Adult industry welcomes .xxx domain rejection

Adult industry welcomes .xxx domain rejection. Domain would have thwarted industry's "mainstream" ambitions, says insider. Company touting domain insists it had support.

Adult companies have joined conservative groups in celebrating an Internet regulator's decision to reject the creation of a domain for adult Web sites.

On Wednesday, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) voted against the proposal, which would have led to the creation of an .xxx domain suffix for pornography sites. Conservative groups in the U.S., such as the Family Research Council, have welcomed the decision.

"This would have been a landgrab for pornographers, and ICANN did absolutely the right thing," Charmaine Yoest, a vice president of the Family Research Council, told Bloomberg.

Some in the adult industry are equally happy about the decision. Adult-industry observer Scott McGowan, in an article on the EyeOnAdult Web site, said he "just couldn't be happier." He claimed that ICM Registry, which proposed the new top-level domain, was driven purely by the desire to make money.

"When conservatives and the porn industry actually agree on something, it kind of says something, even if their motivations come from different places," said McGowan.

"It's my belief that everyone saw this for exactly what it was, a get-rich-quick scheme. ICM wanted to play God, re-create the online adult industry in their own image and reap the benefits," he said.

Clinton Alexander, a U.S.-based Web designer who's worked for a number of adult sites, claimed adult companies had little to gain from switching to the .xxx domain.

"Out of all the parties involved with the decision, only one of them actually wanted the .xxx suffix: the ICM Registry. The only real reason they wanted it is they see it as a possible gold mine," he said.

"Adult companies do not want an .xxx domain because there is no additional profit in it (in fact, there is additional cost) and exposes them to possible future regulation. What's the point of moving an extremely popular and profitable Web site from a .com to an .xxx domain?"

Alexander added that adult companies actually want to make content more mainstream and claimed the majority were therefore opposed to the .xxx domain.

"The idea in the adult entertainment industry is to mainstream adult content to the point where it is not different from selling any other commodity, such as groceries," Alexander said. "The more publicly mainstream porn becomes, the more money the adult entertainment companies make...Creating an 'Internet red light district' goes against mainstreaming adult content, so most of the producers I know were against the .xxx suffix from the beginning of the debate."

Stuart Lawley, the chairman and president of ICM Registry, disagreed on Friday with the comments made by McGowan and Alexander.

Many of the world's biggest adult providers had agreed to participate in the .xxx plan voluntarily, as did adult companies from more than 70 countries, according to Lawley, although he was unable to provide the names of the companies as they are "confidential."

Lawley said it was in the interest of adult companies to participate because they could "clearly label themselves" and avoid being confused with the illegal child pornography industry.

"In layman terms, the porn and child porn industry get intermingled. Legitimate adult industry companies do not deal with child pornography," Lawley said. "This scheme would allow adult companies to step forward and clearly identify themselves as a legitimate adult entertainment site."

Lawley also disagreed that the .xxx domain was purely a "get-rich-quick scheme," pointing out that ICM Registry had offered to donate $10 annually per domain to charities that fight child pornography. "This could have been $5 (million) or $10 million dollars per year, which is a pretty good effort," he said. "Other (domain owners) give only $1 per domain per year."

Ingrid Marson of ZDNet UK reported from London.

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