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Friday, 25 August, 2000, 10:28 GMT 11:28 UK
Madonna in website fight
Madonna
Madonna: 'She happens to be the most famous Madonna in the world,' says publicist
Pop star Madonna has gone to the United Nations for help in gaining control of the internet domain name madonna.com.

The address is currently owned by Dan Parisi, an entrepreneur from New Jersey, who was previously using it as a pornography site.

Madonna has made a formal complaint to the UN's World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) hoping it will order Parisi to give the site address to her.

Registering domain names is open to everyone for a small fee.


We do not believe that because Ms Ciccone named her act after the Virgin Mary that gives her the right to stop any other party from using the word 'madonna' as a title of their website

Dan Parisi

The WIPO provides people, who believe they have the right to an internet address, with the means to get it back without an expensive legal battle.

Parisi has now removed the pornographic material from the site but argues that the singer - whose real name is Madonna Louise Ciccone - has no more hold over the name Madonna than anyone else.

"She was named after the Virgin Mary as was her mother and hundreds of thousands of other people throughout the world over the past 2,000 years," he said in a statement on the website.

"We do not believe that because Ms Ciccone named her act after the Virgin Mary that gives her the right to stop any other party from using the word 'madonna' as a title of their website."

Parisi added that, far from relinquishing the address to the singer, he planned to give it the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Principle

Madonna's publicist Liz Rosenberg said she thought the singer had more right than most people to the name.

"She happens to be the most famous Madonna in the world, so I think she certainly has every right to try to protect a website called Madonna," she said.

The WIPO is due to make a decision on the dispute on 16 September.

Sting
Sting lost his fight over his name

But Parisi - who was previously involved in an over a pornographic site with a similar address to the official one for the White House - vowed to fight on a matter of principle.

"This is about whether big business has the right to claim exclusive ownership of common words in the English language and to take them out of the public domain," he said.

This case is the latest in a growing number involving celebrities going to the WIPO to gain control over the use of their name as an internet address.

The singer Sting was denied the rights to sting.com on the grounds that it was not his real name and was a common English word.

However, the WIPO ruled in favour of actress Julia Roberts and comedienne Rita Rudner.

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