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French registrar gets Whois data waiver

Kevin Murphy, March 14, 2014, Domain Registrars

The French registrar OVH has been told by ICANN that it can opt out of a requirement to retain its customers’ contact data for two years after their domain names expire.

The move potentially means many more registrars based in the European Union will be able to sign the 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement and start selling new gTLD domains without breaking the law.

OVH was among the first to request a waiver to the 2013 RAA’s data retention provisions, which EU authorities say are illegal.

ICANN said last night:

ICANN agrees that, following Registrar’s execution of the 2013 RAA, for purposes of assessing Registrar’s compliance with the data retention requirement of Paragraph 1.1 of the Data Retention Specification in the 2013 RAA, the period of “two additional years” in Paragraph 1.1 of the Data Retention Specification will be deemed modified to “one additional year.”

It’s a minor change, maybe, and many EU-based registrars have been signing the 2013 RAA regardless, but many others have resisted the new contract in fear of breaking local laws.

Now that OVH has had its waiver granted, it’s looking promising that ICANN will also start to allow other EU registrars that have requested waivers to opt-out also.

ICANN has been criticized for dragging its feet on this issue, and I gather the OVH is still the only registrar to have been given the ability to opt out.

Disadvantaged kids need your money after terrible Name.com charity drive

Kevin Murphy, March 13, 2014, Domain Registrars

Domain name registrar Name.com carried out what can only be described as a completely abysmal charity fund-raising drive during this week’s South by Southwest conference, and disadvantaged kids need your help as a result.

During the conference, Name.com got one of its more photogenic customer support guys to go around the streets of Austin, Texas, asking random passers-by to high-five him.

The high-fives were recorded on a great big electronic device the guy carried on his back. For every high-five he got, Name.com promised to donate a nickel ($0.05) to charity.

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The campaign was videoed and published on the company’s blog (here, here, here, and here)

The end result of this was 10,000 high-fives, which raised an absolutely pointless $500 for the charity concerned, which is the Austin Children’s Center, a very worthy-sounding cause.

The Austin’s Children’s Center provides services for child victims of abuse in Austin, Texas.

But if you watch all of the Name.com videos linked to above, you’ll learn rather more about Name.com than you will about the charity it’s supposedly raising money for.

And all this effort raised a pathetic $500.

There are people reading this post who have regularly spent more than that on dinner.

During the final video, a representative of the charity, the Austin’s Children’s Center, says “We have to raise 65% of our annual budget, and this year it’s $7 million.”

So Name.com raised a whopping 0.007% of its chosen charity’s annual funding needs, while putting rather a lot of effort into attempting to raise its own corporate profile.

I gather that the highfive-counting electronic gizmo that the CSR carried around on his back in the videos costs around $1,200 to buy, meaning that the stunt actually ran at a loss.

Name.com could have donated an extra $1,200 to this charity if it had not run the stunt at all.

That’s assuming, of course, that it didn’t pay the guy carrying the camera, or the guy who did the editing, or the guy who wrote the blog post, or the guy who sent me the press release today…

This kind of crap makes me sick.

I donated $25 to the Center today in protest at Name.com’s bullshit.

If you want to donate in protest too, which I strongly encourage you to do, do it here.

Not many people have donated yet. This charity really does need your help.

If you’re not convinced yet, watch this video and then donate if you find it funny.

Go Daddy risking Oscars wrath with .buzz premium domains?

The new gTLD registry Dot Strategy included many famous brands on its list of premium .buzz names, including two that could get its partner, Go Daddy-owned Afternic, in hot water.

Until a couple of hours ago, nic.buzz carried what appeared to be thousands of premium listings, organized by category and carrying prices of $1,000 and up, some of which seemed to target brands.

The names of several sports teams, such as 49ers.buzz and blackhawks.buzz, were listed for sale in the sports category (hat tip: Valideus‘ Brian Beckham).

I also spotted listings for domains such as photoshop.buzz (an Adobe software brand) in the technology category and hobbit.buzz (believe it or not, “Hobbit” is a trademark) in an entertainment category.

