.XXX – A New Domain for the Porn Industry?

Posts about porn always get a lot of hits, so here is some interesting business news from the industry.

The CliffsNotes version of ICM Registry's proposal goes like this: .xxx will be a sponsored TLD as opposed to a general TLD. Sponsored TLDs, like .museum or .aero, are maintained for the use of a specific industry or group; general TLDs like .org and .com are for anyone's use. Should it be approved, look for a TLD specific to the adult industry to be available sometime in 2005. Webmasters who choose to adopt .xxx domain names will be voluntarily identifying themselves as members of the adult community; in spite of the sincere hopes of the Religious Right and the worst fears of free speech advocates, no one will be forced into accepting a .xxx address and dropping their .com… at least under current law and this proposal.

Should the .xxx TLD be established, an interested party will buy a domain name from a re-seller (much like .coms are purchased now.) ICM registry will sell them to middlemen for around $60 each, and the reseller's mark-up to consumers will likely push the price to around $75 per. After that, the new domain names will "work" the same way .coms and .nets function.

Ideally, those who choose to adopt a .xxx TLD will belong to a more responsible group of Webmasters. They will have a trade organization to speak on their behalf as well as an established set of responsible business practices to live up to. The non-profit trade group, The International Foundation For Online Responsibility (IFFOR), will be funded by the sale of .xxx domain names, and, in a perfect world, will provide heretofore-unknown legitimacy to the adult Internet industry.

I think the porn industry has a very interesting strategic choice here, which is reflective of a larger choice that they must make. Do they attempt to establish themselves as more legitimate, or do they try to get people to unknowingly visit their sites, in hopes that people who wouldn't ordinarily seek out porn will find something they like?