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CyberSquatting Flattering, But an Unethical, Desperate Industry Effort

A few weeks ago a reader pointed out that some web addresses or domain names with the term "coaltarfreeamerica" in them are no...

A few weeks ago a reader pointed out that some web addresses or domain names with the term "coaltarfreeamerica" in them are now being routed to the website of the Pavement Coatings Technology Council (PCTC)*. For example, if you type in "www.coaltarfreeamerica.org," in your browser's address box, then you'll go to their website.

Who is the PCTC? It's is an industry-sponsored group of coal tar sealer manufacturers and the world's largest coal tar refiner. Nearly any fact discussed here on this website would be disputed by this organization.

So what's the big deal? Isn't that just bare-fisted business?

Technically this is called "cybersquatting," which is obtaining a web address that is similar to another's with the express purposes of re-routing traffic to alternative site. While we are flattered that a little part-time blog site would rattle a billion-dollar industry, but the practice is an unethical breach of domain registration requirements.

Many don't realize that website addresses are monitored and registered with an organization named ICANN, which was formed in 1998. It is a "not-for-profit public-benefit corporation with participants from all over the world dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable. It promotes competition and develops policy on the Internet’s unique identifiers."

Their guidance on website name registration contains the following charge:

Be aware, however, that when you register a domain name, you agree: That the registration does not infringe upon or violate the rights of any third party."  Others have used the term "bad faith" in connection with trying to scam another by using a similar sounding or derivation of another's name.

Who actually registered those domains is uncertain because the domains were registered under an anonymous company. We reached out to the PCTC for resolution or comment more than a week ago, but no response has been given. We asked for the following:

  1. If they are the owners of the domains to relinquish their ownership
  2. If they are not the owners, they should put a re-direct message on their main page to send them back to the this site.
  3. If they have no intention of taking any action, then do they have a comment.
The greater concern here for the industry folks is that your industry organization doesn't trust you with the information contained on this website. It seems the less you know, then the longer use of coal tar sealers can continue.

We've mentioned here before that many want to portray this as just too complicated to understand. Check out this statement by the USGS if you want to know that this is Not a Complicated Story.

What do you think? Let us know and better yet, let the good old PCTC know at info@pavementcouncil.org.

*PCTC- Pavement Coatings Technology Council

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Coal Tar Free America: CyberSquatting Flattering, But an Unethical, Desperate Industry Effort
CyberSquatting Flattering, But an Unethical, Desperate Industry Effort
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Coal Tar Free America
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