A beta version of News's MySpace community site was launched this week in China, but users must be careful when typing the Chinese site's URL or may end up shopping for patio furniture.
MySpace China's Web site can be found at http://www.myspace.cn. But users who type the address http://www.myspace.com.cn in their browsers will instead find themselves visiting the Web site of Zhejiang Yong Qiang Group Co. Ltd., a company that specializes in outdoor furniture and accessories, such as reusable ice packs for coolers.
Representatives for Yong Qiang, which also uses the Yotrio brand, and MySpace China could not immediately be reached for comment.
A search of whois records maintained by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), which oversees the .cn top-level domain, shows the current MySpace.com.cn domain name registration was dated November 2003, less than six months after MySpace was founded. That was long before the first rumors of MySpace's interest in China appeared in the press.
The domain name MySpace.cn was registered in January 2004, according to CNNIC records.
Domain-name squatting is relatively common in China, where speculators have been known to register domain names that include product names of multinational companies, hoping to sell the names for a profit. In other cases, Chinese companies lay claim to a domain name before a multinational company begins to use it.
Such was the case with a Chinese domain similar to Google's Gmail service. A Chinese company, Beijing ISM Internet Technology Development Co. Ltd., registered the http://www.gmail.cn domain for its own e-mail service in August 2003, more than six months before Google first announced its free Web mail service.