Lawsuit Launched over .xxx

Way back in July, I wrote a post about the potential launch of .xxx, a new top level web domain. In order to bring anyone who hasn't heard about this up to spead, here are the relevant pieces.

'So here's the deal. An internet domain registry service called ICM has been trying to get the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbering to approve their proposal for a .xxx top level domain, to be used solely for adult content. This idea has been brought forward to ICANN and others many times in the past, but this six year battle that ICM has engaged in is not only to have the domain established but for ICM to have exclusive rights over it - ie. if you want an .xxx domain, you'll have to pay ICM and only ICM. ICM, and the proponents of this idea claim that it will help internet users avoid unwanted adult content and will help protect children from incidental exposure. They say that it will make filters even more effective because parents can simply block the entire domain.

But if use of the domain is voluntary, will it really make a difference. A .com domain costs anywhere from $7 to $20 a year so what will likely happen is that adult site owners who have a .com right now will simply add a .xxx to increase their traffic. They won't drop the .com. So bam! We've just doubled the number of porn addresses on the web! Great way to control kids access to porn. Not only that, but then everyone will know that there is a virtual goldmine of porn over the .xxx rainbow. Type in anything.xxx and you're sure to come up with some porn. So does this make it easier or more difficult for kids to access porn.

It seems obvious to me that this is nothing more than a money grab. ICM has spent $10 million so far to make .xxx a reality. Yes, you read that right, $10 Million!! So guess how much they expect to make from it? As mentioned before, a .com domain name is, at most, $20 a year. ICM does not state, on their website, how much the domain will actually cost but a rep. from the Free Speech Coalition said she has heard estimates of anywhere from $50 to $275/year. Why so much more than .com? It's because you can only get it from ICM so they can charge whatever they want. The president of ICM did say in the interview that they expect to make up to $150 million a year from .xxx! He said that they already have 156,000 domain names parked - so if all of those end up paying their $50, that's $7.8 million in their pockets before they even start!'

Well, the establishment of .xxx went ahead - in fact, registration opened to the public just yesterday. But, as I could have predicted, the porn industry is fighting back. Some of the biggest on-line providers of adult content launched a lawsuit a couple of weeks ago claiming anti-trust and anti-competition violations.

I say good on them. It's obviously and patently unfair to open up this massive public domain but restrict access to the profit from it to only one company. I hope ICANN and ICM lose and lose big. The problem is that lawsuits take forever. In the meantime, ICM will make a boatload of money and owners of adult sites will have to make the choice of whether to put out or lose out.

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