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End of the MySpace free-for-all?

Domain-name squatting was big business ten years ago. It was quick and easy to register a web address containing the name of a celebrity or a world-renowned brand, and some industrious people sought to flog these URLs to their rightful owners, many of whom hadn’t yet caught onto this new thing called 'the internet'.

Fast forward ten years, and any celebrity worth their salt has a dedicated website. And even when someone new hits the limelight, you can’t get away with beating them to the punch and pinching a .com using their name without expecting a letter from the lawyers somewhere down the line.

But you do seem to be able to get away with it on MySpace. Take a look at our MySpace page and you’ll see a few familiar names. Amy Winehouse and Justin Timberlake are on there, but we believe these two are legitimate MySpace pages set up by their record companies. But what about Steve Jobs? I can’t imagine him going home after a hard day’s being green to whittle away an evening networking with teenage music fans.

It’s easy to set up a MySpace page attributed to a well-known name, and countless people have taken the initiative by devoting a site to their hero. But all this could be about to change.

US Presidential nomination Barack Obama is in the midst of a MySpace mauling, following a dispute over the ownership of a MySpace page dedicated to his cause. Joe Anthony set up and managed a page supporting Obama’s nomination, and the site built up 150,000 supporters.

After originally backing Anthony’s efforts, Obama’s team spotted the potential – both positive and negative – of the site, and eventually took control of it with the backing of MySpace, but against Anthony’s wishes. It’s led to claims of cyberspace “bullying” in what The Guardian calls a “test case for internet campaigning and ownership”.

Is this the beginning of the end for the MySpace free-for-all?

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