It isn’t often that IT administrators might be inclined to take advice from Taylor Swift, but there’s a first time for everything.
The recording artist (who has repeatedly demonstrated her business savvy) recently took the initiative to purchase the taylorswift.porn and taylorswift.adult top-level domains (TLDs) before porn spammers could. Apparently knowing they were trouble, trouble, trouble, she decided “You belong with me.”
In case you haven’t been following the riveting developments in the progress of Internet domain name addressing, “top-level domain” refers to the “last word” part of an Internet address or URL with three or more letters, such as .com or .org. (Two-letter codes are reserved for countries, .us, .uk, and so on.)
The problem is that the existing TLDs—particularly .com—are filling up. Consequently, it is getting harder and harder for people to come up with new website names that don’t include long strings of letters.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which governs the assignment of domains, has been working for a couple of years to set up a program to define a new batch of gTLDs. Registration for some of these new TLDs has been going on for the past year or so. Now, it’s .porn and .adult’s turn.
The .porn and .adult Top-Level Domains (TLDs) are scheduled to become available for all to purchase on June 1, but ICANN is letting some major brands and celebrities get ahead of the game, writes Ben Geier in Fortune.
“After June 1, it’s a .sucks and .porn free-for-all,” writes Hope King for CNN.
“Essentially, the purchasing of these specific domains is a pre-emptive strike against people that would seek to use Taylor Swift’s image for pornographic purposes or anything else unsavory or potentially harmful to her reputation and career,” explains UK domain registrar Zebra.Social, an action known as defensive domain registration.
While you might think you can use the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) to gain control of names relating to your company trademark, that isn’t necessarily going to work with domains such as .porn, warns Trevor Little in World Trademark Review. Such sites might be seen as parody—or, worse, accurate representation of how a company’s product might be used.
Even less salacious extensions make it more difficult for clients to find you and your message, which some know all too well. Just ask Ted Cruz, who failed to secure TedCruz2016.com and TedCruz2016.org before announcing his campaign for President.
The question now becomes, should your company follow Swift’s lead? Some major companies are.
Microsoft has already registered Office.porn and Office.adult, King reports. On the other hand, some vendors prefer to remain innocent of owning a website with a not-safe-for-work extension, even to protect their own brand name, she writes.
It’s also not clear just how useful having such domain names will be in terms of SEO and placing highly in Google search results, notes Marcus Chavers in NewsLedge. “Worries over someone ranking on the first page of Google for Taylor Swift with a .porn extension? Yeah, not going to happen,” he writes. “The SEO community isn’t even sure what value Google will place on having the exact keyword with the domain extension.”
Critics also accuse registrars of such sites of essentially performing shakedowns, noting that this early registration costs $2,500 per domain name, while a standard domain name registration is $10 or less. And naturally, some of the biggest promoters of defensive domain registration are the registrars themselves, who stand to make money from such fears.
Moreover, experts note that people who are bound and determined to set up a so-and-so porn website will find a way. “Sure, your client could buy <BRAND NAME.sucks> but what about <BRAND NAME REALLY.sucks>?” writes Shawn Paul Wood in AdWeek. “There’s no end in sight. We’re talking cyber anarchy here.”
For example, someone has already registered TaylorSwiftPorn.com/.net/.org/.info/.us/.co/.tv and .biz, reports TLDInvestor.
In the meantime, you might want to keep an eye on what other unsavory TLDs might be coming up. TaylorSwift.sexy, for example, is already gone, but .sexy might still be available for your company name.
On the other hand, if your plan to buy the .porn and .adult websites for Taylor Swift has now been thwarted, take heart: The ones for Justin Bieber are reportedly still available.
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