In the case of the site that used to market Paramount Pictures' 1997 film In and Out, the content goes from a PG-13 rating to an X.
Paramount used the site at the domain "www.inandout.com" to attract movie fans--but once the film ran its course in theaters, the studio let its ownership of the domain lapse, a spokeswoman confirmed today.
Along came Worldwide Media of Seminole, Florida, a so-called domain name broker. Now the site which once promoted a Kevin Kline film is "a banner page carrying adult advertising," Michael Berkens, president of Worldwide Media, wrote in an email message to CNET News.com.
The changeover was discovered by a user of the popular Internet Movie Database (IMDb), an extensively hyperlinked online encyclopedia of movie information. The user had clicked the link listed as the "official" site for the film and found the adult material instead, according to Greg Bulmash, senior editor of the IMDb.
Bulmash said he suspects that the sexual nature of the film's title is probably what led to the adult banner site picking up the domain, instead of an enterprising site operator looking to lure unsuspecting users, as the now-well-known "whitehouse.com" site and others have done.
"As far as the name being in a movie database, be assured that my company did not place it there," Berkens wrote. "I assume it was placed by the previous holder of the name before they let it revert back to InterNIC. It would be the studio's responsibility to make sure they remove sites they no longer maintain."
Bulmash agreed that this instance serves as "a good warning to the studios. Once you register a domain, you better hold on to it and reroute the traffic" once the film's run is over, he said.
The Paramount spokeswoman declined further comment.
Bulmash pointed out that along with unsuspecting users being led to porn by visiting the movie site themselves, there are potentially hundreds of newspapers, fans, and others with links to the film-turned-porn site.
Berkens noted that: "The name [inandout.com] will be removed from the adult material shortly in anticipation of a planned nonadult site along with the name "overandout.com," also owned by Worldwide Media."
Domains have always been a difficult issue on the Net, with the stakes being raised recently by high-profile companies such as Microsoft and Yahoo. The portal recently sent a letter to marijuana site Yahooka, threatening legal action if the site is not removed and the domain turned over to Yahoo. Microsoft last month sued two Texas men who had registered the domain names "microsoftwindows.com" and "microsoftoffice.com."