Darth Vader web domain rescued by Toronto firm

Oct 9, 2012 | Biz/Tech, News

The inside of a Darth Vader mask. Internet company Tucows rescued DarthVader.com for Lucasfilm in return for a donation to their charity, the Tucows Elves Project. COURTESY BERNIETHOMAS68/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

By Alex Lambert

A domain name from the dark side of movies has found its rightful owner after the Toronto internet services company Tucows rescued DarthVader.com.

The domain name, now belonging to Lucasfilm, was saved and returned without charge, but on one condition: Lucasfilm now has to make a donation to the Tucows Elves Project. The annual charity raises money to provide toys to children of low-income families in Parkdale, a neighborhood close to the company’s Toronto location.

The website name in question refers to one of the central characters in the Star Wars film series, Darth Vader, who features prominently in the first three films released.

“We’re thrilled to be the new owners of DarthVader.com,” said Lucasfilm spokeperson Miles Perkins in a media release, “and we are even more excited about supporting such a worthy cause.”

So far, there’s no indication of how large the donation will be, or whether Lucasfilm will be donating toys, money, or both, Tucows VP of Marketing Michael Goldstein told Humber News.

Goldstein said those dealing with domain names at Tucows “rescue and donate” valuable expiring domain names to people and groups admired by the company.

“Every once in a while, we see something and we say ‘woah’, that shouldn’t be anybody’s, it shouldn’t be ours, there’s a pretty clear rightful owner to that one and we have the opportunity to grab it,” said Goldstein.

He said many people at Tucows are Star Wars fans and therefore they felt real pride in doing this for Lucasfilm.

“For most of us, Star Wars is this religion, this sort of bigger thing than just intellectual property,” said Goldstein.

Humber College’s Web Development program co-ordinator, Bernie Monette, said normally there’s a chance companies will have to pay the domain owner’s price or take legal action to get it back, so this has probably saved Lucasfilm a lot of money since they were basically handed ownership of the domain.

“You don’t have an absolute right to it,” said Monette, explaining that sometimes copyright owners will have to settle for other domain names if the one they want is already owned and being used by someone else for non-defamatory purposes.