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ICM makes $4m from .xxx Founders

Kevin Murphy, August 8, 2011, Domain Registries

ICM Registry made just shy of $4 million from its Founders Program, which allocated premium .xxx domain names to porn webmasters.

As Elliot’s Blog reported, uber-domainer Frank Schilling’s Name Administration has picked up 33 .xxx domains for a seven-figure sum.

Schilling got his hands on the likes of amateur.xxx, asian.xxx, hardcore.xxx, hot.xxx, porno.xxx and many other “super premiums” domains.

He said in a statement provided by ICM:

I believe that .XXX, unlike many other new TLDs, offers SLD registrants the opportunity for long term type-in traffic. Many people navigate in a way that suggests they believe .XXX existed all along. Few strings other than .XXX share this attribute.

ICM president Stuart Lawley said that .xxx was a popular type-in TLD long before it even existed on the internet. Apparently the non-existent .web is also pretty good for traffic.

While on the face of it selling these super-premiums to a domainer may look like ICM shirking its duties to its sponsored community, Schilling like all .xxx Founders has committed to develop web sites at all of his .xxx names – the domains are not for flipping.

ICM says it has allocated some 1,500 domains to 35 registrants under the Founders Program.

Beate-Uhse, Germany’s biggest adult retailer, has picked up kostenlos.xxx (“free”) among others.

Channel 1 Releasing, a Californian gay porn publisher, has grabbed several domains related to its niche, such as muscle.xxx and jock.xxx.

I understand one UK company has also decided to rebrand its entire stable around the .xxx extension.

While many domains sold for six figures, not all Founders paid big bucks – many got their names for the standard registration fee in exchange for their development commitments.

.xxx reveals new gTLD support problems

Kevin Murphy, August 5, 2011, Domain Tech

It’s late 2012. You’ve spent your $185,000, fought your way through objections, won your contention set, and proved to ICANN that you’re technically and financially capable of running a new generic top-level domain.

The registry contracts have been signed. But will your gTLD actually work?

The experiences of .xxx manager ICM Registry lately suggest that a certain amount of outreach will be needed before new gTLDs receive universal support in applications.

I’ve encountered three examples over the last few days of .xxx domain names not functioning as expected in certain apps. I expect there will be many more.

Skype. Type http://casting.com into a chat window and Skype will automatically make the link clickable. Do the same for the .xxx equivalent, and it does not.

Android, the Google mobile platform. I haven’t tested this, but according to Francesco Cetaro on Twitter, unless you manually type the http:// the domain doesn’t resolve.

TweetDeck, now owned by Twitter. It doesn’t auto-link or auto-shorten .xxx domains either, not even if you include the http:// prefix.

This problem is well known from previous new gTLD rounds. ICANN even warns applicants about it in the Applicant Guidebook, stating:

All applicants should be aware that approval of an application and entry into a registry agreement with ICANN do not guarantee that a new gTLD will immediately function throughout the Internet. Past experience indicates that network operators may not immediately fully support new top-level domains, even when these domains have been delegated in the DNS root zone, since third-party software modification may be required and may not happen immediately.

Similarly, software applications sometimes attempt to validate domain names and may not recognize new or unknown top-level domains.

As a 10-year .info registrant, I can confirm that some web sites will still sometimes reject email addresses at .info domains.

Sometimes this is due to outdated validation scripts assuming no TLD is longer than three characters. Sometimes, it’s because the webmaster sees so much spam from .info he bans the whole TLD.

This is far less of an issue that it was five or six years ago, due in part to Afilias’s outreach, but just this week I found myself unable to sign up at a certain phpBB forum using my .info address.

I understand ICM has also been reaching out to affected app developers recently to make them aware that .xxx now exists in the root and has resolvable domains.

ICANN also has released code in C#, Java, Perl, and Python (though not, annoyingly, PHP) that it says can be easily dropped into source in order to validate TLDs against the live root.

The last beta was released in 2007. I’m not sure whether it’s still under development.

(UPDATE: CentralNic CTO Gavin Brown has knocked up a PHP implementation here.)

Is 80% of .xxx going to be defensive?

Kevin Murphy, August 4, 2011, Domain Registries

Is the new adults-only top-level domain going to turn out to be just as big of a trademark shakedown as some had feared?

EasySpace, a British domain name registrar, claims that 80% of its .xxx pre-orders are from organizations outside the porn industry.

“Out of the hundreds of businesses that have rushed to pre-register with Easyspace ahead of the opening of the Sunrise phase for .XXX domains on 7 September 2011, only 20% of them are from the adult industry,” the company said in a press release.

EasySpace is just one rather small registrar, of course, and its marketing of .xxx is very much in the “Protect your brand” camp, so its numbers may not necessarily hold up industry-wide.

The company is charging $189.99 ($310) for non-porn defensive registrations, an almost 100% markup on the registry fee.

Still, 80% is a big number, and likely to be used by critics not only of .xxx but of new TLDs in general.

ICM gives away .xxx domains to porn stars (video)

It seems that pretty much every time I’ve written about .xxx over the last five or six years the article has been mentioned, or focussed on, how the porn business hates it.

For a change, here’s a shameless propaganda video (possibly NSFW) that ICM Registry produced during a recent, evidently quite boozy, party at Platinum Lace, a strip joint in London.

Context: ICM was sponsoring the party.

The people heard supporting .xxx are either porn actresses who’ve just been given their .xxx domains, employees of the Paul Raymond stable of top-shelf men’s magazines, or domain registrars.

One of the interviewers is “Mario”, a Z-lister known for being annoying on the TV show Big Brother last year. I figured his 15 minutes were already up, but I guess not.

The other is ICM’s sales director Vaughn Liley. He’s the one who starts interviews with the question “So, do you think .xxx will be good for the industry, or great?”

Watch out, David Frost.

Also seen posing, though not speaking, is Ben Dover, pretty much the only mainstream-famous porn video producer ever to come out of the UK.

CNN asks: Will .xxx domains cost $185,000?

If you’ve ever doubted what a rarefied world we work in, check out this new CNN interview with ICM Registry, which confusingly conflates .xxx with ICANN’s new top-level domains program.

Anchor Pauline Chiou uses the approval of new gTLD program as a segue into a brief interview with ICM president Stuart Lawley about the forthcoming .xxx sunrise period.

“If they want to apply for this one-time block do they have to pay this $185,000?” she asks

She goes on to press Lawley into launching a defense of ICANN’s program that I doubt he was expecting.

You’ll notice that Chiou also refers to ICANN as the “Internet Corporation for Assigned Names” and flatteringly describes it as “the group that oversees the development of the internet”.

For a casual viewer, it would be fairly easy to come away from this interview assuming Lawley works for ICANN, and that .xxx domains could cost $185,000.