ICANN Sued Over .xxx; Porn Company Points Out That It's A Pure Money Grab

from the moneygrab.xxx dept

With .xxx domains now available, we've noted how organizations were snapping them up not because they want to create porn websites, but because they don't want porn sites under their name. Of course, that just highlights the key problem with any new TLD: they become a total cash grab by ICANN and whoever manages the TLD. It's even worse with .xxx, since many organizations feel they need to grab their brands on that to prevent any connection to porn.

Even worse, it appears that the registrar handling .xxx, ICM recognizes this and is even advertising with that in mind:
When the sellers of .xxx domain names put them on sale last week, they did not address their marketing campaigns just to adult content owners. Instead, they ran ads with headlines like ".XXX LANDRUSH IS NOW OPEN. PROTECT YOUR BRAND" or "SECURE YOUR DOMAIN. PROTECT YOUR REPUTATION," By heeding their warnings, brands, universities, and individuals flocked to the sites of domain name sellers and bought up tens of thousands of names, at about $200 per name. According to press reports, more than 70,000 applications have been received since the doors opened, netting sellers more than $15 million barely out of the gate.
Basically, the company admits that this is a borderline shakedown: if you want to "protect" yourself from someone building a porn site with your brand, pay up.

The whole thing appears to have angered online porn giant Manwin Licensing International, who is now suing ICANN and ICM saying that the whole thing is about "monopolistic conduct, price gouging, and anticompetitive and unfair practices." I would imagine that in any such lawsuit, ICM's advertising practices around the "buy up or else" won't look too good...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Nov 23rd, 2011 @ 11:24am

    So now you're against innovation?

    In its privileged position, ICANN is able to put over this whether cash grab or not. It is /something/ of an innovation, rather late in my view, but I don't see how anyone is actually forced to buy up .xxx domains.

    By the way, mere existence of ICANN proves that the Internet isn't actually flexible or democratic; as with DNS servers, it's where freedoms / flexibility stop and utter tyranny takes over.

     

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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Nov 23rd, 2011 @ 11:33am

    Interesting little quote from GoDaddy (yeah I know).

    "*Plus ICANN fee of 18¢ /yr for .com, .net, .org, .biz, .info, .name, .asia, .jobs, and .mobi, and ICANN fee of $2.00/yr for .xxx"

    Why is the .xxx $2 per year when everything else is $0.18 per year? No, this isn't a money grab at all.

     

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    sehlat (profile), Nov 23rd, 2011 @ 11:41am

    That's a nice brand you've got.

    Be a shame if anything happened to it.

     

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    PopeHilarius (profile), Nov 23rd, 2011 @ 11:55am

    Could be worse

    At least .xxx conceivably has some legitimate purposes. It'll be a real cashgrab and borderline shakedown when they start unveiling the new top level domains of .sucks, .crackdealer and .childmolester

     

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    STJ, Nov 23rd, 2011 @ 12:33pm

    Next year ICANN will come out with a new domain .COLA. Get your cola now or everyone will think you make soda.

     

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    New Mexico Mark, Nov 23rd, 2011 @ 12:45pm

    Moron in a hurry test?

    So which is worse, someone else registering coca-cola.xxx or finding out that Coke has a self-registered .xxx domain name? (For their company holiday party pictures?)

    It seems pretty obvious to me (and probably would to anyone but a moron in a hurry) that the vast majority of companies would never have or need a .xxx domain and that coca-cola.xxx is probably selling something other than sugar water.

    Of course if your business was selling "Pekker Protectors" (gloves for breeder hen house operators), it might be worthwhile to proactively register the .xxx domain as well!

     

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    Rich Kulawiec, Nov 23rd, 2011 @ 1:14pm

    It's ALWAYS been a shakedown

    As some of us have pointed out over and over and over again, there was never any actual need for the .xxx TLD. Porn sites are quite happy with their .com's, and with their investment in them. Non-porn sites have no reason to want a .xxx domain. Thus, there was never any demand for this.

    Which is why the demand had to be created, and that in turn is why the get-it-first-or-someone-else-will fear campaign had to be invented. Shame on the cowards, the weaklings, and the idiots who fell for it.

    The correct response is to cause .xxx to disappear from your view of the Internet. Using DNS RPZ, that's quite easy. (Although certainly another technical methods are also available; I blacklisted it in every mail server I run years ago, as a pre-emptive measure.)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 23rd, 2011 @ 1:35pm

    the real victims here...

