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Susan Boyle and Cybersquatting

Susan Boyle unable to register her own domain name

Susan Boyle is currently enjoying unexpected Global success following her recent appearance on “Britains Got Talent”, with the subsequent media hype help making her into a household name, but NOT on the internet.  Why? – because all of the susanboyle internet domains names were snapped up by cybersquatters, the moment they realised the value in her name (with the exception of the .com – which was already owned by a artist in Texas – I wonder if her spam has increased?).

Many of the sites which were registered in the days following her appearance on the show are branded “fan sites”, but call me cynical – I’m sure they’ll also be fully aware of the potential value such a high profile celebrity name brings with it.  With YouTube now at over 50 MILLION views for the Susan Boyle Clip, it’s easy to see how getting just a small percentage of the current Google searches to your site could bring in some financial gain, not to mention the possibility of Susan herself wanting to buy it from them.

On the 17th April, I emailed Talkback Thames (the production company responsible for Susan’s current fame), and explained:

“…surely you have a responsibility to Susan, to help protect her best interests, and with the knowledge that she was likely to become the subject of media interest (given the show is pre-recorded), I find it difficult to understand why you (acting on her behalf) did not takle measures to ensure the relevant domain names were secured in advance of such public exposure, and therefore protecting her online identity for the future.”
I did received a response, claiming that they “already have domain names secured for them (they are just not active yet)”, however I’ve still to find the domains they are referring to, and in a news article released just 1 week after this, Susan herself is reported to have confirmed she doesn’t actually have an official website.

The issue of celebrity cybersquatting is nothing new, and I use Susan Boyle as a very current example, however, I could easily substitute any “reality TV star” from Britain’s got Talent, or X Factor etc.  The same thing happens every year with Big Brother - the contestant’s names are registered as domain names often within minutes of them being announced on the first live show.  We know - we’ve seen the orders!

So whether you’re destined to be the next overnight global success or not, make sure that you understand the value in your own name, and take steps to protect it online by registering your domain name(s),  or risk exploitation by all your adoring “fans”.

More Stories By Gary Ennis

Gary Ennis graduated from the Department of Architecture and Building Science at the University of Strathclyde, where he specialised in graphic design, multimedia and 3D animation within the field of architectural representation. Following1 year as assistant manager in a busy bar/restaurant, and a further 6 months at Barclays Stockbrokers as a customer complaint specialist, Gary joined ABACUS (The Architecture and Building Aids Computer Unit Strathclyde) – a research group within the University of Strathclyde dedicated to developing and deploying information technologies, particularly Computer Aided Design, Computer Graphics, Multimedia and Virtual Reality for architectural and urban design practice and education. At Abacus, Gary led a wide range of projects, from commercial CD Rom development, to advanced research within the field of Internet-based Virtual Reality; a subject which he gained a solid reputation in, publishing many academic papers and speaking at international conferences. An experienced entrepreneur, Gary established NSDesign in 1998 at the peak of the “internet boom”. Today the company continues to provide internet services to over 5000 small and medium size businesses worldwide. A true people person, Gary’s other interests include Magic and Juggling, which he often uses to entertain the masses – from local playgroups to conference delegates! Three times short-listed for “Creative Entrepreneur of the Year”, Gary’s main ambition is to prove to the sceptics that “Geeks” are actually “cool” !