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Businesses buying .XXX porn domains to protect trademarks

Adult companies account for only 20 percent of interest, reports Easyspace

Four out of five businesses that have pre-registered .XXX domain names have no direct connection to the adult porn industry, one of the UK's largest registrars has confirmed.

Easyspace, which produced the figures, said that only 20 percent of the "hundreds" of businesses participating in the 'sunrise' round of pre-registrations through its services planned to use them for their intended purpose, selling adult content.

"As we expected, the early indications are that non-adult industry businesses have realised the need to protect trademarks and brands in dot XXX," said Easyspace's managing director, Sarah Haran.

"To increase your chance of securing .XXX it's important to pre-order your preferred domain before General Availability begins," she said.

If this pattern is replicated across the industry, critics of the invention of the new domains will have been proven correct. With a single .XXX domains costing around £200 ($330) per year, many believed it would become a huge tax on legitimate businesses desperate to protect trademarks against third parties.

For large companies protecting multiple domains, the costs could run into thousands a year, all profit that will go to companies such as Easyspace.

One registrar, ICM registry (owned by a campaigner for the new domain's existence), has even recently launched a service through which companies can pay a one-off fee and have their domains permanently excluded from .XXX registration. The costs are still significant.

The pre-registration and registration phase of the .XXX domains release was designed by ICANN to prioritise genuine adult operators, and was approved in March this year after years of wrangling for and against its introduction. It's fair to say that the advert of .XXX has proved hugely controversial.

Sites using the .XXX suffix have started appearing in small numbers in recent days although the official release schedule has them appearing later in 2011 in larger numbers.

Advocates (other than those directly profiting from registration fees that is) have long promoted .XXX as a way of making filtering against porn easier. Anyone visiting one would not be able to claim they didn't anticipate the content. The problem with this view is that having .XXX as a possible domain does not mean porn providers will suddenly abandon established domains, which will continue as before in vast numbers, defeating filtering.

Opinion: The .XXX domain is about $$$ not porn control


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