PR-disaster fearing companies snatch up .xxx websites

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While primarily advertised as a place where online adult entertainment could be safely hosted, the web’s answer to a red-light district — the recently launched .xxx domain name — is seeing a brisk trade, but not from adult entertainment companies.

As the promo pitch for .xxx sites states, “perhaps you’d like to create an adult entertainment website”, however, it’s the remainder of that pitch statement, “or maybe you’re here to keep your brand from being registered as a .xxx by someone else,” which has seen business booming.

Rather than the adult entertainment industry being the largest customer, “non-porn players” have been snatching up .xxx domains.

Well-known universities and major companies have been among those who have quickly decided to heed the thinly veiled reference to a PR disaster, and cough up the US$200 needed to give them a decade’s control of their .xxx site.

“Basically, we’re trying to safeguard the university’s name and its trademark from being used by people in a manner we would find inappropriate”, a spokesperson for UC Berkeley said, explaining the university’s decision to purchase multiple .xxx sites.

Another, if not the most high profile .xxx customer, has been Google. Within days of the .xxx sale being launched it snatched up the YouTube .xxx iteration.

If one had thought Vatican.xxx would make a good joke, one would have to think again, seeing as a check shows that .xxx addresses “reserved from registration” include UCBerkeley, Stanford, Louvre, Sony, CocaCola, Vatican, and AFP as well as GirlScouts and BoyScouts.

ICM Registry — the company which holds the sole right to dole out .xxx websites — while happily accepting these fees from companies looking to protect their brands has also been doing some PR of its own.

In a press release it told of its “investigation of reported cybersquatting” declaring how it had suspended registrations which appear to involve unmistakable and blatant cybersquatting in violation of the Registry’s policies.

“ICM Registry has raised the bar on responsible registry operations and we intend to maintain the highest standards,” the registry’s chief executive Stuart Lawley says.

“We will not tolerate nefarious conduct and will exercise our right to take appropriate action when we detect widespread repeat patterns of cyber-squatting activity.” — with additional reporting by AFP

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