FSC's Duke Debates ICM's Lawley, Canadian Feminist Susan Cole

TORONTO—Wednesday morning, Free Speech Coalition (FSC) Executive Director Diane Duke engaged in a radio debate with ICM Registry CEO Stuart Lawley and Canadian feminist Susan Cole, the senior entertainment editor for Canada’s NOW magazine, about ICM’s application to run a .XXX sTLD.

The debate was moderated by Piya Chattopadhyay for Canada's national public broadcasting show The Current, to be broadcast on CBC Radio. It explored the issue of a .XXX sTLD from three perspectives: that of ICM as the sTLD applicant, the adult entertainment industry as the targeted sponsorship community, and from a feminist perspective on the societal impact of the proposed sTLD.

The first to be interviewed was Lawley, who touted that .XXX would be a TLD for the “responsible” adult entertainment community. Although he stressed that he believed the top-level domain would be financially advantageous for the adult entertainment community, Lawley also reported that ICM is expected to make between $30 million and $150 million a year off of the adult entertainment industry with this endeavor.

Duke, the second to be interviewed, pointed out that the adult entertainment community is concerned at the potential to mandate the sTLD, making the industry an easy target for anti-adult industry extremists. She also pointed out that with an sTLD, many adult businesses would be forced to defensively register their domain names to protect their brand and traffic. She acknowledged that the ICM CEO had mentioned the option to pay a one-time fee to “park” a domain, thus protecting brand and traffic. 

“In our initial discussions Stuart talked about a price of $25," she said. "Monday, I read somewhere that the price was between $50 and $250. And by Tuesday, a reporter I spoke with said that it was up to $275.”

Duke stressed that an industry hard hit by the recession and copyright infringement does not have the expendable income to invest in defensive registrations. Finally, Duke spoke of the regulatory board associated with ICM’s application.

“The nominating process and ultimate make-up of the board is still unclear,” she said. "To have a company that is not part of the adult industry oversee the regulation of our industry is simply untenable.”

Cole was asked if she thought that the sTLD should be mandated and all adult businesses be forced to have a .XXX TLD. She said that she believed that it should, that by mandating adult businesses viewers surfing the internet would not accidentally stumble on to porn sites.

Duke, identifying herself as a feminist and longtime advocate for women’s rights, said that she was surprised that Cole would take that stand knowing, from a feminist perspective, the dangers of marginalizing a community and limiting their right for free expression.

Cole’s response was that Canada does not have a First Amendment and does not hold free speech in the same esteem as those in the U.S.

Those wishing to hear the interview can access it July 1 on the CBC website at http://www.cbc.ca/podcasting/pastpodcasts.html?8#ref8.

More information about the debate can be found here.