opinion

If There’s a .XXX Elephant in the Room, Shoot It

Diane Duke

Okay, it may be a slight overstatement to say that .XXX was the elephant in the room at last week’s XBIZ Summit held in Chicago. The adult online “sponsored” Top Level Domain was represented by IFFOR Board Executive Director Dr. Joan Irvine and ICM Registry’s Vaughn Liley, but the only other visible presence of the .XXX was on FSC postcards, calling for opposition to the domain.

Just days before the XBIZ show, however, the latest registrar to announce it will be selling .XXX addresses is GoDaddy – the company that recently received lots of media attention when its CEO Bob Parsons shot a “nuisance” elephant in Zimbabwe and then put a video of the kill up on YouTube. With Peta in an uproar and animal activists everywhere disgusted by his actions, Parsons explained that the hunt was justified because the elephant was destroying locals’ crops – so instead of giving them money to put up a fence or otherwise financially contribute to the villagers, Parsons gave them GoDaddy hats and allowed them to hack up the elephant for food, which he also documented on video.

Whatever your personal feelings on hunting or animal rights, what’s really important is the attitude of corporate imperialism on display here. GoDaddy was a supporter of .XXX from early on in the approval process – though its safe to say they were not actively pursuing adult online business prior to the concept of creating an adult online ghetto. In fact, many industry members might agree that adult businesses hosted at GoDaddy find dealing with their customer service and email service policies somewhat problematic.

.XXX has now addressed any issues GoDaddy may have had with adult online business, and part of that $70 annual fee for a .XXX address will go to fund further humanitarian efforts by Bwana Parsons to rid the world of annoying animals that threaten to crowd out human populations in third world countries.

Meantime, in other .XXX news…

Mainstream companies are now being clued in by attorneys and brand managers that if they want to avoid their brands being squatted on, they can pay for blocking for anywhere from $150 to $300 per address. Trademark attorney Steve Abreu, in AdAge Magazine, tells rights owners to “expect shenanigans” with the new domain. DomainNameWire.com said registries will “get a windfall” during the blocking period, but that brand owners may have only 30 days to plan their protection strategy. Law firm Allens Arthur Robinson warned its clients against “.XXX brand-jackers.” TGDaily.com quoted blocking fees at somewhere between $75 to $650 per address, and added speculation that large mainstream companies may end up spending more than $100,000 to defend their brands. Adult brand owners may pay up to $300 to reserve .XXX addresses they already established in the .com domain.

Companies all over the world must be thrilled at the prospect of having to spend money they didn’t have to spend before, in order to protect their brands – all we can say is, don’t blame the adult online industry. Call up ICANN and ask them how this happened.

Looks like the U.S, government already has. During the XBIZ Chicago show, the government announced a “further notice of inquiry,” signaling an overhaul of the IANA contract that is currently overseen by ICANN (and expires in September), dealing with ICANN’s implementation of policies for Top Level Domains. With the anticipated approval of specific gTLDs – like .sex or .porn – maybe companies like Disney can get around .XXX by purchasing the right to use .disney?

It’s a good time to be a registrar, apparently, while online business owners and content producers struggle to contend with a rapidly changing Internet landscape.

Back on terra firma, India promised to block .XXX less than five days after ICANN’s approval. Kenya quickly followed suit, stating that the domain would make it easier for children to find adult material online (see if Parsons shoots any elephants for them). It was revealed that Euro Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neeli Kroes had asked the U.S. Dept of Commerce to delay the addition of .XXX to the root system after it was approved by ICANN.

Singapore quietly announced the other day that it will actually allow .XXX – the country where, coincidentally, ICANN will be holding its Public Meeting this month, June 19-24.

Elsewhere – Turkey has said that it will block online adult websites; other Middle Eastern countries will not be far behind. China is likely to be pleased with the launch of .XXX so that they can systematically block adult sites instead of censoring websites  ”by hand,” as they have been doing for years now.

FSC leads opposition to the .XXX domain. It’s a bad idea for the Internet and adult webmasters, happening at the worst time possible for many online businesses. We urge adult businesses to STAY .COM – say NO to .XXX, and save an elephant. -jc

(Graphic courtesy of Michael Whiteacre)

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