opinion

FSC’s Diane Duke Debates ICM Registry CEO Stuart Lawley

Diane Duke

.XXX: Special Debate at XBIZ EU Conference from XBIZ on Vimeo.

In September, FSC Executive Director Diane Duke debated ICM Registry CEO Stuart Lawley on the topic of .XXX, which was approved by ICANN in March after ten years of opposition from the adult industry. The debate, which was a featured event at the inaugural XBIZ EU Summit held in London, was lively.

The audience seems very vocal in support of Duke’s assertions, pulled up one-by-one, from ICM’s own documents, including contracts, by-laws and assorted fine print. Lawley also is quite vocal, and repeatedly points out that Duke is “misinformed” and “mistaken,” in spite of noted documentation. Reading all that paperwork is time-consuming; just last week, registrar EnCirca revealed that up to 50 percent of applications received during the initial .XXX “Sunrise” period were filed with errors. Better read those directions carefully.

When asked how many .XXX domains have been registered defensively (by mainstream and adult businesses that wish to block their trademarks from being infringed upon), Lawley was unsure, but confirmed that sales had exceeded ICM’s expectations. More precisely, Lawley said he didn’t know the exact number because he’s “a busy man.”

Asked why the .XXX domains are so expensive – compared to a .com or .net – Lawley pointed out that other specialized domains also charge increased prices for addresses, e.g., .info, .travel and .mobi. In fact, Lawley cited the other specialized TLDs several times during the discussion.

So, when was the last time you went to a .travel site? Maybe .travel should get a racing boat, because people that like to travel also like boats, right? Hey, wealthy people like speed boats, too – and they probably wouldn’t mind owning some .XXX real estate, right?

According to Lawley, webmasters will benefit from the $20 million in marketing that ICM is going to spend, in the first year (does that include the price tag on Miss .XXX, and what it costs to maintain her with a racing crew?). The ads will be aimed at all the porn-curious consumers out there that have been afraid to visit an adult site for the last 15 years, until .XXX created the new “kinder, gentler porn.”Also, speed boat racing fans.

Lawley has previously been quoted as saying that the reputation of the adult industry has been “tarnished” with consumers. What he doesn’t understand is that “tarnished” is what drives adult entertainment. It’s supposed to be naughty, edgy and taboo. That’s why conservatives hate it; because pornography is, by its nature, a little subversive.

Part of the promotion campaign, according to Lawley, will be ads on media outlets that weren’t approachable prior to .XXX. He pointed out ESPN.com, and Time.com. But has he checked with their conservative investors?

Disney owns 80 percent of ESPN – what’s gonna happen when Morality in Media, hordes of pissed-off soccer moms and pornography addiction activists join to bombard Disney with demands that advertising for “pornography” be removed from their holdings? Heaven knows, Disney owns thousands of trademarked brands – wonder if we’ll be seeing TheLittlePrincess.xxx anytime soon?

Time Warner owns HBO and Cinemax. Are they going to be anxious to advertise a controversial online platform for adult entertainment, that competes with their own adult distribution and threatens their PPV revenue?

And Lawley claims to have had no contact from animal activist nonprofit Peta, about their planned adult site. If that’s true, then maybe ICM Registry should hire Peta’s pr agency.

So, if what Lawley is actually implying is that adult e-commerce and adult sites have been perceived as vectors for malware and other shady shenanigans, that sort of online consumer naivety wore off about the time everyone gave their info to Facebook.

At the end of the day, the real debate is, what can .XXX do for an adult online business that a .com cannot?

Do you need to have your sites scanned daily for malware? Do you need more competition from newbies in the .XXX space? Are you willing to take a chance on being blocked by whole countries, when you’ve already had Net Nanny and RTA on your .com site for years? Do you need a policy council? Do you want ICM Registry to create payment process that involves selling credits to consumers, or does that seem like a conflict of interest, since ICM also has a say in creating policy for .XXX?

And, just on a sidenote – we visited the .XXX sites that have gone live, that could be found only by going to the ICM website. Casting.xxx, which launched first, finally got their age verification page set up. But not so at VOD site anywhere.xxx, where you can go straight to hardcore images. It’s a little confusing – whether we’re supposed to be preventing kids from accessing adult online material, or… In any case, the sites are simple, not many bells and whistles – like sites used to look when there were still plenty of newbies trying to get into adult online.

And then there’s Desi.xxx, which is a sexy chat forum for folks from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Guess they didn’t get the memo that India was the first country to block .XXX, less than five days after it was approved. Still, the site is quite tame – except for the banner advertising ILoveInterracial.COM.

(Video: Courtesy of XBIZ.com)

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