.XXX Shakedown: Why Everyone Hates the New TLD

07/18/2011 1:52 PM |

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Starting September 7th, the ICM Registry will begin the “sunrise period” for the new .xxx domain, and boy are people not happy about it. The idea, originally, was to provide a specific top-level domain, or TLD, for porn.Though it is a voluntary thing—porn providers weren’t going to be kicked off of .com or anything—the idea was that people who didn’t want porn could easily filter out .xxx addresses, while people who did want porn could easily find it by typing in any noun followed by .xxx.

What sort of makes sense as an idea has become, in practice, a complete shitshow. The problem is two-fold. First off, porn sites hate it because it means they have to pay to register a slew of new domain names. Anyone who has spent years building up a brand at tittyboobs.com or whatever now has to pay an additional $60 a year per site so that they can have tittyboobs.xxx, or risk having some joker with inferior boob jpegs come around and infringe their trademark. This will be addressed in what is known as Sunrise A. For 52 days, starting September 7, “trademark owners and other IP holders can apply for .XXX domain names.” So basically, you get first dibs on the privilege of paying for the .xxx version of a website you already own in another domain.

It should come as a surprise to nobody businesses are not pleased about paying extra money for something offers them little benefit. Plus, as sex and tech writer Violet Blue points out in this long writeup of a recent Q & A about the new domain, .xxx might be blocked in countries like India, Australia, or even here.

When queried about potential U.S. legislation around .XXX, Liley basically said it was someone else’s job to do any talking with legislators. This did little to reassure a business that deals with opportunities of legislation on a regular basis that tries to restrict their businesses, and a TLD that has already been suggested for censorship in Congress.

Not to mention that .xxx might not even be indexed by Google, basically making it completely useless for the largest source of traffic for many, many sites. Violet Blue again:

An SEO-minded attendee asked Liley if ICM had talked to Google and Bing about .XXX indexing.

Liley responded like a company man. “We did talk to them and we are launching our own dot-XXX search engine. They did not say they would not index us, but we feel that independence is important.”

In my mind that if ICM is doing its own search engine for .XXX then that means no, Dorothy: your site ain’t getting indexed in Kansas (by Google, anyway).

The other pissed off group of people is holders of non-porn trademarks who don’t exactly want a .xxx version of their site floating around, mucking up their brand identity with disney.xxx or what-have-you. Thus, Sunrise B. Also starting September 7, anyone who wants to block a .xxx version of their url being sold can register to have theirbrand.xxx permanently disabled—for a fee, of course. The scuttlebutt is that it’s going be in the neighborhood of $650 per url to block your domain. Which sounds sort of exactly like a shakedown? Plus, if you miss the 52-day sunrise period, tough shit, basically:

Liley responded with a glib referral to the sunrise period saying that “If you want to buy the domain the sunrise is in place for trademark owners and if you miss that, you miss your opportunity.”

But so what if the same domain is submitted by both a Sunrise A person—a porn site wanting an url—and a Sunrise B person—a non-porn site wanting to block the .xxx version of their site? According to an article today in PC World,

However if both Sunrise A and Sunrise B applicants want the same domain name, priority will be given to the qualified Sunrise A applicant to register the domain name, ICM said. The Sunrise A applicant will have received notice of Sunrise B applicant’s interest in the domain name and cannot claim lack of notice in any subsequent dispute between Sunrise A and Sunrise B applicants, it added.

It’s getting easy to see why both the adult industry and the non-adult industry are unhappy with how this is going down, no? Everybody pays, nobody really gets a whole lot. Unfortunately, this is just the beginning. ICANN has decided to allow any-old-body to buy any domain extension they want. Violet Blue again:

ICANN’s board recently voted to increase the number of Internet domain name endings—generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs)—from the current 22 to a unlimited number of new Top Level Domains. The vanity extensions could range from .apple to .zynga.

So basically, if you are the current holder of an url, get ready to either pay through the nose or risk having squatters buying up alternate domain versions of your trademark. Alternately, if you want to make sure to get the .xxx version of yourname.com, better get cracking. General registration starts December 6th, and ICM at least would have you believe that they’re going to go fast.