- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 26, 2001

NEW YORK (AP) Hundreds of related Internet domain names have been claimed since the Sept. 11 suicide jetliner attacks some for tributes or relief efforts, others purely for a quick buck.

The asking price yesterday for "WTCNot.com" was $500,000, while "WTCdestruction.net" was available for $75,000. New domain names typically cost about $30 to register.

Last week, one major domain name reseller halted auctions for several names it considered tasteless, including "NewYorkCarnage.com."

"When you see words like 'kill' and 'carnage and 'death,' it's pretty apparent those aren't names that should be listed," said Steve Lorenc of VeriSign Inc., which runs reseller Great Domains.

VeriSign and other companies that accept new registrations for domain names say they sell too many to screen every one. But many of these companies also conduct online auctions for domain-name owners to resell names at higher prices, and there the companies have more discretion.

While VeriSign decided to ban some names, Register.com's Afternic won't.

"Our view is that freedom of expression is unfortunately a freedom to offend," said Michael Tippett, general manager for Afternic. "To react to this situation by restricting freedom of expression would be playing into the hands of people attacking that freedom."

Legitimate sites in operation include "WTCStories.com," a collection of quotes and observations, along with information on charities. "AirTragedy.com" contains news and resources for victims and survivors, while "WorldTradeCenterDisaster.com" and "PentagonDisaster.com" collect poetry, pictures and songs.

The evening of the attacks, Ray Price of Nashua, N.H., logged on to claim "RebuildTheWorldTradeCenters.com." He said he wanted to start a discussion of rebuilding and has no plans to sell the name.

"Obviously, that's something that the average person has access to," he said. "You don't have to buy a page in the New York Times."

But for every discussion, tribute or charity site, there are several names bought solely for resale. Some of the auctions come with promises to donate proceeds to charity.

Robert Johnson, 53, of Hellertown, Pa., bought four such names, including "BinLadenCantHide.com." Originally $50,000, the asking price dropped to $10,000 Monday.

Mr. Johnson said he is even willing to give them away to the right organization but so far, he's received no takers.

Elliot Noss, chief executive of name-registration company Tucows Inc., said speculators of attacks-related names are misguided about their value. Unlike movies or companies, he said, relief efforts and tributes are generic enough that a determined organization can find a new name for $30.

His advice to speculators: "Take your $30 and donate it."

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