Three Ways to Create Screenshots for Domain Name Disputes

Most domain name dispute policies require a trademark owner to show how a disputed domain name is being used. For example, under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), a complainant must prove that the domain name "has been registered and is being used in bad faith."

So, obtaining an appropriate screenshot of a website associated with the domain name is often an important task for anyone preparing for or filing a complaint. Including that screenshot as part of the complaint, typically as an annex or exhibit, is evidence that the panel will consider in reaching its decision.

(However, some domain name disputes don't involve a website. For example,  UDRP decisions frequently reference the "passive holding" doctrine or email-based phishing activities.)

While generating a screenshot may seem straightforward, that's not always the case. I frequently use one or more tactics to capture the necessary website, each of which has its pros and cons.

Print to PDF

Perhaps the simplest way to create a record of a website associated with a disputed domain name is to "print" the home page as a PDF document. I think all popular browsers include this as an option: Instead of printing a hard copy to an actual printer, you can print a digital copy of a web page. On a Windows computer, just type Control-P from the web page and then be sure "PDF" is selected as the printer option. 

Pros: Printing to PDF is easy to do and captures an entire web page, from top to bottom. Plus, most browsers will automatically include the URL and date in a header or footer, which is a nice way to document what is being captured and when it was captured.

Cons: Unfortunately, printing a web page (to PDF format or to a real printer) sometimes results in a printout that differs from what you may see on your computer screen, especially if the web page contains extensive images, formatting or frames -- which may be important to show how the domain name really appears to users.

Print Screen

Many Windows keyboards include a "print screen" button (sometimes labeled "PrtSc" or "PrtScn" or something similar) that copies an image to the clipboard, which can then be pasted into another software application such as Microsoft Word or an image-editing program.

Pros: Pressing one button, copying and pasting couldn't be much easier. Plus, the resulting image will faithfully reproduce exactly what you see on the screen, so you won't miss out on any images or get a different format. If your browser shows the URL onscreen and/or displays the current date in the taskbar or elsewhere, then the "print screen" image will, too.

Cons: Some Windows keyboards don't include a "print screen" button, so trying to reproduce that functionality can be a little tricky. And remember, you'll only get what you can see onscreen, which may exclude important content that is visible only when scrolling through an entire web page. Plus, a captured image will include everything on the computer screen -- even content that's not on the desired website, such as other browser tabs and the Windows task bar, which you might not want to display. (Of course, these can be cropped out with an image-editing program, even something as simple as the built-in Windows "Snipping Tool," which I sometimes use to capture the image in the first place, instead of using a "print screen" button.)

Browser Plugins

I prefer Google's Chrome browser for many reasons, one of which is the extensive selection of plugins that can add functionality. One that I use frequently is called "Full Page Screen Capture," which adds an icon to the browser bar and, with one click, creates a single image of the entire web page (not just the portion that you can see on screen without scrolling). I'm sure there are plenty of other similar plugins that accomplish the same thing, for Chrome and other browsers.

Pros: The plugin is free and simple to use and avoids the major pitfalls of both Print to PDF (which sometimes fails to accurately reproduce a web page) and Print Screen (which doesn't capture an entire web page).

Cons: Unlike the other options, the plugin I use doesn't capture the URL or the date, so it's important to document those elsewhere (such as by adding it to the file name for the image that's created). And while capturing an entire web page is often desirable, sometimes the resulting image can be quite large (tall) and may need to be sliced into separate images if you want to display it on letter-size pages to match the layout of your domain name complaint.