CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Christmas Gift Guide
Internet

Um... is Sandra Bullock registering sandrabullocksextape.porn?

A lesson in why being a nerd is good if you're an aspiring member of the paparazzi -- and the Streisand effect.

438423-the-net-1995.jpg
The Internet is now bigger than it was in "The Net." Columbia Pictures

Here's a lesson in how to be a professional celebrity gossip in the Digital Age, or if you happen to be a celebrity, how not to entice them. For starters, if you're Sandra Bullock, maybe don't ask your lawyer to register domains starting with "sandrabullocksextape" for you, or risk the wrath of the "Streisand effect."

Look, nobody is explicitly saying that there's a carnal video of Bullock out there, but the fact is that the domains sandrabullocksextape.porn and sandrabullocksextape.adult are no longer available for registration.

So what, you say. Big deal. Anyone could register those domains on the off chance that such a tape might one day pop up.

Ah, but no. And this is where the nerdy stuff comes in.

You see, .porn and .adult are new top-level domains. In fact, it's so new that you can't register any web addresses ending in the suffix just yet... with a few exceptions. ICM Registry, the company that manages the new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) .porn and .adult, also acts as the registry for the older gTLD .xxx. This is important because ICM is offering owners of .xxx domains a chance to buy matching web addresses ending with .porn and .adult "to help ensure brand consistency in our new TLDs," according to the company's website.

sandra.jpg
Screenshot from a domain availability report. Screenshot Eric Mack/CNET/ ICM Registry

In other words, people who own an existing .xxx domain -- as well as those who have a trademark on certain names or phrases -- are allowed to register .porn and .adult websites early (up until Sunday), before the masses.

You might have read back in March that Taylor Swift, Microsoft and Harvard were among the household names taking advantage of this opportunity and defensively buying up sites like "TaylorSwift.porn."

This seems rather wise and savvy of young Swift. However, registering "SandraBullockSexTape.porn" seems like a defensive maneuver that might be a bit simultaneously revealing of what potential disasters a certain celebrity is concerned with... perhaps.

But I still haven't proven that Bullock herself is the person buying up the domain early. It could be whoever owns SandraBullockSexTape.xxx taking advantage of that domain matching period I mentioned earlier. So... who registered that equally salacious address?

According to the WhoIs database, it's Charles Harder of the law firm Harder, Mirell & Abrams. Harder's bio on LinkedIn and for his book "Entertainment Litigation" on Amazon lists Bullock among the celebrities he's represented.

So, just to recap in case you're a little lost -- since we are still in the pre-registration "domain matching" period for new .porn and .adult addresses, and as a lawyer who claims Bullock among his clients is listed as the registrant of the domain sandrabullocksextape.xxx, it follows that he or another representative of Bullock who could represent the interests of her likeness have also registered the corresponding .porn and .adult domains.

It's kind of like pointing at something that you don't want people to see in the hopes that no one is watching you point at it. But the Internet is always watching.

We reached out to Harder for comment and have yet to hear back. We'll update this post when we do.

Again, all of this proves nothing about the existence of any sort of naughty video -- perhaps some celebrities are concerned enough that they want to get ahead of potential scandal before there's even reason to justify being worried about it. Who knows.

Weirdly, plain old sandrabullock.porn has not yet been registered, and sandrabullocksextape.com is still available for anyone to purchase for less than $15. Let the scramble begin there.

This makes me think that it wouldn't hurt for entertainment lawyers -- even the one who literally wrote the book on entertainment lawyering -- to bone up on their Internet nerd skills.