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05|01|2008 08:57 pm EDT

Racist Domains Keep Raising Their Ugly Heads

by Adam Strong in Categories: Featured

The racially sensitive domain name SandNigger.com expired and was auctioned off at Namejet.com today. The domain ended up selling for $840. A quick look at the NSI whois reveals the new owner (who will likely be buying privacy protection very soon. . . .you’re welcome NSI ). Justin over at Namebio posted an open letter regarding this story. He’s calling for the companies involved to donate the profits from the sale to a reputable charity. I decided to feature this story as a way to back Justin’s idea up, but I’m also going to expand on this call to action, so keep reading. . . .

I’ve written about Network Solutions in the past with regard to racially sensitive domain names, so I wasn’t too surprised to see that this domain name expiration wasn’t handled better. With this past example in my mind, I’d also like to add to Justin’s open letter and say this would be a good time for NSI to make good and donate any of the profits from the PPC earnings from the Nigger.com domain to the NAACP. One quick press release could kill 2 birds with 1 stone.

There is still more than can be done regarding racist domains, so not one to be shy, I’ll add another couple recipients to this open letter concept : the parking companies. I think it’d also be wise for Oversee (as of this writing the domain redirects to a DomainSponsor page) and all other parking companies to distance themselves from this sort of domain and it’s really easy to do. Sedo did the right thing with the Niggers.com domain. After the story, the domain was sent to a blank page. NSI shut down Nigger.com as well. Deny these names from being added to your systems. Do something right here parking companies. I know this is not the business that these companies want to be involved in and I’m pretty sure they have contractual terms stating this very clearly.

And to the buyer of the domain . . . I can’t read your mind and have no clue why you paid $840 for this domain. I have a domain in my portfolio that I bought to prevent from being used in an offensive manner. It’s not racial, but rather political and I have turned it OFF completely. I suppose I can hope for the new owner to eventually do something positive with the domain. After seeing the results of domain parking pages with a racial term like this, the new owner of sandnigger.com would at least be wise to remove it from a parking page, especially one that auto-optimizes. Maybe the parking companies will take care of this the easier way and prevent these racist domains from being a way to profit. I think that all of us in the busines of domains can do better than this.

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15 Comments

Justin Allen

May 2, 2008 @ 1:46 am EDT

Adam,

Thank you for featuring this issue bright and center. I felt with all the bad in our industry, this is a perfect opportunity for Network Solutions to set an ethical standard. Thank you for giving this issue more light.

Justin Allen
NameBio.com

Sergio

May 2, 2008 @ 11:16 am EDT

This is a nice article. I would like to suggest that the profits be donated to the Internet Commerce Association (InternetCommerce.org)- they’re a non-for-profit organization and serve a good purpose.

Sergio

May 2, 2008 @ 12:45 pm EDT

FYI:
Network Management inc., The owner of the domain in question, also owns GameRoom.com, which receives 14,328 monthly visitors according to Compete.com. According to DomainTools, the associated eMail also “owns about 601 other domains.”
These people should know better. I truly hope that they (she) had a more compelling and noble reason to register this domain!

Casey

May 2, 2008 @ 1:06 pm EDT

I would like to preface this by stating that I do not support racism.

However, I think you are forgetting that this IS America. Domain Name News is based in the US and to the best of my knowledge, so is Network Solutions. What you are calling for is censorship, if you are grossly offended by “nigger” or “sandnigger” or the like, then just don’t type it into your address bar.

People today are too concerned about trying to control what other people do and say… the First Amendment is being whittled down to nothing, and its people like you who are helping it to happen.

Adam Strong

May 2, 2008 @ 1:18 pm EDT

Casey. Freedom of speech? You’re stretching here. I’m not asking for censorship. The owners are free to post or create whatever hateful messages they want on the domain, but I personally hope for something better to come of it.

There’s plenty of good that could be done with those domains (and plenty of bad). Profiting off of the type-ins isn’t one of them imho. I see no wrong in calling out individuals and corporations involved in this.

John Berryhill

May 2, 2008 @ 1:43 pm EDT

A little bit of history may be helpful here. I don’t recall anyone rushing to pay Network Solutions’ legal fees in Seven Words LLC, v.Network Solutions 260 F.3d 1089 (9th Cir. 2001):

“Seven Words initially sought to register ten second-level domain names that were based on Carlin’s “Seven Dirty Words” routine. NSI refused to register the names, however, because it had a policy prohibiting registration of domain names containing certain words that it deemed “inappropriate,” including six of Carlin’s “Seven Dirty Words.” As aconsequence of this policy, in March 1999, Seven Words filed its first lawsuit against NSI in federal court in the Central District
of California, Seven Words LLC v. Network Solutions, Inc., No. 99-02816-SVW (“Seven Words I”), requesting an injunction ordering registration of the disputed domain names
to Seven Words and a declaration that NSI’s policy and the refusal to register the domain names violated Seven Words’s rights under the federal and California Constitutions.

Seven Words thereafter sought registration of six additional domain names, which, like the first ten, were based on Carlin’s
“Seven Dirty Words” routine. Again, NSI refused registration. Seven Words therefore sought to amend the complaint in Seven Words I to include the six additional domain names, as well as a claim for damages, but the district court did not rule on the request. Rather, as explained below, then began Seven Words’s hopscotch litigation odyssey from California to New Hampshire and back again. Although the dates of the various rulings are not per se critical to the story, they are provided to assist in keeping the chronology in mind and to give
a flavor of how the litigation was intertwined.
_________________________________________________________________
[NSI permitted registration of one of the “dirty words”–s**t–to permit registration of innocuous words, including Japanese words ending in “shita.”]

