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Up to $650 for a .xxx domain - or to keep your name off one

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Pornographers and brand owners can expect to pay between $75 and $650 to register .xxx domain names, newly published registrar pricing schemes have revealed.

Trademark owners concerned about having their brands associated with online pornography may be hit especially hard by the forthcoming domain launch, according to reports in the trademark press.

ICM Registry, the Florida company granted the right to run the .xxx top-level domain by ICANN in March, today published details of its launch plan, which includes three mechanisms for registering domains in advance of the full go-live date, expected in December.

Trademark holders will get a 30-day window, starting in early September, in which they can apply to have their brands permanently "blocked" in .xxx.

Disney, for example, will be able to pay a one-time fee in order to have disney.xxx resolve to a standard place-holder page managed by the registry.

The idea is to give family-friendly non-porn brands the opportunity to distance themselves from online porn, without having to also run the risk of cybersquatting.

About 60 registrars have been provisionally approved to sell .xxx domain names, and a few of them have already revealed their pricing. For the "block" service, trademark holders can expect to pay between $249 and $648, depending on registrar and volume.

A report in World Trademark Review (registration required) this morning suggests that some brand owners may shell out over $100,000 in what it calls a ".xxx tax", if they choose to defensively enforce their entire portfolio of hundreds of valuable trademarks.

They are under no obligation to do so, of course. ICM has some of the highest prices and strongest intellectual property rights protection mechanisms of any domain extension to date, which may help to discourage mass cybersquatting.

"There will be a range of sanctions for registrants who violate the policies relating to intellectual property infringement, culminating in expulsion and loss of the registrant's domain name(s)," ICM president Stuart Lawley said.

ICM has previously said it plans to enforce lifetime bans on repeat cybersquatters. Cyber-baddies could also lose their entire .xxx portfolio if they repeatedly lose cybersquatting complaints.

The company has also said it plans to give trademark holders a way to shut down infringing .xxx sites in just 48 hours, modelled on Digital Millennium Copyright Act take-down notices. Full details of this process, and of the X-strikes-and-you're-out process, have not yet been finalised, however.

Porn sites can expect to pay about $300 if they want to claim their .xxx domains before the official launch. They do not have to own a trademark, however – simply owning a string in an existing extension such as .com or .co.uk will be sufficient to register during ICM's "sunrise" period.

In the event that a porn site and a non-porn site both apply for the same domain name, the porn site will be given priority, although they will be given a warning that a trademark owner is also interested in the domain, and may find themselves on the receiving end of a complaint.

When .xxx names become generally available, registrants will likely have to pay between $75 and $130 for their domains. This compares to a .com price that is regularly around the $10 mark, which has been a sore point for many in the adult entertainment business, who see .xxx as an unwanted cash grab. ®

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