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.jobs aiming to become a gTLD by the back door?

Employ Media, the company behind the sponsored TLD .jobs, looks like it’s making a play to become a significantly more open gTLD.

The company has proposed a substantial relaxation of its registration policies, based on what may be a loophole in its ICANN registry contract.

Currently, the .jobs namespace is one of the most restrictive TLDs. Only company names can be registered, and registrants have to be approved HR professionals at those companies.

As you might imagine, it’s been phenomenally unsuccessful from a business point of view, with only about 15,000 domains registered since it went live five years ago.

Employ Media now wants to be able to register “non-companyname” domains, and is to apply to its sponsorship body, the Society for Human Resource Management, for permission.

At least, that’s what it looks like. The documents posted over at policy.jobs are pretty opaque.

Indeed, as ERE.net points out, the “proposed amendment” to its charter reads more like a claim that no amendment is required.

The company appears to be pursuing a business model whereby it could auction off (continue reading)

UK domains get government oversight

With the passing of the Digital Economy Bill last night, the UK government has created powers to oversee Nominet, the .uk registry manager, as well as any new gTLD that is “UK-related”.

The Bill would allow the government to replace a registry if, in its opinion, the registry’s activities tarnish the reputation or availability of UK internet services.

It also allows the minister to apply to a court to alter the constitution of a registry such as Nominet.

The legislation was created in response to concerns that the registry could be captured by domainers, following a turbulent few years within Nominet’s leadership.

Nominet has since modified its constitution to make this unlikely, and is now of the position that the government will have no need to exercise its new powers.

The Bill does not name Nominet specifically, but rather any domain registry that is “UK-related”.

An internet domain is “UK-related” if, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, the last element of its name is likely to cause users of the internet, or a class of such users, to believe that the domain and its sub-domains are connected with the United Kingdom or a part of the United Kingdom.”

This almost certainly captures the proposed .eng, .scot and .cym gTLDs, which want to represent the English, Scots and Welsh in ICANN’s next new gTLD round.

.xxx TLD passes Godwin’s law milestone

ICM Registry’s application for the .xxx TLD passed a crucial milestone yesterday, when it was compared to the Nazis for the first time.

Godwin’s law states: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.”

That moment arrived at 11:54:09 yesterday, when an ICANN commentator by the name of Ian K posted this:

If we truly believe in *NET NEUTRALITY*, then a TLD such as XXX has no part in it. Adding the TLD to the options, along with all that it means, is no different than when the *Nazi’s* forced all of the /Jewish Faith/ to wear *yellow Stars of David*, for easy identification, and subsequent *persecution*.

Mr K’s comment comes amid a deluge of negative opinion from pornographers and Christians alike. The latter disagree with porn in principle; the former think .xxx will lead to censorship.

The .xxx discussion has been dragging on for the best part of a decade, so the Godwin milestone has been a long time coming.

Frankly, I’m surprised it took this long.

New gTLDs will cost $155 billion, honest

A report out from the Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse, which pegs the cost of first-round new gTLD defensive registrations at $746 million, has set eyes rolling this evening.

CircleID rather oddly compares it to a recent Minds + Machines study, “predicting new gTLDs will only cost $.10 per trademark worldwide.”

Apples and oranges, in my view.

But numbers are fun.

My own estimate, using data from both CADNA and M+M, puts the total cost of new gTLDs defensive registrations at $155.85 billion.

For the avoidance of doubt, you should (continue reading)

China domain name registrations plummeting

The Chinese ccTLD has lost almost four million domain name registrations since it implemented Draconian identification requirements last December.

According to CNNIC, the .cn manager, there were 9.53 million domains registered at the end of February, compared to 12.28 million in January and 13.45 million in December.

That’s a loss of 3.9 million domains since the new registration requirements were introduced mid-December.

The bulk of the loss appears to have come from pure .cn names, which dropped from 8.61 million in December to 6.14 million in February.

The .com.cn namespace lost about half a million names over the same period. The rest of the drop-off came in lesser-used second-level domains such a .org.cn.

Since December 14, CNNIC has required all Chinese registrants to provide photo ID before they register a domain.

Recently, the registry has tried to enforce retroactive enforcement of this requirement, causing registrars including Go Daddy and Network Solutions to abandon the TLD altogether.

VeriSign plans domain tasting service

VeriSign plans to offer a service that would allow domain names to be registered for as short a period as a month, possibly creating a system of legitimised domain tasting.

