.xxx

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Xxx.JPG
Registry Provider: ICM Registry
Date Implemented: 2011
Type: sponsored top level domain (sTLD)
Community: internet pornography
Key People
Stuart Lawley, Chairman and CEO

.xxx is a sponsored top-level domain name (sTLD) delegated in the root zone of the internet's Domain Name System (DNS). The TLD is intended for the "online adult-entertainment community." The International Foundation for Online Responsibility (IFFOR) is the sponsoring organization and it is responsible for creating and overseeing policies for .xxx. IFFOR is a non-profit organization created by ICM Registry, the registry operator of the .xxx. [1]

The domain space was launched for public registration on December 6, 2011. There were more than 100,000 domain names pre-registered.[2]

History

.xxx Application during the 2000 ICANN Proof of Concept

ICM Registry proposed the .xxx as non-sponsored generic top-level domain name (gTLD) during the ICANN Proof of Concept round in 2000. ICANN's evaluation team did not recommend the string because of the "controversy surrounding it and the poor
 definition 
of 
the
 hope for 
benefits
 of .xxx." On December 15, 2000, ICM Registry filed a Reconsideration Request with ICANN but no action was rendered. The ICANN Board cited that "no new TLD proposal has been rejected, rather a small set of potentially successful applicants had been selected with the aim of testing a diversity of approaches to the creation of new TLDs." [3]

GAC Advice on the .xxx sTLD

On March 17, 2011, the GAC, via its Chairman Heather Dryden, reiterated to ICANN Chairman Peter Dengate Thrush that the Committee has no active support for the implementation of the .xxx sTLD. The GAC also informed ICANN that some governments might prevent access to the TLD, which could harm the global interoperability and stability of the internet. Furthermore, the Committee also pointed out the possibility that ICANN may have to assume a management and oversight role regarding .xxx content.[4] Despite GAC's position, the ICANN Board approved the .xxx sTLD during the ICANN 41 Meeting in San Francisco, on March 18, 2011.[5] The disregard for the GAC's advice in this instance provided for a number of other international entities to question ICANN's ability to successfully manage the DNS.

.xxx during the 2003 sTLD Application Process

On December 15, 2003, the ICANN Board published a Request For Proposal (RFP) for new sTLDs after extensive discussions within the different stakeholders within the ICANN community. ICM Registry submitted a proposal for.xxx on March 16 2004. IFFOR was named as the sponsoring organization, responsible for developing policies for the proposed TLD. In August, 2004, the Independent Review Panel evaluated ICM's application and reported to the ICANN Board that the the company failed to meet the baseline sponsorship criteria for a sTLD.[6] Following the report, the ICANN Board approved a resolution allowing sTLD applicants to add additional information to resolve the concerns raised by IRP in the report. In October, 2004, ICM Registry started submitting additional documents to strengthen its application. ICM Registry was invited to make a presentation on April 3, 2005.[7]

Following the presentation, a special meeting was conducted by the ICANN Board on May 3, 2005, where it discussed whether the sponsored community baseline criteria was met or not by ICM Registry. The Board decided to further discuss the issue at another meeting.[8]

On June 1, 2005, the ICANN Board charged ICANN CEO Paul Twomey and General Counsel Jon Jeffrey to negotiate the proposed commercial and technical terms for a contractual agreement in connection with the delegation of the .xxx sTLD.[9]

On September 5, 2005, the proposed contractual agreement for .xxx sTLD was submitted to the ICANN Board for approval. It was also posted on ICANN's website. A significant number of comments and inquiries from the Internet community were received by the Board relating to the contract. The Board directed the ICANN CEO and the General Counsel to discuss the possible additional contractual provisions or modifications for the .xxx Registry Agreemet to ensure the development and implementation of policies consistent with the principles of ICM Registry application.[10]

Several revisions were submitted and negotiations were made on the .xxx Registry Agreement between September 15, 2005 until January 5, 2007. Extensive comments and advice were also received from the global internet community and from the Governmental Advisory Committee, which were evaluated by the ICANN Board. On March 30, 2007, the ICANN Board denied the ICM Registry application citing that the company failed to meet the Sponsored Community criteria set forth in the RFP, issues raised by GAC such as offensive content and protection of vulnerable members of the community were not properly adressed, the application raised significant law enforcement issues in different countries, and the application posed a possibility that ICANN might be forced to assume an ongoing management and oversight role regarding Internet content, which is inconsistent with its technical mandate.[11]

Independent Review Proceedings

ICM Registry contested the Board resoultion and submitted a request for Independent Review Panel proceeding on June 6, 2008. Entities may request for an IRP to resolve their claims that the ICANN Board acted in a manner inconsistent with the organization's Articles of Incorporation. The IRP is a final appeal to ensure transparency; and due to this, ICM Registry was the first entity to utilize this provision in the history of ICANN. ICM complained that ICANN exceeded its mandate during the evaluation process and violated the its Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws. ICM claimed that the Internet governing body improperly administered the 2003 RFP process for sTLDs and its decision lacks transparency and is discriminatory.[12]

