Today was also the day that a blockbusting breakthrough was reached on that other issue that has been tying the adult online industry in knots: the new [dot]xxx domain that was intended to either protect (according to supporters) or to ghettoize (according to opponents) adult online content.
Many of you have heard of the lawsuit filed by the porn conglomerate Manwin (and its child production company Digital Playground) against the ICM Registry, which originated and owns the [dot]xxx domain top level domain (TLD).
When [dot]xxx first was approved in 2011, it faced a world of opposition from many in the adult industry; including concerns that ICM was essentially price gouging performers and owners of adult sites by forcing them to pay exorbitant fees for setting up [dot]xxx sites, lest that the usual content theives would swoop in and buy [dot]xxx domains for pilfering legitimate adult [dot]com sites. There was also the fear that politicians would exploit the making of a "safe space" through legislation to force all of adult content from [dot]com to [dot]xxx, for ease of censorship through filtering. (The Religious Right opposes [dot]xxx, though, for the diametrically opposite reason of wanting to legislatively censoring adult content altogether.) That was the main impetus behind Manwin's original suit, filed in December of 2011.
Well....today, after about a year and a half of judicial wrangling, the two sides decided to call it even and reach a settlement. Here's the basic details, courtesy of XBiz.com:
According to the deal announced today, Manwin said the company negotiated a lower price for newly created .XXX domains created this month.I would assume that the fund that Manwin says that ICM would contribute to probably means the Free Speech Coalition...but we'll see.
".XXX domains will be made available to registrars at a substantially discounted wholesale price of $7.85, which is the current wholesale price of a .com. ICM will run similar price promotions in future years as well," Manwin said.
"Furthermore, ICM has agreed to contribute $2 for every new .XXX domain name registration created after April 30. The monthly contribution will be made to a fund designated by Manwin to support the adult entertainment industry. These funds are in addition to ICM's contributions to IFFOR."
With the agreement, Manwin said that it will now permit content from or advertising for .XXX websites on its tube sites.
"In addition, Manwin related properties will allow websites hosted on .XXX sites to participate in any of its affiliate and promotional programs generally available to other website operators."
ICM Registry, with the deal, acknowledges that websites hosted on their adult -specific TLDs are not the only responsible and safe adult content websites, Manwin said.
"Both parties feel that these arrangements will set precedent for trade and consumer benefit and protection for the online space," Manwin said.
It's not too surprising that within minutes of the announced settlement, ICM Registry was bolting out emails to anyone and everyone associated with the adult industry (moi included) selling [dot]xxx domains for low, low, low prices during the month of May. The average warehouse price for [dot]xxx TLD's was running near $62 per domain; the special "sale" slashed those prices down to a base of $7.85, plus the regular kickback for the domain register. As a quick look around the ICM Registry [dot]xxx registration page shows, the average is around $8-10 to purchase a domain.
Another byproduct of the settlement is that it would clear the way for ICM Registry to move forward with its attempt to create new adult oriented TLDs, such as [dot]adult, [dot]porn, and [dot]sex (the latter in competition with another group called Internet Marketing Solutions, Ltd.). ICM promises that when those TLD's are approved, those who purchase [dot]xxx domains would be allowed to be grandfathered to them at no cost.
However, as much as this development does resolve many issues about adult domains, it also raises a few more questions. Like: how long will ICM allow for this crash sale of [dot]xxx TLD's before they go back to their old price gouging ways of charging nearly $50-60 per TLD?? Will the slashed prices create a rush of legitimate adult site owners to buy clone [dot]xxx copies of their [dot]com sites in order to beat the cybersquatters and content thieves waiting in the wings? Will Manwin use their pull to attempt to rip off independent performers through clickjacking and other means of stealing their content? How would this affect home-grown adult websites that don't have Manwin's bucks? Will the ensuing condom mandate affect the purchase of [dot]xxx sites for storing and illegally selling bareback porn?? And, will this stimulate political attempts at ghettoizing adult content by forcing [dot]coms to these new adult TLD's?
Plenty of questions yet to be resolved..but at least the threat of price gouging is thwarted, for now.