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CARBONDALE - SIU Carbondale has spent roughly $5,000 to purchase ".xxx" Internet domain names, an investment many universities across the country are making in the interest of thwarting pornographers from using the institutions' coveted brands and reputations.

The .xxx domain officially became available to the public Tuesday. The suffix was approved in 2010 by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, an international non-profit group responsible for overseeing World Wide Web addresses. The .xxx is an alternative to the traditional .com and an effort to organize riskier online content with addresses that a casual Web surfer likely wouldn't hit.

The sudden availability of the domains - and the racier content implied - has forced the hand of many organizations wanting to make sure their names don't suddenly turn up as part of the address for a porn site.

SIU spent more than $5,000 to purchase five .xxx domains, University Communications Director Mike Ruiz said Tuesday.

The university now owns "siu.xxx," "siuc.xxx," "southernillinois.xxx," "southernillinoisuniversity.xxx" and "saluki.xxx." Officials have secured the domains for the next 10 years, but they won't be doing much with them, said Jessica Mann, the department's manager for interactive services.

"We'll probably let them sit; if anything, we'll put a redirect on them so people will be taken to the main SIU website," Mann said.

Ruiz said the decision to purchase the domains was more about keeping them out of others' hands and putting the names under university control.

"It was an opportunity to try to protect our brand; maybe it's just more to keep someone else from buying it," Ruiz said.

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SIU isn't the only one dropping cash on domain names. Penn State University paid about $8,000 earlier this year to buy four domains. Closer to Southern Illinois, Indiana University bought $2,200 worth of ".xxx" domains for the next 10 years, according to The Associated Press.

The ".xxx" domains are going for a premium price, about $100 for one per year on Internet domain registry websites like GoDaddy.com.

However, the cost of letting someone else get hold of the domains first could be more expensive, SIU Carbondale spokesman Rod Sievers said. A private individual who has purchased a domain could charge SIU any price if the university truly wanted to secure the domain name and had not done so.

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