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Art.sy removes domain suffix due to Syrian unrest

TORONTO – New-York-based art website Artsy has permanently changed their web address from Art.sy to Artsy.net due to the original domain’s ties to the ongoing unrest in Syria.

The website, which connects with social networking to allow users to collect and share artwork, sparked controversy for its .sy address which unintentionally linked them to the ongoing violence in Syria.

The domain suffix .sy is the official domain suffix for the Syrian Arab Republic, just as .ca represents Canadian websites.

Artsy released a statement on Friday explaining their decision to change their web address came following a 36-hour outage of the Art.sy domain due to an issue with DNS servers in Syria.

“We first registered the art.sy domain in 2009, and chose the name Art.sy because it is the shortest spellable English language domain that begins with the word “art.” In April of 2011, we renewed the contract for another two years, extending our registration through the end of 2013,” read the press release from Artsy.

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“Subsequently, as the conflict in Syria escalated, we realized it might not be possible to renew the domain again due to U.S. sanctions. We also did not want a domain that could be construed in any way as supporting the Syrian government.”

Internet access in the troubled region has been unreliable for months.

In November 2012, activists said authorities blocked Internet and cellphone signals in parts of the nation’s capital where rebels and government troops were engaged in fierce clashes. In some cases, the outages lasted for days.

According to the United Nations, the death toll of Syria’s civil war has exceeded 60,000 in 21 months.

The website purchased the Artsy.net domain in 2012 in order to transition the website over in 2013. It holds a database of over 21,000 works of art from over 4,500 leading artists.

Though Artsy did not address the controversy surrounding their use of the .sy domain suffix in Friday’s press release, the company noted that they are permanently re-branding their name to just “Artsy” in connection with their domain change.

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