    But aren't the real victims here the porn companies, who are unable to register potentially lucrative xxx domains (there are a ton of companies out their whose content or commercials and advertising slogans seem to very much invite pornographic parodies) because the domain-squatting actual companies, universities, etc. are buying up the names?

    Companies shouldn't even be allowed to buy these domains unless they will actually use them for porn (or "erotica", real-world sex advice, etc.) sites. There ought to be a way to stop these big companies from registering domains they won't use. I don't think there's any danger that a "moron in a hurry" will think that a disney.xxx porn site is actually endorsed in any way by Disney, so the trademark issue here ought to be non-existent in most cases.

     

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    Michael, Nov 23rd, 2011 @ 4:01pm

    Segregation is the first step in persecution/censorship

    Segregation is the first step in persecution/censorship. It's just an easy slippery slope to saying porn /must/ register under .xxx, and then to ban it entirely; etc.

    I could quite understand if any site or page which happened to contain porn and be marketed to or served from a given country's jurisdiction were required to add some kind of flag, maybe even just a specific keyword so that filtering software/content rating settings could ignore/remove it. However that would also be a customer /service/ as you could then search for it specifically.

     

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      nasch (profile), Nov 24th, 2011 @ 11:14am

      Re: Segregation is the first step in persecution/censorship

      It's just an easy slippery slope to saying porn /must/ register under .xxx, and then to ban it entirely; etc.

      Is somebody saying that?

       

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      Butcherer79 (profile), Nov 25th, 2011 @ 12:47am

      Re: Segregation is the first step in persecution/censorship

      "It's just an easy slippery slope"

      To be fair there are many different porn genres, you don't just have to focus on this one (focus being the operative word, it makes you go blind apparently)

       

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    Michael, Nov 23rd, 2011 @ 5:21pm

    Adult industry didn't want the .xxx tld

    I've been working in the adult industry for over 7 years. First as a designer. Later I started running my own sites. Over the years I have met a lot of people in the industry and never have I seen any kind of support for the .xxx tld. On the contrary. Since the idea of a .xxx tld first came up, adult webmasters, affiliates, content producers etc have been fighting against it.

    I think it's a disgrace that the .xxx tld eventually got approved (after being rejected several times). It is no coincidence that ex-ICANN officials that voted for the .xxx tld got jobs at ICMRegistry (the company behind the .xxx tld) and IFFOR (the nonprofit org founded to set guidelines for the .xxx tld). Most people who have been in the adult industry for more than 2 years all know the stories of how ICMRegistry representatives offered positions in IFFOR to industry insiders in an attempt to get their approval. It's even no secret that ICMRegistry offered the FreeSpeechCoalition money in exchange for support (ICMregistry offered to cut them in and give the a percentage of every .xxx registration fee).

     

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    DogBreath, Nov 23rd, 2011 @ 9:35pm

    The .xxx TLD is small potatos,

    when compared with what is sure to come when ICANN starts it's gTLD program next year.


    Originally proposed over two years ago, ICANN finally approved the plan for gTLDs in June. It would allow businesses to register their own top-level domains and act as registrars for them. The new gTLD system is set to launch in January.

    "Defensive registrations"

    Opponents of the gTLD program worry that it will allow anyone to claim virtually any word, whether it was generic or trademarked, and make it into a TLD. Jaffe says that the cost to businesses to protect their brands in new top-level domains could top a combined two million dollars per TLD over 10 years, and that new TLDs increase the threat of malicious sites using known brand names for malicious websites and other cyber attacks.

     

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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Nov 23rd, 2011 @ 11:10pm

    What A Difference A Dot Makes

    The original TLD distinction between .com, .org etc was a complete waste of time. There may be some usefulness to ccTLDs, but even there, some countries insist on imposing second-level groupings, e.g. .co.uk, .ac.uk which is also pointless.

    Let the top-level domain-name space be flat, so that anybody can register a top-level name just as easily (and cheaply) as they can get a .com one now, and be done with it. Let MegaCorp use the simple (completel) URL “http://megacorp” if they want, so they don’t to bother with “megacorp.com”, and also have to grab “megacorp.xxx” to forestall someone else getting it.

     

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      Butcherer79 (profile), Nov 24th, 2011 @ 1:33am

      Re: What A Difference A Dot Makes

      "Let MegaCorp use the simple (completel) URL “http://megacorp” if they want, so they don’t to bother with “megacorp.com”, and also have to grab “megacorp.xxx” to forestall someone else getting it."


