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The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, holder of the America's Cup, has had its brand hijacked for pornography on the internet.

For just $US35 ($80) Canadian Christian Francoeur, of Quebec, took one of the squadron's two addresses for its website on June 11, after the organisation failed to keep up payments to protect it from brand-poachers.

Members of the elite yachting club are bracing themselves for hefty costs to get it back.

The squadron is taking legal action over a website address which is now a webpage that shows various x-rated pictures.

The address defaults to a page showing 19-year-old "Tina" in states of undress.

The club's other site, www.rnzys.org.nz, remains unaffected.

Yacht squadron commodore Peter Taylor said the lost address "slipped through the system" and the organisation was now being held to ransom by the new owner.

"The person who picked up the name wants to sell it back to us.

"Our view is that we should not have to pay for it ... It is a modern form of blackmail."

Mr Taylor said he was outraged about the site's content and the organisation might sue for damages.

"I am extremely upset about it. It brings the club into disrepute and is potentially damaging for our reputation."

It was a copyright issue, he said.

If the squadron could prove that "RNZYS" was the name used to describe the organisation, then it could be reclaimed.

But Mr Francoeur insists he bought the name fair and square.

"We will see how much money we will receive in a year and then estimate a price and negotiate," he said.

He grabbed old site names that generated a lot of traffic. It was his business - he had hundreds of them, and internet pornography generated revenue.

"They lost their property by not paying their annual charge. It is like not paying the taxes for their house. We bought it back."

NZ NetGuide editor Nigel Horrocks said that using expired respectable website addresses for porn sites - often already bookmarked by many - was an old trick.

Corporations were paying out big money to protect their brands on the internet, as they had no legal protection. They would register many similar names, "but where does it end?" he said.

A big concern was when a child went to a site to do home work, typed in the wrong address and was confronted with material parents did not want the child to see.