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Porn-Industry Outsiders Fear 'Shakedown' In .XXX TLD 245

Posted by timothy
from the sure-would-be-a-shame-if-anything-was-t'-happen dept.
The long-debated .XXX top-level domain opens this week; reader SonicSpike sends a snippet from the Washington Times about what may turn into a hornet's nest of anger at how the new domain is being used: "Some adult-entertainment companies are balking at the entire scheme, saying that ICM Registry LLC, which is overseeing .xxx registrations worldwide, does not have permission to sell the .xxx version of trademarked names and brands. In addition, the Florida-based company is raising eyebrows — and charges of 'shakedown' — by trying to get non-porn companies to pay to prevent their brands from being registered as .xxx sites. After all, what maker of baby food or children's movies, for example, would want to have sites such as gerber.xxx or disney.xxx floating around the Internet?"
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Porn-Industry Outsiders Fear 'Shakedown' In .XXX TLD

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    We hope you enjoy your stay.

    • by Grishnakh (216268) on Monday September 05, 2011 @07:41PM (#37311530)

      No, it's more like, "Welcome to Florida". The level of corruption in this state is unbelievable. Lawyers mismanaging senior citizen trust funds is rampant in Florida, and there's absolutely nothing that family members can do about it. Any time a lawyer gets a hold of a senior citizens' funds because that person is incapacitated, the lawyer immediately makes up all kinds of bogus legal fees and charges them to the person's account, draining their funds in a matter of months. It's impossible to file a Bar complaint, because that will cause the lawyers to sue the complainant, and the Bar tells that to anyone who calls them to file a complaint about an attorney.

      This kind of corruption is nothing new in the USA, but it's raised to an absurd level in Florida. Apparently, a lot of people are so mad about it that they're going to stage an event where they fly planes with banners protesting the state of affairs over the county court houses all across the state, at the same time.

  • Gerber.xxx? (Score:5, Funny)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday September 05, 2011 @04:57PM (#37310752) Journal
    Does Gerber have any idea what big appetites adult-baby fetishists must have? Ka-ching!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Not nearly enough money there to offset the loss of business from social conservatives boycotting Gerber. Pornography is still frowned upon in America, and there are vast swaths of the country where the 1950s sentiments about pornography and family values are not a thing of the past. People still believe that pornography turns men into rapists and child molesters, and you can bet that Gerber does not want anyone to associate their corporate image with that sort of thing, even if there are a minority of pe
      • by Discopete (316823)

        Not nearly enough money there to offset the loss of business from social conservatives boycotting Gerber.

        Which is why the lawsuit damage amount will be staggering. Same with disney.xxx. These companies can bring millions of dollars in legal muscle to bear when it comes to protecting their names and IP. Just the 'goodwill' & defamation of company character amounts will be huge.

    • In other news (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Mensa Babe (675349) * on Monday September 05, 2011 @05:37PM (#37310998) Homepage Journal
      In other news, Verisign is trying to get non-stupid companies to pay to prevent their brands from being registered as company-is-stupid.com sites. After all, what serious book publisher or university, for example, would want to have sites such as amazon-is-stupid.com or mit-is-stupid.com floating around the Internet?
      • by Ashriel (1457949)
        That's just terrible. The internet is supposed to be all about free expression, no? Allowing companies to pay to block those who would mock them flies right in the face of that idea. If said companies are so concerned, they should be buying up name-is-stupid domain names themselves (and whatever other variations they can come up with). If they miss a few, well, they should have been more imaginative.
        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          The problem with that is it favours companies with lots of money and IT staff who can keep on top of it. It isn't just generic TLDs they have to worry about, there are all the country TLDs too.

          There is no good solution. Companies will always want to buy every variation of their name. The best we can do is ensure that name-is-stupid.com is protected if registered by an individual, but at the moment it all depends on the local trademark laws. It is worse for non-US companies because the supposedly generic TLD

      • In other news, Verisign is trying to get non-stupid companies to pay to prevent their brands from being registered as company-is-stupid.com sites.