But the ones that really caught my attention were academyaward.buzz and academyawards.buzz, which carried prices of $1,900 each.

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That’s surprising because if you try to buy these domains you’ll be instructed to contact Afternic, which is handling the premium process. And as of September, Go Daddy owns Afternic.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which hands out the Oscars and owns “Academy Award” and “Academy Awards” trademarks, has been locked in litigation with Go Daddy for the last four years.

The Academy claims that Go Daddy is cybersquatting due to its practice of making money parking its customers’ domains, including domains containing Academy trademarks such as academyawardz.com.

Most recently, Go Daddy tried to get the appointed judge in the case kicked out, alleging that she’s in the Academy’s pocket.

While the lawsuit is certainly controversial, attempting to sell $3,800 worth of domain names matching the Academy’s marks probably wouldn’t help Go Daddy look less cybersquatty to its opponent.

It could be argued that many of the premium names that match brands are also generic — Black Hawks could be helicopters and I’m sure there are plenty of academies in the world that hand out awards.

A legitimate registrant could buy many of these trademark-matching listed names and fight off a UDRP, I reckon.

But when somebody lists the name for sale in a category appropriate to the class of trademark, I’d say that makes the name look a lot less generic.

Bieber is a surname presumably shared by many people, but when you list bieber.buzz for sale in a category related to entertainment it can only really refer to one person.

Somebody yanked the premium listings section from the nic.buzz web site after I requested comments from Dot Strategy and Go Daddy a few hours ago. This post will be updated should I receive said comments.

.buzz is currently in its sunrise period and is due to go to general availability in mid-April. As I’ve said before, it’s one of my favorite new gTLD strings and I wouldn’t be surprised if sells quite well.

UPDATE: Go Daddy said: “Afternic is working with dotStrategy, Co. (the .BUZZ registry) to review the list and revise as appropriate.”

SnapNames acquired by Web.com

Web.com has acquired domain name dropcatcher SnapNames for an undisclosed sum, according to press releases from it and former owner KeyDrive, confirming reports from Friday.

Web.com said the deal will be “immaterial” to its 2014 financial results.

The Nasdaq-listed company already owns leading registrars Network Solutions and Register.com. It’s also a new gTLD applicant, one of many companies having applied for .web.

KeyDrive acquired SnapNames, along with the registrar Moniker, from Oversee.net in 2012.

Just last week KeyDrive announced that Moniker, which with SnapNames had been managed by Craig Snyder, was getting a new CEO in the form of Key-Systems exec Bonnie Wittenberg.

Pirate Bay a victim as Go Daddy suspends hundreds of new gTLD domains

Kevin Murphy, February 25, 2014, Domain Registrars

New gTLDs may have only been in general availability for a few weeks, but there’s already evidence of substantial abuse.

Go Daddy has suspended at least 305 new gTLD domain names, putting them on its spam-and-abuse.com name servers, standard Go Daddy practice for domains suspected of abuse.

Over 250 of these were put on the naughty step in the last 24 hours.

The suspended names include, notably, thepiratebay.guru, which matches the name of controversial torrent site frequented by people who like downloading copyrighted material for free.

The Pirate Bay has been switching TLDs like crazy recently, as one ccTLD after another shuts down its latest attempt to find a reliable home.

The .guru domain is registered under Go Daddy’s Domains By Proxy privacy service, so it’s not clear if it actually belongs to The Pirate Bay or to an opportunistic third party.

Other suspended names include premium-looking names such as electric.guru, sexualhealth.guru, as well as obvious cybersquatted names such as verizon.guru (not registered to Verizon).

But the majority of the suspended names seem to belong to a single registrant in Washington state, all in .guru and largely “pigeon shit” names such as bestdrinksites.guru and bestfashionsites.guru.

While 305 seems like a large number (albeit only 0.2% of the current new gTLD names sold), it appears that so far a single individual is responsible for most of the “abuse” in new gTLDs.