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.XXX to launch nothing-but-smut unsafe search

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ICM Registry, the company behind the forthcoming .xxx domain extension, plans to launch a search engine devoted entirely to porn at search.xxx.

The news emerged during a panel discussion at the YNOT Summit 2011, a porn industry trade show in San Francisco late last month (depressingly SFW video at YouTube.)

ICM president Stuart Lawley confirmed to El Reg that search.xxx will index only porn sites found at .xxx addresses. The company is currently testing potential technology partners.

The site will be fed traffic from about a dozen "premium" .xxx domain names, potentially including the likes of porn.xxx and sex.xxx, and will be monetised with ads and sponsorship, he said.

During the YNOT panel, ICM sales director Vaughn Liley defended the company from adult industry claims that .xxx domains will be too expensive, too risky and offer little value.

Pricing for .xxx names is expected to start at roughly $75 per year, compared to .com rates of around $12, but they will be substantially more expensive during the pre-launch "sunrise" and "landrush" periods, which begin in early September.

Existing porn companies with large portfolios of domains in other extensions are concerned that they will be forced to spend thousands on defensive registrations or risk being cybersquatted.

Search traffic, Liley said, is one way that webmasters may be able to recoup their registration fees and increase revenue. ICM recently also announced a free subscription to McAfee Secure for all of its customers.

"I believe that in 12 or 18 months time that some of the animosity that has been shown to us as a company will evaporate and people will go 'actually, this has been very good for my business,'" he told an audience of pornographers that, while still largely sceptical, was less openly hostile than during previous such debates.

Some porn publishers are also worried that .xxx domains carry the risk that ICM's policy-setting body, IFFOR (International Foundation for Online Responsibility) may create draconian new rules that will damage their businesses in future.

"The longer you're on it, more you invest into it, the more you're potentially trapped," YNOT president Connor Young said during the panel. "[The benefits] would have to be monumental, would have to be something so substantial, for me to put myself in the position where three or four years down the line they have that kind of control over my business."

IFFOR's Policy Council will be loaded with porn industry representatives and free speech advocates, however, which ICM believes should deflect these concerns.

Other search engines, such as Google and Bing, will also index .xxx sites, but some porn webmasters say they're not always particularly porn-friendly. Google Instant, for example, does not auto-complete porn-related search terms. Yes, that's right. It won't finish them off ... ®

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