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.SO Registry copies .co launch policies

Kevin Murphy, September 20, 2010, Domain Registries

Somalia’s .SO Registry, which hopes to mimic a little of the success of .co when it starts accepting registrations in November, has adopted virtually identical launch policies.

The registry’s policy document (pdf), which appeared on its web site last week, does in fact appear to copy large chunks of text wholesale from .CO Internet’s equivalent paper (pdf).

(UPDATE: I’ve reason to believe this is because both documents share an author/editor)

For this reason, you can pretty much expect the same policies regarding the sunrise, landrush and general availability phases of the launch, which kicks off November 1.

It also means that .so domain names will be subject to the UDRP. The registry has evidently partnered with WIPO to administer these proceedings.

There are some differences between .co and .so, however.

Notably, .SO Registry has added a policy of allowing sunrise registrations for trademark typos, provided that the typo under another TLD has been won at UDRP or in court.

This basically appears to open the doors for any company that has won a .com domain in a UDRP case to register the equivalent .so, no matter how lunatic the UDRP decision was.

This is how the document describes the exception to the trademarks-only rule:

the Domain Name must be identical to a domain name which has been recovered by the Applicant or its authorized licensee in the context of a court, UDRP or other alternative dispute resolution procedure relating to that domain name in another top-level domain.

It’s followed by a comment, one of several apparently made by one of the document’s editors, that probably shouldn’t have been published on a public web site:

Comment Bart: we need to look at the allocation model here (rather hypothetical, but you never know): will they also go into auction if there are two applicants for the same domain name: one having the identical mark, and the other having the variant?)

Other differences include the fact that, unlike their Columbian counterparts, Somalians do not appear to get any special privileges, such as grandfathering or a priority sunrise phase.

There also does not to be a provision for a Specially Protected Marks list like the one .CO Internet used.

The registry’s policies will be governed by the laws of Japan, rather than Somalia (which, let’s face it, doesn’t have much in the way of a functional legal infrastructure).

.SO’s back-end is being handled by GMO Registry, the Japanese company that plans to apply for .shop and is working with Canon on its proposed .canon application.

I’ve previously reported on the roll-out time-line and pricing for the .so domain, here.

Monster.com slams .jobs plan

Kevin Murphy, September 17, 2010, Domain Registries

Monster.com and the US Chamber of Commerce have ripped into Employ Media’s plans to liberalize the .jobs top-level domain, with Monster calling the plan “anti-competitive”.

Both organizations have over the last two days said they support the ICANN Reconsideration Request I reported on here.

Essentially, they want ICANN’s board to reverse the decision that would allow Employ Media, the .jobs registry, to start leasing thousands of .jobs domains to whichever company offers it the best deal.

Monster said (pdf) this:

The Board has, without proper consideration and deliberation, consented to the privatization and capture of a sponsored top-level domain (“sTLD”) by a single registrant or small group of registrants.

The jobs boards market is pissed that Employ Media has already made it pretty obvious that it plans to lease thousands of premium domains to the DirectEmployers Association.

Monster claims that the ICANN decision to allow the registry to start accepting “non-company-name” registrations violates the original .JOBS Charter, which limited the registrant pool to companies that wanted to advertise their own vacancies at “company.jobs” URLs.

The company says that the move could create “serious consequences for ICANN’s credibility” as it rolls out new TLDs, on the basis that it sets a bad precedent for ostensibly restricted “community” TLDs:

ICANN will be viewed as willing to tolerate sweeping, unauthorized changes to community based TLDs with no regard for the representations made during the application process.

Monster also says that the board’s decision “has broad anti-competitive implications that were not examined by staff”.

The US Chamber of Commerce, which has previously opposed TLD expansion in principle, has also chipped in (pdf) with its opposition, echoing Monster’s thoughts and adding that the proposed .jobs expansion fails to protect IP rights.

.xxx bigger than .asia

Kevin Murphy, September 16, 2010, Domain Registries

It has not and may never be delegated, but the .xxx top-level domain now has more pre-registrations than .asia, the last big gTLD launch, has live domains.

The ICM Registry web site currently counts 180,352 pre-regs. ICM tells me this number counts the unique strings that have been applied for, excluding duplicate applications.

