University News

U. buys .xxx domain names in preventative move

By
Staff Writer
Monday, February 6, 2012

Students surfing the Internet for adult content will not find it on brownu.xxx or brownuniv.xxx — the University bought the rights to the two triple-x domain names in December.

Brown paid about $100 for each domain name, said Mark Nickel, senior editor and writer at the Office of Public Affairs and University Relations. 

PAUR chose the two domain names for their clear relationship — or at least potential to be related — to the University, said Darlene Trew Crist, director of news and communications.

“The University is going to defend and protect its logo, its name and so forth from fraudulent or inappropriate use, and it doesn’t really matter where that occurs,” Nickel said.

The triple-x domain was created to give both consumers and those avoiding adult content “a way to find or avoid the content,” said Jocelyn Johnson, a spokesperson of ICM Registry. The company sells triple-x domain names to Internet domain name registrars, which sell domain names to customers for $79–129 per year, Johnson said.

Schools may “feel they have an obligation to the student body to protect the school’s name of any misuse,” she added.

Universities and colleges have been buying rights to triple-x domain names related to their trademarks to defend against those looking to make a profit selling those domains back to the institutions. While Brown does not intend to post adult content, the University also wants to thwart any individuals or companies attempting to do so under the school’s name.

Alex Macmadu ’14 said she thinks buying the domain names was “a reasonable preventative cost,” adding that it was likely cheaper than hiring lawyers in the future.

Buying the domain names for a “relatively small” fee is the “most prudent measure against anybody taking offense,” said Jacob Murray ’12. “I can’t imagine a downside from doing it.”

It is not always clear who owns a domain name, as the owner can remain anonymous. ICM Registry does not “have a number that has been or ever could be issued” for the numbers of schools that have purchased domain names, Johnson said.

“The number of sites any institution would have to purchase in order to protect itself is not infinite, but it’s a big number,” Nickel said. “In the course of two or three minutes, you can probably sit down and just write a whole list of site names that have ‘Brown’ in them that you would within theory need to buy and never use, which seems like a strange thing to do.”

“There are all sorts of different combinations, which is why the idea of buying up all the potentially harmful domain ideas is an odd way to come at the problem,” he added. A website can also incorporate Brown’s name in ways other than its domain name, making the possibilities limitless.

Brownuniversity.xxx was purchased by Craig Streaman, who works in the entertainment industry in California and has no firm plans for the site, according to a Dec. 26 Providence Journal article.

The Rhode Island School of Design has bought risd.xxx and rhodeislandschoolofdesign.xxx “as a cautionary move,” wrote Jaime Marland, director of media relations, in an email to The Herald.

Johnson and Wales University also bought domain names through a third party to protect its intellectual property, said Shannon Haskins, legal administrator at Johnson and Wales. It is a “part of business,” she said.

PAUR is sensitive to the use of the Brown name and logo. Most production companies will seek a release granting them permission to use the Brown logo, and parents of graduating seniors often ask for permission to use Brown’s coat of arms on graduation party cakes, Nickel said. PAUR chooses to grant permission based on the context and how the logo is intended to be used.