The domain name sux.co.nz isn’t offensive - and whatever anybody adds to the left-hand side of it in an effort to make it so is no concern of the ISOCNZ DNS Registry.
That’s the word from Registry manager Patrick O’Brien in the wake of a brief but impassioned war of words over a DNS prank which went down very poorly in ISP land.
The controversy began when Michael Webster registered sux.co.nz with the Registry - and then set up more than a dozen fourth-level domains to go with it, including ihug.sux.co.nz, webworld.sux.co.nz, iconz.sux.co.nz, clear.sux.co.nz, microsoft.sux.co.nz and even nzfirst.co.nz.
The sux.co.nz domain uses Xtra’s terminator.xtra.co.nz nameserver, and one anonymous poster to an angry newsgroup discussion claimed that the abusive names were associated with a block of static IP numbers reserved by Xtra. Webster, who was contacted by phone at home in West Auckland, admitted to being associated with Xtra, but insisted that but “none of the machines or domains or anything have anything to do with Xtra.”
One correspondent warned Webster that he might be on a collision course with a Winston Peters defamation suit over nzfirst.sux.co.nz - which, if highly unlikely, would certainly have the world of cyberlaw abuzz, as the first-ever defamatory URL.
It was also suggested that Webster might be breaching ISOCNZ rules on offensive domain names, but O’Brien says sux.co.nz “doesn’t spring to mind as being offensive. If a name is viewed as being offensive, our policy allows us to decline application to register it, but I don’t think there’s anything inherently offensive about sux.co.nz.”
And when somebody does take offence at a name added to the left of the domain name?
“Again the policy is very clear,” says O’Brien. “We’ll look after down to the third level name. It’s the responsibility of the name holder to look to what goes on the left hand side of that . Or indeed on the right hand side - for instance, you could have a perfectly valid domain name under .co.nz, but if someone links that to a directory full of pornographic material on the right hand side, is that an issue with the domain name itself? Both of those are something for which the name holder has responsibility.”
Webster, declaring that “it was just a joke. I didn’t expect anybody to take it seriously at all,” has now removed all the fourth-level names from sux.co.nz.
“Everything’s gone. I got rid of the whole lot. Seeing as it was offensive to some people, I thought there was no point in having it there any more, so I removed. Everybody was taking it too seriously.
Just as well, really. Although there was no xtra.sux.co.nz, there was one name which wasn’t a particularly wise one for an Xtra employee to own - telecom.sux.co.nz, anyone?