ICANN responded on Septemebr 8, 2008 and argued that ICM's allegations were false. The organization pointed out that its evaluation of ICM's application were more open and transparent, and that the negotiations conducted on June 1, 2005 were not binding and di not assure approval of the Registry agreement. ICANN tried to work closely with ICM to resolve the problems in the application, however, the ICANN Board believed that the underlying problems would not be resolved by awarding a contract. ICANN strongly emphasized that the decision was made in good faith.[13]

Both parties submitted their briefing papers and testimonies to the three-member IRP which was handled by the International Centre for Dispute Resolution of the American Arbitration Association. On February 19, 2010, the IRP ruled in favor of ICM. Two of the panelist agreed that ICM met the criteria for sponsorship citing that, "the Board’s reconsideration of that finding was not consistent with the application of neutral, objective and fair documented policy." The opinion of the other panelist was contrary. He said that ICM did not meet the sTLD sponsorship requirements and ICANN carried out its decision with transparency.[14] Moreover, the declaration of the IRP is not a binding order rather an advisory or recommendation for the ICANN Board to consider as stated on Article IV Section 3(15) of the ICANN Bylaws stating that, "Where feasible, the Board shall consider the IRP declaration at the Board's next meeting."[15]

On March 12, 2010, the ICANN Board considered the IRP declaration and tasked ICANN CEO and General Counsel to develop a final report for possible process options to be posted on the website.[16] The ICANN Board received and evaluated 13,700 comments regarding the process options. On June 25, 2010, the ICANN Board to accept the majority recommendation of the IRP and directed the ICANN Staff to ensure that the ICM application is still current and no changes have been made to the company's qualifications. In addition, the ICANN Staff were also authorized to develop a contract with ICM to be reviewed by the Board to ensure that it is consistent with GAC's advice, if not, consultation with GAC will be done prior to approval of the contract.[17] On August 5, 2010, the proposed Registry Agreement was posted for public comments.[18] ICANN's chairman initiated a consultation process with GAC Chair regarding the proposed ICM Registry Agreement. Prior to the schedule personal consultation, the GAC sent a letter to ICANN stating that it has no active support for the introduction of the .xxx string and governments might take actions to prohibit internet access to the TLD, which is a threat to the universal stability of the DNS.[19]

During the ICANN 40 meeting in San Francisco in March, 2011, the ICANN Board approved the ICM application.[20] The .xxx string was delegated to the root zone of the DNS in June, 2011.[21]

.xxx Policies

The sponsoring community of the .xxx includes individuals, companies, organizations, providers of adult entertainment. Some of these entities include adult website administrators, club owners, performers, agents, lawyers, distributors and manufacturers or adult products. All entities interested in registering a .xxx domain need to become a member of the community. Individuals must provide correct date of birth, address, phone number, confirm membership to the community, and accept the Registry-Registrant Agreement. [22]

The IFFOR implements policies to comply with its agreements; to protect the privacy, security and consumer rights of consenting adults; to help user choice and parental control with regards to access to online adult content; and to fight child abuse images. Its' baseline policies include:[23]

  • Registration is restricted to the sponsoring community
  • The organization implements eligibility verification processes with all registrants interested in becoming a member of the sponsoring community
  • Reasonable Technological Mechanisms will be used to authenticate the identity of registrants
  • Registrants must agree to the labeling requirements as all .xxx sites use an IFFOR aproved label
  • Child abuse images and conduct are prohibited, including content designed to suggest the availability of child abuse images
  • Registrants must agree to automated scanning of their sites to ensure compliance of IFFOR policies; using technology to prevent scanning is prohibited
  • Abusive registration (Intellectual Property rights and Trademarks infringements) is not allowed
  • Malicious Conduct is prohibited such as email spoofing, phishing, spamming, and other illegal cyber activities.
  • Registrants must comply with the IFFOR Best Practices Guidelines.
  • All registrants violating the IFFOR policies will be disqualified. Violators of the prohibitions on child abuse images and the implementation of automated scanning will be referred to third parties such as law enforcement agencies, hotlines, etc.

Dispute Resolution Programs

The Rapid Evaluation Service (RES) was introduced by the National Arbitration Forum (FORUM), to serve as dispute resolution program to protect the stage names of adult entertainers and performers from infringements. Complaints filed under RES in proper circumstances will be handled within two business days and the infringing domain names will be taken down. The Charter Eligibility Dispute Resolution Policy (CEDRP) of ICM is also handled by FORUM. Entities may file complaints and challenge the ownership eligibility of entities for .xxx domain names.[24]

Domain Statistics

As of June 2, 2013, .xxx had 122,000 active registrations, after a peak at 142,000 in December 2012. During May 2013, ICM Registry cut the prices for .xxx names down to .com-level prices, resulting in a large number of registrations during that month.[25]

The following are the top 10 .xxx registrars as of February 2012:[26]

  1. Go Daddy - 36,111 (Wild West Domains, Blue Razor)
  2. Network Solutions - 16,633
  3. Instra - 4,636
  4. Name.com - 4,272
  5. eNom - 4,210
  6. United Domains - 3,820
  7. Tucows - 3,750
  8. Ascio Technologies - 3,645
  9. PublicDomainRegistry - 3,450
  10. CSC - 3,198

