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4/19/2005
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'Pope-Squatters' Hope To Cash In On Papal Domains

Talk about sinners. Web-savvy speculators snapping up domains of possible names for the next pope may have their best bet turning a dollar by selling not to the Vatican, but to porn-site operators, a Web-metrics firm said Tuesday.

Talk about sinners.

Web-savvy speculators snapping up domains of possible names for the next Pope may have their best bet turning a dollar by selling not to the Vatican, but to porn site operators, a Web metrics firm said Tuesday.

"Speculators are buying up domains connected to names that might be adopted by the new Catholic leader," U.K.-based Netcraft said. Among the "pope-squatters" was blogger Rogers Cadenhead, who admitted to grabbing half a dozen domains earlier this month.

"My money's on one of these six names: BenedictXVI, Clement XV, Innocent XIV, Leo XIV, Paul VII, Pius XIII," Cadenhead wrote. "I mean this literally. I registered all six of these as dot-com domain names earlier this month, which I feared was tacky -- to say nothing of soul-imperiling -- until I read about the vacant papal see stamp. Clearly I'm not the only baptized Catholic who gets geeked about this process."

Some potential papal names are already on the auction block. PopeBenedict16.com, for instance, is for sale on the domain auction site Sedo. eBay, meanwhile, shows welcomepope.com offered for $525 and wehaveapope.com for $150.

Netcraft's take, however, is that a resale to the Vatican -- which has its own .va top-level domain -- has "almost no chance," and papal fan sites along the lines of popejohnpaul.com don't have the cash. "Such domains might have the highest financial value to parties likely to use the name for decidedly unapproved uses, such as porn sites," said Netcraft. "[They] routinely purchase G-rated domains -- including whitehouse.com and domains used by Christian sites -- for use as traffic gateways."

As of mid-day Tuesday, news reports from Rome said that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had been chosen Pope, and will take the name Benedict XVI, one of the names Cadenhead purchased in his six-name papal domain gamble.

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