opinion

News for .XXX Opponents

Tom Hymes
I would like to bring together several recent comments made by adult industry attorney Paul Cambria concerning the issue of a .XXX top-level domain and explore what they might mean when the issue is revisited, as it will be in the near future, especially if Sen. Max Baucus, R-Mont., follows through on his intention to introduce legislation mandating the creation of .XXX and if Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., follows through on his stated inclination to make .XXX mandatory.

In Cambria's written testimony submitted to the Senate Commerce Committee on Jan. 19, he did not directly reference .XXX, but implied opposition to it when he wrote: "Additionally, parents themselves have the means to restrict their children's access to material they deem inappropriate for minors, and implementation of a .kids domain would assist them in this endeavor." Cambria clarified his opposition in verbal testimony before the committee, and also a day after his testimony on Luke Ford's website, where he posted, "[I] in no uncertain terms told the Senate we were opposed to .XXX …" He did muddy the waters a bit when he wrote, "[T]he rightwing groups feel that .XXX will tend to legitimize the industry, and I agree that it will," but I take from all this that at the end of the day, he clearly opposes .XXX.

During testimony, in response to a question concerning who his association, the Adult Freedom Foundation, represents, Cambria stated that AFF represents "a group of very influential producers and manufacturers" who "drive the rest of the industry."

Taken together, these comments are great news for .XXX opponents, and here is why. The success of ICM Registry's sponsored application for the .XXX TLD was dependent upon convincing ICANN that ICM had the support of the leading adult entertainment companies. As a part of the application process, ICANN was led to believe, perhaps truthfully, by ICM and others that three of Cambria's most influential clients — Vivid, Hustler and AVN — supported the application.

This was made quite clear in many ways, including comments made by Greg Dumas on March 14, 2004, when he wrote on the ICANN public comment page: "I have personally met with many of the leaders in the online adult community from around the world... from *** in Curacao... to *** in the U.K.... to Hustler, Vivid, AVN and many, many more have all demonstrated their support for this application."

Hustler has since taken a publicly neutral stand regarding .XXX, but neither of the others has refuted Dumas' claims. Still, if Cambria meant what he said — that he was testifying on behalf of the largest companies in the industry and that he opposes .XXX — then we must take from that they too oppose .XXX, and that is good news with respect to both future .XXX legislation and ICM Registry's current effort. In short, ICANN must reconsider the ICM Registry application in light of this clarification by Cambria.

If, however, no opposition to dot XXX by the Big 3 were forthcoming, then one would have to wonder on behalf of whom Cambria really was testifying, and what the meaning of his opposition to .XXX is really all about. But I am confident that imminent moves by Congress, combined with the Cambria testimony, will inspire these companies to come to their senses regarding a bad idea that will not work, and we will finally be able to start working toward presenting a united front regarding important issues that once divided us.

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