Brian McCrary found the perfect venue to gripe about a $90 speeding ticket when he went to the Bluff City Police Department’s website, saw that its domain name was about to expire, and bought it right out from under the city’s nose.

Now that McCrary is the proud owner of the site,  the Gray, Tenn., computer network designer has been using it to post links about speed cameras – like the one on U.S. Highway 11E that caught him – and how people don’t like them.

“It’s kind of surprising that they’d just let it lapse like that,” McCrary said, adding that the new site has logged 1,200 unique visitors since he took it over May 22. “I figured they would be aware [it was about to expire] and renew it on their own.”

Domain names are bought and sold on a subscription basis through hundreds of website hosting companies, such as Go Daddy, which according to a company spokesperson currently manages more than 41 million domains including “”

When someone buys a domain name they can do whatever they want with it for the year that it’s registered to them. They can sell it, use it to keep someone from making a website, or use it to host a site that makes fun of or attacks a company with that name.

But at the end of that year-long registration period, the web hosting company regains control over the domain name and has the option of cancelling it and effectively taking down the customer’s website or selling the domain to someone else.

Go Daddy Domain Services Director Camille Ede said her company tries to avoid either option by sending its customers an e-mail letting them know about the domain’s status 90 days before its expiration date, 60 days before the expiration, 30 days before, 15 days and again five days before the expiration date.

Once the expiration date arrives, Ede said in an e-mail she sent the Herald Courier on Friday, the company replaces the website’s content with a special warning notice letting the site’s visitors know the domain has expired and will be deleted or sold in 42 days.

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