        So, clearly, what we need here is a .stupid TLD. Then we can get all the stupid companies to take .stupid domain names, and the clever ones can stay as they are. That should work exactly as well as the .xxx TLD is going to work.

        Of course it all falls apart if someone is clever enough to take the "is-stupid" suffix and register it under .xxx, or indeed .stupid.

  • After all, what maker of baby food or children's movies, for example, would want to have sites such as gerber.xxx or disney.xxx floating around the Internet?

    They could spin it advantageously in the end...somehow.

  • by msobkow (48369) on Monday September 05, 2011 @04:57PM (#37310760) Homepage Journal

    I don't see how this is any different than worryabout trademark registrations for .edu, .net, .org, or the country code TLDs.

    If you really want to protect your trademark, you have to register an awful lot of TLDs just to cover one variation on a name.

    Fortunately the convention seems to be that whoever registers for a .com, first implicily has the rights to that name in other .TLDs.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday September 05, 2011 @05:01PM (#37310792) Journal
      It isn't fundamentally different(which is, in large part, why those horrible 'arbitrary-string TLD' people must die); but I suspect that .xxx is slightly worse than some, in that(unlike .net) it is largely useless to 'mainstream' trademark holders except on defence, and (unlike .edu) there aren't substantial restrictions on who can register for .xxxes, and, (unlike weirdo country-code TLDs) .xxx is likely to be more recognizable than the obscure ones; but not useful for subsidiaries/marketing in the major-market ones. Just a pure shakedown.
      • by Culture20 (968837)
        If it works, maybe they'll make a .goatse TLD to do another shakedown.
      • by ShakaUVM (157947)

        >>Just a pure shakedown.

        If only the ICANN had done a request for comments from the public, maybe these problems could have been identified in advance.

        Oh, wait, they did.

        It was a terrible idea then, and a terrible idea now, which got rejected repeatedly, until a bunch of money got dangled in front of their face.

    • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@hacki s h . o rg> on Monday September 05, 2011 @05:01PM (#37310794)

      It's similar in a way, and they already have been trying to push that (all the registrars nag, sometimes insistently, about registering variants). At first glance this raises the stakes by putting forth the possibility of someone not only squatting on a variant of your name, but an "unsavory" version of it. disney.info is squatting, but disney.xxx maybe would damage the brand. Like if there were a .felon domain name and someone registered your full name dot felon or something.

      On the other hand, it's long been possible to convert a non-offensive domain name into an offensive domain-squat by just putting up unsavory content on the domain, like in the ol' whitehouse.gov/whitehouse.com thing.

      • I dont know about .felon, but just imagine the fun of trying to sell .scam to a Nigerian prince or two! (and registering .scum domains for a few banks as well)
      • by martin-boundary (547041) on Monday September 05, 2011 @06:42PM (#37311306)
        Hold on a second. Just who is domain squatting whom in disney.xxx? I get that a corporation like Disney feels that wherever their name appears it somehow means that they own it, but to be fair, .xxx is intended to convey information to *us, the web surfing public* that we can and should expect pornographic material.

        As such, if disney.xxx is reserved for Disney, *they* are the ones squatting on a potentially legitimate pornographic website. That's wrong, and shouldn't be encouraged. After all, xxx isn't intended for them in the first place, and they certainly have no intention of using the domain appropriately for the TLD's purpose.

        • Easy answer. A domain squatter is someone who owns a domain and doesn't have nearly as much money as the person who wants it.

        • I like you. This is my point as well. Maybe I slept that day in marketing class, but how does the public really distinguish the brand trust between disney.xxx and disneyxxx.com? It's going to take a while before the average joe thinks "whatever.xxx" is actually a website. Google is going to be doing most of the work for the first year, as people search "whatever xxx" and end up at ://whatever.xxx/ first click.

