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DotMusic fails the “not gay enough” community test

Kevin Murphy, February 11, 2016, 11:06:35 (UTC), Domain Policy

DotMusic’s Community Priority Evaluation for the .music gTLD has failed, after the CPE panel decided the company was just trying to exploit ICANN rules to get its hands on a valuable string.
In a decision (pdf) published last night, the company score 10 of the available 16 points, four points shy of a passing score. The panel wrote:

The Panel determined that this application refers to a proposed community construed to obtain a sought-after generic word as a gTLD. As previously stated, the community as defined in the application does not have awareness and recognition among its members. Failing this kind of “cohesion,” the community defined by the application does not meet the [Applicant Guidebook’s] standards for a community.

The CPE fell apart at the first hurdle, with the panel awarding 0 out of 4 points on the “community establishment”.
It essentially ruled that the “music community” does not exist, despite frequent statements to the contrary from DotMusic and its legion of supporters.
DotMusic appears to have been condemned for the same reason as dotgay, the failed .gay community applicant.
While DotMusic and dotgay lost points on different criteria, their undoing in both cases was attempting to define a community that their respective panels judged overly broad.
DotMusic’s application included a list of 40 or more North American Industry Classification System categories of industry that it said were within its music community.
However, where it said “music lawyers” or “music accountants”, it referred to the NAICS codes for just “lawyers” and “accountants”, the panel noted.
This seems to have been responsible to a large extent for it losing its points on the “community establishment” criteria.
The CPE panel could said that while its proposed community members exhibited a “commonality of interest” there was no evidence of “cohesion” among them.
Further, no one preexisting organization could be said to cover the interests of the over-broad community as defined. The panel wrote:

There should, therefore, be at least one entity that encompasses and organizes individuals and organizations in all of the more than 40 member categories included by the application. Based on information provided in the application materials and the Panel’s research, there is no entity that organizes the community defined in the application in all the breadth of categories explicitly defined.

A knock-on effect of this was that DotMusic also dropped a point on the “community endorsement” criteria, despite having hundreds of letters of support from members of the music industry.
It dropped a further point because the string “music” only “identifies” but does not “match” its proposed community.
DotMusic will perhaps not take comfort from the fact that its losing score of 10 comprehensively beat rival community applicant Far Further by seven points.
With both community applications ruled invalid, .music should now head to auction, where there are eight applicants in total.
But .music is a bit of a passion project for DotMusic CEO Constantine Roussos — one of the few applicants who publicly announced his intention to apply long before it was possible to do so — so I think an appeal through the ICANN process is inevitable.
While DotMusic has support from powerful music industry figures, I don’t think that support extends to the kind of financial backing that will let it win a seven-to-eight-figure auction.
Don’t expect to see .music in your registrar storefront any time soon.

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Comments (6)

  1. Christopher Ambler says:

    Wait, you mean someone who proposed a TLD before the land grab, worked on it for over a decade, played by the rules and simply tried to compete is now finding that ICANN will give all that work away to the highest bidder?
    Say it’s not true!

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      If being the first to put a dot in front of a dictionary word was sufficient to claim dibs on a TLD, every TLD would be owned by one person.

      • Christopher Ambler says:

        But if being the first to put a dot in front of a word, work with IANA to make the initial RFC for expansion, submit the formal application, pay the fee, put it all on hold to have government hearings, participate in the creation of ICANN over the course of three years, apply to ICANN and be told “we’re not turning you down, just waiting until the next round” by Vint Cerf acting as Chair, wait over a decade for another round and then be told, “never mind, if you apply you give up all rights and have to pay what will likely be over $20 million for this,” is sufficient, then yeah.

  2. R. Funden says:

    So, the betting pool for the auction is open.
    I have my 5 bucks on 23,5 million USD.

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