The local government of the French island of Corsica is looking for contractors to apply for and manage a .corsica top-level domain.
The Executive Council of the Collectivité Territoriale de Corse issued an RFP in late September. The deadline for responses is October 17, a week from now.
The desired string appears to be the Anglicized .corsica, rather than the French .corse.
Corsica, situated in the Mediterranean, is one of France’s 22 official regions. According to Wikipedia, it has slightly more political power than its mainland counterparts.
Under ICANN’s new gTLD application rules, geographical strings need the approval of the relevant local government before they can be accepted.
I expect any .corsica application would need a letter of support or non-objection from the French national government as well as the Corsican executive, before it is approved.
(via Jean Guillon)
ICANN is in the process of looking for an operator for the Trademark Clearinghouse that will play a crucial brand protection role in new top-level domains.
An RFI published last week says that ICANN is looking for an exclusive contractor, but that it may consider splitting the deal between two companies — one to provide trademark validation services and the other to manage the database.
The TMCH is basically a big database of validated trademarks that registrars/registries will have to integrate with. It will be an integral part of any new gTLD launch.
Registries are obliged by ICANN rules to hold a sunrise period and a Trademark Claims service when they go live, both of which leverage the clearinghouse’s services.
Rather than having to submit proof of trademark rights to each gTLD operator, brand owners will only have to be validated by the TMCH in order to be pre-validated by all gTLDs.
I estimate that the contract is worth a few million dollars a year, minimum.
If the ongoing .xxx sunrise period is any guide, we might be looking at a database of some 30,000 to 40,000 trademark registrations in the first year of the TMCH.
One potential TMCH provider currently charges $100 for the initial first-year validation and a recurring $70 for re-validation in subsequent years.
ICANN has not ruled out the successful TMCH provider selling add-on services too.
But the organization also seems to be at pains to ensure that the clearinghouse is not seen as another gouge on the trademark industry.
The RFI contains questions such as: “How can it be assured that you will not maximize your registrations at the expense of security, quality, and technical and operational excellence?”
Belgium-based CHIP arguably has the most institutional experience. It’s handled sunrise periods for Somalia’s .so, the .asia IDN sunrise, a few pseudo-gTLD initiatives from the likes of CentralNIC (de.com, us.org, etc), and is signed up to do the same for .sx.
Its chief architect, Bart Lieben of the law firm Crowell & Moring, is also well-known in the industry for his work on several sunrise period policies.
IProta is a newer company, founded in London this year by Jonathan Robinson, an industry veteran best known for co-founding corporate domain registrar Group NBT.
The company is currently managing the .xxx sunrise period, which is believed to be the highest-volume launch since .eu in late 2005.
“IPRota is very well positioned on the basis of our recent and past experience so I think we almost certainly will go ahead and respond,” Robinson confirmed to DI.
Domain name registries and registrars could conceivably also apply, based on their experience handling high-volume transactional databases and their familiarity with the EPP protocol.
ICANN sees the potential for conflicts of interest — its RFI anticipates that any already-contracted party applying to run the TMCH will have to impose a Chinese wall to reduce that risk.
The RFI is open for responses until November 25. ICANN intends to name its selected provider February 14, a month after it starts accepting new gTLD applications.
This is another reason, in my view, why submitting an application in January may not be the smartest move in the world.
Kieren McCarthy, CEO of the .nxt new top-level domains conference, has reportedly joined the International Foundation For Online Responsibility to manage policy communications.
IFFOR is the sponsoring organization for ICM Registry’s new gTLD, responsible for setting the policies that will govern .xxx domain names.
ICM’s opponents in the Free Speech Coalition fear IFFOR, claiming it will be both toothless in the light of ICM’s “veto power” over policies (which ICM disputes) and dangerous to .xxx domain holders.
As well as outreach, McCarthy will be tasked with “developing the tools through which Internet community members and IFFOR Policy Council members can reach consensus positions”, according to Xbiz.
He has the right background. He’s the former general manager for public participation at ICANN, and lately one of its fiercest critics. More recently, he’s also done some consulting work for ICM.
