I appreciate your thoughts on the matter. Good luck in your campaign.I wish this were the case; this is what I did with Paranormalis when I found I didn't have the willingness to run the site anymore. Instead of letting it flounder and die, I gave it to Num7It just seems to me that the current owner could just give the site to someone if they really don't care about it anymore.
Unfortunately for the members of TTI, Mop won't part with it without some compensation. I don't think asking for a return on a 15 year investment on his end is unfair, though given the choice between letting it disappear or giving it away I'd choose the former.
If the domain registration lapses, it will be extremely difficult to just go and register it yourself. For one, there's a 30 day "grace period" and the domain is put in a specific state which can be seen by domain squatters. Domain squatters use automated methods to snatch up domains which have some Google pagerank or inbound link value, park the domain with an ad on it and collect revenue. I've dealt with this a few times and while the squatter is usually willing to sell the domain, the asking price is usually many hundreds or thousands of dollars. Num7 dealt with this when he picked up the Paranormal Network domain.Alternatively, they could let the registration expire and someone else could register the domain name. The information might be lost, but surely a backup wouldn't be too hard to come by.
Additionally, a proper backup would be very hard to come by without Mop explicitly giving someone a dump of the database (which he's not willing to do without recompense, thus the campaign). There are almost 80,000 posts there and while some of them are likely to be in the Internet Archive somewhere, none of it is searchable and it's not at all complete. Try looking at Art Bell's old Post to Post forums on there and you'll see just how crippled it can become:
Post to Post
Even worse, an entire domain can easily be completely wiped off of the Internet Archive as well by putting a line in a site's robots.txt (Internet Archive Contacts). Many domain squatters do this and if that happens, there is literally zero chance of anything ever being recovered.
I'm not emotionally attached to the site either, but I definitely see the value in trying to rescue and preserve the original home of John Titor (whether I subscribe to him being real or not), as well as 15 years of discussion on the topic of time travel. There are some amazing conversations buried in there and I'd hate to see that just blink out of existence.