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Number Of Bin Laden Domain Names Soars

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Number Of Bin Laden Domain Names Soars

Number Of Bin Laden Domain Names Soars

Number Of Bin Laden Domain Names Soars

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/136149449/136149445" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Osama bin Laden's death is having many ripple effects — but none more pronounced than the land rush on the Internet to secure desirable domain names, such as osamakilled.com. Within hours of bin Laden's death, roughly 2,000 new bin Laden URL addresses had been registered.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Osama bin Laden may have railed against capitalism, but on the Internet, his death has sparked a gold rush.

As NPR's Laura Sydell reports, profit seekers are grabbing up domain names.

LAURA SYDELL: Like a lot of Americans, Jacob Rautenbake(ph) was glued to the television, learning the details of how U.S. forces got bin Laden.

Mr. JACOB RAUTENBAKE: And I thought, this is going to be an amazing movie.

SYDELL: Well, he lives in L.A.

The next thing Rautenbake did is run to his computer. For $11 he registered the domain name BinLadenFilm.com.

Mr. RAUTENBAKE: The best-case scenario is that we actually end up selling it to potentially a movie studio or a domain speculator who's trying to cash in off the film.

SYDELL: Rautenbake says he's already had a couple of offers, but he's holding out because he's heard there are several movies in the pipeline. Rautenbake's rush to cash in on the bin Laden death is far from unique.

Ms. CHRISTINE JONES (General Counsel, GoDaddy.com): We saw a pretty significant spike in the number of names that were registered just after the announcement.

SYDELL: Christine Jones is the general counsel for GoDaddy.com, which is the largest domain name registrar. Jones says, in the first 15 hours after bin Laden's death, more than 1,500 new domain names related to the event were registered. That's more than in all of the last three years. They ran the gamut from OsamaDeadT.com, a site that sells T-shirts to celebrate his death, to OsamabinLadenDead.com. This kind of morbid speculation in domain names isn't unusual, says Jones.

Ms. JONES: 9/11, we saw a big spike, Michael Jackson's death, the Virginia Tech shootings, anything that has big media attention pointed at it, there will be a spike in the domain names registered.

SYDELL: Clearly nothing is sacred in this domain. When the last pope died, Jones says people registered what they thought might be the name of the next pope.

Ms. JONES: And I'll be darned if somebody didn't figure it out and registered the name of the new pope before the name of the new pope was announced.

SYDELL: But most of the time, no one makes any money, says Andrew Allemann, the editor of Domain Name Wire, which follows the industry.

Mr. ANDREW ALLEMANN (Editor, Domain Name Wire): They're listed on eBay trying to find someone who will pay for it, but rarely is that the case.

SYDELL: Allemann says Hollywood studios will usually put a dash in a name or be creative rather than spend a lot of money on a domain. He says the people who have made money selling domain names haven't picked them based on an event. One of the highest-selling domain names ever: Sex.com, sold for more than $10 million.

Laura Sydell, NPR News.

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