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I did a WHOIS search for a domain name that I want. I found some info about the registrant of the domain name, and while no useful direct contact info was given, there was enough there for me to do some searching on the web and find some other ways to contact the registrant.

I would rather contact him on my own than pay $39 to make an offer, which is the option this website gives me, and I don't even know if it will be seen. But I also saw this on the page that shows the info about the registrant of the domain:

By submitting a WHOIS query, you agree that you will use this data only for lawful purposes and that, under no circumstances will you use this data to: (1) allow, enable, or otherwise support the transmission of mass unsolicited, commercial advertising or solicitations via direct mail, electronic mail, or by telephone; or (2) enable high volume, automated, electronic processes that apply to [name of website] (or its systems).

It seems like it just means that I can't do mass marketing using info obtained from these searches, but it wouldn't disallow me from contacting the registrant on my own.

However, the phrase: mass unsolicited, commercial advertising or solicitations via direct mail, electronic mail, or by telephone makes me a bit uneasy...the "or" in there seems to imply that even solicitation that's not "mass solicitation" is disallowed.

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3 Answers

This is the key phrase:

mass ... advertising or solicitations

You can try to contact them.

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while no useful direct contact info was given, there was enough there for me to do some searching on the web and find some other ways to contact the guy.

Firstly, since you were able to obtain the information by other means, the message from the Registrar's WHOIS lookup server would not be applicable.

In fact, this message really only pertains to use of their WHOIS server. WHOIS, which is a protocol for storing and delivering database content containing domain registrant information, is publicly accessible. This information is shared through other registrars and third-parties via WHOIS lookup API's and scripts. Therefore, you might be accessing the registrar's server and database through another website or application.

Registrars have a right to define terms of service for accessing this information via their servers. However, they cannot preclude how this information is used. If they determine that an IP address or referrer is abusing access to their servers, such as for harvesting information from them for the purpose of sending spam, they can (and do) block them.

Therefore, this message would not prevent you from contacting the domain registrant, should it have provided the information you needed to do so. Sending out mass-emails and spam however may be a violation of national and local laws.

For those concerned with blocking unsolicited emails based on their registrant information, they should inquire if their registrar provides domain privacy.

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It's perfectly legitimate to contact a domain owner using the information provided in the whois response. In fact, that's one of the reasons why the WHOIS database was initially designed.

Unfortunately, this practice quickly become a good, cheap and simple way to collect email addresses for SPAM and bulk advertising. For this reason, don't be upset if you will not receive a response. In several cases, the email address provided for the WHOIS database is invalid, masked or forwards to nowhere.

Keep this in mind. Also, I suggest you to write a personal email and try to do your best to show that that's not a bulk email but has been explicitly crafted for the request.

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The OP indicated he obtained the contact info via some searching on the web, not the WHOIS record. –  dan Jan 24 at 17:27
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