Hopefully one of his first actions at IFFOR will be to add DI to the press release mailing list, so I don’t have to source Xbiz the next time the organization has news to report.
Movie and music pirates are setting up alternative DNS services to help users work around the government seizure of domain names.
A new service, BlockAid.me, launched an open beta at the end of September. It’s currently being promoted prominently on at least one major movie/music/games-sharing site.
The site encourages internet users to reconfigure their computers to use BlockAid’s DNS servers. That way, if a domain name used by a piracy web site is seized by law enforcement, BlockAid will be able to direct surfers to the original owner’s IP address more or less transparently.
This is exactly what the experts predicted would happen.
Ever since the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency started seizing domain names associated with pirated content and US politicians have been discussing legislation to streamline the process, workarounds have been expected.
In May, DNS experts including Paul Vixie, Dan Kaminsky and now-ICANN chair Steve Crocker said that the Protect-IP Act in the US would persuade many users to switch to offshore DNS servers.
They warned that this would lead to a rise in cybercrime against consumers, as disreputable or insecure DNS providers send surfers to spoofs of banks and other sensitive sites.
While there’s no reason to believe the BlockAid project has this kind of nefarious activity in mind, if the idea catches on it’s probably inevitable that a similar service operated by crooks will emerge eventually.
Amusingly, BlockAid’s web site says that it may financially support itself in future by showing ad-laden web pages instead of returning NXDOMAIN errors, a much-criticized money-making tactic many ISPs already use.
Note also that the .me registry is managed by Afilias, a heavily US-based company, which likely makes BlockAid.me just as vulnerable to seizure as any .com address.
Domain name slamming is alive and well in the ICANN-accredited registrar community.
I’ve just received a letter in the mail offering me the chance to transfer and renew domainincite.com for the knock-down price of £25 ($38) a year.
It’s Domain Registry of America again, still slamming almost a decade after it was first sued for the completely unethical practice of conning people into transferring their domain names.
The letter, as you can see from the scan, is a little less bogus than the ones DROA started sending out back in 2001. The text states now much more clearly that “this is not a bill”.
But domain slamming has always relied upon people not reading the letter properly and/or not understanding the intricacies of domain transfers, and this is no different.
DROA’s business depends upon its letters finding their way into the hands of gullible individual registrants or accounting departments that will blindly pay official-looking notices.
At the prices the company charges – pretty much the most expensive in the industry – very few people will have transferred their domains because they thought they were getting a good deal.
There have been numerous complaints and lawsuits against DROA over the last decade.
In November 2009, the UK Advertising Standards Agency found DROA in breach of truthfulness and honesty guidelines for a substantially similar mailshot and ruled:
The mailing must not appear again in its current form.
And last year, the .ca registry CIRA terminated Domain Registry of Canada, another Brandon Gray front, for slamming .ca registrants using the same methods.
So isn’t it about time ICANN shut these muppets down too?
Unfortunately, ICANN can only use contracts to enforce compliance, and I’m not sure there are any sticks in the 2001 Registrar Accreditation Agreement that it can use to beat them.
DROA has plainly breached Go Daddy’s Whois access policy by slamming me (the letter was sent to my Whois billing address, not my actual residence), but I don’t think there’s much Go Daddy can do about that short of suing.
As far as I can tell, Brandon Gray, which has about 130,000 domains under management, got its ICANN accreditation in about 2003. It was previously an eNom reseller.
So its accreditation is probably going to be up for renewal within the next couple of years.
Fortunately, ICANN has just this week introduced stricter new accreditation application rules that are specifically designed to weed out the scumbags.
Any company or individual with a track record of dishonesty is no longer welcome at ICANN.
So if there’s nothing that can be done before then, at the very least when Brandon Gray’s accreditation expires ICANN should not renew it.
What’s more, other registrars should lean on ICANN to make sure Brandon Gray is shown the door. It’s been bringing their industry into disrepute for the best part of a decade and it’s time for it to stop.