Did somebody order a sausage pizza, hold the pizza?
CommLawBlog contributor and attorney for Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth Kevin Goldberg recently penned an article advising station owners how to protect their station identities from association with the sex industry.
As you may recall, ICANN recently approved the creation of custom domain extensions, enabling those with the funds to obtain their own extension, be it .pepsi,.comcast or even .xxx. While the move is supported by some (including BRS Media, who is in line to purchase .radio) and opposed by others, Goldberg points out the negative potential facing broadcasters.
Goldberg opens by reminding stations again to register their call signs, slogans and all station identifiers with federal trademarks. Not only is this a good idea in and of itself, but “non-adult oriented” entities will be given the unique opportunity to block the registration of any .xxx domain name that incorporates their registered trademarks.
If you’re just now considering a trademark to defend against a .xxx takeover, don’t bother. Those concerning a .xxx must have been registered prior to Sept. 1, 2011, and Goldberg says that processing is a six-month wait.
What’s the worry, you may wonder? Imagine a member of your audience wants to visit your station’s website. They enter the call letters (“WOYV”) into a search engine and receive a page of related site links. The top result may be your legitimate site (“WOYV.com”), or it may be a porn site (“WOYV.xxx”) using your good name to lure unsuspecting visitors.
As most adult-themed websites are interested in the most traffic by any means possible, they could employ blackhat (read: unethical) search engine optimization tricks to put their sites at the top of any seemingly related internet search. This can put listeners at a greater chance of seeing clothes-free barnyard wrestling when all they really wanted was information on winning those concert tickets to the Nickelback concert.