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Euro winemakers talk .wine boycott, EU block

Kevin Murphy, April 7, 2014, 09:28:06 (UTC), Domain Policy

European wineries are threatening to boycott .wine and .vin and may lobby for the two new gTLDs to be “blocked” in the EU.

The news follows ICANN’s decision to allow .wine and .vin applications to proceed over the objections of the EU, and its decision a few days later to put both strings on hold for 60 days.

The European Federation of Origin Wines said it was “sceptical” about the 60-day freeze, which was designed to give those who want protection for “geographic indicators” a chance for more talks with applicants.

The EFOW represents geographic indicator interests in France, Italy, Hungary, Portugal and Spain. It said in a press release:

EFOW announces that it envisages “appealing against ICANN’s two successive decisions”. The federation also recalls it “threatens to organise a boycott if the decision to delegate is taken without according GI protection. Moreover, it will also ask for the blocking of these sites in the EU”.

While “asking” is not “getting”, a EU-wide block on a top-level domain would certainly be unprecedented — exactly the kind of Balkanization of the DNS that every rational government strives to avoid.

I doubt the EU would go for it, in other words.

But EU bodies are fighting tooth and nail to get the GI protections that many of their winemakers are asking for.

The European Commission tried to frame the the .wine controversy as a test of the “multistakeholder” process in a press release Friday:

The new gTLDs “.wine” and “.vin” cannot be opened until the rights and interests of wine producers and consumers worldwide are duly protected. If ICANN wants to demonstrate that the multi-stakeholder approach to Internet Governance can work for all, its decisions have to protect the common good and not simply favour purely commercial decisions or the highest bidders.

The alternative argument would be that to bow to the demands of certain governments where the Governmental Advisory Committee cannot find consensus would be to make a mockery of the ICANN process.

The United States, Canada and Australia are among those disagreeing about the need for GI protections, making a GAC consensus impossible. Where the GAC does not have a consensus, ICANN does not have mandate to act.

Let’s not kid ourselves here: every government with an opinion here is just looking out for the commercial interests of its local businesses, so they’re all just as bad as each other in that regard.

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Comments (7)

  1. Andrew says:

    Ah yes, “boycotting” a domain. That works really well.

    As in, while the EU boycotts the domain people will quickly register all of the domains the EU doesn’t want registered by outsiders, such as Champagne.eu.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      Interesting example. Check out the web site at champagne.eu. The slogan is:

      “Champagne only comes from Champagne, France”

  2. “The new gTLDs “.wine” and “.vin” cannot be opened until the rights and interests of wine producers and consumers worldwide are duly protected. If ICANN wants to demonstrate that the multi-stakeholder approach to Internet Governance can work for all, its decisions have to protect the common good and not simply favour purely commercial decisions or the highest bidders.”

    We have made the same points for .music for the last few years. The ICANN process does not favor “money” (i.e the highest bidders or purely commercial interests). Anti-trust implications?

    I think we’ve made the same arguments for .music for the last few years right? Bottom line ICANN seems not to mind giving everything to Google, Amazon and Donuts. Expect the same issues to heat up for .music as well if ICANN rejects GAC’s Singapore Communique reiterating the Beijing and Durban Communiques advising ICANN to serve the public interest for those communities with demonstrable support.

    Process issues? Look at the Community Objections and you can prove beyond reasonable doubt a host of process issues and inconsistencies. CPE? That remains to be seen.

    The EU has many reasons to be upset. Everything they advise ICANN on (e.g auctions or .wine safeguards) is ignored. Expect things to heat up.

    • The ICANN process favors “money” (i.e the highest bidders or purely commercial interests).

      Sorry for typo. I do sometimes try to convince myself ICANN does not care about money being the determining factor for who wins a gTLD 🙂

  3. Rubens Kuhl says:

    I wouldn’t simplify countries positions as only being based on local business interests… US, Canada and Australia have local wine industries as well, and at least one US-based wine association (Long Island) joined the recent NGPC letter bomb. At least one other US wine producing region (Napa Valley) acquired GI protection in EU, Canada and Australia and would benefit from GI protection in .wine/.vin.

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