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Dyson confirmed for new gTLDs Senate hearing

Kevin Murphy, December 6, 2011, Domain Policy

The US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation has published the witness list for this Thursday’s hearing into ICANN’s new gTLD program.

Esther Dyson, the founding chair of ICANN’s board of directors and now a fierce critic of the organization, may turn out to cause the most fireworks.

While Dyson was pro-expansion a decade ago, voting in favor of .info, .biz and others, she recently came out against the program in a widely syndicated op-ed and at a CADNA conference.

Kurt Pritz, ICANN’s senior vice president of stakeholder relations and regular new gTLDs go-to guy, will return to Capitol Hill to defend the program.

(We’re likely to see some criticism of CEO Rod Beckstrom as a result of his absence, as we did following the House of Representatives hearing earlier this year, I imagine.)

Fiona Alexander of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, ICANN’s governmental overseer, has also been named as a witness.

Predictably, the Association of National Advertisers has a seat on the panel in the form of Dan Jaffe, its vice president of government relations.

The ANA and its newly formed Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight is believed to have brought about the hearing due to its anti-ICANN lobbying activities.

The witness with the wildcard credentials is Angela Williams, general counsel of the Young Men’s Christian Association of the United States of America.

The YMCA does not appear to have spent a great deal of time contributing to ICANN or the new gTLDs program.

It is however a member of ICANN’s new Not-for-Profit Organizations Constituency (NPOC), which is viewed by some (largely other non-commercial stakeholders) as a shill for intellectual property interests.

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Blah blah ICM blah .xxx blah blah…

Kevin Murphy, December 6, 2011, Domain Registries

Today blah blah ICM Registry blah blah .xxx blah live blah.

Blah blah 10 years blah blah porn blah blah generally available blah. Blah delay blah 5pm blah Lawley blah.

ICANN blah blah Governmental Advisory Committee blah blah blah San Francisco blah blah blah.

Blah blah Free Speech Coalition blah blah controversy blah Manwin blah blah blah lawsuit blah antitrust blah blah blah leg to stand on.

Blah speculators blah domainers blah cybersquatters blah. Blah blah shirt off your back blah.

Blah blah contract blah blah policies blah blah UDRP blah toothless blah blah blah WIPO blah blah blah donkey porn.

Blah reporting blah damned blah story blah 10 years blah blah bored blah blah blah blah finally over.

Blah blah blah.

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Saucy domain name commercials… in India?

Kevin Murphy, December 6, 2011, Domain Registrars

By now everybody is familiar with attempts by American companies such as Go Daddy, and more recently ICM Registry, to make domain names appear sexy in TV commercials.

But did you know BigRock.com is doing something similar in India, where the boundaries of decency are even more strictly defined than in the US?

I just enountered BigRock’s YouTube channel for the first time, and I think it’s fair to say that its commercials are somewhat “edgy” too, at least as measured by Indian standards.

Here are a few examples.

It’s possible to pick up on some social commentary in some of the spots, even if you don’t speak fluent Hinglish.

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Former ICANN CFO sues Sedari over €100k deal

Kevin Murphy, December 5, 2011, Domain Services

Kevin Wilson, who joined new gTLD consultancy Sedari as chief financial officer earlier this year, was fired in October and is now suing the company over a €100,000 investment deal gone bad.

Wilson, who spent four years as ICANN’s CFO, was one of a number of familiar domain name industry faces to join UK-based Sedari when it came out of stealth mode this summer.

But he was let go in October after falling out with CEO Liz Williams over financial matters.

Wilson claims that even as CFO he had to fight for access to Sedari’s financial records, and that when he finally questioned the company’s accounting he was terminated.

His termination letter said that Sedari had “very serious concerns” about his performance.

He had agreed to invest €100,000, in two €50,000 installments, and was fired shortly after deciding not to make the second payment, according to his legal complaint.

Wilson claims that he agreed to become an investor after being told about paying clients, including Cloud Registry, that he came to believe may not have existed.

He also alleges that “substantial sums” were taken from the company coffers by Williams for spa treatments and other personal expenditures.

The lawsuit alleges “fraud” on this basis, and seeks the return of Wilson’s initial €50,000 stake.

Wilson also wants the court to declare that, as a resident of California, he is not bound by the post-employment non-compete clauses of his contract.

He’s currently an independent new gTLDs consultant.

Sedari, through its solicitor Faegre & Benson, said in a statement:

Mr. Wilson has reneged on his legally binding obligations to Sedari both in relation to the payment by him of certain sums and his agreement not to act contrary to the best interest of the company. As a result, the Board has forfeited Mr. Wilson’s shares and taken further action to enforce its rights against him.

The statement notes that Sedari has not yet been formally served the complaint – which was filed in the Superior Court in Los Angeles on October 25 – adding:

In the event that Mr. Wilson proceeds with his complaint, it will be defended comprehensively.

The claim is devoid of merit, wrong in fact and all material allegations are rejected. Mr. Wilson will also be pursued for any further loss his actions may cause the alleged defendants.

Wilson said in a statement that he wants to “resolve matters amicably”.

According to exhibits filed with the lawsuit, Sedari’s other investors include Williams, with a majority 53.7% stake, as well as director Dennis Jennings and policy chief Philip Sheppard.

Registry services provider Afilias paid $375,000 for a 27.4% stake in the company, according to these documents. Its chairman, Philipp Grabensee, sits on the Sedari board.

Here’s the complaint.

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Go Daddy to advertise .co at the Super Bowl

Kevin Murphy, December 5, 2011, Domain Registrars

Go Daddy plans to advertise .co domain names during the Super Bowl broadcast for the second year in a row.

The company has bought two 30-second slots during the show, one of which will plug .co and will feature celebrity spokesmodels Danica Patrick and Jillian Michaels.

Scripts for both ads have been approved by NBC censors already, Go Daddy said.

It will be the eighth consecutive year the company has advertised during the inexplicably popular sporting event, which had a record-breaking 111 million US viewers this February.

The 2011 ad revealed Joan Rivers, her head spliced onto the body of a much younger glamor model, as the .co Go Daddy Girl.

I estimated at the time that .CO Internet took roughly 30,000 to 50,000 extra registrations due to the Super Bowl commercial.

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