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Three rivals challenge EURid for .eu contract

Three organizations have emerged to rival EURid for the right to operate the .eu ccTLD.

The European Commission has published the list of four eligible applicants — which by law must be non-profits — for the .eu registry contract.

One of them is of course EURid, which has been running the TLD for over 15 years and could presumably be considered the favorite.

Another is the Estonian Internet Foundation, which already runs the .ee ccTLD for that country.

The other two appear to be unknown quantities, both formed in Luxembourg in December presumably solely to participate in the .eu tender.

One is known at The Open Registry or TORA. The other is called European Network Information Center or EU NIC.

The Commission has not published the bids, so little is known about these two entities.

The Commission will make its decision on the winner in 80 days.

The original request for proposals was delayed earlier this year after the Commission appeared to forget about Brexit.

Amazon has started using hard-won .amazon

Amazon has started using its controversial dot-brand gTLD, .amazon.

Six domains — ads.amazon, alexa.amazon, echo.amazon, kindle.amazon, prime.amazon and primevideo.amazon — appear to have come online in the last month or so and all resolve.

Proponents of the dot-brand concept may be mildly disappointed to note that they’re all currently just redirects to the regular amazon.com site. There’s no .amazon branding in the URL bar.

The redirects do not appear to be geo-targeted. Even in the UK, I get punted to the US site.

Still, it’s a rare example of a gTLD in Amazon’s portfolio that’s actually being used. Others, such as .book, have been in the root for many years but have yet to launch.

You’ll recall that Amazon applied for .amazon in 2012 but it was not until last year that it was finally delegated.

The company encountered serious push-back from the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization, representing the South American nations in the Amazonia region.

Amazon has offered each nation and ACTO itself the opportunity to register names for their own use in .amazon, but none have yet taken up the offer.

ICANN DOESN’T money-grub in new gTLD contract shocker

ICANN may have a reputation for trying to slice itself a bigger slice of the pie whenever it renegotiates a new gTLD contract, but that doesn’t appear to be the case this week.

The .aero registry, which has been running for 20 years, looks set to continue to get its gTLD on the cheap, paying ICANN just a fifth of what newer registry operators pay.

But it has standardized on many other terms of the 2012-round Registry Agreement, meaning Uniform Rapid Suspension, zone file access via the CZDS, EBERO failover, and the registry code of conduct are all coming to .aero soon.

.aero is a “sponsored” TLD restricted to the aerospace industry, approved in 2000 as one of ICANN’s first “test-bed” gTLD round. The registry is Societe Internationale de Telecommunications Aeronautiques, a trade body.

Under the terms of its new contract, which is open for public comment, SITA will pay ICANN a fixed fee of $500 a year if it has under 5,000 names or $5,000 a year if it has more.

Registries receiving their delegations since 2012 pay $25,000 per year in quarterly installments.

.aero currently has about 12,000 names under management, so SITA will carry on paying $5,000 a year. Like other gTLDs, transaction fees kick in at 50,000 names, which at its historical growth rate should happen at some point in the 2090s.

The public comment period closes August 16, about a month before the current .aero contract expires. If history is any guide, any public comments filed will be duly noted and ignored.

Pirate Bay founder among candidates for Nominet advisory council

Nominet has opened up the voting for its inaugural UK Registrar Advisory Council, and there’s at least one eyebrow-raising candidate.

Peter Sunde, who founded the Pirate Bay file-sharing web site and served time for copyright infringement, has put his name forward to be one of six members who will ultimately serve on the council.

The UKRAC is a new creation of Nominet, part of its effort to make peace with members who conducted a coup in March.

The council will comprise two members from the larger registrars, two from the medium-small registrars, and two independents/domainers.

Sunde has put himself forward as a member of the small-medium category, through Sarek, one of two registrars he’s known to be involved in.

He recently told DI that ICANN won’t give Sarek a formal accreditation in the gTLD space because the org is worried that he’ll be a “pain in the ass”.

He told Nominet members he is “from the activist community” and has a love for “the influence that comes with being a registrar”.

He’ll be competing for a seat with an eclectic array of other hopefuls.

There’s Lesley Moody MBE, managing director of AES Digital, who I think it’s fair to say is a much more establishment figure, focused as much on the responsibilities of members to the company as vice versa.

Likewise, Benedict Addis of the Registrar of Last Resort Foundation is also on the ballot. He’s a security guy and former UK cyber-cop, who has for a long time been a voice of law enforcement in the ICANN community.

One of Addis’ proposers, Andrew Bennett, is also standing in his own capactiy. He’s from Netistrar and has been a vocal critic of Nominet over multiple administrations for well over a decade.

Rounding out the ballot of Sunde’s opponents are John Richards of Watchet Web Design, Dan Rodgers of Domain Registrar Services Ltd and Stephen Yarrow of Driver Information Systems.

In the large registrar category the nominations are Arnaud Franquinet of Gandi, Ashley La Bolle of Tucows, Prudence Malinki of MarkMonitor, Barbara Sher of Register.com (part of Newfold Digital) and Rex Wickham of TwentyTwentyMedia.

In separate blog posts today, La Bolle and Wickham have both expressed support for the PublicBenefit.uk campaign that led to the current Nominet reforms.

