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Update: GoDaddy Charging Massive Premiums for .XXX Domains; FSC Comments

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from www.pcmag.com – GoDaddy.com has rolled out prices for the first .XXX domain names, with adult content providers charged as much as 17 times the cost of a standard .com domain name.

GoDaddy, which claims to be the world’s largest Web hosting provider, will charge existing porn purveyors $209.99 for a one-time non-refundable application fee, which includes the first year of service. That .XXX domain renews at $99.99 per year. Meanwhile, GoDaddy charges $11.99 for a standard .COM domain name, and charges the same price per domain for renewals.

GoDaddy will charge $209.99, its highest price, during the so-called “Sunrise AT/AD” period, when adult content providers with existing domains or trademarks can register their existing domains with an .XXX extension.
The ICM Registry, which manages the TLD for individual registrars, said that the Sunrise AT/AD period will begin on Sept. 7 and run through Oct. 28.

The .XXX top-level domain was approved in March, carving out a “red light district” within the Internet for adult content providers. Porn providers said they had no need for the new TLD, which would simply add additional cost burdens.

And GoDaddy’s fees indicate that adult content providers apparently will be charged far more than they anticipated. In March, when the adult industry was evaluating – and protesting – the new proposed .XXX top-level domain, the Free Speech Coalition said it believed that .XXX would add seven times the cost burden of existing domains and registrations, or about $60 to $70 per domain name. Joanne Cachapero, the membership director and a spokeswoman for the FSC, said then that the new .XXX domain would add seven times the existing cost burden to existing domains and registrations.

The .XXX domain is just the first of the so-called “generic top-level domains (gTLDs,” which were also approved in March. The so-called “.anything” domains (which can be dot-anything, from .APPLE to .PIZZA to .ZEBRA) have also worried trademark experts.

A spokesman for GoDaddy.com confirmed the registration prices, which do not appear on the company’s Web site. However, he was not able to supply a statement by press time as to why GoDaddy charged far more for a .XXX domain than a .COM domain.

ICM Registry’s .XXX process also allows – or requires, depending upon your perspective – major corporations to protect their domains from being associated with porn.

Participants in the “Sunrise B” group, which also begins on Sept. 7, are the opportunity for businesses, like Kmart, for example, to pay a $199.99 fee per domain and block domains like kmart.xxx from ever coming into existence.

Members of the Sunrise A and B groups must have verified trademarks that they wish to protect. On Nov. 8, a “Landrush” group opens up, without the needs for qualification requirements but with pre-registration options. GoDaddy will charge $199.99 for the fee and first year. The general public can also apply for .xxx domains on a first-come, first-served basis beginning on Dec. 6; for these, GoDaddy will charge $99.99 per year. “Landrush” and general availability renewals will cost $99.99 per year.

Some porn providers have argued that existing sponsors are going away, even as costs are going up. That’s meant the demise of the so-called “mom-and-pop” porn site, in favor of larger corporations. At the dame time porn providers worried that a competitor could essentially steal their site’s .XXX domain, they also worried that an .XXX site could be easily filtered, making their investment worthless.

Instead of protesting, the Free Speech Coalition is mustering its legal resources, providing a legal form letter for adult content providers to send to the ICM Registry and notify it that it does not have the legal right to sell domains based on existing registered trademarks.

“FSC is inviting adult businesses to put ICM Registry on notice that they do not have permission to sell the .XXX version of their trademarked names and brands,” said FSC’s executive director, Diane Duke. “It is critical that ICM Registry understand that the adult community will not tolerate ICM’s business model, which is built on frightening existing adult companies into paying ICM in order to protect their brand and trademark.”

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