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.co enters pricey global sunrise

Kevin Murphy, April 26, 2010, Domain Registries

Trademark holders can from today apply for their brands as .co domain names, even if they do not do business in Colombia.
The second stage of .CO Internet’s sunrise period allows owners of non-Colombian trademarks to apply for their domains through one of 10 chosen launch registrars.
Prices vary from $225 with OpenSRS to $335 through Dotster, with most deals comprising non-refundable application fees plus first-year registration. Go Daddy is charging $299.99 and Network Solutions is charging $279.99.
With the possible exception of .xxx, I’ve got a suspicion that this could be one of the last “generic” TLD launches with such expensive sunrise periods.
It’s quite possible there could be pricing pressure if ICANN quickly approves a few hundred new gTLDs next year. If each charges ~$300 for a pre-launch, it could cause some some registrants to rethink their defensive registration strategies.
The .co sunrise ends June 10. General availability begins July 20.

ICM launches .xxx letter-writing campaign

Kevin Murphy, April 24, 2010, Domain Registries

ICM Registry looks like it has taken a leaf from its opponents’ playbook, and is encouraging supporters of the proposed .xxx top-level domain to send form letters to ICANN.
The company has revamped its web site this week, to make it look a little less 2005, and part of the revamp is this page, which allows users to quickly send emails supporting the TLD to ICANN’s public comment forum, which ends May 10.
The letter addresses the substantial concerns of the comment period — namely, how ICANN should process the .xxx application in the light of February’s IRP decision, which says ICANN was wrong to reject .xxx in 2007.
In recent weeks, Christian groups and the pro-porn Free Speech Coalition have organized campaigns aimed at protesting .xxx. Both campaigns have resulted in large numbers of emails flooding ICANN.
The Christian letters are way off-topic, basically just anti-porn rants.
While the FSC letters do address ICANN’s question, they largely challenge the idea that .xxx has community support. This may end up not being a consideration for the Board.
By contrast, ICM’s letters go directly to ICANN’s core mantras of accountability and equality.
Its letter says: “Picking and choosing elements of the Panel’s declaration, or adding unnecessary procedural steps in adopting the review’s findings, would be a clear sign to the global Internet community that the organization cannot be relied upon to do its job fairly and objectively.”
The new ICM web site does, however, bear the new slogan “It’s time for adult websites to self label”.
It seems to me that this could be quite easily interpreted as a call for all adult web sites to use .xxx, which I’m pretty sure is not ICM’s intention.

Porn group starts anti-XXX campaign

Kevin Murphy, April 15, 2010, Domain Registries

Now that the Christians appear to have quietened down, the adult entertainment industry has unleashed its own letter-writing campaign aimed at crippling ICM Registry’s bid for the .xxx TLD.
The Free Speech Coalition has started urging its members to lobby ICANN with emails demanding that the .xxx proposal is rejected.
The front page of its web site started carrying the call to action earlier today, already resulting in over a dozen form complaints.
The anti-porn complaints that have flooded ICANN’s forums for the last week focussed largely on the alleged harmful effects of porn, and will probably be politely ignored.
But unlike the Christians, the FSC has read the background documents – which request comments on how ICANN should process ICM’s application – and its letters are therefore on-topic
They urge ICANN to “Adopt Option #3” by agreeing with the dissenting minority view of the Independent Review Panel that recently ruled ICANN was unfair to reject ICM back in 2007.
“Regardless of the option chosen, I ask that ICANN continue to consider the widespread opposition of the sponsored community in any further decisions concerning a .XXX sTLD,” the letters add.
The campaign is not unexpected, but it won’t make ICANN’s board of directors’ decision any easier. After all, .xxx is ostensibly a “sponsored” TLD, and a significant voice within its potential customer base does not appear to want it.
There may also be other power games at play.
ICM president Stuart Lawley claimed during his IRP cross-examination in September that the FSC had offered to support ICM in 2003, but only if it could control the sponsoring organization and collect the associated $10 per domain per year.
The ICANN comment period runs until May 10. The FSC’s own comments, from boss Diane Duke, are here.

.xxx jumps on social media bandwagon

Kevin Murphy, April 12, 2010, Domain Registries

ICM Registry, the firm behind the proposed .xxx TLD, has belatedly joined the social media revolution, setting up a Facebook fan page and a Twitter account to expound the benefits of pornographic domain names.
I’d hazard a guess that this is in response to the deluge of negative opinion currently directed at it in ICANN’s public comment forum.
If you can wade through the Christian spam there, you’ll find only a handful of people backing ICM.
Some of these comments come from policy wonks, urging ICANN to show it can be as accountable as it says it is.
Others come from random individuals, suspiciously based in ICM’s home state of Florida.
If this woman, for example, is not British ICM president Stuart Lawley’s green card lawyer, I’ll eat my beanie.
Hat tip: @mneylon

DNS is sexy? Dyn thinks so

Kevin Murphy, April 8, 2010, Domain Services

Dynamic Network Services has launched a marketing campaign aimed at convincing people that DNS is “sexy”.
The company, which provides managed DNS services as Dyn.com, evidently has its tongue in its cheek, but has plastered the “DNS is Sexy” slogan across its web site anyway.
It has even registered DNSisSexy.com to bounce users to its corporate pages.
There’s a list of ten reasons why this frankly bizarre proposition might be true, including:

7. Standard features like DNSSEC on our Dynect Platform defend you from would be cyber criminals that want to steal your important information online. Bye bye identity theft!

Feeling sexy yet? Me neither.
How about:

9. Recursive DNS like our free Internet Guide, can protect your family and friends from unwanted Web content with customized defense plans.

