WASHINGTON — The Whitehouse.com Web site, one of the best examples that the Internet isn't always what it seems, is getting out of the pornography business. Its owner says he's worried what his preschool-age son might think.
"He'll be going to kindergarten next year," said Daniel Parisi, who started the Web site in 1997 that is frequently confused with the official government site, www.whitehouse.gov. Parisi, 44, said he worried that his son's classmates might taunt him about the family's business.
Parisi's decision to sell the Whitehouse.com name and more than 100 derivations comes amid signs pointing to a rebound in the market for reselling Web addresses. A Florida man sold men.com in December for $1.3 million.
Parisi said he doesn't know yet how much the names will fetch; he claimed the Whitehouse.com site, it advertises pictures of "hot interns" and once included a "first ladies" section, earns more than $1 million each year in revenues and said he's invested more than $7 million since 1997.
The site currently features a picture of Democratic front-runner John Kerry with the message, "Our candidates are better looking."
One company expressed early interest. Bob Roberts, a vice president at National Fruit Product Co. of Winchester, Va., which makes White House applesauce and apple juice, said he would contact Parisi to discuss a deal. The company previously fought Parisi in federal court over trademark claims to force him to surrender the disputed Web address.
"We just feel bad when our customers type in the address and they get hit with these pictures," Roberts said. His company's G-rated Web site is www.Whitehousefoods.com.
Parisi said his site, operated by a European company that leases the Web address from him, draws more than 2 million visitors each month. It has been a rallying point for critics who worry about children stumbling onto pornography online.
"Every time our kids were doing homework about the White House or the presidency, they would type in dot-com," said Parry Aftab, who runs the WiredSafety organization. "It's always been the poster child for where our kids can get into trouble with porn by accident."
Officials at the White House, the General Services Administration and the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration refused comment on the pending sale. The GSA assigns federal Web addresses; the telecommunications agency regulates U.S. policies on Internet addresses.
Nine months ago, President Bush signed a law that bans the use of misleading Web addresses to lure children to view material harmful to minors.
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