          As such, if disney.xxx is reserved for Disney, *they* are the ones squatting on a potentially legitimate pornographic website. That's wrong, and shouldn't be encouraged. After all, xxx isn't intended for them in the first place, and they certainly have no intention of using the domain appropriately for the TLD's purpose.

          You win devil's advocate points, but are still morally bankrupt. ;) The idea of a "legitimate porno

          • by smartr (1035324)
            I'm sure the holders of trademarks will really like having a cheap obvious porno parody site where all you have to do is change dot com to dot xxx. MyLittlePony.xxx... It's way too obvious of a thing. Basically the .xxx domain sounds like an excuse to have a massive shakedown of companies.
    • Fortunately the convention seems to be that whoever registers for a .com, first implicily has the rights to that name in other

      Also fortunately, very few people would actually care if gerber.xxx was a porn site. For a long time whitehouse.com was a porn site. Was good for a laugh, but it wasn't like people were outraged thinking that Bush or Clinton or whoever was in the office at the time was filming all those lesbo scenes. How many people are going to type in gerber.xxx, get porn or viruses, and stop buying baby food?

      • by Culture20 (968837)
        Advertisements are usually about making a positive emotional association with a brand. Anything that makes a negative emotional association is bad and to be avoided. If 0.1% of moms stop buying Gerber because they were sent a link to gerber.xxx in an email, and only remember the "bad feeling" about that, it's still lost sales.
      • The porn site would be a LIE!

        I didn't get hot lesbian sex... I got BABIES... now those Gerber folks got me for the next 3+ years. It's some kind of ensnarement to get more business.

        (although Gerber should go after the 65+ crowd..it's bigger than the under 5 club. Gotta gum day food.)

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      its no different, just an extension of the same scam.

      I still remember when the top level names actually meant something.. ( and i think was enforced, or at least it seemed to be back then )

      Someone like Microsoft wouldn't be allowed to register a .org, or .net.. Now its a free for all, and forcing companies to take preemptive steps and forking out the cash. ( for a large company its not a lot of cash, but its still wrong.. and for a smaller company it can add up. )

      The entire name system is a total disaster

      • by tomhudson (43916)
        Just get the .com, .org, and .net, and ignore the rest. It's not like you'll get .edu, .mil, .gov or .arpa (the other 4 original TLDs), and the country-specific ones are worth less in terms of "where to go first" than having the canonical "Big Three."
    • by cfulmer (3166)

      If you really want to protect your trademark, you have to register an awful lot of TLDs just to cover one variation on a name.

      That's really a silly approach to trying to protect your trademark -- even with the top-level domains currently out there, there are just too many variations. Why is disney.xxx a big deal when they haven't registered disneyxxx.com or disney-xxx.com?

      If disney.xxx pops up, then Disney can file a UDRP complaint or a civil suit and get the domain taken down pretty quickly.

      Fortunately the convention seems to be that whoever registers for a .com, first implicily has the rights to that name in other .TLDs.

      That is certainly not true. Registering the .com does not give you rights to any others.

  • Its already against the law to make adult web sites with names to fool children. So making a Disney.xxx is already against the law. But since criminals break laws I'm sure someone will give it a try.As far as the other stuff well they have no one to blame but themselves. They were given the opportunity to self regulate and they failed very badly.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      against the law where ? there are 192 countries on this planet

    • by dgatwood (11270)

      Why would Disney.xxx be against the law? No child is accidentally going to go to Disney.xxx when they think they're going to Disney.com. They're going to have a little link on their bookmark bar to Disney.com. They would have to actually try if they wanted to get to Disney.xxx. And further, there's no possibility that a porn site would ever get confused with Disney, the children's programming company. No confusion, no trademark infringement. About the only thing that might make it dubious is the "famo

      • by gnapster (1401889)

        ...I question that trademarks are as strong as you think they are.

        If the registry for .xxx is based in Florida (the same state as several major Disney parks), I guarantee you that their trademark is much, much stronger than you think it is.

    • by sjames (1099)

      Not necessarily. By including .xxx in the domain, they are explicitly (pun intended) conveying that they are NOT a site for children. Further, they are making it quite simple for a responsible parent to block their child's access to their content.

