The Internet’s new red-light district

Jun 20, 2012

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The new .xxx domain. Credit: ICM Registry LLC

Yes, the Internet is a tool which allows for communication on a global scale. Sure, you can use it to research hundreds of web sites about every topic imaginable. And of course, it’s a revolutionary technology which has changed everything about how you go about your daily life. But, it’s also a seemingly endless font of pornography.

Once scattered throughout the entirety of the World Wide Web, usually found for free on aggregate search sites, digital pornography is now given its own special section of the Internet. Stuart Lawley and his ICM Registry is selling the “.xxx” domain name to businesses for roughly $60 a year. In its first active fiscal quarter, ICM Registry has taken in $25 million for such names.

Lawley envisions these websites as a red-light district, but a responsibly run one. For instance, the company plans to institute a plan similar to iTunes for payment. Customers will pay 33 cents per video clip, in lieu of traditional forms of payment such as monthly memberships for unlimited content.

How will such a monetary structure affect the porn industry itself? Will users who have previously been able to get whatever they want for free pony up to pay for it? When can the “.xxx” domain name expected to be the universal digital home for pornography?


Paul Barrett, assistant managing editor and senior feature writer at Bloomberg Businessweek

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