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The Internet address http://www.glenwoodsprings.com would be an ideal domain name to promote the family-oriented recreational resort of Glenwood Springs.
Instead, it’s being held hostage by a Champaign, Ill., company that has now linked the address directly to a pornographic website, Daddy’s Darling.com.
“It’s like putting an adult video store at 11th and Grand,” said Debi Billings, webmaster for the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association. “It tricks people into seeing the site. That’s immoral at best.”
The pornographic link was discovered late last week. Previously, the site simply said “Under Construction.”
A posting on the Illinois company’s own website, http://www.inert.com, says it will put http://www.glenwoodsprings.com up for auction on e-bay on Thursday, June 20. The minimum bid price wasn’t listed.
The company also holds title to domain names such as coloradoriver.com, cripplecreek.com, idahosprings.com, nationalparks.com and statueofliberty.com.
The chamber has been trying to purchase the glenwoodsprings.com domain name since 1994, when it first launched a website, according to chamber director Marianne Virgili.
The chamber already has secured ownership of 11 related domain names, including glenwoodsprings.net, glenwoodspringschamber.com and glenwoodchamber.com.
But it has never been able to purchase glenwoodsprings.com, and failed in a legal battle last year to win control of the name.
The domain name is owned by College Transportation Inc., doing business as Website For Sale, in Champaign, Ill., according to the latest listing published online by Netswork Solutions, a national domain name clearinghouse.
College Transportation Inc. is also the name of a weekend bus service that runs between the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana campus and the Chicago suburbs.
An attempt to call the telephone number listed for the company resulted in a recording that states the line “is being checked for trouble.”
Years earlier, the chamber tried to purchase glenwoodsprings.com from the company.
“He hung up on me. Then he put the site up for auction,” Virgili said of her dealings with College Transportation’s owner, whose name she did not have.
“He had it up for $5,000, and we got other people to bid, thinking he wouldn’t deal with me. But he never answered anyone,” she said.
Last year, the chamber sought legal advice, and entered an arbitration process through ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, according to the chamber’s cyber-attorney, Nicole Pieterse of Telluride.
The chamber couldn’t convince ICANN to force College Transportation to turn over the domain name.
“The arbiters didn’t want to give anybody an exclusive on geographic names,” Pieterse said. In addition, First Amendment protections form a strong defense for the domain name holder, she said.
“Evidently the person has registered this name just to sell it back,” she said. “This is a practice that’s frowned upon. It’s scummy, but not necessarily illegal.”
Virgili appealed to College Transportation. In response, she said, “I got a series of nasty e-mails. Then he upped the price to $20,000.”
The link to the pornographic site is the latest move by College Transportation in an apparent effort to pressure a high-priced transaction, she said.
“Most web users are sophisticated enough to know that’s not our site,” Virgili said.
“We don’t want people looking at it. It’s so disgusting. And we want people to know we never have owned this site.
This practice is really sleazy.”
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