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New to the Internet: .xxx

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Steve Chiotakis: Online, we're all familiar with .com, .org, .net -- so-called "top-level domains." Tomorrow, there'll be a new one: .xxx. It's only for people and companies -- you guessed it -- affiliated with the adult entertainment industry. But .xxx could cause headaches for those of us who aren't in the adult industry.

Marketplace's David Gura explains.


David Gura: Stuart Lawley runs ICM Registry. That's the company that's going to oversee the .xxx domain.

Stuart Lawley: ICM Registry's slogan is: "Let's be adult about it."

Back in 2000, Lawley was retired. But he couldn't resist a big opportunity.

Lawley: It seemed clear that the Internet and the consumer would benefit from a clearly identified space on the Internet where users could choose to select or avoid adult content.

So, Lawley applied for a license to operate a new domain, and he finally got it -- 11 years later.

But not everyone's excited about .xxx. Kristina Rosette is a lawyer with Covington & Burling.

Kristina Rosette: I think it's probably fairly safe to say that no trademark owner outside of that adult entertainment industry community is likely to want their brand or their brands associated with a .xxx domain name.

There's a fear "cyber squatters" will register trademarked names. Lawley says there's a safeguard to reduce that risk. A 50-day "blocking period" starts tomorrow.

Lawley: Someone with a registered trademark who is not within the industry and doesn't want their name registered can apply to us. They pay a simple one-off processing fee, and the name is then permanently blocked.

But if a business doesn't fork over that fee -- a couple hundred dollars -- Kristina Rosette says it may have to pay a lot more in the long run.

Rosette: They're going to have to spend at least $4,000 or $5,000 -- minimum -- to get it back.

This is something millions of organizations will have to think about. And they're going to have to think about it again and again, because there may be hundreds of new domains next year.

In Washington, I'm David Gura for Marketplace.

About the author

David Gura is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the Washington, D.C. bureau.
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