BRUSSELS, Belgium—The organization responsible for managing domain name systems is expected to approve the .XXX top-level domain solely for porn tomorrow after a contentious and expensive 10-year battle, according to reports.
TheRegister.uk is reporting that ICANN general counsel John Jeffrey said today that the group’s board of directors is likely to approve .XXX at its meeting in the Belgian capital tomorrow.
Free Speech Coalition board member and attorney Reed Lee told AVN that ICM Registry Chairman Stuart Lawley has always made it seem that his company’s sponsorship of .XXX was looming.
“Stuart has a way of making everyone believe that this has always been imminent,” Lee said. “The board at the public comment session today indicated what it has in mind and I’d be very surprised if anything in the public comment period changed its view. It said that it’s going to have some further expedited review of some issues before making any final decisions. I take the word 'expedited' seriously. The board realizes that this process has gone on a long time and wants to see an end to it. It clearly indicated that some questions remain and we believe that those questions will not be answered well.”
One of the questions Lee alludes to is the adult community’s vehement opposition to .XXX. ICM has long claimed that the sponsorship issue is resolved and that the industry supports .XXX—a point Free Speech Coaltion Executive Director Diane Duke strongly denies. Duke is currently in Brussels at the ICANN meeting to represent the adult industry’s interests.
“We understand that Lawley wants the adult entertainment community to believe, and he’s wanted them all along to believe, that this was imminent, that this was a sure thing,” FSC Board Chairman Jeffrey Douglass told AVN. “And he’s got to continue to play that game. So I haven’t the slightest doubt that he will portray tomorrow—whatever happens—as ‘just a few more steps.’ But we think there’s room for him to stumble in those last few steps."
“Specifically the sponsorship community issues have not been resolved, and that’s a serious problem, obviously," Douglas continued. "Clearly the [ICANN] board has continuing concerns about the sponsorship criteria.”
While the battle is not over, the .XXX TLD seems closer to being a reality—at least since its last vote—which would strike a major blow to the adult entertainment industry that has loudly and consistently opposed any such TLD.
Regardless of the industry’s vehement opposition to the creation of .XXX, Lawley and ICM have bullishly attempted to push it through using every legal tool at their disposal.
The saga of .XXX is a long and costly one. ICM initially won approval of .XXX in 2005, but it was rejected in 2007 on the grounds that the adult industry didn’t support it—a widespread position that still holds true today. For the .XXX TLD to be approved, it must be “sponsored”, or supported, by the industry itself.
ICM and Lawley took the case to arbitration claiming that the .XXX rejection broke ICANN’s bylaws. The panel of three retired judges agreed, which leaves the approval of .XXX up for a re-vote expected to happen tomorrow.
“I understand the immense pressure ICANN is under in regards to this decision, including though not limited to longstanding threats of litigation by ICM itself, which also has spent millions in legal fees to push the decision through,” Duke said in 2007. “FSC does not wish to add to your pressure, but a proposal for a ‘sponsored’ top-level-domain by a company that is not of the industry, with the added intent to ‘regulate’ an industry it knows nothing about, is simply untenable.”
ICM plans to sell .XXX domains at wildly inflated prices (compared to a regular .com name). The TLD’s content policies will be set by IFFOR, the International Foundation for Online Responsibility, a group ICM and Lawley created themselves to act as the sponsoring organization.
This point particularly incensed Duke.
“However, we also want to stress that the current structure of IFFOR, the sub-organization that would set policies for all .XXX domains, is wholly unacceptable to FSC no matter the final verdict regarding sponsorship,” she said. “Our resolute position is that no self-respecting industry would ever agree to have a minority voice on a board tasked with setting critical policies for its members.”
AVN Senior Editor Tom Hymes is on the scene in Brussels. Check back with AVN.com today for more news and analysis.