Who has the rights to a name? Laos or L.A.?

February 12, 2006, [MD]

This ia weird little story, that I don’t know all the details of. I am just researching an essay about Laos, a country I visited twice in the past. (Reading the history is very useful, and makes me realize that many of the judgments and assumptions I made about the country when I was there, were quite wrong). Either way, I have been telling my friends that Laos is so small and “underdeveloped” that it doesn’t even have a university. I thought I’d check, and it turns out I am wrong, it does have the Lao National University. It’s webcode ends in .la, and I thought: that’s neat, let me remember that. (I always like to know the countrycodes of different countries). Then, out of curiosity, I did a search for the .la country code on Google (site:.la), and to my surprise most of the sites that come up are of Los Angeles sites.

This doesn’t entirely throw me off, as I am used to certain micro-nations (no offence, Laos) having their internet domain used by others, especially I think it is Vanatua which has .nu, it is highly popular in Sweden where nu means now. However, what really took me by surprise is the site www.la, which proclaims to be “the place to buy an .la address” and states that “Los Angeles is the first city in the world to have its own official address - .la”. Laos is not mentioned by a word. So was I wrong in assuming that .la is Laos’ domain name? Did some crafty Laotians just piggytail on the L.A. address space? Well, both the Lao foreign ministry, and the Lao national university have .la domain names, so…?


Stian Håklev February 12, 2006 Toronto, Canada
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