Sun, Dec 11, 2011 - Page 7 News List

Colleges buy .xxx sites to thwart porn

AP, ST PAUL, MINNESOTA

The University of Kansas is buying up Web site names such as www.KUgirls.xxx and www.KUnurses.xxx, but not because it is planning a Hot Babes of Kansas site.

Instead, the university and countless other schools and businesses are rushing to prevent their good names from falling into the hands of the pornography industry. Over the past two months, they have snapped up tens of thousands of “.xxx” Web site names that could be exploited by the adult entertainment business.

“Down the road there’s no way we can predict what some unscrupulous entrepreneur might come up with,” University of Kansas trademark licensing director Paul Vander Tuig said.

The university spent nearly US$3,000 in all. It plans to sit on the .xxx names and do nothing with them.

The brand-new .xxx suffix is an adults-only variation on .com. The .xxx name went on sale to the public for the first time this week, promoted as a way to enable porn sites to distinguish themselves and a means of making it easier for Internet filters to screen out things parents do not want their children to see.

ICM Registry of Palm Beach, Florida, is the exclusive manager of the .xxx names and sells them through a dozen middleman companies, such as GoDaddy.com, for an average of US$100 a year.

Indiana University spokesman Mark Land said the school spent US$2,200 to buy www.hoosiers.xxx and 10 other such names. Other Indiana schools took the same step, including Purdue University and Ball State University.

“This is just a modest cost of doing business in the world we live in,” Land said.

ICM sold .xxx names for the past two months exclusively to companies and others that wanted to protect their brands from the porn industry. During the so-called sunrise sale, ICM registered nearly 80,000 names, chairman and chief executive Stuart Lawley said.

A search of ICM’s database finds prominent brand names — including Nike.xxx, Pepsi.xxx and Target.xxx — among those purchased.

“Target has applied to block a number of the .xxx domains that correspond with our registered trademarks,” said Lee Henderson, a spokesman for the -Minneapolis-based store chain.

“We do not plan to use the domains,” he added, dryly.

The Internet Corp for Assigned Names and Numbers, which the US government established in 1998 to run the Internet’s address system, authorized creation of .xxx earlier this year.

The strongest opposition to the suffix has come from the adult entertainment industry.

The Free Speech Coalition, the industry’s trade group, lobbied against its creation, complaining among other things about the registration fees.

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