The University of Hawaii is threatening legal action against the operator of a pornographic website called universityofhawaii.xxx.

X-rated domain names were made publicly available late last year and many universities around the country, including Hawaii Pacific University here, purchased names that could have associated their institutions with pornography.

The University of Hawaii chose not to do so because it was “a form of extortion” and because there were simply too many different domain names to acquire, said UH spokeswoman Lynne Waters.

“The University of Hawaii System did consider purchasing .xxx domain names in order to prevent this kind of willful misrepresentation,” said Waters.

“We quickly realized that there are an almost unlimited number of possible names relating to our ten campuses, our sports teams, our colleges and other UH-related programs and activities that could be abused,” Waters said.

The universityofhawaii.xxx name was purchased by an unidentified buyer who in turn offered to re-sell it on eBay for at least $100,000.

In choosing not to buy the domain name, UH officials ” felt strongly that we should not have to submit to what we considered to be nothing short of extortion,” Waters continued.

The university chose not to “redirect educational resources to what would ultimately be a fruitless attempt to stop all possible abuses,” she said.

The lurid site went operational this month and now UH officials are trying to shut it down.

“The University of Hawaii demands that you immediately cease and desist in the use of the University of Hawaii’s name,” UH attorney Darolyn Lendio wrote in a “to whom it may concern” letter emailed to the website.

“You are not associated or affiliated with the University of Hawaii…  and it is clear that you are using this name and its association misleadingly and/or for improper purposes, and in bad faith,” Lendio’s letter said.

Waters said the university wants to make sure that “this website is taken down and that no other future similar uses of our name shall occur.”

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