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Why .xxx will be domainer-friendly (and why it won’t)

Kevin Murphy, August 26, 2010, 14:29:11 (UTC), Domain Registries

The proposed .xxx top-level domain may be “sponsored”, but the restrictions on who will be able to register names are so loose that pretty much anybody, including domainers, will be able to register one.

I’ve now had time to dig through the mountain of documents that ICANN published earlier this week. I’m submitting something to The Register later today, but I thought I’d first look here at the domaining angle.

First, the bad news: .xxx domains won’t be cheap.

ICM Registry, which wants to run the TLD, plans to charge $60 per year, and that’s just the registry fee.

That’s a lot of money to recoup if you’re planning to park a domain, so it’s likely that much of the value of .xxx for domainers will be in development and resale.

The proposed contract does suggest, and ICM president Stuart Lawley is on record as saying, that the price of registrations could eventually come down. Whether that would include renewals remains to be seen.

Now for the good news: you won’t actually have to be a pornographer to register a .xxx domain.

It’s true that .xxx is ostensibly restricted to members of the adult entertainment community, but the definition also includes companies that supply products and services to the industry.

According to Lawley, flipping domain names falls into that category.

So, if you register a nice .xxx in order to sell it later to an actual pornographer, you’re technically part of the .xxx Sponsored Community. Congratulations, you’re in the adult business.

Parking .xxx domains will also be possible, and it doesn’t look like parking companies will need to make any changes in order to support the TLD.

It’s true that all .xxx sites will have to be “labelled” as porn, but that doesn’t mean, as I initially thought, that all .xxx web sites, including the parked ones, will have to slap a logo on their pages.

Lawley says that ICM will handle all the labelling transparently at the registry end, using a W3C standard called POWDER. Apparently this is doable without touching anybody’s HTML.

Of course, getting hold of a prime piece of .xxx real estate at launch will not be easy.

Anybody with designs on a geo .xxx domain is out of luck. ICANN will reserve all place names, and two-letter domains are banned, due to potential confusion with country codes.

But single-letter domains will be possible. The provision that banned it has been deleted from the new contract.

ICM plans to auction some premium names. It may even reserve some names, such as movie.xxx, in order to offer registrations at the third level.

An additional barrier is that roughly 9,400 people have already “pre-reserved” about 176,000 names (an average of 18 each). That’s about as many words as there are in the English language by some counts.

Quite how these reservations will be handled isn’t spelled out in detail in the contract, as far as I can tell.

The .xxx TLD is still in the application phase, of course, and there are ways it could still fail. If the contract is ultimately signed, general availability is expected seven months later.

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Comments (3)

  1. Just a little clarification on the pre-reservation service.

    No-one has missed out on anything and the service is still up and running. It is Free of Charge to use and carries no obligation to buy.

    Essentially is a “grandfathering” scheme to allow current owners of adult .coms , .nets and .co.uk’s etc to get preferential treatment to be first in line for the .xxx equivalent.

    if there is more than one “qualified and verified” requester and their ownership of the .com/net whatever has been verified, we then have a tie-break to award the .xxx, probably a closed mini-auction.

    Likewise adult industry members are able to submit “expressions of interest” for strings they would like but dont already own the same string in another TLD. Again, if its not allocated via the pre-owned grandfathering system and they are the only ones in line-bingo they get it, if more than one application in wish list basket then off to mini-auction.

    Of the 176,000 total so far about half are pre-owned and half wish list.

    Also just under half (48%) to be precise of applicants who have entered names in the “pre-owned” basket have also entered names into the “wish list” basket, clearly demonstrating these are not just defensive pre-reservations.

    A full FAQ on the service is available at http://domains.icmregistry.com/faq.html

  2. [...] adult entertainment industry”, the industry is self-defining, and president Stuart Lawley has previously stated that flipping porn domain names counts as an industry [...]

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