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by Stephen Logan on 16th August 2011
This is why domain squatting became such huge business in the last decade. You could buy up any number of .com’s, .co.uk’s or anything else with a company’s name attached and wait for them to come and ask you for the rights. If they didn’t cough up, you could (theoretically at least) put whatever you wanted on that domain.
Thanks to tighter regulation and a number of high profile cases, this kind of deliberate domain squatting is dying out. However, it is far from extinct. Therefore, whenever a new type of generic top-level domain (gTLD) appears, businesses of all sizes need to make sure that they are fully covered once again.
This is particularly prevalent with the upcoming introduction of the .xxx gTLD. Here is an extension that has been developed with the sole purpose of ring fencing adult material. Therefore if somebody stumbles onto a site on this domain, it’s safe to say that they should be over the age of 18 to do so.
So what should a business do with .xxx? Should they buy up the equivalent domain(s) names to prevent others taking advantage or simply ignore it and hope nothing happens?
You’ve got to assume that there won’t be too many people typing in Tesco.xxx by accident, or specifically looking for illicit material. Equally, Google is unlikely to rank a .xxx site all that highly, particularly when compared with more established gTLDs. But there is still the very real risk that anybody could hijack a brand name and create any kind of site, if you don’t get there first of course.
Fox highlighted this dilemma in a recent post, in which it found brands like MTV and even the Red Cross have felt it necessary to invest in a domain designed for pornographic content. The purported $200 fee for purchasing the new gTLD isn’t a bank breaker, but it does obviously pose some significant moral and ethical issues – particularly for brands targeting younger audiences.
So should there be a Disney.xxx, a BBC.xxx or a Whitehouse.xxx? Fortunately through redirects, nobody needs to know. But it does create an unusual problem. Most new gTLDs tend to be rather generic and have no obvious connotations, which makes it an easy decision for most to buy up the domain. However, with .xxx scheduled for a full public roll-out in December, brands need to make up their mind soon on what they want to do.