.XXX Porn Domain Opens for Business

Registration for the new .xxx Internet domain name kicked off on Wednesday, starting with a 50-day period during which businesses both inside and outside the adult entertainment industry can register for a .xxx domain or exclude their name from it to protect their reputation.

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The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) recently voted the creation of the.xxx domains after also allowing other domains such as .com, .gov, or .co.uk. The .xxx domain will be operated by ICM Registry, and applicants will be able to purchase theirs through registrars for between $75 and $99 a year.

"It's a win, win, win," Stuart Lawley, Chairman and CEO of ICM Registry, told CNBC. "For the consumer — because it's a big business — it's a win because it is scanned for malwares, and viruses. For the providers, they can attract extra consumers that are ready to spend more money since it's safer", and for the avoiders, who can easily filter .xxx website by changing the settings on their web browsers."

The launch of .xxx domains will take place in three stages.

The first stage is called Sunrise. "Sunrise A — with an A like Adult — businesses that have registered trademarks or another domain can apply," while "Sunrise B, is for non-adult contents," Lawley, said.

The Sunrise B phase is intended to let non-porn businesses protect their brands from cybersquatters who register trademarks with the intention of reselling them. Many businesses have complained about the new domain process and the necessity of having to take such protective steps.

A second round in the .xxx registration, called Landrush, will start on November 8. "It's a kind of a premium subscription," Lawley said, allowing porn companies that are pre-registered to apply for domains that will likely be popular. There will be an auction system in case several parties apply for the same domain name.

The .xxx domains will then be open for general availability from December 6 onwards.

The .xxx extension was created for adult content websites. "Most people understand that [adult content] exists and has the right to exist," Lawley said, now, "they can select or avoid content".

But the .xxx domain has stirred up controversy. "Adult content is uncomfortable for many, so the situation got a little political," Lawley said, adding that some "governments around the world were not helping". In the end, IMC Registry sued ICANN, and "eventually triumphed", he said.

Examples among the early subscribers illustrate the success of the new domain. An adult-content website, called "casting.xxx," has managed to outperform adult content giant "sex.com."

On the other hand, non-adult site iFriend saw its .xxx version ranked higher by Google than its regular .com site. This is explained by the way Google, and other search engines, "favor high-priced domains and specific content", Lawley explained.