Premium .xxx Domain Names

ICM Registry sold several of its premium .xxx domain names for large sums, including gay.xxx, which was purchased by Liberty Media Holdings (Corbin Fisher), a porn production company based in Las Vegas, for $500,000.[27] Shemales.xxx was sold for $200,000 to Grooby Productions.[28] Meanwhile, Mike Berkens, president of Worldwide Media invested six figures on three domain names: FreePorn.xxx, BlowJobs.xxx, and AnalSex.xxx.[29] Frank Schilling, a domain name investor paid seven figures for amateur.xxx, anal.xxx, asian.xxx, bollywood.xxx, book.xxx, celeb.xxx, chat.xxx, dating.xxx, hardcore.xxx, sexy.xxx, video.xxx, webcam.xxx and several other domain names.[30]

Free .xxx Domain Names

As part of ICM's Adult Performer Program, the company partnered with domain name registrar Name.com in offering a one-year free domain name registration for 3,500 selected porn stars. The domain names were reserved by ICM and the $210,000 registry fee was paid in advance by Name.com.[31]

Suspended .xxx Domain Names

Stuart Lawley, CEO of ICM confirmed that the company suspended the registration for several .xxx domain names due to unmistakable, blatant cybersquatting. The suspended domain names include businessweek.xxx, cnbc.xxx, geocities.xxx, nextag.xxx, snapfish.xxx, verizonwireless.xxx, washingtonpost.xxx and gayroom.xxx. Lawley emphasized and reiterated that his company is serious about implementing its policies and it is committed to maintaining high standards for its registry operations. He said, "We will not tolerate nefarious conduct and will exercise our right to take appropriate action when we detect widespread repeat patterns of cyber-squatting activity. Would-be cyber-squatters are on notice – neither ICM Registry nor the .xxx community will be complicit in the theft or abuse of intellectual property. ICM takes a stand to facilitate user choice and parental control, protect the privacy, security, and consumer rights of consenting adults, fight child abuse images, and protect intellectual property.”[32]

ICM-Operated Sites

Search.xxx

In September, 2012, the .xxx centric search engine at search.xxx was launched by ICM Registry. The search engine does not have a direct revenue model, but is instead a means of directing greater traffic to .xxx sites. Touted benefits of the search engine include: a pornographic focused search rather than a search that could result in non-pornographic sexual material, a safe and focused search for adults, the ability to search via sexual orientation, and not saving or recording searches to one's Google search history. The long-term goal is to increase the market-share of .xxx.[33]

Other

Russian iTunes Glitch

On December 5th 2012, sections of the Russian iTunes store featured out of place banner ads and explicit content from ICM's registry internal search engine, xxx.xxx. Bloggers speculated than an Apple Web Developer may have entered the "xxx.xxx" as a placeholder not realizing that the URL would resolve as a live domain.[34]

References

  1. IFFOR-About Us
  2. Over 100,000 XXX Domain Names Are Going Live Tomorrow At 11 EST
  3. Accountability
 and
 Transparency 
at ICANN
: An
 Independent
 Review
  4. GAC Statement on .xxx
  5. Conference summary: ICANN San Francisco
  6. Delegation of the .XXX top-level domain
  7. Status Report on the sTLD Evaluation Process
  8. Minutes-Special Meeting of the Board May 3, 2005
  9. Minutes Special Meeting of the Board, June 1, 2005
  10. 2005-09-15 - Review of Proposed .XXX Sponsored Top-Level Domain Registry Agreement
  11. Adopted Resolutions from ICANN Board Meeting, 30 March 2007
  12. ICM's Request for Independent Review Process
  13. ICANN's Response to ICM's IRP Request
  14. Independent Review Panel Declaration
  15. ICANN Bylaws
  16. Adopted Board Resolutions, Nairobi, March 12, 2010
  17. Adopted Board Resolutions | Brussels
  18. Adopted Board Resolutions
  19. Draft Rationale for Approving ICM Registry Agreement
  20. .XXX Approved at ICANN 40
  21. ICANN board approves dot-XXX top-level domain for porn
  22. Who Qualifies for the Sponsored Community
  23. IFFOR Baseline Policies
  24. National Arbitration Forum Launches Dispute Program for .XXX Domain Names
  25. ICM Price Cut sees 10 times more xxx sales, Domain Incite Retrieved 19 Sept 2013
  26. .XXX up to 137k active registrations, 220k total, and new $630k premium sale, domainnamewire
  27. Gay.xxx sells for $500,000
  28. SheMales.XXX Sells For $200,000; 3 1/2 Times More Than The .Net Sold For
  29. Mike Berkens Invests in .XXX Domains
  30. Frank Schilling Spends Seven Figures on .XXX Domain Names
  31. ICM offers free .xxx domains to porn stars
  32. ICM Registry Acts in Response to Reports of Cyber-squatting
  33. CNBC.com
  34. Russian iTunes Store Infiltrated by XXX Banners after Snafu, DomainIncite.com Retrieved & Published 5 Dec 2012