Thursday was Thanksgiving in the US and the adult entertainment industry has something ironic to be thankful for: ICM Registry is being sued in the hopes of its .XXX TLD effectively being declared an antitrust crime scene.
As those who have been following along may recall, ICM Registry is the company that forced the .XXX TDL on the world in a selfless effort to protect children from porn by making it easier to find, adult website subscribers from mythical mass malware infestations, and company CEO Stuart Lawley from a life of poverty, all by making him filthy rich off of the fear he can inspire in both adult and mainstream trademark holders and brand developers.
ICM Registry insists it’s not part of the adult industry and that is one of the few things I agree with it about. Given its utter disinterest in the actual needs of the businesses it wants to be internet overlord of, as well as its contempt for the industry in general, all I can see it as is a largely ungrateful parasite.
Given the online location, perhaps “malicious virus” would be a better analogy.
This is about money. There’s nothing wrong with it being about money, of course. We are, if nothing else, an especially Capitalist-lovin’ arm of the entertainment industry. But this isn’t just about our money; it’s about the money of anyone who feels threatened by the presence of .XXX and how it might affect their reputation and livelihood — and their ability to maintain them.
Mainstream film producers, retail businesses, schools, colleges, family-friendly theme parks, and other institutions and professional entities that have nothing to do with erotic entertainment, services, or products have expressed deep concern that, if they don’t purchase as many .XXX domains as they own identities that they want to protect, they may very well lose business, public trust, and the right to defend their trademarks.
Luxembourg-based Manwin and California-centric Digital Playground have decided that they’ve had enough.
ICM Registry launched its official Buy website recently and has cagily asserted that its sales are, “comfortably into the six figures in terms of domains,” while not naming any names. If it and ICANN find themselves in court, that may well change.
Manwin, which has its own colorful past, has stated what most everyone else in the industry has stated; that .XXX puts “an unnecessary cost on everybody, without benefit for the adult entertainment community.”
Remember, the whole point of a TLD is to benefit its target community; in this case, the individuals, businesses, and related properties within the adult entertainment community. According to ICM Registry, that’s at least $60 per website purchase worth of benefit, with a $100 – $200 per website registration fee worth of additional benefits… regardless of whether you own an adult business or just don’t want anyone using your trademarked name for one.
Unless, as the complaint claims, you are one of the more than 4,000 celebrities, dignitaries, and locations whose names need not fear being so besmirched, because they have been blocked from sale.
Whether they hold a trademark or not.
Everyone without a trademark – or with a trademark pending – must wait until December 6 for their first-come/first-served general availability chance to defensively register.
In addition to the money-suck, which — contrary to popular mainstream opinion — is not as painless to the industry’s members as repeatedly claimed, the last thing we need is a business trying to simultaneously marry and distance itself from porn, all while stirring up hate and discontent everywhere it goes.
What Manwin and Digital Playground are asking seems entirely reasonable to me; that ICANN place an injunction on .XXX domains until they become available competitively with “reasonable price constraints.”
In other words, don’t try to pick our pockets just because we work in the adult industry – and don’t try to use the fact that we work in the adult industry as a way to scare businesses and people who don’t.
Naturally, the insufferable Lawley has responded with the tact and delicacy that we’ve come to expect, once again schooling those he hopes to lighten of their cash by insisting that Manwin and Digital Playground, “show an apparent lack of understanding of the ICANN process and the rigorous battle we went through with ICANN over eight years in full public scrutiny to gain approval.”
Given that ICM Registry has kept the target TLD community largely in the dark concerning the companies and numbers associated with the new domain extension, grumbling about scrutiny and making claims about transparency seems misplaced.
If allegations of “… monopolistic conduct, price gouging, and anti-competitive and unfair practices…” against ICM Registry stick, the company may have more than a few real reasons to grumble.
In the meantime, Lawley continues to brag about the millions of registrations and dollars that he anticipates making each year – all while the struggling industry upon which he feeds gets accused of having bottomless cash resources.
For more specifics, read the complaint.