September 19, 2005

.XXX domain "for chumps"

[I've written about what I call ".XXX domain pornography", that is, the sensationalism of the concept. I wrote the following message in general agreement with Lauren Weinstein's view that "dot-xxx is for chumps", and my missive was found worthy of the interesting-people list. The context is the recent decision by ICANN to delay domain approval]

Subject: Re: [IP] Open letter: Why "dot-xxx" is for chumps
> From: Lauren Weinstein <>
> So if dot-xxx arrives, my strong recommendation is that you ignore it.
> ...
> Dot-xxx is for chumps.

I concur with Lauren Weinstein's recommendation, but essentially from a different line of reasoning. While I'm not a lawyer, my study of Internet censorship cases indicates that, contrary to much of the censor's hype, there have always been ample defenses for out-and-out commercial pornographers (the battle has usually been over much broader or generally noncommercial expression). For example:

"Perversely, commercial pornographers would remain relatively unaffected by the [Communications Decency] Act, since we learned that most of them already use credit card or adult verification anyway. Commercial pornographers normally provide a few free pictures to entice a user into proceeding further into the Web site. To proceed beyond these teasers, users must provide a credit card number or adult verification number. The CDA will force these businesses to remove the teasers (or cover the most salacious content with cgi scripts), but the core, commercial product of these businesses will remain in place."

Dot-ex-ex-ex does not, in fact, actually DO anything notable in terms of ratings. It's utterly trivial, a standard one-item labeling system (I call these "Scarlet Letters"). These types of systems have been around for years, at no cost (yet), with built-in browser support, not tied to any TLD.

What ex-ex-ex will do, however, is produce an ongoing stream of monopoly rents for the company proposing it (ICM Registry), as speculators, cybersquatters, and site-owners wanting to protect their domain name recognition from the first two groups, all rush to pay through the [censored] for a TLD which basically nobody wants except those who stand to profit from it (obscenely!).

So, instead of making an argument from a free-speech point of view, I'm making an argument from a business point of view. As a product, ex-ex-ex mainly has no value except to enrich the sellers.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in | on September 19, 2005 11:59 PM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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