Irish Shooting Politics

March 27, 2009

Would a bad idea by any other name smell so?

Filed under: Politics — Mark Dennehy @ 3:30 pm

What’s in a name?

Well rather a lot as it turns out. Leaving aside the obvious value assigned to a persons name, the name of a body corporate or a club or a product can be worth enormous amounts in terms of goodwill, in financial value, or in mindshare (for example, we all think Hoover when we think “vacuum cleaner”). These names are often worth so much that they are registered as trademarks by companies, copyrighted as brands and so forth. Large amounts of money have been invested in both the creation of these names and in the defence of the sole right to use them.

In the world of the internet, there is an entire market, with a very significant amount of money invested and traded in it, for buying and selling domain names such as business.com (famously sold in 2007 for $360 million). In that world, there are two practices that are of interest to the subject of this post; those are domain squatting and a related practice known as typosquatting. In the former, speculators buy the rights to websites with names which may prove to be valuable down the line (the business.com deal indicates the level that value may rise to), usually by picking an acronoymic name, such as ieee.org or whatever, or by picking a name related to a popular activity (say, chess.org).

In the second practice, typosquatting, someone chooses a name which is very similar to an existing name in the hope that someone typing in that existing name will make a mistake, a typo – and be sent to their website. For a famous example, a pornographic website was once set up at whitehouse.com, in the hope that people seeking the whitehouse.gov website would go there by mistake. The practice is almost universally seen as being at best unimaginative, at worst underhanded and cynical. Lawsuits have been successfully taken against the practice when it has been tried in the world outside the internet, under copyright law.

I mention all of this, because it would appear – at least to a casual observer – that we are seeing another example of this practice at the moment in the world of shooting administration in Ireland. As some will know, there is an international shooting body (you can spot it on the chart posted earlier) called the International Shooting Sports Federation, or ISSF (older shooters may remember it from its original French acronym of UIT). There is also a national shooting umbrella body called the Shooting Sports Association of Ireland, or SSAI.

Thus it is difficult to avoid a cynical conclusion when one notes that the original name for the body which held its first meeting in Abbeyleix only recently was the Shooting Sports Federation of Ireland, and that the currently chosen moniker was to be the Irish Shooting Sports Federation, both of which appear similar to the names of other existing bodies.

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And though that has now been changed following a complaint, to the rearranged moniker of the Irish Federation of Shooting Sports, it is still difficult to not see this in a cynical light, wherein it appears as an attempt to capitalise on the successful public image of the Olympic movement in general and its shooting sports in particular both at a national and an international level. Perhaps this would not be the wisest course of action for the unwary; legal cases have been taken by the IOC and subsidiary bodies with great success to protect the Olympic brand in the recent past, and in far less directly obvious cases. This is of course an incidental possible risk, compared to the obvious risk of being seen as an attempted challange to existing shooting associations, a risk the interim committee were at pains to state was not one of their goals this weekend.

Perhaps efforts to avoid this risk should be redoubled.

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1 Comment

  1. […] under: Politics — Mark Dennehy @ 3:41 pm On the topic of the draft constitution whichwas mentioned in passing earlier, I am reluctant to comment on a draft document whose contents may be changed at a whim and with no […]

    Pingback by Constitutions and focus « Irish Shooting Politics — March 27, 2009 @ 3:41 pm


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