The domain “vb.ly” was recently revoked and the site taken offline by NIC.ly, the body that controls Libyan web addresses because it apparently violated several Islamic laws. The domain was advertised as “the Internet’s first and only sex-positive link shortener service”, where links are never “family friendly” filtered.
Below an excerpt of the e-mail sent to owner of the domain, Violet Blue, a sex columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle:
“I think you’ll agree that a picture of a scantily clad lady with some bottle in her hand isn’t what most would consider decent or family friendly.
While letters ‘vb’ are quite generic and bear no offensive meaning in themselves, they’re being used as a domain name for an openly admitted ‘adult friendly URL shortener’. Now, had your domain merely been a URL shortener for general uses similar to bit.ly (as you claim) there would have been no problem with it. It is when you promote your site being solely for adult uses, or even state that you are ‘adult friendly’ to promote it that we as a Libyan Registry have an issue.
While our ccTLD [country code top-level domain] is open for registrations from all around the World, and we pride ourselves on being the online destination for many well known websites internationally, our rules and regulations, and our Country’s Law and Morality do not allow any kind of pornography or its promotion.”
Mr. Alaa ElSharif from NIC.LY
This action has certainly frightened several other domain owners who have also registered their domain on the Libyan country top level domain (ccTLD), most notably the immensely popular URL shortening service bit.ly (that has just closed a $10 million Series B financing) , and whose owners must surely have sighed with relief after reading the part that says “had your domain merely been a URL shortener for general uses similar to bit.ly (as you claim) there would have been no problem with it.”
Why in the world would anybody want to use a Libyan domain remains a marketing mystery. There are many other countries with cool suffixes that aren’t prone to have those kind of restrictions, such as .cc from Cocos (Keeling) Islands, .fm from the Federated States of Micronesia or .tv from Tuvalu that receives around $4m annually for foreign use of their coveted TV-sounding domain.
But in any case, there is a clear lesson to be learned from this unfortunate event. When you buy a foreign domain name, you need to know all about the laws pertaining to trademarks, censorship and intellectual property rights of the country that ultimately governs your domain property, in the same way that you would certainly do if you were to buy a house or a piece of land in that country.
* RackNine can provide you with registrations and ownership of foreign and Canadian .ca domains.
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