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YouPorn owner arrested in tax evasion probe

Kevin Murphy, December 10, 2012, Domain Registries

YouPorn owner and regular ICM Registry antagonist Fabian Thylmann has reportedly been arrested in Belgium in connection with a German tax evasion investigation.

He was taken into custody at Brussels airport today under a warrant from the Cologne District Court, according to German daily Die Welt.

Thylmann is the owner — some say nominally so — of Manwin Licensing, the online porn empire behind brands such as YouPorn, Brazzers and, under license, Playboy.

Manwin sued ICANN and ICM late last year over the .xxx gTLD, saying it violates US antitrust laws, charges which are denied.

The company is also engaged in an ICANN Independent Review Panel procedure over the same issues.

ICM says that the lawsuit, and a related boycott, are merely attempts to disrupt its business. Thylmann, the company claims, offered to invest in ICM but was rebuffed.

According to Die Welt, Manwin’s German headquarters was raided last Tuesday as part of an ongoing tax evasion probe, which was spurred in part by the newspaper’s own investigation into the company.

Russian iTunes Store infiltrated by .xxx banners after snafu [NSFW]

Kevin Murphy, December 5, 2012, Domain Registries

Russian iTunes users reportedly got a shock today when they discovered masses of sexually explicit content from the .xxx gTLD in their iTunes Store.

According to local reports, attempts to visit a part of the store dedicated to foreign movies displayed a bunch of banner ads for .xxx web sites instead of the expected content.

Digging a little deeper, it appears that the images were being drawn directly from xxx.xxx, a promotional directory site owned and managed by ICM Registry, the .xxx registry.

Speculation in the Apple blogs is that an iTunes Store developer inadvertently typed “xxx.xxx” somewhere as a placeholder URL, not realizing that .xxx is actually a live TLD.

There’s a lesson here for new gTLD registries somewhere, I’m sure.

ICM has already sold $200k of premium .xxx names

Kevin Murphy, November 14, 2012, Domain Sales

Contrary to some reports, ICM Registry has in fact already seen several sales of premium names from its recently published buy-it-now price list.

Judging by the changes to the list since it was revealed three weeks ago, at least eight domains have been sold for a total of $55,755.

Two new domains — trannyporn.xxx and trannys.xxx — have been added to the list, and a handful of others have had their prices increased, by a total value of $73,820.

These are the domains we’ve managed to establish were sold, along with their original list prices:

888.xxx ($1,320)
bet.xxx ($3,465)
celebrities.xxx ($15,015)
ddd.xxx ($330)
freeliveporn.xxx ($330)
massage.xxx ($18,810)
moms.xxx ($15,000)
own.xxx ($1,485)

Some domains appear to have been repriced, adding almost $74,000 to the total value of the $7.7 million pot. For example, highdefinition.xxx is now listed at $19,000, up from $2,500.

According to ICM, not all of the sold domains have been removed from the published list yet. President Stuart Lawley said a total of over $200,000 has been taken so far.

ICM came in for a bit of criticism from one early .xxx adopter last month, when six-figure investor Mike Berkens accused the company of damaging the TLD by capping prices too early.

There are still over 1,000 available names on the list.

ICM to intro sponsored search results with $75 credit for registrants

Kevin Murphy, November 2, 2012, Domain Registries

Tearing several chapters out of the Google playbook, ICM Registry is to introduce a sponsored search placement service for .xxx registrants, along with a substantial introductory credit.

The company will give each registrant a $75-per-domain credit against its forthcoming search platform, which in many cases will completely offset the cost of their .xxx domain.

As has been pointed out elsewhere, it’s the AdWords model for porn, following on from the recent launch of search.xxx, which ICM says has already had more than 12 million page views.

The ad system is expected to roll out in “early 2013”, but ICM has launched the credits incentive now in order to get early registrants to renew their domain names.

The vast majority of .xxx’s roughly 140,000 registrations occurred during its first two months of general availability and will be coming up for renewal in December and January.

That said, ICM had said even prior to this announcement that its early renewals were looking promising.

The ad credit will apply to all .xxx domains renewed or registered before January 31, 2013, ICM said in a press release.

The company has long talked about its plans for generating advertising and micropayment-based revenue. Over the long term, selling domains may prove to be a small part of its business.

ICM puts $7.7 million of .xxx domains up for sale

Kevin Murphy, October 24, 2012, Domain Sales

Having already sold over $5 million worth of premium .xxx domains names, ICM Registry is putting another 1,000 names on the market, with a total purchase price of over $7.7 million.

Unusually for registry-reserved names, which usually end up at auction, all of the names are priced to sell.

Prices range from $220,000 for girls.xxx to $330 for provide.xxx.

Along with the full list of available names, ICM has also published some rough guides to likely traffic, based on its data gleaned from running search.xxx for the last few weeks.

A “Search Rank” stat ranks the popularity of the relevant keyword in search.xxx queries, while “Traffic Rank” divides the list into five categories by likely traffic volume.

ICM privately sold about $4 million of premium .xxx domains during its pre-launch Founders Program. Domainer Frank Schilling is believed to have invested seven figures.

Its biggest single sale to date is believed to be gay.xxx, which was snapped up for $500,000 last year.

ICM CEO Stuart Lawley told DI that the company still has about 500 premium names — including cams.xxx and tube.xxx — held in reserve to be released at a later date.