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Mistake blamed for “Germans only” .voting policy

Kevin Murphy, February 25, 2014, Domain Registries

It seems the new gTLD .voting will not be restricted to Germans after all.

We reported earlier today that .voting registry Valuetainment had submitted a registration policy that required all registrants to have a presence in Germany.

The language used in the policy was identical, we later discovered, to that found in the equivalent policy for .ruhr, a German geographic gTLD operated by a different registry.

But Thomas Rickert of the German law firm Schollmeyer & Rickert, which has both .voting and .ruhr registries as clients, just called to let us know that the policy as submitted to ICANN was a mistake.

It seems there will be no local presence requirement for .voting after all.

Valuetainment will be submitting a revised policy to ICANN without the error. The German-language version of the policy does not contain the error, Rickert said.

Rickert said he’d like it to be known that the registry was blameless in this instance.

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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.

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.wedding and .green gTLD auctions raise millions

Kevin Murphy, February 25, 2014, Domain Registries

Two more new gTLDs — .wedding and .green — have been auctioned off, with proceeds amounting to millions of dollars.

Top Level Domain Holdings said in a press release that it won .wedding and lost .green, which cost it a net $2.23 million.

That’s the amount it paid for .wedding, minus its share of the .green winning bid and its ICANN refund for withdrawing its .green application.

I don’t think we can infer the exact sale price of .wedding from that, other than to say that it was definitely over $2.2 million.

TLDH did not say who won the .green auction. The only other remaining applicants, after Dot Green’s withdrawal last year, were Rightside and Afilias. Neither has withdrawn their applications yet.

In the .wedding auction, conducted by Applicant Auction, it beat rival portfolio applicants Donuts and What Box?

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Fifth URDP provider goes live

Kevin Murphy, February 25, 2014, Domain Services

The Arab Center for Dispute Resolution has gone live as the fifth approved provider of UDRP dispute resolution services.

The Jordan-based outfit, which says it has offices in “all Arab countries”, says it “is uniquely positioned to address domain name issues pertinent to the region, while maintaining an international, multicultural disposition to case settlement.”

ACDR was approved by ICANN to administer UDRP cases last May, over the objections of the Internet Commerce Association and others, which want UDRP providers bound to ICANN contracts.

The organization does not appear to be competing hard on price. A single-domain case will set trademark owners back a minimum of $1,500 ($1,000 to the panel, $500 to ACDR), which is the same as market leader WIPO.

It’s actually a little more expensive than WIPO — a five-domain case will cost $1,700 compared to WIPO’s $1,500.

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An English new gTLD restricted to Germans?

Kevin Murphy, February 25, 2014, Domain Registries

Reading through the policies of new gTLD registries has given me cause to double-take several times, but .voting has to be one of the oddest yet.

Ostensibly an English-language gTLD, managed by a registry based in Switzerland, .voting domains will be essentially restricted to residents of Germany, according to its policies.

[UPDATE: The policy was actually submitted by mistake. See this story for an update.]

The Domain Name Registration Policy (pdf) submitted to ICANN by the registry, Valuetainment, states:

Registrants are obliged to supply an individual resident in the Federal Republic of Germany as contact person for all registered domains. This contact is generally described as the administrative contact (Admin-C). The registrant ca name himself as Admin-C.

My German isn’t great, and I’m aware that German speakers are very relaxed about adopting English words into common usage, but I’m pretty sure the language has its own verb for voting.

What makes the Germans-only admin contact policy weirder is that Valuetainment is Swiss and its policies state that the registration agreement is subject to Swiss law.

The .voting policy only states that the Administrative contact in Whois has to be German, which means that the main Registrant contact could technically be based in any country.

But if that registrant can’t name a German as an Administrative contact, technically they’ll be in violation of the rules.

It’s possible that registrars will be able to supply a local proxy in Germany, if they have one or want to go to the expense of setting one up, but it seems like a hassle.

There are a few other oddities in .voting’s policies.

Notably, Valuetainment is not just selling you a domain name, it’s granting you a license to use its “.voting” European Community trademark. Its Eligibility Policy (pdf) states:

For the duration of the registration, the Registry grants the user of a . VOTING domain a right of use with regard to the European Community Trade Mark No. 1111568 (. VOTING]. The license fees are included in the registration fee.

Registrants will be banned from charging for their services — .voting web sites must all be provided free of charge unless they’re providing “statistical voting evaluations”.

They’ll also be banned from offering directories of .voting sites, because Valuetainment intends to offer such a service and doesn’t want any competition.

Also, presumably so the registry can comply with local laws, any attempt to deny the Holocaust will cause your domain to be yanked under the company’s Rapid Takedown Policy (pdf).

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