ICM Registry Grilled in Report Over .XXX Registrations

LOS ANGELES — Are nearly 90 percent of .XXX registrations defensive?

That is the question The Domains posed this week after the news portal analyzed IFFOR’s tax return, which just became available on GuideStar, a service that compiles returns on nonprofits.

IFFOR, of course, is the International Foundation for Online Responsibility, which was created to tackle issues that impact owners of .XXX domain. The nonprofit is funded through a $10 per .XXX domain contribution by .XXX operator ICM Registry to IFFOR.

With the tax return in hand, The Domains editor Michael Berkens pored through IFFOR's  numbers — which are tied to .XXX's revenue stream — and came up with the conclusion that the numbers clearly state one thing: that a majority of .XXX registrations are coming from members not in the adult community and are ones that are used in a defensive manner to protect brands and trademarks.

That's troubling for Berkens, as perhaps with many in the online adult industry, because .XXX was instituted as a sponsored top-level domain to represent the adult community.

Berkens told XBIZ that" the numbers don't lie," and that if IFFOR received revenue of $208,000 — not including deferred income as entered into the tax return — in 2011 from 106,000 registrations of .XXX domain names, then less than 10 percent of all .XXX domain names are owned by the members of the community, "meaning that more than 90 percent of all .XXX registrations are defensive or owned not by members of the adult community."

But Stuart Lawley, CEO of ICM Registry, said that speculation over the numbers of registrants who are within the adult entertainment community and those who have defensive registrations to protect brands and trademarks is "much ado about nothing."

Lawley told XBIZ that ICM Registry simply doesn't compile those stats.

"ICM doesn’t characterize registrations as defensive or non-defensive; that is not something we, or anyone else, can really provide accurate information about," Lawley said. "We can say that there were approximately 80,000 participants in our Sunrise programs and many of those took part in our Sunrise B trademark protections.  

"But, beyond that, we don’t have the opportunity to speak with each registrant and know what their motivation is for buying a domain name. They could buy a .XXX name and develop it into a live website, they could buy it and point it to one of their sites in another TLD, they could buy it and sell it. There are many reasons people buy .XXX domain names and only time will tell how they use them."

Berkens, however, said that the response is elusive and one that has been stated time and time again by Lawley, roadblocking his coverage of the issue.

"That's the kind of answer I have been getting so I have been waiting for this IFFOR return to become public since IFFOR rejected all my requests for income or expenditure information," he said.

"While ICM has no way of knowing how many defensive registrations have been made, they certainly know how many domains were registered by someone who elected to be a member of the adult community and go through that verification process and how many are not owned by members of the adult community — those that didn't select that box on the registration form. That is where you're going to find 99 percent of the defensive registrations."

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