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Author Topic: Mention a fictitious web site, you have to buy it
snopes
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Comment: This is hilarious. Here is how the story goes. On Monday night's broadcast
Conan O'Brien had a sketch about university mascots and one was the FSU
Manatee Voyeur. There was a Manatee dancing in front of a webcam. . . when
it cuts back to Conan he says, unscripted, something along the lines of
"Check it out at hornymanatee.com!"

Well, apparently if you say the full name of a website that does not exist
on a national public broadcast then you are legally bound to BUY that
website. So, for $159.00 (as reported by Conan) NBC, the network that
brought you Friends, Frazier and Jonny Carson, now owns the rights to
HornyManatee.Com for the next ten years.

Check it out! http://hornymanatee.com/

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put it in writing
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My favorite example of this kind of thing is http://www.whatbadgerseat.com/ from the Simpsons.

On the other hand, I just went and checked and there's no www.skinner-in-a-shredder.com (or any logical variation), even though it was also specifically mentioned in a Simpsons episode.

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ILS
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I can't see any rule about broadcast having to buy a domain just because they use it, that sounds rediculas.

But the web cam is hilarious.

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Dancin' Fool
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quote:
Originally posted by put it in writing:

. . . I just went and checked and there's no www.skinner-in-a-shredder.com (or any logical variation), even though it was also specifically mentioned in a Simpsons episode.

If you take out the hyphens it does take you to skinnerinashredder.com which has links to the Simpsons. [Wink]
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Towknie
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What was that Simpsons website about Springfield supporting gay marriage?

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ChelleGame
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I'm not sure you have to buy it, but it would be a good idea to buy it as very cheap advertising. Every time the show runs, people will wonder if it's a real, and type it in. Then they'll get an often clever commercial for the show or network. [Smile]

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I Am 6-Ironsman
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www.clownpenis.fart

I guess SNL was smart enough to use a totally ridiculous- and bogus- URL for this fake commercial...

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faceless007
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I've never heard that there's a law requiring networks to buy fictitious websites, but I do know that they often do it. The fake domain names thingsthatarewrong.com and lemonlyman.com were mentioned on The West Wing over the course of the show's run, and all of them were bought at the time the episodes aired. IIRC, they originally just went to placeholder websites (meaning, someone, presumably NBC had bought the domain name but not actually done anything with it yet), but today they redirect to Warner Brothers' official site.

On this week's Studio 60, someone mentioned virginbirthdebunked.org, and as of now that goes to a placeholder page.

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htonl
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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Well, by the miracle that is CNBC Europe, I am now watching the episode in question. Conan claimed, essentially, that "if a person in a position of authority on TV mentions a domain that does not exist, then they legally must buy it". I can't think why such a law would exist, but I can certainly see this stunt as the sort of thing that Conan would do - set up the site for fun/marketing and then claim it was forced on him by NBC Standards.

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Part of the Secular Humanist Conspiracy™ since 1997.

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Cervus
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I'm not sure why a law like this would be required for websites and not, say, fictional phone numbers or license plates.

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Won't somebody please think of the adults!

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vanilla
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Speaking of fictional telephone numbers, is the 555 prefix no longer restricted to media productions? I ask because DH and I noticed that a few television stations are now blurring and editing these numbers in movies so viewers cannot hear or read them.

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Yeah, I used to be pink. vanilla_pink.

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snopes
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Yes, only a small block of 555 prefixes (555-0100 to 555-0199) is now reserved for media use, the rest being available for assignment to "real" phone customers. So previous productions that used 555 numbers higher than 0199 now typically blur them, as those numbers may have since been assigned.

- snopes

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Radical Dory
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In the early days of the internet, I heard of a couple of cases where fictional websites were mentioned on a show or in a video game. Site squatter, taking advantage of the "advertising", would buy the domain name and put up porn links. Some companies then attempted to get the domains so they wouldn't be (remotely) linked to x-rated advertising, and the squatter would try to get them to pay huge amounts of money for it in exchange.

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Kiddo
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In one episode of the Simpsons, the show Grandpa Simpsons website as www.oldcoot.com but if you type that in it's actually a pre-existing website that has nothing to do with the Simpsons.

Also, in an episode of CSI they show the website www.ladyheather.com but if you type that in, it just goes to the CSI website, which is disappointing...

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Kamino Neko
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I doubt there's a law saying it, but I've little doubt NBC's legal team threw a fit and insisted on it. Aside from cybersquatters (which aren't really likely to be have to deal with for a one-off joke) they probably don't want to be responsible for 'promoting' someone else's website (albiet after the fact), especially when they can't control the content.

[Edit - actually, promoting isn't really the word I'm going for. Endorsing would be better. I'm not awake yet.]

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The Pikey Snow Queen
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Another recent episode of CSI: NY comes up with this www.aresanob.com (NSFW)

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FullMetal
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well I remember moviepoopshoot.com (no longer the same site check archive.org if you want to see it) from Jay and Silent bob strike back, but that was more for advertising the movie. and i think those are the better kind of websites mentioned in TV shows and movies. although not necessary to buy them but helps add to the illusion of the movie was real..
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FullMetal
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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oh one other thing you can buy a domain name for a lot less than 10 years... and who exactly would enforce this? verisign? iCANN? the FCC? I think that would be a corporate policy for NBC maybe. to prevent lawsuits for falsely advertising a nonexistant website...

That's the only reason I can think of...

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LittleDuck
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quote:
Originally posted by Kiddo:
In one episode of the Simpsons, the show Grandpa Simpsons website as www.oldcoot.com but if you type that in it's actually a pre-existing website that has nothing to do with the Simpsons.

