If .xxx wasn't enough to stir up Internet controversy, then ICM Registry's latest Web domain ideas surely will: .porn, .adult and .sex.
ICM Registry, which operates the .xxx sponsored top-level domain (sTLD) registry, is looking to snag a few more Web domains in the upcoming expansion of the Internet's generic top-level domains (gTLDs) in order to hold its dominance in the adult sector of the Web.
ICM may have some competitors for .sex, .adult and .porn though. There could be other applicants looking to possess the same Web domains, but ICM CEO Stuart Lawley said his company is ready to fight until the end for the three new domains.
"We've been very careful and responsible in what we did with .xxx, and we don't want someone to take over what we've done as the incumbent," said Lawley. "We're trying to produce clearly identified content that doesn't confuse consumers."
The .xxx domain was first proposed in 2000 by ICM as a voluntary option for pornographic sites on the Internet. It faced strong criticism from many politicians and conservative groups, but was resubmitted in 2004. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Board finally approved the sTLD on March 18, 2011, and it went into operation on April 15, 2011. Companies then paid $200 to $300 for preregistered domain names (it's then about $100 a year for a .xxx site), and .xxx officially launched in December.
ICM took a lot of heat, but developed its own set of standards for such a domain, such as daily malware scanning of its sites, bans on illegal content like child pornography, and trademark dispute practices.
With such a firm handle on the Internet porn domain business, ICM wants to keep that position by purchasing .sex, .porn and .adult. Lawley said ICM isn't even doing it for money, but rather for protection.
"It's not a profit center for us -- it's more of a defensive block," said Lawley. "A lot of our customers have said they don't want these names to be created. But if they are -- and there's no guarantee they will be -- we feel we'd be a suitable custodian and do this in a responsible way."
Those with a .xxx site will be grandfathered into the .adult, .sex and .porn domains. So if a company owns a .xxx domain, they will automatically receive reserved .porn, .adult and .sex domains for their site as well -- for a fee. This prevents issues like cybersquatters, which register domain names of large businesses like Coca-Cola and Apple, for instance, before the actual companies have a chance to buy them. These large businesses are at the mercy of the cybersquatter who beat them to the punch, and the result could be a hefty ransom and legal battles. For instance, non-pornographic companies like MTV Networks, VH1, Comedy Central and Budget Travel preregistered at least one .xxx domain name to save themselves the trouble.
Those without a .xxx domain can also choose to only sign up for a .sex, .adult or .porn domain, but the fees will greater and they will have to pay for each separately. However, Lawley doesn't see many companies signing up for just a .sex domain, for example. He also believes only a fraction of the .xxx users will cross over to the .sex, .porn or .adult domains.
ICM will find out if it has any competitors for .sex, .adult or .porn on June 13, which is when the full list of applicants will be revealed. If there are other applicants looking to grab any of the three, ICM and that applicant can try to settle the dispute amongst themselves. If an agreement cannot be reached, the domain goes up for auction and could cost the winner an extravagant amount of money.