In the independent registrar category, which is for members who are accredited mainly to register names more cheaply for their own use, the candidates are relative newcomer Ciprian Cucuruz of Webber Multimedia and Susannah Clark, who does business as “Girl Next Door” and expresses skepticism that the UKRAC is much more than a Nominet PR exercise.

Given they’re the only two candidates for the two available seats, they both appear to be shoo-ins.

The election will be run using a single transferable vote system, with each member getting a single vote unrelated to the size of their .uk installed base. Voting closes July 22 and results announced a few days later.

The full list of candidates and all their personal statements can be found here (pdf).

XYZ scraps .tickets rules but won’t lower the price

XYZ.com has just formally announced the acquisition of the new gTLD .tickets, which we reported on in April.

The company said it plans to keep the domains at the current high price of $500 retail per year, in contrast to its recent practice of dropping its fees on some of its recent acquisitions.

But it is going to remove “complicated registration restrictions” and make .tickets names available according to the rules for gTLDs in the rest of its portfolio, which should broaden its channel appeal.

The company argues that, in the absence of stringent registration rules, the high prices make it “cost prohibitive” for bad actors to cybersquat.

.tickets was being managed by original applicant Accent Media until earlier this year.

EURid scraps residency rules for three countries

.eu registry EURid said today that it’s broadening the eligibility criteria for registrants to ex-pats from three countries.

The rule change means that if you’re a citizen of Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein but do not live in those countries or in the EU, you’ll be able to register domains regardless of residency.

Those three countries are in the European Economic Area but not the EU. EEA residents have been able to register .eu names for a long time, but non-resident citizens were barred.

The rule applying eligibility to citizenship rather than residency has been available to full-fat EU citizens since 2019.

The number of affected people appears to be low. The combined population of all three countries is under six million, almost all of whom are Norwegian, and Norway is believed to have 100,000 citizens living overseas.

Nominet throws money at member-chosen charities

Nominet is to make up to £600,000 ($830,000) a year available to charities nominated by its members.

The upcoming GiveHub platform comes as part of the .uk registry’s ongoing effort to appease members who believe the company has not being doing enough to live up to its public interest mandate in recent year.

Nominet said yesterday that it will make up to 10 grants available each month, up to a total value of £50,000.

Recipients will be nominated by members and vetted by a panel of five volunteer members. They’ll have to be UK-based registered charities “whose work aligns with our commitment to making the world more connected, inclusive and secure”, Nominet said.

GiveHub is expected to launch for a six-month pilot on August 2 and Nominet is currently looking for volunteers to serve on its grants panel.

The move comes a few months after a huge shakeup of the company caused by a member revolt that narrowly saw half of its board of directors, including its CEO and chair, culled amid calls for lower prices and more money given to good causes.

Nominet had committed £4 million to public benefit in the first half of this year, double the amount it has been giving for the last few years under previous management.

Brexit-hit domains can still be recovered

EURid has removed thousands of .eu domain names belonging to UK registrants from its zone file, but has dangled the possibility that they could still be recovered.

Due to Brexit, the UK is no longer a member of the European Union and its companies and citizens are no longer eligible for .eu domains, and EURid has been warning them for years that their domains are in jeopardy.

The latest phase kicked in yesterday, when the affected names were moves from a “suspended” to a “withdrawn” status. They now no longer function on the internet.

They’ll be released back into the available pool of names in batches early next year.

But EURid is now saying that affected registrants may be able to recover their names if they email the registry directly with proof of compliance before December 31.

Registrants can comply with the eligibility policy if they’re EU citizens living in the UK or UK citizens legally resident in the EU.

According to EURid’s web site, about 3,500 .eu domains are currently registered in the UK, but it’s not clear whether that includes domains that were withdrawn this week.

Pride Month not transformative for .gay

June may be celebrated as Pride Month in some parts of the world, but the occasion hasn’t had a huge impact on registrations in the .gay gTLD, which launched late last year.

Zone files show 11,323 active .gay domains yesterday, up by 723 compared to June 1. That’s up only slightly on the 700 domain growth seen in May.

Registry spokesperson Logan Lynn said that “we do Pride 365 days a year”, adding:

Additionally, we have been running Pride promos and doing some storytelling about .gay’s first year with registrar partners like GoDaddy, Namesilo, Hover, Name.com, and Blacknight. .gay is a growing platform and has had a fantastic year, especially with tech-forward community members, such as gaymers and LGBTQ and allied developers. It would be reductive to expect a June-specific spike for our brand. We are not just a once-a-year product, but instead a platform for progress and real change for, and with, LGBTQ communities.

He added that the company, Top Level Design, is getting ready to announce some “.gay celebrity influencers” in the near future.

Pride Month is often acknowledged by the US government as a period to celebrate equality and commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots. It is celebrated, if not officially recognized, in other countries.

In two weeks, Brits will lose their .eu domains forever

UK registrants of .eu domains have just two weeks left to bring their registrations into compliance or face losing their names forever.

EURid today sent out its final warning to its UK customers — update your records or have your domains placed into an unrecoverable “withdrawn” status, which means they’re removed from the zone file.

These domains have been in a “suspended” status since January, but still recoverable.

To come back into compliance, records will have to be updated to either a registrant based in the post-Brexit EU 27 member states, or an EU citizen based in the UK.

The deadline is June 30, with the withdrawal axe falling the following day.