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Sex sells: how to make $200 million a year with three letters and a dot

Ever wondered what goes wrong in the glamorous world of Internet pornography? It’s not just the mud-wrestling competitions and desperate housewives being naughty which can cause trouble in this otherwise peaceful world of endless love… making.

It’s time for ICM Registry, a provider of Internet domain names, to get ‘dirrrty’ too.

From 2012, ICM will launch the suffix .xxx in order to promote “responsible and safe behaviour” whilst users engage in all manner of stimulating activities.

After 11 years of hard work and investing $22 million, Stewart Lawley, the owner of ICM, finally got the .xxx suffix awarded by ICANN, the net’s address regulator. This is expected to earn his company an estimated $200 million for every single pleasure-filled year.

The content will be run through an anti-virus program and child pornography will be banned from the sites. Lawley hopes that his policy of Safer-Cyber-Sex, will encourage consumers to use and trust the .xxx sites.

But it’s not only the traditional anti-porn lobby of conservative Americans who are trying to spoil ICM’s party. But also the porn industry is anything but happy as Larry (fact fans: Larry Flynt, publisher of Hustler Magazine, was voted most powerful person in porn in 2003).

What’s the catch? Well, charging $60 for each address is going to cause trouble, since it is ten times more than what other branches have to pay for a top-level domain (TLD) address.

Manwin Licensing which represents Playboy is filing a lawsuit, arguing that costs are going to rise dramatically since they have to register all the many misspelled versions of their site too. Furthermore, they claim that there is chance of developing a virtual red light district, which would facilitate censorship.

Manwin is suing ICANN, which awarded ICN with the juicy suffix, accusing the regulatory body of failure to encourage genuine competition and instead establishing a “monopoly at the very heart of the Internet” according to Fabian Thylmann, managing partner of Manwin.

Is there going to be a happy ending for .xxx, as is so common in this industry? This lawsuit involves some of the largest players on the Internet: the porn industry and Internet registry, who may be accused of taking advantage of the fact the porn sites visitors are willing to pay any amount for a bit of virus-free fun, because even in the Internet you have to protect yourself from STDs (Suspiciously Transmitted Data).

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