Let’s be .adult about .porn – Rights Protection in the Adult-themed gTLDs

Every week one or two new gTLDs launch into the fast-becoming crowded domain space.  Some brand holders are already feeling the pressure caused by TLD-fatigue but now is not the time to take a nap or lose sight of what is coming over the horizon.  Looking the wrong way now may cause brand damage, with two new much-discussed gTLDs entering Sunrise on the 2nd March.

Edward Bernays is often referred to as the Father of Public Relations and it was in one of his studies of advertising to the female market that he came up with the famous slogan "sex sells".  From the hype over the release of the film 50 Shades of Grey to virtually every new music video aired on MTV, the sexualisation of products and services is inescapable.

Ed would almost certainly approve of the forthcoming release of the .adult and .porn Top Level Domains.  In grand Hollywood-style, the TLDs come to us "From the makers of .xxx", ICM Registry, who launched the original adult-themed gTLD nearly four years ago.  When it was launched, the TLD caused controversy in some quarters, with moral-objectors claiming that by highlighting a website as containing explicit content it would make it easier for minors to find inappropriate content.

The registry launched a revolutionary blocking product, one of the first Rights Protection Mechanisms we had seen in the domain world that allowed trademark holders to put their critical digital assets out of harm’s way, unless of course they were a bona fida member of the Adult Entertainment industry, in which case they could use it how they wanted.

The announcement that there would be a .adult, .porn and a .sex (arriving in the Autumn) may have had those same moral-objectors up in arms again, although the term "adult" has much more of a generic meaning than just for 18 plus material.  With the opportunity for public comment, objections and ranting now over, it's time to focus on the opportunities ahead.  This time the names will not be exclusively for the adult entertainment industry - any trademark holder or holder of the comparable .xxx name can grab a slice of the action and use it as they see fit although they are only available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Whilst few brand holders will not actively do anything with the two TLDs, the term "porn" is slowly becoming synonymous with general overindulgence.  Terms such as "food porn", "shoe porn" and "car porn" are often now used in describing gluttonous excesses, and as such expect some out-of-the-box thinkers to bring us some interesting new twists on the term that has had different connotations for many years.  One thing is for sure, the launch of these two new gTLDs will certainly get more people talking about them. And we all know there's only one thing worse than being talked about....