When news of Michael Jackson’s death broke last week, it sent shockwaves around the world. Celebrities don’t come much bigger and that meant from London to Lima, New York to New Delhi, everyone was talking about it.

Canny domainers (those people who buy and sell domain names at a profit) don’t usually miss a trick. And even while the news wires were red hot with the latest developments, it turns out many of them had spotted an opportunity and were busy buying up all sorts of Jacko-related domain names.

Check these out:

  • michaeljacksonisdead.co.uk and jacksontribute.com were registered on 25 June. That’s the day Jackson died – presumably while the rest of us were asking our friends whether the story was an elaborate hoax.
  • jackolives.co.uk was also registered on 25 June, perhaps by a domainer convinced the story was untrue. This one’s my favourite actually, because initially I misread it as Jack Olives.
  • jackodead.co.uk and jackotribute.co.uk were both picked up the next day, 26 June. Maybe some domainers had gone to bed early and didn’t hear the story develop the previous night.

A few others I’ve noticed include the sinister-sounding michaeljacksonmurder.com, jackowaswacko.com (check the past tense), and thejacksonstory.co.uk.

Finally, there’s at least one with a nod to the now-cancelled ‘This Is It’ comeback shows: michaeljacksonthisisittribute.com. And should the remaining Jacksons ever reunite, perhaps the owner of thejacksonfour.co.uk (registered on 26 June) will have cause to celebrate.

It’s not the fans

One thing’s abundantly clear here. The internet has not been taken over by a bunch of Michael Jackson fans, buying up domain names in order to publish their tributes to the King of Pop.

The domains are being snapped up by people who are in it for the money – just look at the list of Michael Jackson domains for sale on eBay at the moment. Some of the prices seem hopelessly optimistic, but even if a domainer has registered 100 names, they’ll probably only need to sell one or two to turn a profit.

What to think?

It’s hard to know what to think here. There’s nothing new in people spotting an opportunity and moving quickly to take advantage of it. But some of these domain names appear to have been registered within hours of the story breaking. Is that a step too far?

What do you think? Are these domain names in bad taste, or is everything fair game? And do you think anyone is going to make any money out of Jackson-related domain names in the coming weeks? Leave a comment and let us know.

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26 Responses

  • Jason Thompson

    I noticed as soon as the news publicized that he had passed away a number of domain names were gone in minutes. I hope the majority of the domain names will actually be used to create memorial sites as opposed to purely trying to profit off of them.

    July 2, 2009 at 7:15 pm
  • John

    Hi Jason,

    Thanks for leaving a comment.

    I admire your sentiment that you’d like the domains to be used to create memorial sites, but can’t help feeling that just won’t be the case. I think this is about making money, pure and simple!



    July 8, 2009 at 4:14 pm
  • derek

    well done to all of them thats what i say wether its a site they make or make money from them .
    maybe some people are just jealous they didnt get there first after all i loved michael jacksons music but at the end of the day he made money from all of us perhaps its theses peoples turn to make some for thereselves (just my opinion )

    July 11, 2009 at 7:33 am
  • Steve

    It may be callous to make money out of someone’s death but then why is that any different from those who made money out of him while he was alive? When he was alive, there were fan sites and there were profiteers. When he’s dead, same thing.

    July 17, 2009 at 11:57 am
  • Dave

    Domian speculating is nothing new, but I suspect that only the very best domain names will return any sort of decent price. If you check the completed listings on Ebay, most of the domains are either unsold or go for a few pounds.

    Remember how many jumped on the bandwagon of ‘The Million Dollar Home Page’? Of course only the original site/idea was a success, the rest just wasted time and money.

    If someone comes up with something original and tasteful – in terms of a tribute site/information site or whatever, they will through time probably do well. The get rich quick brigade? Forget it guys.

    July 17, 2009 at 12:08 pm
  • Ryan

    Yes I agree to the last comment,

    I myself absolutely loved Michael’s music very much so, but the people out there who are snapping up the domain names are very clever, quick and self efficient people. The remark about Michael making money from us is a very true thing but must be understood that he did have a great talent that made us all feel good when we became “a part of” or “put on” music of this legendary artist. If these people buying domains do this for a living then “well done for being so fast” if they sell a domain for a very large amount of money to someone – then that someone obviously wants the domain allot, so I would guess something good will then be done with it. I don’t believe that Michael has a bad bone in his body; he has too much love and pain to be any real threat “to anybody”. He would have loved to seen people buying up everything with his name on it, it’s something to be proud of after all. As for all these people buy silly and offensive domains that have no good purpose to them, well I am pretty sure nothing to big will become of those as this artist has too much power, written time, a positive media attention to ever be outdone by a few silly negative domains.

    Peace & Love
    NOW – Beat It… ha!

