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Cybersquatting gets the thumbs up

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The case for cybersquatting has been strengthened further with the arrival of a satirical US site on George W Bush's presidential campaign. The site (which is really quite funny) contrasts Bush's pledges with his actual behaviour and stated views prior to the campaign. If ever there was democracy in action, this is it. While Bush has millions of dollars at his disposal to persuade America what a God-fearing demi-god he is, it takes only a domain name and a bit of imagination to give the other side of the story. Set up by a 29-year-old computer programmer, the site draws attention to the less-savoury aspects of Bush's past, including his cocaine use and sub-standard academic grades. George is none too pleased. When asked at a news conference what his opinion of the site was, he said it was produced by a "garbage man" and that "there ought to be limits to freedom" - not an ideal phrase in the Land of the First Amendment and a quote subsequently reprinted on bumper stickers available on the site (others include "GWBush: Born with a silver spoon up his nose" and "GWBush: Not a crackhead anymore!"). The Register frowns (or is that smirks?) at the lampooning of a such a public figure. If a famous man can't get immunity from criticism, who can? But apart from petitioning the site for using copyrighted pictures and text, there is little Bush lawyers can or want to do about the site. According to its owner Zack Exley he was asked to sell the domain by the Bush campaign. His suggestion of $300,000 was not accepted. This democratic use of cybersquatting was mirrored this week in the UK by a man with a grievance against toy store Toys 'R' Us. He registered the domain toys-r-us.co.uk and made clear that he wanted to discuss his ill treatment with the company's management. While cybersquatting has had a bad image in the past - with scoundrels making money out of vast conglomerates or porn sites revelling in sound alike public establishments - these two examples clearly demonstrate the table-turning that can be done in cyberspace. Sadly, cybersquatting is on a limited lifespan - companies have learnt their lesson and in the future are likely to buy up all obvious references to their main site. Plus it's getting harder to get any kind of domain name these days. Enjoy it while you can. ® Related items: Click here for the George Bush satirical site. Or here for the official site

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