ICANN rejected ICM Registry's application for a sponsored .xxx top-level domain in March 2007 after a three-year process that reportedly cost ICM Registry more than $4 million.
"ICM has been wrongfully denied the opportunity to operate the proposed .xxx [sponsored top-level domain] and gain the significant ‘first mover' business advantage that would have flowed from its registry contract for what has always been regarded as one of the more sought-after and popular expected new TLDs," Lawley wrote. "Further, ICANN's rejection of ICM's application has denied the benefits the sTLD would have provided to the sponsored community and other stakeholders, namely, empowering individuals wishing to select or avoid such adult content websites to do so easily and establishing a forum for the online adult entertainment community to communicate and proactively respond to the needs and concerns of the broader Internet community.
"Indeed, this case - a first of its kind - strikes at the very heart of Internet governance. The arbitrary and discriminatory manner in which ICANN treated ICM's sTLD application requires a re-evaluation of such fundamental questions as who should govern the Internet and how should the Internet be governed. Under these circumstances, nothing less than an independent, impartial and objective assessment of the facts and the law, as they apply to ICANN's decision to reject ICM's application, is required. Ultimately, the independent review and the resulting declarations from the three-member panel will put to the test ICANN's true commitment to its core values and limited mission."
Despite apparent opposition from the adult industry over the proposed .xxx top-level domain, Lawley told AVN Online that the proposal was meant to serve those in the adult industry who wanted a system of self-identification and self-regulation with the cooperation of the other affected stakeholders.
"The number of expressions of support from many members of the adult industry vastly outweigh the opposition by a significant factor," he said.
Brandon "Fight the Patent" told AVN Online that Lawley tried to show ICANN a list of adult companies who endorsed the .xxx top-level domain as "representative" of the adult industry in order to prove that they had community support.
"The emails and letters put together by the Free Speech Coalition and myself for ICANN clearly showed the adult industry did not want the .xxx TLD," he said, adding that ICM Registry's list of companies that supposedly supported the .xxx domain was never disclosed. "When the ICANN directors voted last time, the majority concluded that the ‘community' did not want .xxx, and a lot of ICANN member countries did not want .xxx, either. They voted, and the outcome was .xxx was to be rejected."
Nevertheless, Lawley said he believes that the sponsored community is behind the proposal.
"The proposal was verified by the expressions of support described above and over 100,000 pre-reservations already made," he said. "The community the TLD was meant to serve has embraced the proposal in great numbers, which would probably make the .xxx TLD ICANN's most successful sponsored TLD to date."
Tom Hymes, a Free Speech Coalition board member and longtime opponent of ICM Registry's .xxx application, said it is "unfortunate" that ICM Registry maintains that ICANN board members who rejected the .xxx top-level domain were motivated by government influences and political agendas.
"I am confident the current board will not bend to such an extreme conspiracy theory," he told AVN Online.
Lawley predicted that the .xxx domain eventually will be added to the Internet Root Zone File. He encourages members of the adult industry to support .xxx and pre-register their names with ICM Registry.
Lawley's full announcement is posted on ICM Registry's website.