears to be resolute in her decision to not enrich those pesky cybersquatters.
Anyway, I will find one weird LindaIkeji name and let y’all know soon where I am moving to. I don’t want to give any of these guys the pleasure of buying those names from them.
Hmm. If I were Linda, I would pay Mr. Santos his $20k and forget about the whole thing. It seems that fella was destined to hammer on that “investment”. But what do I know? The line of people who have tried to advise Linda since 2011 is as long as from Victoria Island to Bariga, and I don’t intend to join the queue. I’m content to keep observing.
If the lesson here isn’t obvious, here it is. Should you plan on being successful in life and business, please register your domains, personal and corporate. Preferably a dot com. Or something close. If you have international ambitions, well, you’re just going to have to register all. No jokes. Konga and Rocket Internet are still locked in an increasingly bitter dispute over Konga domain names that the latter registered across ten African countries in 2012.