The tiny Polynesian island nation of Niue is beginning to think its been had.
Frankly, its clear they didnt do their homework before they did their deal.
Ironically, it seems the buyer hadnt really done his, either.
Anyone who has been inundated by advertisements for global domains can easily understand that its aburgeoning business. The specter of purchasing a domain at a much better price than the more common dot comor dot net or dot org is most attractive to most aspiring entrepeneurs on limited budgets. This niches market leader is most likely Global Domains International (GDI), which has no doubt put Western Samoa on themental map of many a cybernaut. The key element in thatdeal is that the Western Samoan government granted therights to GDI in return for a royalty for every domain sold.
Niues name is derived from the local languages phrase for, "Look, a coconut!" It seems they should have usedtheirs more thoroughly before signing a domain deal with Bill Semich in 1998.
An American businessman whose former station waseditor for a computer magazine, Semich recognized thepotential value in the marketability of unique domains.Apparently finding the nu extension an attractive letter combination, he signed a contract with the Niue government that gave him the exclusive rights to it.
It wasnt a one-way deal. Semich guaranteed free wireless access for all 2000 of Niues citizens and he delivered, completing the installation of an island-wide network of translator towers in 2003. The countrysleaders surely felt they had provided their citizenry with a service for the new century which would favorably ensconce their place in island history.
Semich, meanwhile, intended to hawk his bargain domains to Americans. He had no idea that his idealcustomers were in Sweden, where nu is the local word for now.
All this commercial success has wrought concerns in Niue. Not only is the disparity in financial benefit an issue, butthe islands strongly Christian residents are upset that dot nu has become a popular extension for pornographicsites. Semich disavows any responsibility for this segment of his clientele, but the fact remains that they are there.
The issue became such a political hot potato that neo- colonialism was a trendy charge in Niues recentelections. Semich seems shrewd enough to realize thathes got the high ground in any bargaining that must be done to assuage his Pacific partners, so a reasonable solution will surely be attained.
This scenario underscores the all-encompassing scope of cyberspatial commerce and the depth of considerations that both buyer and seller must assess before enteringinto far-reaching agreements. Not even the worlds tiniestnation --- and thats remote little blip-in-the-Pacific Niue -- - is immune from the effects.
The moral of the story, then, is to count your cyber-coconuts before theyre cracked open. They may be worth more than you think.
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