/ Domain names reflecting current affairs

Jun 05

/ nic.at News - 05.06.2019 09:39
Domain names reflecting current affairs

Exciting political times not only bring unusual hit rates to media, they also inspire internet users‘ creativity when it comes to domain name registrations. Quotes, word creations and election speculations: A look into the .at zone is a mirror of current events in Austrian internal polictics.

From A like „alea iacta est“ to Z like „zack zack zack“ – the political happenings in Austria leave their traces in the domain world. Soon after the publishing of Ex-Vice-Chancellor Strache’s „Ibiza-video“ a number of quotes and remarks connected to it were registered as .at domains, for example „genug ist genug“ („enough is enough“, Ex-Chancellor Kurz’s comment on the video) and „so sind wir nicht“ („we are not like that“, from President van der Bellen’s speech to the nation following the video revelations) as well as “zack zack zack” (an onomatopoetic expression of Ex-Vice-Chancellor underlining how fast unwanted journalists will be replaced). And of course „ibizagate“ was registered more or less immediately after the new term was born.

Speculation soon followed about possible new elections and, for some users, they were already a fact before being officially announced. Election-related domains were registered in singular, in plural, with year date, without year date, with and without hyphens – the will of the electorate found its expression in countless domain names.
A few days later a big feeling of relief could be observed in the zone: People were happy to have a „Vertrauensregierung“ (government of trust) and terms around democracy enjoyed growing popularity as domain names. The future will show whether the newly registered domains „so sind wir“ (we are like that) and „wir packen das“ (we can make it) also have something to do with politics...

Naming and tradmark rights have priority
nic.at lawyer Barbara Schlossbauer points out: „If the respective domain names are generic terms, there is no problem. I assume neither the terms „elections“ or „ibizagate“, nor expressions like „jetzt erst recht“ („now more than ever“) are protected. But if naming and trademark rights of persons or political parties are violated, the domain holder will be held liable for those rights infringements.“
It remains to be seen if there will be content on these domains, probably some of the domain holders hope to sell their domains. But private domain holders‘ data are not made public, explains Schlossbauer: „We do not publish data of natural persons in our public Whois. This information is only given out in a case of legitimate interest to third parties, for example when it comes to domain disputes or rights infringements. A mere buying interest is not enough.“

History repeats itself – 2017 says hello
A similar dynamic was observed back in 2017, when the SPÖ-ÖVP coalition broke up and new elections were announced: At that time, it was mostly political parties that established themselves a position on the internet and registered scores of domains around their top candidates, namely Kurz and Kern. Ironically enough, both names are also generic words in the German language (kurz meaning short and Kern meaning core) which led to creative and ambiguous word play domain names. Who wants to run short of votes when you want to reach your core electorate….?

Politics and domains: increasing professionalism
In principle it can be said that political parties become more and more professional when it comes to domains. They tend to register more domains to be on the safe side, and also go for synonyms and variants with hyphens and umlauts to avoid leaving opportunities for their competitors. It is also interesting to look at the TLD choice of the Austrian political parties: Most of them are patriotic and chose .at, while NEOS underlined its europeanness with a .eu domain. The party „Liste JETZT“ is fortunate to profit from the new gTLD introduction: They present themselves under www.partei.jetzt („jetzt“ = German for „now“). Nevertheless they also registrered their .at domain – like a real role model - under .at, .co.at and .or.at.