The company has asked ICANN (pdf) if it can launch a Domain Name Exchange service, whereby registrars could cash in unused names, transferring the remaining time on the registration to a new domain.

The service, according to VeriSign’s filing, is designed for registrars that offer domain registration as part of bundled hosting packages paid for on a monthly subscription basis.

Currently, those registrars have to register the domain for a full year with VeriSign, even if the customer stops paying for it after a month or two, the company said.

Under Domain Name Exchange, registrars would (continue reading)

Christians descend on ICANN’s .xxx forum

It took a few weeks, but American Christian groups have finally noticed that ICM Registry’s .xxx domain is back under consideration at ICANN.

The number of comments on ICANN’s latest .xxx public comment forum has rocketed today, reminiscent of the first time this proposal was considered.

While the emails fail to address the issues at hand — how ICANN should process ICM’s application in light of the IRP decision — they do at least avoid using form letters.

The general sentiment is anti-pornography, rather than anti-.xxx.

Here’s a sample:

Please do not approve a .xxx domain for peddlers of pornography. Pornography is degrading to women and destructive to families.

and

Pornography is vile and can lead to breakdown of marriages, abuse, even murder in some cases.

and

Money talks, and the money this kind of sleaze (“Dot-XXX”) generates veritably screams.

and

History has shown that civilizations that go down this road eventually fail due to lack of moral standards. This type of internet will increase the danger of a society that has no moorings, that has no “right or wrong.” It will lead to more such atrocities such as drugs, revolting against society, even death.

I hope you’re listening, ICM Registry. You are the lead in the drinking water.

Check it out.

Germany plans new gTLD: .gesellschaftmitbeschränkterhaftung

The German Department of Commerce has announced plans to apply to ICANN for a new gTLD, .gesellschaftmitbeschränkterhaftung, to represent German companies on the web.

It’s believed to be the first public announcement of a new gTLD by a government agency anywhere in the world.

“For far too many years German companies have had to rely on dot-com domain names to conduct their affairs online,” German business minister Hans Vottisyornäm said in a statement.

“Dot-com has no meaning in the German language, confusing German internet users,” he added. “As soon as ICANN approves our plan, we believe dot-gesellschaftmitbeschränkterhaftung will quickly become the TLD of choice for German businesses on the international stage.”

Gesellschaftmitbeschränkterhaftung, which roughly translates as “com”, will have prices starting at $149 per year, but registrants will receive a free .aktiengesellschaft name with every purchase, if they can present the correct paperwork.

Go Daddy has already backed the TLD, and is planning a multi-million-euro TV ad campaign starring David Hasselhoff and a horde of busty Bavarian beer wenches.

“This could be the biggest thing since .tel,” Bob Parsons said in a statement.

Nominet seeks new chair

Kevin Murphy, March 30, 2010, Domain Registries

Bob Gilbert has stepped aside as chairman of .uk registry Nominet, to be replaced temporarily by deputy chair Gordon Dick.

The news comes as Nominet seeks to draw a line under a tumultuous few years that have seen the non-profit company attempt to fight off domainers on the one hand and a power grab by the UK government on the other.

These efforts have been hit and miss.

While Nominet has successfully reformed its corporate governance to make it less vulnerable to capture by special interests, the government will still shortly enact the Digital Economy Bill, which gives the business secretary unprecedented reserve powers to appoint a new .uk registry manager.

“Having successfully updated Nominet’s constitution, a time consuming exercise for all involved, it is now time for the company to move into its next phase of development under new leadership,” Gilbert, who joined Nominet in 2005, said in a statement.

WIPO wants tougher cybersquatting rules on new gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, March 29, 2010, Domain Registries

The World Intellectual Property Organization reckons ICANN should toughen its stance against new gTLD registries that allow cybersquatting.

The “trademark post-delegation dispute resolution procedure” or Trademark PDDRP would let trademark holders try to suspend new TLDs and receive compensation when a registry allows cybersquatting.

WIPO wants the burden of proof on trademark holders relaxed, making it much easier to file complaints.

Currently, the draft process would require complainants to show registries’ “specific bad faith intent” to profit from cybersquatting.

WIPO thinks this should be broadened to include deliberate recklessness.

“In seeking to give meaning to ‘intent,’ the criteria should, without as such imposing or implying any sweeping registry policing duty, also encompass instances of willful blindness,” WIPO wrote.

The comments came in response to ICANN’s public comment period on the process, which closes on Thursday.