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The real site, above; the spoof, below
WEDNESDAY, May 26, 1999

Dueling Sites

Web surfers who go to to learn about Texas Governor and presidential candidate George W. Bush may be in for a surprise. Though the address sounds official, the Web site is not — rather, it's a spoof. The site is owned by Zack Exley, a 29-year-old computer consultant who snapped up the domain name (along with and earlier this year. The Bush campaign staff is up in arms over the site, which bears an uncanny resemblance to the governor's official site, They've responded by claiming copyright infringement when the site first appropriated material from Bush's official site. More recently the site had content advocating Bush's defeat, leading Bush campaign attorney Ben Ginsberg to file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission. Ginsberg pointed out that anyone engaging in electioneering activity must register as a political committee, something Exley has not done. The complaint is still pending.

To prevent the spread of unofficial sites, the Bush campaign had preemptively purchased over 60 domain names (including and earlier this year; all names point to the campaign's official site. The three addresses now owned by Exley escaped their purview, however, and lead instead to the spoof site. In publicly responding to the matter last week, Bush commented that "there ought to be limits to freedom." Though that statement could haunt him among fans of a free Internet, Ginsberg insists the campaign isn't trying to shut the site down, but is simply protecting its rights. Exley, who says his primary goal in this is to have fun, says he isn't anti-Bush and is actually certain that Bush will win the 2000 presidential election. "I'm not trying to take Bush down," he says, adding that Bush's strong candidacy is a good reason to encourage political debate about him, which is what he feels his site does. Not so, counters Ginsberg, citing the $350,000 figure Exley quoted when the campaign asked to buy the domain name (Exley has since said he won't sell it). "This isn't just some poor person with a mimeograph machine down in the basement, trying to add to the First Amendment debate," he says. "They're trying to do some serious profiteering off the Internet." — Anjali Arora

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