[…]

In this same time frame, the district court learned that there was a related case against NSI pending in federal court in
New Hampshire, National A-1 Advertising, Inc. v. Network Solutions, Inc., 121 F. Supp. 2d 156 (D.N.H. 2000) (“Haberstroh”). In that case, plaintiff Lynn Haberstroh, who
had no connection to Seven Words, sought a declaration that NSI’s refusal to register six domain names violated her constitutional
rights. Four of those names were identical to those sought by Seven Words, and Haberstroh, like Seven Words, argued that NSI’s policy of refusing to register the domain names violated the First Amendment.”

There is no end to what someone, somewhere is going to find offensive or suggestive of illegal activities or otherwise “shouldn’t be registered or used as a domain name.” But NSI’s historical policy preventing registration of “offensive domain names” caused them to incur substantial legal fees.

If you’d like to bring that policy back, I’m sure they will gladly accept your donation.

John Berryhill

May 2, 2008 @ 1:48 pm EDT

“There

Sergio

May 2, 2008 @ 6:35 pm EDT

Dear John Berryhill,
I respectfully disagree with your argument. It is true that America grants us certain rights. Among what I consider to be the most valuable is freedom of speech. Along with that hard-earned freedom, comes responsibility. When a company chooses to engage in facilitating certain activity that are known to be cruel and offensive, then they must deal with the consequences that comes along with making such decisions. Among them is my right to declare my feelings and wishes and promote certain causes which I may deem important and dear to my heart. Though we have yet to determine its purpose, purchasing a domain name such as this for reasons other than protecting those who will be victimized by its hateful message certainly gives us the right to voice our opinion – this is my freedom of speech at work. The domain name community has in the past risen to the call of duty in times of uncertainty, such as was the case with the recently proposed “Snowe Bill”, whereby a petition was signed that contained well over 1,000 signatures. We express sympathy with those we feel are being wronged, as in certain reverse-hijackings (e.g. the recent ordeal with LH.com and its parent company, Future Media Architects). We prop-up companies that have behaved responsibly, and we also voice our opinion, as investors and consumers, when there is wrong. It is our responsibility to uphold the integrity of an industry that is generally looked upon in a bad light and misunderstood

Drew

May 2, 2008 @ 6:36 pm EDT

It should be redirected to an equally offensive website. http://www.whitehouse.gov/president/ springs to mind.

Sergio

May 2, 2008 @ 7:25 pm EDT

@Drew: riiiight :|
I think a more worthwhile idea would be to donate it to an organization that will do much good with it: CarryOn.org

David

May 3, 2008 @ 12:00 am EDT

How, then, can you propose to restrict our opinion on such a matter?

Uh, Sergio…I don’t see anything in John’s post saying our opinions should be restricted. John’s history lesson showed the original NSI paid a price for preventing registrations with “bad” words”, but who else rushed to their defense that time?

NetSol, like everyone else, takes all the good and the bad alike. But they’ll be the ones to decide on their own what’s good and/or bad for them, despite others wanting to tell them how they “should” do what’s “right” and not what’s “wrong”.

And as John asked, who exactly is harmed? How exactly, too?

Adam Strong

May 3, 2008 @ 12:15 am EDT

John. We both know certain domains aren’t allowed to be monetized on PPC and certain advertising isn’t allowed on the search engines feeding those ppc pages.

You also know a domain like the examples above can be owned and redirected to a blank page or a site with an anti-hate message, right? Sure the traffic might leave when they don’t get whatever they want, so I suppose it would be a waste even bother trying to change the world one domain at a time.

My post was an addition to an open letter calling for the profits generated from a hateful domain sale to be turned into something positive. I think we can all strive to do something that takes a negative and turns it into a positive.

Justin Allen

May 4, 2008 @ 4:15 pm EDT

I really appreciate Adam for taking up this cause, but I want to clarify something. I have no problem with freedom of speech. Anyone is welcome to express themselves in anyway they see fit, and I don’t have a problem with it.

I do however think companies/entities who lead in their field, should operate ethically and morally. I did not say “shame on you”, I wrote a letter asking that the proceeds be used in a positive way.

I have received the contact information for Network Solutions public relations department, and will follow up with their response on my blog, and will update Adam as well.

Justin Allen
NameBio.com

shahram

May 9, 2008 @ 2:58 am EDT

WTF???!!! i didnt see that go for auction! Damm i would of bought it as well. Since im persian i kind of find the name to be funny.

As for network solutions, i think that its screwed up that they would sell trademark names like BizRate.net and .org. I think they should take responsibility for that.

As for racist names, the only way you can stop it is by not bidding on it and if trying to sell it is going to embarrass you then it should. No one can stop some jerk from registering killallthejews.com as tasteless as it may seem.

Rob McClinton

May 12, 2008 @ 5:10 pm EDT

Adam,

Thank you for your open letter and for bringing this issue to the forefront. DomainSponsor has a set of internal guidelines that determine what types of sites we will not monetize on our network. In this case, there was a technical loophole that allowed this objectionable name to redirect to our sign-up page.

Thanks to your article we identified it, and the loophole, and have blocked the domain. We have also addressed the process that allowed it to make it online.

Rob McClinton
DomainSponsor Sales & Support

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