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.xxx opens for business as smut site slings lawsuit

Policies proposed on child pr0n, piracy and censorship

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The .xxx top-level domain will open for registrations from the public this afternoon, over a decade after the controversial adults-only internet address was first proposed.

ICM Registry, which was awarded the .xxx contract by ICANN this March, will start selling .xxx domain names through a network of over 70 accredited registrars from 4pm GMT today.

The launch comes despite a lawsuit filed last month by Manwin, operator of the popular YouPorn video site, which seeks to shut down .xxx as a violation of US antitrust laws.

Manwin is one of several porn companies to openly criticise .xxx, saying ICM tried to extort money through expensive defensive registrations during a recent trademarks-only "sunrise" period.

However, ICM claims it has some of the strongest trademark protection mechanisms available in any top-level domain.

This week, the US National Arbitration Forum announced the launch of the Rapid Evaluation Service, an ICM-devised dispute policy for organisations and individuals who believe they've been cybersquatted in .xxx.

The RES is a faster, slightly more expensive version of the long-standing Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy that applies to all ICANN-approved extensions.

Designed for clear-cut cases in which cybersquatters try to embarrass legit brands or celebrities, RES has a higher burden of proof than UDRP, but can be used to take down infringing .xxx sites in as little as three days.

Also this week, ICM's newly created sponsoring organisation, the International Foundation For Online Responsibility, announced that it has made child abuse material, piracy and content filtering its three key strategic policy fights.

IFFOR said it wants to devise effective solutions to the piracy problem in .xxx, to work with third parties to crack down on child porn, and to lobby policy-makers about the dangers of domain-based censorship.

The IFFOR model has been criticised by ICM's opponents in the Free Speech Coalition, who say new .xxx sites run the risk of being put out of business by a future IFFOR policy.

ICM says it has taken well over 100,000 registrations to date, most of which are believed to be non-resolving defensive registrations filed by companies that wished to disassociate themselves with pornography and did not want to risk cybersquatting.

The company has previously projected as many as 500,000 .xxx registrations during its first year.

It is currently in the midst of a $4.5m ad campaign that has seen .xxx promoted to average TV viewers, rather than exclusively the porn industry, in the US.

Prices for .xxx domains range between $79 and $129 per year, depending on registrar, according to a list compiled by Domain Name Wire. ICM's cut is $60 per domain per year, $10 of which funds IFFOR. ®

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