      If the domain was picturesofdisney.com and "Disney" turned out to be a stripper, you'd have a point.

  • by Kral_Blbec (1201285) on Monday September 05, 2011 @05:04PM (#37310810)
    There is a clause that allows companies to register their own trademark domain for a steep discount if they don't intend to use it for adult content. A couple hundred bucks to a mega corp isn't a shakedown.
    • by characterZer0 (138196) on Monday September 05, 2011 @05:09PM (#37310840)

      A couple hundred bucks so something bad does not happen to you (wink wink) is a shakedown, regardless of how much money the shakee has.

    • by gstrickler (920733) on Monday September 05, 2011 @05:19PM (#37310898)

      If a trademark owner has to pay again each year to prevent their registered trademark from being used in each TLD, that sounds like a "protection racket" to me. And when they keep adding new TLDs, the cost and effort keeps rising each year. I don't know what the solution is, but the current system definitely resembles "paying for protection".

      • by Kalriath (849904)

        There is no renewal. The $200 fee (if your application is approved) results in a permanent, irrevocable, blacklist of that name. Even YOU cannot use the .xxx name if you successfully get it blacklisted.

        • While that's marginally than having to renew every year, it's still a $200 fee (plus accounting costs and the time to file the paperwork) that they don't have to pay now. And they'll face the same issue with each new gTLD. Still looks a lot like a protection racket.

          And taking it permanently out of use might make sense for some brands/trademarks, but for others, that could be a problem. If the company who owns a trademark goes out of business, or stops using it and eventually stops renewing the trademark whe

      • by snookums (48954)

        If a trademark owner has to pay again each year to prevent their registered trademark from being used in each TLD, that sounds like a "protection racket" to me. And when they keep adding new TLDs, the cost and effort keeps rising each year. I don't know what the solution is, but the current system definitely resembles "paying for protection".

        The solution is arbitrary, non-exclusive, TLDs.

        If there is a (potentially) infinite number of TLDs then these land-grabs and protection rackets become impossible. Just like how, the .com namespace right now, you cannot defensively buy every variation of insult couple with your brand. You might grab mybrand-sucks.com, and boycott-mybrand.com, but you miss mybrands-mother-was-a-hamster.com and all the rest. You wait and reactively fight these kinds of things with court injunctions when they become troublesome

    • That would be a couple of hundred bucks with renewal (Either annual or three-year I imagine). Still nothing to a megacorp, yes. But to a small business or a startup, that can be significent.
    • by nurb432 (527695)

      Ok, ill give you that on the huge companies out there, but what about a mom and pop shop that barley makes a living selling their home made widgets? Why should they have to defend themselves, in effect?

      $200 for .xxx $200 for .net, info, biz, bla bla bla.... ( and the time spent maintaining it all ) It does add up after a while.

  • That paper is about as serious as the Daily News.

    Submissions linking to it have no place here.

  • gerber are obviously just typosquatting gerbil.xxx, a domain which I expect to retail for plenty.

  • by jensend (71114) on Monday September 05, 2011 @05:15PM (#37310878)

    I'd like to see a scheme like the .xxx tld work well- simplifying things for people who don't want to encounter internet smut without error-prone filter setups and without futile attempts to keep that kind of stuff off the web entirely. But it looks like this is being done in the worst way possible.

    Exorbitant registration fees will make it so this will never serve its intended purpose- most smut will be hosted on normal tlds just to save on fees. And the claimed "shakedown" racket makes no sense. If there's going to be porn which (ab)uses your trademark, it's not like registering a domain will wipe it out or even make it significantly harder to find. The best route for normal businesses would be to just ignore everything under that tld. It's not like the old whitehouse.com problem- if somebody says "I went to gerber.xxx and was SHOCKED to see what was there! For shame!" there's the easy rejoinder "What exactly were you doing looking up gerber.xxx, and what did you expect to find on an .xxx domain? Why would you think that's affiliated with us at all?" But this greedy registry wants to wring extra dough out of people by playing on their trademark paranoias.

