In the midst of the “sunrise period” before the .xxx domains open later this year schools have been registering .xxx domains at a steady clip. The schools claim this is a defensive measure, to prevent porn proprietors from libeling their good names. However, pursuant to Rule 34 (I ain’t talking ‘bout requests for production) I do not put it past universities that they may one day (today?) license or flat out use these domains to drum up money. To those who say that academia is above this sort of distasteful capitalism, I say, “college sports”. Universities are not above whoring out their students. Amateurism, anyone?
There has been quite a land run to register .xxx domains, but there are still many available options. A quick search reveals that, while universityofflorida.xxx is unavailable, floridagators.xxx is wide open! (Nyman – ohiostate.xxx isn’t open, but theohiostate.xxx is all yours! – thank you OSU alumni for inspiring me with your annoying emphasis on “The”).
As ably stated by Mark Malek in a previous article, it ain’t cheap to reserve and register a new domain trademark ($300-500), but there’s no question that the litigation it could take to wrestle your mark from an unscrupulous person would be in the thousands, perhaps in the tens of thousands of dollars. So, the universities, to whom $500 matters little, are doing their due diligence, whether as a defensive measure or a capital investment for a future business enterprise, and it’s not really fair to criticize them. The trademark system has seen far more egregious abuse.
So, what can we take with us as this newest, and raunchiest domain opens up? Who wins and who loses? Existing trademark holders, like colleges, have nothing to gain, so they can only stand to lose. Porn developers seem to be winners, but they have come out strongly opposed to the .xxx domain (they view it, perhaps accurately, as the ghetto-ization of the internet). The jury’s still out on them. Lawyers, like me, win in terms of more business opportunity, but only the shills are pleased when the legal system is abused. Most lawyers detest abuse of the system, and the .xxx domain cries out to be abused. Lawyers win a pyrrhic victory. The real winners here are the registrars, especially GoDaddy. They’ve convinced us that every domain needs to be cross-registered, even though Google usually knows the difference between legitimate sites and pretenders. This paranoia, engendered by the registrars, leads many to register names they wouldn’t necessarily care about, in the name of protecting their hard-earned trademark. The sad part is, I can’t advise against this! Its classic ounce of prevention, pound of cure rhetoric, but it amounts to insurance – and remember the axiom: buy as much as you can afford.