A cybersquatted domain in a new gTLD was deployed to perpetrate a hoax about the death Macaulay Culkin at the weekend, but reports insisted on adding a “.com” to the name.
A prankster set up a fake news report at msnbc.website, which was registered via Domains By Proxy on November 5, reporting the former child actor had been found dead at 34 in his apartment.
MSNBC is of course an American TV news network which usually operates at msnbc.com.
While unconvincing, the hoax nevertheless reportedly managed to string along a fair few Twitter users before the news media got around to debunking it. Culkin is, at time of publication, alive.
What’s interesting, and no doubt frustrating if you’re in the new gTLD industry, is the number of media outlets — both mainstream and tech-oriented — that got the domain name wrong.
According to Google News, at least 10 publications, including the International Business Times and The Inquisitr, have reported the domain in question was “msnbc.website.com”.
Even publications that correctly linked to msnbc.website still reported the incorrect .com domain in the anchor text, perhaps displaying the level of ignorance about new gTLDs out there today.
Seven new gTLD contention sets have been formally resolved with application withdrawals this morning, five of which we haven’t previously reported on.
Most appear to have been settled by private auctions, with Donuts often the victor.
The standout, however, is .sas, an unusual case of a contention set of two would-be dot-brand registries being resolved.
The business software maker SAS Institute, which applied as Research IP, has prevailed over the Scandinavian airline holding company SAS AB for the .sas gTLD.
Both applicants had applied for closed, single-registrant namespaces.
On the regular, open gTLD front, .chat has gone to Donuts after withdrawals from Top Level Spectrum, Radix and Famous Four Media.
.style has also gone to Donuts, after Uniregistry, Top Level Design, Evolving Style Registry and Minds + Machines withdrew their applications.
.tennis is another Donuts win. Applications from Famous Four, Washington Team Tennis and Tennis Australia have been withdrawn, after a failed Community bid from Tennis Australia.
Donuts, finally, beat Famous Four to .bingo.
Afilias and Top Level Spectrum have officially withdrawn their .wine applications. As we reported earlier this week, this leaves Donuts as the sole remaining applicant.
Top Level Spectrum’s bid for .sucks has also been withdrawn, confirming DI’s report from earlier this week that the controversial gTLD has been won by Vox Populi Registry.
But Donuts failed to win .online, withdrawing its application today. Only two applicants — Radix and I-Registry — remain in this once six-way contention set.
We’ll know the winner (my money’s on Radix) in a matter of days, I expect.
Donuts has become the only applicant for .wine and .vin after winning a private auction for .wine, according to sources familiar with the situation.
I gather that the auction, which saw Donuts knock out rival applicants Afilias and Famous Four, happened a couple of weeks ago. I don’t know what the winning bid was.
Neither losing application has yet been withdrawn, presumably because the whole contention set has been placed “On Hold” by ICANN pending talks about the protection of wine-making region names.
As we reported yesterday, ICANN seems to be currently acting as a middleman between Donuts, European governments and wine-makers that want so-called “geographic indicators” specially protected.
A letter (pdf) from ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade to the French government indicated that ICANN expects to make GIs protected, contractually, with the successful .wine and .vin applicants (now, it seems, Donuts).
Domains such as larioja.wine and bordeaux.vin seem set to enjoy some form of protection, reserved for use by eligible parties only, if these talks pan out the way Chehade expects them to.
Donuts was the only applicant for .vin.
Vox Populi Registry, which won the auction for the .sucks new gTLD last week, says its Sunrise prices will not be $25,000 a year after all.
The company has further denied that its general availability prices will be $300 a year.
As DI reported earlier today, the Momentous affiliate beat off competition from Donuts and Top Level Spectrum to win the .sucks contention set.
We reported it was likely to be controversial due to the high prices Vox Populi had previously revealed.
But CEO John Berard, while neither confirming or denying that Vox Populi won the auction, told DI tonight that the company has had a rethink of its pricing strategy.
“We are considering something much more in line with current pricing practices,” he said.
While Berard would not discuss numbers, current pricing practices among new gTLDs tend to be in the $10 to $150 range for GA names and a few hundred for Sunrise registrations.
That’s a far cry from the $25,000 a year Sunrise fee the registry hopeful aired last December.
Berard added that .sucks under Vox Populi would have additional rights protection mechanisms beyond the mandatory set all new gTLDs must carry, but he could not yet provide specifics.
My criticisms of the company’s .sucks have been concerned entirely with its pricing, which I thought would bring the industry into disrepute. If its proposed fees have been lowered, that can only be a good thing.
Momentous Corp, whose .sucks application has been branded “predatory”, has won the three-way contention set for the new gTLD, according to sources with knowledge of the auction.
The company paid over $3 million for the string, one source said.
Momentous affiliate Vox Populi Registry beat Donuts and Top Level Spectrum, the other applicants, at a private auction I gather was managed by Applicant Auction.
It’s likely to be a controversial win.
Vox Populi has said it plans to charge $25,000 per year for a single Sunrise registration, leading some (myself included) to believe its business model is to exploit the fears of brand owners.
(UPDATE: The company has changed its mind about pricing. It says it won’t charge $25,000 after all.)
In March, US Senator Jay Rockefeller branded the plan nothing more than a “predatory shakedown scheme” with “no socially redeeming value”.
But the company’s CEO, John Berard, told DI last year that .sucks will be an “innovative part of customer service, retention and loyalty”.
Vox Populi is positioning .sucks as a customer feedback tool that companies can budget alongside other pricey items such as retaining a PR agency, for example.
The registry plans to have strict rules against cyber-bullying. The proposed $300-a-year general availability price tag is likely to keep it out of the hands of most schoolyard bullies.
There will also be a “zero tolerance” policy toward parked domains and pornography, according to its web site.
That’s unlikely to calm the concerns of trademark owners, however.
.sucks is a gTLD that many advisers have been characterizing as a “must-have” for companies worried about their online image, rather like .xxx was a few years ago.
Vox Populi started accepting Sunrise pre-registrations for $2,500 on its web site last December, but that offer does not appear to be still available.