UCSD uncensored Web site shuts down

    Creators of a Web site called www.ucsduncensored.com were asked to discontinue the use of the UCSD initials by Oct. 9, following allegations of copyright infringement made by the Student Policies and Judicial Affairs office citing a California Education Code.

    Thurgood Marshall College junior Boaz Gurdin and Earl Warren College second-year transfer Joe Mahavuthivanij, who co-created the site, opted to discontinue its Web service until the problem is resolved.

    The site was launched during zero week of fall quarter. Its features included different forums where students could post messages, comments and questions. Users were also able to connect to each other through instant messages or e-mail. The site, at the time of its shutdown, had approximately 150 users and received about 1,500 to 2,000 hits a day, according to the creators.

    ³We talked a lot about what some of problems with UCSD are, such as how it can sometimes be a very spread-out and anti-social campus because people don’t see each other or cross paths,”” Gurdin said. ³The Web site’s purpose is to try to improve UCSD by creating a venue where people can communicate, connect and form a community; where you can express yourself, learn more and be more involved with the campus.””

    According to the creators of the site, they initially informed the administration about their idea and received no word of any potential wrongdoing.

    aWe kept the administration up-to-date in advance of launching our site ‹ in advance of us making all the advertisement materials and in advance of us working so hard on our brand name and getting the word out,”” Gurdin said.

    Flyers advertising the site were displayed throughout campus beginning zero week.

    According to the California Education Code Section 9200, no student organization or business can use the name “”University of California”” without permission from the UC Board of Regents. The name “”University of California”” is therefore owned by the state and no person can use it or its abbreviation to indicate affiliation to organizations. The code also prohibits the use of the name for designation of social, political, religious and business groups. Likewise, the name cannot be used for advertisement and promotional purposes.

    Violation of this code counts as a misdemeanor in California.

    “”It’s kind of heavy-handed,”” Gurdin said. “”If you look at the California Education Code Section 9200, it says that no student organization has the right to go out and use the UCSD name as they please, which means they’re basically disenfranchising students from identifying with their university.””

    The director of Student Policies and Judicial Affairs, Nicholas Aguilar, spoke to Gurdin on Sept. 26 informing him of the code and asked him to remove the UCSD initials from the Web site and Web address unless he could present written authorization from the Board of Regents for permission. However, when the Web site remained unchanged and posters were still seen on campus, the site’s creators were asked in a final notice to discontinue its use of the name.

    According to Aguilar, the Education Code allows for the use of the university’s name if written permission is obtained from the UC Regents, and that the code’s wording anticipates that permission could be obtained through a negation process.

    According to the notice sent by Aguilar, the site designers’ failure to comply with his prior request to stop the use of the UCSD initials in the site name and on advertisements around campus is also a violation according to the UCSD Student Conduct Code that could result in disciplinary action.

    Although Aguilar is not allowed to talk about any specific cases of violations that are still in discussion, he explained that the code is applied to students and nonstudents alike.

    “”It’s for anybody and everybody,”” Aguilar said. “”No one is allowed to use the name for commercial purposes.””

    Even though the site does not generate any profits at present time, Gurdin and Mahavuthivanij were hoping to eventually become a media organization that would generate revenue through advertisements.

    “”We’ve put in time and energy to this site,”” Mahavuthivanij said. “”It’s mainly a service for students and profit is secondary to that.””

    According to Mahavuthivanij, he has received numerous responses from Web site users.

    “”The Web site [http://ucsduncensored.com] is one of few good ways for students to have the opportunity to know more about other students and the activities that this school offers,”” said a registered user for the Web site, a Warren senior registered as “”Sonix.””

    Gurdin and Mahavuthivanij have consulted with Student Legal Services and are seeking legal advice from various sources.

    “”Right now we’re trying to talk to people who have licensing authority to grant some kind of permission,”” Gurdin said. “”Hopefully, our first option is to keep our name because we spent so much time, effort and money on it.””

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