An effort has kicked off in the south-east Asian nation of Laos to “reclaim and relaunch” the .la top-level domain, which is currently being marketed to businesses in Los Angeles.
On March 23, Mr. Nguyen Thanh Hung – Deputy Minister of Information and Communications of Vietnam and Mr. Padaphet Sayakhot – Deputy of Laos National Posts and Telecommunications Management Agency signed a memorandum for Vietnam to support Laos to retrieve and manage the Laotian country code Top Level Domain (“ccTLD”) “.LA”.
The announcement talks about a transition plan under which VNNIC, the .vn registry, will temporarily take over the management of .la domain names on behalf of LANIC, the nominal .la registry.
Under the current plan Vietnam will support LANIC in the management and operation of the ccTLD “.LA” by hosting the registry platform in Hanoi while concurrently training LANIC staff, with the eventual goal of turning over complete management of “.LA” to LANIC by 2012.
Today, .la domains are sold from www.la as “the internet address for Los Angeles” and “the first city top-level domain”, equivalent to possible future TLDs such as .paris and .rome.
That site, as well as the the name servers for .la, are currently operated by CentralNIC, the London-based registry services provider, under an agreement with a company called LA Registry Pte Ltd.
But according to IANA records, LANIC has been the designated .la sponsoring organization, as well as its technical and administrative contact, since 2002.
That being the case, there will presumably be no requirement for a lengthy IANA redelegation request if any transition is to take place.
Dot VN’s statement does not mention CentralNIC or existing registrants at all. I’ve been unable to obtain clarification from either company so far, but will provide a follow-up when I do.
LANIC’s web site, incidentally, is currently a parked page.
A company called DotGo has launched a service it says will enable mobile phone users to access specially built web-based services using SMS text messaging.
This is (borderline) relevant to the domain name industry because DotGo has obtained the phone numbers that spell out DOTCOM, DOTORG, DOTNET, DOTEDU and DOTGOV when typed on handsets.
Using the system, developers use the company’s custom markup language to create a text-based service, for example a news feed, which they dump into their web server’s root directory.
Consumers can then access this service by sending the name of the service’s domain, minus the extension, to the number 368266 (DOTCOM).
So for cnn.com, you’d send the message “cnn” to 368266. CNN would then reply with a list of headlines from its RSS feed, say. You’d then reply with the number of the story you want to read.
Or you could text “weather 94110″ to the same number to quiz weather.com about the forecast in San Francisco.
If this sounds overly complicated, there are a few demos you can try in a normal browser that may explain it better.
The DotGo service has been around for about 18 months, but it’s only today that the company has launched its suite of tools for developers.
The service appears to be ad-supported, free to both developers and users at the basic level with subscription-based upgrades available.
It’s all very clever, but will anyone want to use it? I hear there’s a thing called an “iPhone” nowadays that does a pretty good job at bringing the web to mobile users.
The service seems to be only available in the US (though the web site is pretty vague on that count) and no, DOTMOBI isn’t an option.
BX.com, an e-commerce software vendor, is inviting offers for its domain name, bx.com.
The company said in a press release that it intends to rebrand itself around its main product, pureCommerce, and is soliciting offers for the domain via sealed bid.
Two-letter .com domains are obviously a scarce commodity. There are only 676 possible combinations, excluding numerals, and they’ve all been long registered.
Many have changed hands, typically with six-figure sums attached, such as li.com, which sold for $500,000 in 2007, and jf.com, which sold for $101,000 a few months ago.
Apparently trying to pump up the price, BX.com’s press release contains this statement:
Companies, both inside and outside of the US, have pursued the BX.COM domain over the years. Most recently, offers have come from the competitors of The Blackstone Group, whose stock symbol is BX, as well as from Chinese multinational corporations.
If the company did not have such well-established rights in the domain – it’s owned it since 1995 – that would look a lot like evidence of a bad-faith shakedown to many UDRP panelists.
The National Arbitration Forum saw a steep increase in the number of cybersquatting complaints filed under the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy last year.
According to a NAF announcement, 2,177 cases were filed in 2010, up 24% on the previous year.
That seems to be roughly in line with the experience of the World Intellectual Property Organization, which recently reported a 28% increase in UDRP complaints to 2,696 last year.
On that basis, it appears that WIPO has ever so slightly widened the market share gap between itself and NAF.
Between 1999 and the end of last year, NAF had handled 15,763 domain disputes, compared to WIPO’s over 20,000.
A basic UDRP filing covering a few domain names with a single panelist presiding costs about $1,500 with both providers, not including lawyers’ fees and other expenses.
With roughly 35,000 complaints filed to date, we can estimate that the revenue from UDRP flowing to WIPO and NAF together has been in the ball park of $50 million in slightly over 11 years.
Go Daddy has called for domain name registrars, not registries, to be responsible for seizing domain names associated with criminal activity.
In testimony submitted yesterday to the US House Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet, general counsel Christine Jones said that instructing registries to turn off domains can sometimes cause more harm than good.
Registrars, she said, often aid law enforcement with investigations into, for example, child pornography, and that registry interference can be dangerous.
In her prepared remarks (pdf), Jones wrote:
The registry in many instances has no knowledge of these highly confidential and sensitive matters, and we have experienced several occasions in which the sudden disabling of a domain name by a registry disrupted weeks or months of work investigating serious criminal activity by the registrant.
We would like to see future government and private industry efforts focused on naming the registrar as the primary contact for courts and law enforcement regarding all criminal and civil matters relating to domain names.
Also testifying was John Morton of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency responsible for recent controversial domain name seizures under Operation In Our Sites.
The ICE operation has so far bypassed registrars, going directly to registry operators such as VeriSign. This is arguably more efficient, and avoids jurisdictional problems associated with non-US registrars.
Other registrars have previously echoed Jones’ remarks. Registrars have the relationship with the customer, after all. When a domain is seized by a registry, they have to deal with the fallout.
As we saw with the first phase of the ICE seizures last year, the fact that the registrar had no knowledge of the matter led to a misunderstanding and ICANN being blamed in several media reports.
But yesterday’s Congressional hearing, which aimed to gather information for legislation expected to replace the Combatting Online Infringement and Counterfeiting Act (COICA), spent very little time discussing domains.
At one point, Rep. John Conyers took Morton to task for ICE’s accidental seizure of over 80,000 third-level domains as part of a child porn sting.
Jones was also quizzed about the difference between filtering domains at the ISP level (which she said was unworkable and potentially dangerous) and blocking them at the registry-registrar level.
But Google was in the room, in the form of general counsel Kent Walker, and he took most of the flak, with Congressmen lining up to grill him over Google’s apparently happiness to connect users to bootleg digital content and counterfeit physical goods.