By contrast, DotAsia’s two-year-old namespace had shrunk to 177,872 by the start of September, according to HosterStats.

ICM reported 110,000 pre-registrations at the time it re-entered contract talks with ICANN in late June; media coverage increased that to 162,000 within a couple of weeks.

The company has previously said that only 6,435 pre-regs were self-identified as defensive in nature, although this is disputed by its opponents at the Free Speech Coalition.

.CO fastest-growing new TLD in years

Kevin Murphy, September 15, 2010, Domain Registries

.CO Internet today announced that it has taken over 500,000 .co domain name registrations in the less than two months since the names went into general availability.

By my reckoning, that makes .co the fastest-growing new TLD launch since .eu, back in 2006. EurID managed to take 1,691,069 .eu registrations in its first month of availability, a hard act to follow.

But .co easily beats .mobi, which took about eight months to reach the 500,000 registrations landmark after it launched in September 2005.

Fellow 2005-round launch DotAsia never (or has yet to) hit the 500k mark. It peaked at 245,196 in March 2009 and has been on the slide ever since, according to HosterStats.com.

If you go back as far as the 2000 round, you’ll find Afilias’ .info TLD took almost three months to hit 500,000 names. Three months after that, it had added another quarter-million.

But it only took Neustar (then Neulevel) a measly 30 days to pass the same milestone with .biz. Ten years on, it has over two million names on its books.

Bulgaria to appeal ICANN rejection

Kevin Murphy, September 15, 2010, Domain Registries

The Bulgarian government will appeal ICANN’s rejection of .бг, its proposed Cyrillic-script version of the .bg country-code top-level domain, according to reports.

“We have reasons to hope that our proposal may be accepted by the end of next year,” Deputy Transport Minister Parvan Rusinov said, according to Novinite.com.

ICANN rejected the string earlier this year due to its confusing similarity to Brazil’s ccTLD, .br.

The Bulgarian government conducted a online poll, offering its citizens the choice of a few lengthier alternatives, but .бг still came back the winner.

In today’s reports, Rusinov is quoted saying that the government could either file a modified application, or wait for the launch of an appeals procedure in 2011.

It does not appear that the IDN ccTLD Fast Track process currently allows appeals, so I can only assume that such a mechanism is under consideration as part of the upcoming process review. It has been rumored.

ICANN doesn’t talk about IDN fast track applications until they are approved, but Bulgaria’s government has been happily chatting to the local press for months.

Technology minister Alexander Tsvetkov was quoted back in June saying that the country would ask ICANN to reconsider its decision. If he meant a Reconsideration Request, that never happened.

Pornographers rally to decry .xxx

Kevin Murphy, September 14, 2010, Domain Registries

The Free Speech Coalition has issued an official call to action to rally its members against the .xxx top-level domain application.

It’s been on the front page of the porn trade group’s web site since yesterday, but has been slow to take off judging by the number of responses filed with ICANN in the last 24 hours.

The FSC wants it members to write to ICANN to ask for the TLD to be rejected. It hits seven major points, but essentially just backs up what FSC chair Diane Duke told ICANN last week, which I reported on here.

There’s also a Zoomerang survey that industry members can take. It asks users to merely answer two questions in the affirmative:

I am a member of the online adult entertainment community and I oppose ICM’s application for a .XXX sTL

I have have defensively pre-registered .XXX domain names and I oppose .XXX

The idea is to show that many .xxx pre-registrations are made by people who would prefer that the TLD never sees the light of day.

Nominet to release ultra-short .uk domains this year

Kevin Murphy, September 13, 2010, Domain Registries

Nominet, the .uk registry, today outlined its plan to start releasing one and two-character .co.uk domains before the end of 2010.

The launch plan comprises two sunrise periods and a landrush. Contested applications in all three phases will be settled by an auction, with profits going to the Nominet Trust.

The first sunrise is for holders of UK-enforceable trademarks, when the mark was registered and in use in the UK before January 1, 2008. The second will allow holders of unregistered rights to participate.

The landrush will be open to all. Applications will be handled by approved .uk registrars.

Nominet said it plans to publish the launch timeline in more detail on November 1, but that the first sunrise will open before the end of the year.