    • by Anthony Mouse (1927662) on Monday September 05, 2011 @06:01PM (#37311128)

      I'd like to see a scheme like the .xxx tld work well- simplifying things for people who don't want to encounter internet smut without error-prone filter setups and without futile attempts to keep that kind of stuff off the web entirely. But it looks like this is being done in the worst way possible.

      The trouble is that it can't work that way. You can't exclude all smut to a single set of domains for a large number of reasons. For one thing, nobody really agrees on a definition. For another, any single domain may contain a wide variety of things: You can find a metric ton of non-smut on tumblr, but you can also find plenty of naked women there too. And you basically end up with two choices: Either you banish all of those websites in their entirety to .xxx and then all of their non-smut content ends up behind the filter (and you hit First Amendment problems in the US), or you let websites containing smut use non-.xxx domains, but then the filter doesn't actually block the smut because nobody uses exclusively .xxx when they can reach a larger audience by paying another $8/year to get the equivalent .com domain.

      The problem is really with filtering in general, not with domains: You have a trade-off between false negatives and false positives. The only way to have a low number of false negatives is to have a high number of false positives and vice versa. And we decided a long time ago that it's better for government to accept the large number of false negatives and then let people choose for themselves what content they want to consume, than to have a government censorship board that decides what people can see and hear.

      • Isnt this a rather good place for TXT records? img.tumbler.com TXT contains:unfiltered-images,usercontent

        Worked for SPF, and would certainly get the job done easily. Let sites classify themselves, and have registrars enforce it.

        As for first amendment rights, as long as it is not being legislated or pushed into place by the government, what your employer filters is not a violation of your rights at all.

        • Isnt this a rather good place for TXT records? img.tumbler.com TXT contains:unfiltered-images,usercontent

          The trouble is that the tags don't tell you enough. Every website in the world has user content these days. If you block anything that approximately means "unmoderated user content" then you block everything from Slashdot to vendors' tech support forums to Google web search. But if you don't then you let through all the "explicit" content posted by users.

          As for first amendment rights, as long as it is not being legislated or pushed into place by the government, what your employer filters is not a violation of your rights at all.

          The only way the smut peddlers would actually register their content as smut is if the law required it; they know it means their site will be blocked and t

      • by jensend (71114)

        The disagreement about the definition of smut is exaggerated: just about everybody "knows it when they see it," to quote Judge Stewart, for the vast majority of cases. To pretend there's vast disagreement about it is just disingenuous.

        Sure, there's a bit of disagreement at the margins, and of course saying that a whole domain has to move to .xxx because of a pornographic image or two would be ludicrous. But I'm not talking about implementing a zero-false-negatives filter, especially not at a government leve

        • The disagreement about the definition of smut is exaggerated: just about everybody "knows it when they see it," to quote Judge Stewart, for the vast majority of cases. To pretend there's vast disagreement about it is just disingenuous.

          The problem, as always, is that "knows it when they see it" is not a meaningful legal test. Is a picture of a topless girl smut? What about a video showing two people having sex, but without showing any nudity? What if the same scene is three minutes long out of a 60 minute drama? What if it's three minutes out of 60, but the sex scene does show nudity? What if there is no sex or nudity at all, but a scene shows a woman striking another woman with a whip and presents the implication that she takes pleasure

    • by snowgirl (978879)

      ...But this greedy registry wants to wring extra dough out of people by playing on their trademark paranoias.

      But if I don't register my-trademark.xxx, then it could be claimed in court that I wasn't protecting my trademark, and thus it should be vacated...