      This would work, but only when a company has an exclusive name, two companies with the same name peddling in two different markets wouldn't be able to both register.

       

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        nasch (profile), Nov 24th, 2011 @ 1:31pm

        Re: Re: What A Difference A Dot Makes

        This would work, but only when a company has an exclusive name, two companies with the same name peddling in two different markets wouldn't be able to both register.

        That's the case with the system we have now, too. The bigger issue is that it's too late. There are already somename.com and somename.net registered to different people, so you can't collapse them into one namespace.

         

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        identicon
        Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Nov 24th, 2011 @ 5:39pm

        Re: What A Difference A Dot Makes

        Butcherer79:
        ... two companies with the same name peddling in two different markets wouldn't be able to both register.

        True that. But the present system isn’t divided along market lines anyway.

         

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Nov 24th, 2011 @ 5:58am

      Re: What A Difference A Dot Makes

      Unfortunately, your post reveals near-complete ignorance of the reasoning behind the domain name system. I suggest a lengthy course of remedial education, beginning with the first principles that you obviously fail to comprehend.

       

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        Butcherer79 (profile), Nov 25th, 2011 @ 12:50am

        Re: Re: What A Difference A Dot Makes

        "Unfortunately, your post reveals near-complete ignorance"

        If ignorance is bliss, there must be some VERY happy trolls around here...

         

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    PRK (profile), Nov 24th, 2011 @ 6:56am

    "As some of us have pointed out over and over and over again, there was never any actual need for the .xxx TLD. Porn sites are quite happy with their .com's, and with their investment in them. Non-porn sites have no reason to want a .xxx domain. Thus, there was never any demand for this"

    The same could be said for any innovative product or service (like the car, the shopping mall, the radio, etc). All of them disruptive what had previously existed. This is insufficient to prevent the innovation.

    As for defensive registrations, the same exists in every Tld (cokesucks.com, cokesucks.org, cokesucks.co.uk).

    Pricing is another issue and the monopolistic aspects of a registry (required from a technical side), gives credence to pricing at a reasonable cost+ level (like the old system with utilities).

    The difference here is that the registry has learned from the past and is pricing their registrations accordingly. Whether they are free to do so is another matter. I am reminded about litigation that was filed against ICANN and VeriSign over the pricing of .coms (guaranteed price increases, etc). That litigation was undertaken by the ICA, a non-profit organization promoting legitimate domain name use. Notwithstanding appeals for support, very little was contributed by the outside world to further the cause.

    The above notwithstanding, the complaints from the IP crowd are easily ignored. I remember the days of domain tasting. That system allowed you to test a domain to see if it had any traffic at all. If it did you kept it, If not it was dropped. It would have been a great thing for brand owners who could cheaply register every variation of their brand and then keep only those with traffic - pointing all of these "free" customers to their main site. Instead, they killed it and were left with chasing domains via the UDRP or litigation - both relative expensive in volume. They now complain that given the opportunity to avoid these alternatives is "also" too expensive. I am left with little sympathy.

    Those in the porn industry are complaining in the same vein - they want nothing but to defend their existing turf without cost.

    As for whether .xxx will be a good idea, the market will decide that - users will either use it or not. That is as it should be.

    My 2cents

     

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      nasch (profile), Nov 24th, 2011 @ 1:33pm

      Re:

      The same could be said for any innovative product or service (like the car, the shopping mall, the radio, etc). All of them disruptive what had previously existed. This is insufficient to prevent the innovation.

      Adding a new TLD bears little or no similarity to a disruptive technological innovation.


      As for whether .xxx will be a good idea, the market will decide that - users will either use it or not. That is as it should be.


      Are you actually suggesting that if people buy xxx domains, that will prove it is a good idea? Did you even read the article?

       

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    identicon
    Paul M, Nov 26th, 2011 @ 5:56am

    Opinions from a a pornographer:
    - I never wanted the .xxx tld.
    - I voted against it.
    - I have been lied to by ICM representatives (Lawley and Vaughn)
    - I don't trust the ICM or any of their representatives.
    - I have never met anyone in the industry that honestly thinks having a .xxx tld is a good idea.
    - Most adult B2B boards and sites have turned down advertising dollars from ICM because they know they will alienate their visitors is they display .xxx ads on their sites.
    - I'll crack open a bottle of champagne when ICM goes bankrupt.

     

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