ICM Registry is to see its .xxx ICANN registry fees hugely reduced in contractual amendments approved by ICANN last week.
The changes also mean that .xxx will now become subject to the Uniform Rapid Suspension anti-cybersquatting mechanism, despite it being a pre-2012 gTLD.
.xxx becomes the latest pre-2012 gTLD to move to a contract more closely aligned with the standard Registry Agreement from the new gTLD program.
Under the complex new deal, its per-transaction fee could be reduced from $2 to $0.25 by mid-2018.
Its quarterly fixed fee will go up from $2,500 to $6,250.
ICM has also agreed to take on many aspects of the standard new gTLD Registry Agreement, the most controversial of which is the URS.
The domainer group the Internet Commerce Association was fiercely critical of this addition to the contract, as it has been when URS was brought to .jobs, .travel, .cat, .pro and .mobi.
ICA is largely concerned that URS will also be pushed upon Verisign’s .net, which is up for contract renewal this year, and eventually .com.
ICM Registry has negotiated lower ICANN transaction fees as part of a broad amendment to its Registry Agreement that also includes new trademark protection measures.
The company’s uniquely high $2 per-transaction fee could be reduced to the industry standard $0.25 by mid-2018.
As part of the renegotiated contract, ICM has also agreed to impose the Uniform Rapid Suspension policy on its registrants.
URS is the faster, cheaper version of UDRP that allows trademark owners to have domain names suspended in more clear-cut cases of cybersquatting.
The $2 fee was demanded by ICANN when ICM first signed its RA in 2011.
At the time, ICANN said the higher fee, which had doubled from a 2010 draft of the contract, was to “account for anticipated risks and compliance activities”.
The organization seemed to have bought into the fears that .xxx would lead to widespread misuse — something that has noticeably failed to materialize — and was expecting higher legal costs as a result.
The companion TLDs .adult, .porn and .sex, all also managed by ICM, only pay $0.25 per transaction.
The overall effects on registrants, ICANN and ICM will likely be relatively trivial.
With .xxx holding at roughly 170,000 domains and a minimal amount of inter-registrar transfer activity, ICM seems to be paying ICANN under $400,000 a year in transaction fees at the moment.
Its registry fee is usually $62, though a substantial number of domains have been sold at lower promotional pricing, so the cost to registrants is not likely to change a great deal.
The reduction to $0.25 would have to be carried out in stages, with the earliest coming this quarter, and be reliant on ICM keeping a clean sheet with regards contract compliance.
Under the deal, ICM has agreed to adopt many of the provisions of the standard Registry Agreement for 2012-round gTLDs.
One of those is the URS, which may cause consternation among domainers fearful that the rights protection mechanism may one day also find its way into the .com registry contract.
ICM has also agreed to implement its existing policies on, for example, child abuse material prevention, into the contract as Public Interest Commitments.
The RA amendment is currently open for public comment at ICANN.
ICM Registry has added over 1,200 two-character .xxx names to its catalog of priced premiums.
With prices ranging from $100,000 to $37,500, the newly offered domains carry a total ticket price of over $46 million.
The only six-figure name on the list is vr.xxx. ICM said in a press release today it has already sold vr.porn and vr.sex for $100,000 apiece.
There are seven names with adult connotations (such as 69.xxx and bj.xxx) priced at $75,000, eight more at $50,000 and two at $40,000.
The rest of the list of 1,227 names are being offered at $37,500, which is roughly 10 times the prices on the equivalent .porn, .sex and .adult domains.
While ICM noted the interest in domain investing from China recently, it does not appear to have valued its numeric-only domains (such as 88.xxx) any more highly than less attractive-looking combinations (such as 0o.xxx).
Judging by the list published on ICM’s web site, it has already sold well over 300 two-character domains in its newest three gTLDs.
Had those sold at the buy-now prices it would have raised over $1.1 million in revenue.
But ICM since September has been offering an option to register premium names for premium annual fees that are lower than the one-off price. A $37,500 domain costs $3,000 a year to register, under this model.
The total value of ICM’s premium list, including all the longer domains, is roughly $115 million.
If we’ve learned one thing about new gTLD sunrise periods, it’s that adult-oriented TLDs sell quite well.
ICM Registry started its third such period yesterday, as .sex went into its “TMCH Sunrise” phase.
Until October 1, any company with a trademark in the Trademark Clearinghouse will be able to buy a matching .sex domain on a first-come, first-served basis.
From October 5 to October 30, anyone with a .xxx domain name or current .xxx “Sunrise B” block will be able to buy the matching .sex during the Domain Matching phase.
Anyone who buys a .xxx before October 1 will be able to participate in this second sunrise.
ICM reported in May that .porn received 3,995 sunrise registrations while .adult sold 3,902 — both via a combination of TMCH Sunrise sales and blocks.
At ICM’s prices, that’s enough to comfortably cover its ICANN application fees.
Every other new gTLD with the exception of .sucks has sold fewer than 1,000 sunrise names.
General availability for .sex starts November 4.
ICM Registry has recovered nine .porn and .adult domain names from their registrants after they were accidentally released into the market.
Domains such as ads.porn, hosting.adult and buy.porn were among those snapped up by registrants, despite the fact that they were supposed to be registry-reserved.
ICM CEO Stuart Lawley told DI that a list of 68 .porn/.adult names (34 strings in each of the two gTLDs) have been brought back into the registry’s portfolio.
Only nine had been registered in the less than 24 hours the names were in the available pool, he said.
Lawley said it was his own personal fault for not sending the reserved list to back-end provider Afilias.
The affected registrants have been offered a domain from ICM’s premium list up to the value of $2,500 for each of the names ICM took back, he said.
Only one registrant has so far declined the offer, Lawley said.
Konstantinos Zournas of OnlineDomain, who broke the news about ads.porn yesterday, identifies this former registrant as “James” and reported that he is taking legal advice.
This is not the first time that a registry has accidentally released reserved names into the pool, where they were subsequently snapped up by domainers.
In January, .CLUB Domains accidentally sold credit.club, a name it had planned to keep on its premium reserved list for $200,000, for $10.99.
In that case, .CLUB honored the purchase after the buyer agreed to develop the site, scoring many brownie points in the domain investor community.
Both .CLUB and ICM have terms in their agreements allowing domains accidentally released to be recovered.
In ICM’s case, the names it accidentally released were not premiums, but rather domains that the registry plans to use as part of its own business — not to be sold at any price.
It used buy.xxx as a cornerstone of its .xxx marketing, for example, and it plans to use buy.porn and buy.adult for the exact same purpose.