Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pope Benedict in .XXX pro-Islam cybersquat drama

A Turkish cybersquatter has registered at least a dozen variants of Pope Benedict's name as .xxx internet domains and is using them to promote Islam.

Cybersquatted sites including PopeBenedict.xxx currently proclaim "Everyone will find Islam" alongside pictures of the Quran and Kaaba.

Unsurprisingly, the sites also state that "This Web Site is For Sale".

PopeBenedict.xxx is registered to one Bulent Ozcan, a resident of Turkey, according to Whois records. 

Other domains evidently squatted by the same person include: josephaloisiusratzinger.xxx, josephaloisiusratzinger.com, benedictus.xxx, benedictxvi.xxx, ratzinger.xxx, xvibenedictus.xxx, xvibenedictus.com benedictusxvi.xxx pontificio.xxx holyfather.xxx and josephratzinger.xxx.

While the pope is not the first person to be cybersquatted in the new .xxx domain – Sir Richard Branson recently recovered richardbranson.xxx from a squatter – this does seem to be the most comprehensive effort to trash an individual by linking their name to .xxx porn (and to promote a "competitor").

The Vatican's quickest option for shutting down the domains might be to file a Rapid Evaluation Service complaint with the National Arbitration Forum, the US body hired by .xxx manager ICM Registry to handle this kind of case.

RES complaints cost $1,300 to file, but cybersquatted domains can be permanently suspended in as little as two working days. 

Because the policy covers personal names, the Pope won't need to show trademark rights in his name.

However, it would probably be cheaper to file a complaint using the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy, which unlike RES offers bulk discounts, instead.

The Vatican briefly got its cassocks in a twist last December when it mistakenly thought that vatican.xxx had been registered by a cybersquatter.

However, it turned out that the domain had actually been reserved by ICM Registry as a sensitive domain and made unavailable for registration.

Before opening the floodgates to general registrants last December, ICM offered national governments the chance to block culturally or religiously sensitive names. 

It also unilaterally blocked many religious names it thought might get the company in hot water.
However, while muslim.xxx, christian.xxx, anglican.xxx, jewish.xxx and hindu.xxx have all been registry-reserved, catholic.xxx appears to be registered to an individual hiding behind a Whois privacy service. 

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