      :( You know, I started this post off as a joke, but unfortunately, I suspect that someone could actually succeed at this claim... FSM, we need better trademark laws... :(

    • I don't want to encounter pictures of cats, i.e. girl porn. Segregating such quasi-bestiality and other perversions like facebook, blogs, etc. into an .xx domain would go much further into cleaning things up than trying to structure the internet around the mystification of human biology.
  • I continue to wonder whether any greedy porn king would have the slightest interest in "gerber" or "disney". If they had found a market in that, we'd already have Gerber_XXX.com or XDisney (like Xhamster). The brew-ha-ha may actually create a "Streisand Effect" causing domain squatters to go register domains they otherwise would not have considered (something I tried labelling the "streisand.xxx effect").

    "The Streisand effect is a primarily online phenomenon in which an attempt to hide or remove a piece

    • Which makes me also wonder... what's the big problem here? In the article, the only people complaining are the smut site operators because they don't like the idea of shelling out more of their "hard" - earned money on protecting their brands. As for other businesses, they really don't seem to have anything to worry about. If every Joe's Widgets Inc. had to worry about every TLD, they'd have to register over a hundred of them.

      Most people use a search engine to find what they're looking for. When they DO kno

  • by jbeaupre (752124) on Monday September 05, 2011 @05:26PM (#37310940)

    ICANN should make a few simple rules (i.e. easy to understand and to code). Good examples could be

    {domain}.com OR {domain}.xxx, but not both
    {domain}.TLD (original list) OR {domain}.(arbitrary TLD), but not both.

    These could be used to filter out online registrations. Obviously some sort of exceptions will crop up (playboy.com and playboy.xxx), which could be handled by certifying that the owner of the first registration is filing for the second. Registrars could charge extra for this manual red-tape exception.

  • Fifteen years ago, .org, .net and .com made sense and by and large companies registered the domain that made sense for their business.

    Then businesses decided that letting someone else own, say, cocacola.net didn't make a lot of sense from a branding point of view. (Which is entirely true; the domain system was devised with little thought given to commercial interests or how they'd likely play out).

    Today, most businesses of any size can be counted on to register every TLD that is even remotely well-known - i

    • It can get messy sometimes when there are multible trademark holders. The WWF (wrestling) and the WWF (wildlife) ended up in court over the rights to wwf.com and .org. Then there are some popular business names - there must be thousands called 'phoenix' because I've got a taxi company and two takeaways in my local area using that one.
      • A quick google, and.... yes, there is indeed a porn actress going by the stage name Phoenix. Plus the furrys too, of course.
  • I have a lot of "smut" like domains. I would say, I own about 50 non-variant domain names; non-variant bob.com and bobby.com count as one. Maybe a solid 35 of those are no doubt fine domains for a smut site. All for personal use, because I'm a geek and feel I ought to own my own domains, I do not make money from them or anything, I don't even check the mail going to many of them so even if someone wanted to buy one for millions I never saw the offer, nor do I want to see such an offer honestly. To me, i

  • I wonder. Basis for this are the fact that neither I nor nobody I know know anybody who ever actually watched pr0n. Even the s-f magazines like playboy are not read by anybody ever since I stopped buying the stuff 15 years ago and even then I was wondering how could a magazine survive if only one person buys and this not even on regular basis??? If that is so then I wonder why is this so important to have or not .xxx domain???
    • neither I nor nobody I know know anybody who ever actually watched pr0n.

      Are you sure you actually know anybody?

    • I truly doubt that none of your acquaintances or any of their acquaintances watches porn. It's not as if not knowing they watch it means no one does it. Do you have some sort of neighborhood porn investigation network in which you and your buddies talk about their abstinence from porn or something?

  • They rarely enforce the intended uses of the existing TLDs. Did you really think .xxx would be any different?

    • by mbone (558574)

      They rarely enforce the intended uses of the existing TLDs.

      I guess you haven't tried to get a .bank or .aero domain name.

  • Anyone who is surprised by this has simply not been paying attention.

  • Having com/org/net/xxx just confuses people. The TLD should be by country, with that country having complete control over it. If Iran wants to censor stuff they can but only for their own domain- and at the national firewalls going into the country. Same for the USA, same for Britain... Get rid of all these silly TLD's and just have national ones.

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