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Screen Actors Guild opposes new gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, November 16, 2011, Domain Policy

While it does not appear to be a member of the new Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight, the Screen Actors Guild has come out in opposition to new top-level domains.

The membership organization, which represents over 200,000 Hollywood actors, has asked US Secretary of Commerce John Bryson to persuade ICANN to delay the gTLD program until it can “demonstrate convincingly” that it will be in the public interest.

SAG national executive director David White wrote:

The ICANN proposal would unduly burden a diverse range of public and private brand holders, companies with whom our members are associated. This also presents an undue burden on our organization, as a globally recognized brand. Under this rule, many brand-holders would be forced to spend ever-greater amounts of time and resources simply to protect their brands.

Like many other opponents of the program, White also raises the conflicts-of-interest question that emerged following Peter Dengate Thrush’s move from ICANN’s chair to new gTLD applicant Minds + Machines.

SAG was not listed as a member of CRIDO, the huge cross-industry lobby group that formed to oppose new gTLDs last week, although its arguments are identical.

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Staff changes at new gTLD consultancies

Kevin Murphy, November 16, 2011, Domain Services

There’s movement in the new top-level domains consultancy market this week, with new hires and departures at a couple of startups.

It’s been a case of one in, one out at Sedari, the registry management services company founded by Liz Williams this summer.

The company has hired Philip Sheppard, most recently director of public affairs for AIM, the European Brands Agency, as its new policy director.

Sheppard is an ICANN veteran from the IP/business side of the house, who has chaired multiple policy committees since becoming involved in 1999.

But Sedari has also lost another industry vet, Jothan Frakes, who’s decided to go freelance.

Elsewhere, FairWinds Partners, which shares management with the Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse, has also emerged publicly as a new gTLD consultancy.

The Washington DC-based company hope to use its track record of criticizing the new gTLD program to win the support of big brands skeptical about the ICANN process.

FairWinds said this week it’s taken on former ICANN director Michael Palage of Pharos Global, who has worked for both proponents and opponents of the program, apparently on a freelance basis.

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Om Malik switches from .me to .co

Kevin Murphy, November 14, 2011, Domain Registries

High-profile Silicon Valley tech blogger Om Malik has switched from a .me domain name to a .co.

His personal blog, found at omis.me, is now redirecting to om.co. It’s a personal “rebranding”, according to a blog post this evening from .CO Internet CEO Juan Calle.

Calle was responding to reports today about Overstock.com’s decision to slow down its transition to the O.co brand, which is arguably .CO Internet’s biggest customer win to date.

Malik is best known as the founder of GigaOm, a professional tech news/analysis blog. If it’s any gauge of his influence, he has almost 1.3 million Twitter followers.

GigaOm is sticking with its .com.

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Europe dislikes US-only IANA rule

Kevin Murphy, November 14, 2011, Domain Policy

The European Commission is disappointed that only US-based companies are eligible to apply to take over ICANN’s IANA contract, but has otherwise welcomed the new deal.

As I reported Friday, the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration has put the IANA contract, which gives ICANN its powers to create new top-level domains, up for rebid.

While ICANN is generally expected to be a shoo-in for the contract, the NTIA tilted the odds in its favor by refusing to consider bids from replacement candidates from outside the US.

The EC said in a statement today:

The Commission believes greater respect should be given by the IANA contractor to respecting applicable law (such as EU personal data protection laws)… In that context, it noted with regret that non-US companies are not allowed to compete for the forthcoming IANA contract.

Otherwise, the EC said it was happy with the new provisions in the IANA contract, which promise to enforce mandatory conflict of interests protections on the winning bidder.

Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda said in a press release:

The new IANA tender is a clear step forward for global internet governance. A more transparent, independent and accountable management of the Internet domain names and other resources will reinforce the Internet’s role as a global resource.

The EC is also pleased that ICANN/IANA “will have to provide specific documentation demonstrating how the underlying decision-making process was supportive of the public interest” when new gTLDs are approved.

How this provision will be implemented, and how much power it gives ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee to kill new gTLD applications, is perhaps the biggest question hanging over the contract today.

The current IANA contract expires at the end of March next year, shortly before the end of ICANN’s first new gTLDs application window.

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One in five .рф domains have web sites

Kevin Murphy, November 14, 2011, Domain Registries

The .рф registry celebrated its first launch anniversary last week, with almost one million .рф names registered and apparently almost one in five domains with an active web site.

According to RU-Center, which says it is the registrar of record for 40% of .рф (.rf) names, about 18% of the Cyrillic domains registered in the last year resolve to full web sites.

The registrar said in a press release:

18% of names have website, 16% do redirect, 4% are on parking, 15% are just delegated but not available, and 15% have a plug webpage. 29% of .RF names are unused.

That compares to the 18.7% use penetration of .info, which has been around for over a decade, assuming RU-Center and Afilias compiled their numbers using a similar methodology.

RU-Center also said that 94% of .рф sunrise registrations have been renewed. The rate of landrush registration renewals, which give an indication of what speculators think of the space, will not be clear until December, it said.

It is apparently now also possible for non-Russians to obtain .рф domains.

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