Feeling sexy now? No?
Still, Go Daddy managed to mainstream domain name registration by incorporating boobs quite heavily in its TV campaigns, and everybody is interested in the ongoing sex.com and .xxx sagas, so it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that Dyn could do the same for managed DNS.
To be honest, I can’t quite visualise it.
Dyn is asking people to tweet their reasons why DNS is “sexy” including the hashtag #dnsissexy. I’ve done mine.

.xxx TLD passes Godwin’s law milestone

ICM Registry’s application for the .xxx TLD passed a crucial milestone yesterday, when it was compared to the Nazis for the first time.
Godwin’s law states: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.”
That moment arrived at 11:54:09 yesterday, when an ICANN commentator by the name of Ian K posted this:

If we truly believe in *NET NEUTRALITY*, then a TLD such as XXX has no part in it. Adding the TLD to the options, along with all that it means, is no different than when the *Nazi’s* forced all of the /Jewish Faith/ to wear *yellow Stars of David*, for easy identification, and subsequent *persecution*.

Mr K’s comment comes amid a deluge of negative opinion from pornographers and Christians alike. The latter disagree with porn in principle; the former think .xxx will lead to censorship.
The .xxx discussion has been dragging on for the best part of a decade, so the Godwin milestone has been a long time coming.
Frankly, I’m surprised it took this long.

Christians descend on ICANN’s .xxx forum

It took a few weeks, but American Christian groups have finally noticed that ICM Registry’s .xxx domain is back under consideration at ICANN.
The number of comments on ICANN’s latest .xxx public comment forum has rocketed today, reminiscent of the first time this proposal was considered.
While the emails fail to address the issues at hand — how ICANN should process ICM’s application in light of the IRP decision — they do at least avoid using form letters.
The general sentiment is anti-pornography, rather than anti-.xxx.
Here’s a sample:

Please do not approve a .xxx domain for peddlers of pornography. Pornography is degrading to women and destructive to families.

and

Pornography is vile and can lead to breakdown of marriages, abuse, even murder in some cases.

and

Money talks, and the money this kind of sleaze (“Dot-XXX”) generates veritably screams.

and

History has shown that civilizations that go down this road eventually fail due to lack of moral standards. This type of internet will increase the danger of a society that has no moorings, that has no “right or wrong.” It will lead to more such atrocities such as drugs, revolting against society, even death.

I hope you’re listening, ICM Registry. You are the lead in the drinking water.
Check it out.

ICM says ICANN’s options for .xxx are ‘unacceptable’

Kevin Murphy, March 28, 2010, Domain Registries

ICM Registry has issued a speedy response to ICANN’s .xxx approval options paper, calling it “unacceptable” and urging the ICANN board to put the issue to bed ASAP.
Late Friday, ICANN published a flowchart outlining the possible ways the board could handle .xxx in the light of February’s Independent Review Panel decision, which found ICANN acted unfairly when it rejected the TLD in 2007.
ICM president Stuart Lawley said in a letter to ICANN today that most of the paths through the flowcharts “are in many respects substantively and procedurally inconsistent with the IRP declaration”.
The company believes the IRP decision resets the approval process to prior to the 2007 decision, when the two parties were in contract talks for an already-approved TLD.
The letter claims that “it would be inappropriate, illegal and inconsistent with ICANN’s core values and model of self governance for ICANN to set up an evaluative process that is lacking in objectivity and that does not affirmatively give effect to the underlying IRP declaration”.
There are presumably few people involved with ICANN in any doubt that ICM intends to take its case to the ‘proper’ courts if needs be, which is probably why its powers-that-be have been unwilling to meet with the company.
As I reported Friday, the options paper creates the possibility of re-evaluating the .xxx application under the Draft Applicant Guidebook v4 for new gTLDs, which is not yet completed.
It also suggests that ICANN will have to ask its Governmental Advisory Committee for its current opinion on the application, a move likely to stretch out a decision for months.
It also has an option to expedite the approval based on the “sponsored” TLD process under which ICM, and others such as .post and .asia, originally applied.
ICM’s latest letter is here. ICANN’s options paper can be found here. The public comment period is open here. Unlike many ICANN comments periods, it has comments.

ICANN may kick .xxx into new gTLD round

Kevin Murphy, March 27, 2010, Domain Registries

ICANN has chosen to deal with the controversial .xxx TLD application by leaving essentially all options, including urging it into the next gTLD round, wide open.
ICM Registry had pushed for a speedy resolution to its long-running application, following the Independent Review Panel decision that went in its favour last month, but it hasn’t got one.
In Nairobi, ICANN’s board asked ICANN’s staff to tell it what its options were for dealing with the ruling, and staff today responded with this flowchart. Oh, and this flowchart.
It seems that these options are still on the table: (continue reading)

The most confusing new gTLDs (allegedly)

Kevin Murphy, March 26, 2010, Domain Registries

I don’t know how I missed it until today, but I’ve discovered ICANN has a web-based tool that will be used to determine whether new gTLDs could be confused with existing strings.
The Sword Group algorithm compares applied-for strings with a list of existing TLDs and reserved words such as “icann” and “ripe”.
It looks for “visual similarity”, which means not only common sequences of characters but also the pixel-by-pixel similarities of each character.
Numerical scores are assigned. Any match scoring below 30 is not considered worthy of reporting.
As an experiment, I ran each of the strings on newTLDs.tv’s list of publicly announced TLD hopefuls through the available “pre-production” algorithm.
Here are my findings.
1. The algorithm is pretty much worthless. (continue reading)