XXX marks the lawsuit from peeved porn giant

Manwin Licensing International says the new .xxx domain should be removed from the Web, alleging "monopolistic conduct" and "price gouging" by ICANN and the ICM registry.

Some porn companies don't like what they're seeing with the .xxx domains.
Some porn companies don't like what they're seeing with the .xxx domains. Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Porn bigwig Manwin Licensing International has filed a lawsuit arguing that the new .xxx top-level domain arises from a monopoly aimed at hurting the adult film industry.

According to the Wall Street Journal, which obtained the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California, Manwin specifically targets the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names & Numbers (ICANN), as well as ICM Registry, the company that is managing the domain. In the suit, Manwin argues that those companies have engaged in "monopolistic conduct, price gouging, and anticompetitive and unfair practices," according to the Journal.

Manwin is no slouch in the world of online porn. The Luxembourg-based company currently operates YouPorn, as well as the online sites for Playboy. All told, it attracts over 60 million visitors to its sites each day. The company was joined by porn filmmaker Digital Playground in the lawsuit.

For its part, ICM has yet to fully review Manwin's lawsuit, but the company told CNET that it's doubtful of its validity.

"ICM Registry is reviewing the filing," a spokeswoman told CNET in an e-mailed statement. "We are certain the claims are baseless and will vigorously defend this matter."

ICM's statement follows arguments the company has made in the past, claiming the .xxx domain is good for both consumers and porn companies.

"With all the sites malware scanned daily and properly labeled, it's a win for consumers of adult content who are now able to identify and select the sites they wish to visit more easily and safely," ICM chief Stuart Lawley said in a statement in September promoting the domain . "It is also a win for the adult entertainment industry as .xxx helps to ensure that responsible adult content is easily identified online, leading to greater and more predictable revenues."

But Manwin disagrees. In a statement to the Journal, the company said that it believes the .xxx domain creates "an unnecessary cost on everybody, without any benefit for the adult entertainment community."

Follks in the porn business have been making that argument for months now. In September, porn companies said that with an annual registration fee of about $60 for each Web address, along with being forced to pay approximately $100 to register each site, the costs quickly pile up, considering the firms need to buy several addresses to account for users mistyping names into their browser. What's more, operating .xxx sites will only add to the costs those firms are already incurring with their .com addresses.

But the porn industry's complaints over the domain go far beyond cost, with companies arguing that the top-level domain will make it too easy for countries to block their sites.

However, it's worth noting that the .xxx domain is voluntary, so porn companies that don't want to invest in it don't have to. Manwin, for example, has already said that it won't get .xxx addresses for its sites.

But that doesn't mean that other companies have followed suit. In the "sunrise" period opened in September for porn companies, ICM received 80,000 .xxx address applications. The second phase of the rollout, called "landrush," is under way to help current porn purveyors get their desired addresses before the public can start buying up domains on December 6.

ICANN gave the .xxx domain its official approval earlier this year . The organization also put ICM in charge of managing the domain and working with 50 registrars around the world to ensure they're offering the sites to prospective buyers.

For its part, ICANN wouldn't comment on the lawsuit, telling CNET in an e-mailed statement that its "attorneys are currently reviewing this and we have no other comment at this time."

Update at 11:14 a.m. PT to include ICM's statement.

 

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