The list of names to be released is published here (pdf). It includes all 10 digits and all 26 letters of the alphabet under .co.uk, .net.uk, .org.uk and .me.uk, with the exception of u.net.uk, which is already registered.

The vast majority of two-character combinations will also be released under all four of these 2LDs, with the exception of a handful of old registrations such as bt.co.uk and existing 3LD namespaces such as ac.net.uk.

Domains matching existing two-letter country-code TLDs do not appear to be exempt.

.XXX registry goes on the counter-attack

Kevin Murphy, September 10, 2010, Domain Registries

ICM Registry has issued a strongly worded response to its critics at the Free Speech Coalition, questioning the porn trade group’s relevance.

As I blogged yesterday, the FSC has asked ICANN to release documents disclosing the level of support the .xxx domain, so it can more effectively argue against its approval.

ICM has responded with a letter to ICANN that paints the FSC as overly US-centric and says its arguments deal with issues that have long been resolved.

We understand that the FSC currently has approximately 1,000 members. We further understand that both its leadership and its members are almost exclusively U.S.-based.

The bottom line is that the FSC’s comments simply restate the arguments they have made in the past. Their claims were inaccurate, unsupportable, untimely, and irrelevant when first made, and remain so today.

The would-be registry claims that, contrary to the FSC’s claims, only a tiny portion of its 179,000 pre-registrations are defensive in nature, 6,435 in total.

Porn group tries to delay .xxx bid

Kevin Murphy, September 9, 2010, Domain Registries

The Free Speech Coalition has asked ICANN to prove that the .xxx top-level domain application has the level of support that ICM Registry claims it has.

The FSC, which represents thousands of porn webmasters, has filed a request under ICANN’s Documentary Information Disclosure Policy for a list of the people who have already pre-registered .xxx domains, among other items.

The organization wants to prove that .xxx has no support among the adult community, and that most of ICM’s 179,000 pre-registrations are made by domainers or are defensive, made by pornographers who really don’t want .xxx.

FSC president Diane Duke wrote to ICANN general counsel John Jeffrey (pdf):

The adult entertainment community – the community which would be most impacted by the introduction of a .xxx sTLD – requires more information about the application in order to provide the appropriate level of feedback to the ICANN Board for it to make an informed decision.

The FSC also wants ICANN to add another 30 days to the current public comment period after the disclosure is made, to give it a chance to respond properly to the new data.

This would, of course, add further delay to the .xxx application.

The FSC also wants to know more about IFFOR, the International Foundation For Online Responsibility, the policy body that would oversee .xxx.

Specifically, the DIDP request covers the names of IFFOR’s board of directors, policy council members, business plans and financial projections.

ICM is opposed to the request and will be officially responding shortly. Its president, Stuart Lawley, told me the information the FSC has requested is known to ICANN, but that it’s confidential.

He also said that the issue of community support is already closed; ICANN made that decision five years ago, a decision that was reinforced earlier this year by an Independent Review Panel.

dotFree to allow pre-registrations October 1

Kevin Murphy, September 8, 2010, Domain Registries

The dotFree Group, which plans to apply for the top-level domain .free, plans to start allowing pre-registrations from October 1, this year.

While .xxx has had an open pre-registration period for years, I believe .free is the first of the next round of new TLD applicants to offer a similar pre-launch phase.

It would be well over a year from now before .free would be able to actually start taking live registrations, assuming its application was even successful.

The Czech company has just relaunched its web site with a new look and new information. It appears to be closely modelled on the .CO Internet site, even copying big chunks of text in some cases.

It also includes a page targeting registrars, containing this text:

How much do I earn for every free registered .FREE domain?

We plan to pay each reseller $0.05 for every .FREE domain name which was referred to us. The definitive reseller commission is still under review.

Now there’s a way to get Go Daddy beating down your door.

It’s not much of an incentive, and it suggests that dotFree isn’t planning on targeting a traditional registrar channel, at least as far as the free .free domains go.

If you can make a recurring $10 mark-up (my estimate) on a .co domain, or a one-off $0.05 on a .free, which TLD would get your store-front real estate?

However, as I’ve previously reported, not all .free domains will be free, so there may yet be opportunities for the ICANN-accredited registrar market.