The ICANN board of directors said it will publish the final Applicant Guidebook for new top-level domains before the public meeting in Cartagena this December.
(UPDATE: that statement is not 100% accurate. See this post for an update.)
The decision came at the end of its two-day retreat in Trondheim, Norway yesterday, which seems to have left a number of important issues as yet unresolved.
The matters of registry-registrar cross ownership and morality and public order objections are both still unfinished business, while the intellectual property lobby has at least one bone thrown its way.
On the morality or “MOPO” problem, now known as the “Rec6” problem, the board had this to say:
The Board will accept the Rec6 CWG recommendations that are not inconsistent with the existing process, as this can be achieved before the opening of the first gTLD application round, and will work to resolve any inconsistencies.
The Rec6 working group had recommended a re-framing of the issue that would eliminate the possibility of any one government blocking a new TLD application based on its own laws and interests.
So the board resolution sounds like progress, until you realize that every decision on new TLDs made at the retreat is going to be re-evaluated in light of a shamefully eleventh hour wish-list submitted by the Governmental Advisory Committee on Thursday.
Having failed to get what it wanted through cooperation with the Rec6 working group, the GAC essentially went over the heads of the GNSO, taking its demands directly to the board.
So much for bottom-up policy making.
Resolved (2010.09.25.02), staff is directed to determine if the directions indicated by the Board below are consistent with GAC comments, and recommend any appropriate further action in light of the GAC’s comments.
In other words, the board may only accept the parts of the Rec6 recommendations that the GAC agrees with, and the GAC, judging from its latest missive, wants the first round of applications limited to purely “non-controversial” strings, whatever those may be.
The board also made no firm decision of the issue of registry vertical integration and cross-ownership. This is the entirety of what it said on VI:
The Board will send a letter to the GNSO requesting that the GNSO send to the Board, by no later than 8 October 2010, a letter (a) indicating that no consensus on vertical integration issues has been reached to date, or (b) indicating its documented consensus position. If no response is received by 8 October 2010, then the Board will deem lack of consensus and make determinations around these issues as necessary. At the time a policy conclusion is reached by the GNSO, it can be included in the applicant guidebook for future application rounds.
That’s actually borderline amusing, given that the GNSO working group on VI has recently been waiting for hints from the board about what it intends to do, rather than actually getting on with the job of attempting to create a consensus policy.
The bone I mentioned for the trademark crowd amounts to knocking a week off the length of time it takes to resolve a complaint under the Uniform Rapid Suspension policy.
The Trondheim resolutions also make it clear that the ICANN board will only be required to vote on a new TLD application in limited circumstances, such as when an objection is filed.
For all other applications, a staff mechanism for rapidly signing contracts and adding TLDs to the root will be created.