Actually, there is a link there "Just For Simpsons Fans."

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"Silly customer, you cannot hurt a Twinkie." -Apu (The Simpsons)

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Electrotiger
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I remember in the late-late 90s hearing more than one instance of question marks and exclamation points being put into fictitious URLs as a way to greek them.

Like www.doit!.com or www.whoisthedaddy?.com.

I thought it was a clever idea, but with the relatively low cost of addresses, might as well buy it up and point it to your site.

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You'd count billions and billions of stars, And billions and billions of planets.

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chillas
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New York Times has a story today:
quote:

At the end of the skit, in a line Mr. O’Brien insists was ad-libbed, he mentioned that the voyeur (actually Mark Pender, a member of the show’s band) was watching www.hornymanatee.com. There was only one problem: as of the taping of that show, which concluded at 6:30 p.m., no such site existed. Which presented an immediate quandary for NBC: If a viewer were somehow to acquire the license to use that Internet domain name, then put something inappropriate on the site, the network could potentially be held liable for appearing to promote it.

Full Story

So it appears from this the issue is not that it is "required" to purchase the domain, only that they are trying to avoid any potential future liability.

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Llewtrah
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A related problem occurred when a book about bullying mentioned a website supposedly set up by the character. However the website actually belonged to a British woman who was plagued by emails when the book was published. She did not want to sell the site and related email addy (it was related to her business). It affected the running of her business. She was also not rich enough to sue the American author/publisher (had she been in the USA, lawyers would have probably been forming a line wanting to take the case and get damages payments).

There is a good reason for authors, shows etc buying the domain long term. Shows get repeated and books get reprinted and both can stay in circulation for many years.

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Troberg
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quote:
I thought it was a clever idea, but with the relatively low cost of addresses, might as well buy it up and point it to your site.
On the other hand, doing so will use up one address that someone might actually want. Remember, the number of possible addresses is not unlimited.

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/Troberg

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zman977
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quote:
Originally posted by Kiddo:
In one episode of the Simpsons, the show Grandpa Simpsons website as www.oldcoot.com but if you type that in it's actually a pre-existing website that has nothing to do with the Simpsons.

Also, in an episode of CSI they show the website www.ladyheather.com but if you type that in, it just goes to the CSI website, which is disappointing...

There have been a couple songs that have used web adresses. www.memory by Allen Jackson. When you type in that adress it leads to a site that sells computer memory. Also, www.nevergetoveryou by Prozzak which leads to a domain name buying site. I'm surprized Prozzak did not buy that site when the song came out.

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Polyeth12
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This is from the New York Times article that chillas linked

"If a viewer were somehow to acquire the license to use that Internet domain name, then put something inappropriate on the site, the network could potentially be held liable for appearing to promote it."

Umm...is there any way anything appropriate could be on a site called hornymanatee.com? [lol]

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snopes
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quote:
On the other hand, doing so will use up one address that someone might actually want. Remember, the number of possible addresses is not unlimited.
Eh? The number of available IP addresses under the current system is practically finite, but redirecting a domain name doesn't necessarily use up an IP address. And the number of available domain names is practically infinite (even if literally finite).

- snopes

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htonl
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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On the episode I saw tonight (a few days after it showed in the US) Conan said something like "I guess it's policy here at NBC." I think that's much more plausible than that it's an actual federal law or FCC regulation.

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Part of the Secular Humanist Conspiracy™ since 1997.

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Troberg
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quote:
Eh? The number of available IP addresses under the current system is practically finite, but redirecting a domain name doesn't necessarily use up an IP address. And the number of available domain names is practically infinite (even if literally finite).
Sorry, I messed up. I meant domain name. Both are commonly called address in Swedish ("IP-adress" and "webadress" or just "adress", even if "domännamn" is used in technical discussion. As a programmer, I find this a bit messed up, as it makes it difficult to communicate with people who don't get the difference between domain name, URL, URI, IP address and MAC address, and because of this makes stupid mistakes.

While the number of possible domain names are, for practical purposes, infinite, the number of domain names suited for a particular subject is not, especially since you want to avoid similar names.

So, if someone actually wanted to make a web site about horny manates, the number of possible domain names are quite limited. If a huge number of people wanted to make websites about horny manates, that first useless domain registration just to block it would be a problem. You could argue that you could use names such as horny_manates_1.com, horny_manates_2.com and so on, but that is just begging for mistakes.

Now, not so many are interested in horny manates, not even on the internet, but it's not that hard to think about other subjects where domain name crowding is a very real problem.

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/Troberg

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SamLowry
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quote:
Originally posted by zman977:
There have been a couple songs that have used web adresses. www.memory by Allen Jackson. When you type in that adress it leads to a site that sells computer memory. Also, www.nevergetoveryou by Prozzak which leads to a domain name buying site. I'm surprized Prozzak did not buy that site when the song came out.

Actually, I remember visiting www.nevergetoveryou.com when the song first came out and it was indeed connected to Prozzak. They probably let their ownership lapse since then, though...
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Marzi
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A few years back Progressive had a commmercial that showed a website called http://www.instantvoodoo.com/ in the commercial a girl when to the site to get back at a cheating boyfriend. I remember checking it out, I just checked again and it's still up. I think they may have changed it a little bit from last time. I thought that you could name the voodoo doll, but it doesn't seem that you can do that anymore. Oh well still a lot of fun.

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"Of course I'm a duck! I have all the duck bits! The bill. The webbed feet. The cute tail. The sailor hat." -Quack, from Peep and the great big world

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