    July 17, 2009 at 1:31 pm
  • jim

    Don’t be fooled – go ahead and look at Ebay. Nobody is bidding on this rubbish. Save your money and don’t speculate on domain names. It doesn’t work.

    July 17, 2009 at 1:34 pm
  • Gareth

    Just look at the millions of records that have been sold since his death, who’s making the profit. They want to put on the O2 concert still because…. they want to make a profit.

    The web offers everyone and anyone the opportunity, so I say if you see it, go for it.

    July 17, 2009 at 1:37 pm
  • Paul T

    I think we should coin a new word for this sort of thing – Domaineering perhaps? Or slightly more on topic, Domain Wacking or Site Jacking?

    July 17, 2009 at 1:46 pm
  • Graeme Stewart

    eBay Item number: 160348642323
    16 MJ Domain Name Bundle: ‘But It Now’ Price = £10,000,000. That’s Ten Million, -or- ‘Make an offer’. Well I was going to start at a fiver but I don’t want to get ahead of myself …

    July 17, 2009 at 2:05 pm
  • Web Design in Somerset

    By the looks of the domain names and keywords in them, I think they were just trying to capitalise on the millions of people searching in Google by putting up a simple website with a small amount of information and loads of adverts or redirects! The tribute domains will probably be different however, and have some sort of website on at some point. Not sure how they would expect to sell domain names like that, it’s not like they are official.

    July 17, 2009 at 2:12 pm
  • Geraint

    I’ve never bothered reading these 123-reg promo emails before, but quite enjoyed this one, more entertaining ones like this please!

    Also, the tabindex on this form seems to be wrong… it takes you somewhere random if you press tab from the ‘website’ input box.


    July 17, 2009 at 2:14 pm
  • Jeff

    Very upset about Michael passing away. Would be nice if 123-reg.co.uk showed their support by donating some of the profits of the Michael Jackson orientated domain registrations to charity. Doubt that will ever happen though.

    July 17, 2009 at 2:59 pm
  • Craig G

    I registered jackolives.co.uk becuase of the inability of fans to accept the death of such a high profile celebrity. I was thinking of ‘Elvis Lives’. I don’t really know what I’m going to do with it if anything, it was a bit of a silly idea, but at the moment it has Google adsense which is serving ads on olive trees and olive oil as it picks up Jack Olives.

    I hold my hands up and accept criticism though, there really is no altruistic cause for me to have registered this domain at all.

    July 17, 2009 at 2:59 pm
  • Dave

    Stupid Idea.. Looking on eBay there’s people with real business’s with powerseller status that are selling MJ domain junk that’s not going to sell, unless its for 99p and it’s a good target for someone who likes writing blogs when they finish there day jobs and likes to earn a few dollars from adsense. To be honest its pretty embarrassing, it would be wise just to get a paper round on the side instead, that way they can pay off there domain reg chargers.

    July 17, 2009 at 3:34 pm
  • Investment Domains

    People make money from far more unethical practices than advertising revenue on the domains of (dead) celebrities.
    It is opportunist and perhaps not in the best taste, but really a lot of fuss is mad over a practice which does little to hurt anyone.

    July 17, 2009 at 4:37 pm
  • JD

    Domain name speculation is at best worthless and at worst dishonourable and sleazy. Consequently, that speculators are seeking to profit from Jackson’s death should not be a surprise: it is a “dog bites man” story.

    July 17, 2009 at 4:37 pm
  • Joe K

    The last comment is completely ridiculous.

    How can 123-reg.co.uk determine whether a domain registration is Michael Jackson, in terms of Michael Jackson King of Pop, orientated?

    There are other people in the world called Michael Jackson just as there are other people in the world called Diana.

    July 17, 2009 at 4:46 pm
  • Dave Wardy

    Who Cares? Just wasted five minutes of my life i’ll never get back

    July 17, 2009 at 6:06 pm
  • Andy

    Some of this domains are not even properly written (with numbers instead of letters). Some of them too long to be remembered.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:30 pm
  • JJ

    What about Ivegotagoldencasket.com :-)?

    July 17, 2009 at 11:04 pm
  • john

    Would http://www.MichaelJacksonTheKingofPop.com be a good domain name to own?

    July 29, 2009 at 5:57 pm
  • Michael

    I bought a Michael Jackson Domain 4 weeks after his death as life long fan I wanted to own a bit of history.When BillyJean was released from Thriller I used to sing the lyrics thrillyjean’s not my lover, so I brought the domain name ThrillyJean.com

    August 5, 2009 at 1:50 pm
  • google tools

    I don’t really know what I’m going to do with it if anything, it was a bit of a silly idea, but at the moment it has Google adsense which is serving ads.

    June 10, 2010 at 12:21 am