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IFFOR targets new gTLDs with policy service

Kevin Murphy, February 1, 2013, Domain Policy

The International Foundation For Online Responsibility, which sets policy for .xxx, wants to broaden its scope and is to launch a “Policy Engine” service for new gTLD registries.

Kieren McCarthy, who has been working for IFFOR as its public participation manager for the last year, has been tapped to lead the organization too, taking over from Joan Irvine as executive director in April.

IFFOR is the sponsoring organization for .xxx, independent but created by registry manager ICM Registry as a way to demonstrate to ICANN that it planned to operate the porn gTLD responsibly.

It’s kept a bit of a low profile since .xxx launched, only emerging to distribute some small grants to worthy causes, but McCarthy says that it’s built up substantial policy-making and compliance expertise.

Now, it wants to let new gTLD registries outsource these functions to it.

“Broadly, the Policy Engine service lets gTLD applicants outsource their policy issues to an independent body,” McCarthy said.

IFFOR reckons plenty of new gTLDs will want such services, especially given the increased interest from governments in how new gTLDs are operated.

As the organization is currently set up to deal only with .xxx — it’s funded $10 a year from every .xxx sold — only three of its nine-member Policy Council are not members of the adult entertainment industry or connected to ICM.

Additionally, ICM’s general counsel is on its three-member board of directors.

But McCarthy said that the Policy Council, which also has substantial expertise in privacy, child protection and free speech issues, usually uses sub-groups to come up with its policies.

“The majority of what we do is applicable across any top-level domain,” he said.

McCarthy is the former journalist and ICANN staffer, current CEO of .nxt. When he takes over from Irvine in April, she is expected to stay around as a consultant.

ICM seizes on Google’s porn algorithm change

Kevin Murphy, December 14, 2012, Domain Registries

Grasping the opportunity for a bit of easy publicity, ICM Registry has seized upon a recent Google algorithm change to promote its .xxx gTLD’s brand.

It was reported earlier this week that Google has made it harder to accidentally stumble across sexually explicit imagery in Google Images by making its Safe Search filtering mandatory in the US.

The company defended itself from cries of censorship by pointing out that porn could still be found, as long as you are a bit more “explicit” about what it is you’re looking for, telling CNet:

If you’re looking for adult content, you can find it without having to change the default setting — you just may need to be more explicit in your query if your search terms are potentially ambiguous.

Now ICM is plugging .xxx as a “workaround” to this problem, saying in a press release today:

one can simply type a description of whatever porn one wants into any search bar followed by the letters “XXX.” Results are instant and on target. For example, if one is looking for adult content that includes a mainstream generic word like “Toys,” simply enter the search term “Toys XXX” and problem solved.

ZDNet gave similar advice in an article this week, and ICM says that traffic to its own search engine, search.xxx, saw a 50% spike in the last 24 hours as a result.

Could this be a portent for changes in user search behavior in the age of niche new gTLDs?

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.