What to do if our domain names are being held “hostage’?

UPDATED: May 19, 2014

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What to do if our domain names are being held “hostage’?

We are a small business and own 4 website domains (which we purchased); they are being hosted by an IT person (hosting is paid in full and current). We have a dispute over an open invoice involving an unrelated issue and now are trying to get our domain names released so we can move to another hosting company. The current IT person won’t release the domains to us until we pay for disputed invoice. Is this legal?

Asked on May 19, 2014 under Business Law, Georgia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If you paid for the domain names and the hosting, then they may not legally hold your names "hostage" for any unrelated disputes or invoices, unless and only to the extent that any agreements, terms of service, etc. between you specifically say that that should you owe them any money for any reason, they do not have to release the names to you.

However, bear in mind that if they will not voluntarily release the names, to get them to release them, you'd have to sue them and get a court order--depending on the size of the disputed invoice, it may be cheaper to pay, or at least to settle on some mutually agreeable amount, rather than go to court; it will also almost certainly be significantly faster.

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