Employ Media will appeal ICANN’s threatened termination of its .jobs registry contract.
“We view the substance of this notice to be a surprising reversal of position and contradictory to prior decisions issued by its Board of Directors,” the company said.
ICANN yesterday gave Employ Media until the end of the month to cancel its agreement to provide 40,000 .jobs domains to the DirectEmployers Association for its Universe.jobs employment board.
The organization said the allocation of the domains for non-human-resources purposes went against the letter, spirit and intent of the registry’s contract and Charter.
It essentially boils down to a claim that Employ Media hacked its contract to allow it to start making money on names beyond the limited scope of its original “sponsored” community TLD.
The .jobs TLD was originally pitched as a space for corporate HR pages, not independent jobs sites. With Universe.jobs, half of the namespace is an independent jobs site. Employ Media is believed to have a revenue-sharing arrangement with DirectEmployers.
The ICANN breach notice was welcomed by the .JOBS Charter Compliance Coalition, the ad hoc trade group formed by major commercial jobs sites to fight Universe.jobs.
Peter Weddle, executive director of the International Association of Employment Web Sites, said in a press release:
the Dot Jobs Universe was not an innovation but rather an unprecedented attempt by a registry operator to misappropriate an entire TLD for itself and its alliance partner in blatant disregard of ICANN’s rules.
Employ Media disagrees, of course, saying that Universe.jobs came about as a result of its “Phased Allocation” liberalization plan, which was approved by ICANN’s Registry Services Evaluation Process and then survived a Reconsideration Request filed by the Coalition.
The company said: “it is imperative for registry operators to have predictability in the performance of duties and that ICANN has a responsibility to honor its commitments with contracted parties.”
Its registry contract contains a dispute resolution procedure that first calls for bilateral talks and, failing agreement, arbitration via the International Chamber of Commerce.
The Irish country-code domain, .ie, may be up for redelegation, according to Ireland’s largest domain name registrar.
Michele Neylon, managing director of Blacknight Solutions, has written to ICANN (pdf) to demand answers, after his inquiries about the potential changes were rebuffed.
The .ie ccTLD is currently delegated to University College Dublin, but since 2000 its operation has been contracted to IE Domain Registry, a spin-off company. Since 2007, it’s essentially been controlled by the Irish government.
According to Neylon, IEDR is “aggressively” pursuing a redelegation. If successful, this would put its own name in the IANA database, rather than the University’s. He wrote:
The management and development of the IE namespace should be with an entity that has made a strong commitment to holding the .ie domain in trust for the public good, and a strong commitment to a policy process that is driven by the Internet community and by the explicit consideration of the public good. This is not the case with IEDR, a private company that has practically no transparency and has zero representation of the internet community in its board or ongoing development.
It has been longstanding ICANN/IANA policy not to publicly discuss redelegation requests, which it apparently chose to exercise when Neylon inquired about the IEDR situation.
Neylon believes that any redelegation should be subject to public consultation in Ireland, which would be difficult if the talks all happen behind closed doors.
Blacknight is the registrar of record for 20% of .ie names. It’s also the only Irish registrar with an ICANN accreditation.
In an unprecedented move, ICANN has threatened to cancel a top-level domain registry operator’s contract.
Employ Media, the .jobs registry, faces losing its TLD if it does not shut down Universe.jobs, the controversial jobs board operated by its partner, the DirectEmployers Association.
In a letter to the company (pdf), ICANN general counsel John Jeffrey wrote:
By not establishing any meaningful restrictions on who may register second level registrations in the .JOBS TLD, Employ Media put in operation a TLD where anyone can register names, thus defeating the purpose for which the sponsored TLD came into existence.
We are calling on Employ Media to take immediate actions to implement restricted registration policies that support the purpose for which the .JOBS top-level domain was established, and to cancel registrations and/or disavow themselves of the benefits of any registrations that are owned by related parties, if any.
The move comes following a complaint filed by the so-called .JOBS Charter Compliance Coalition, made up of jobs board such as Monster.com and CollegeRecruiter.com.
They’re annoyed that the registry licensed 40,000 premium geographic and vocational .jobs domains to DirectEmployers for Universe.jobs, which has started to compete with them.
It appears that Employ Media and SHRM, through the Direct Employers Association, intend to use the .JOBS TLD primarily to compete with other internet job boards. Such use is inconsistent with the purpose stated in the .JOBS Charter and represented to the ICANN community.
The deal came as a result of a change to the .jobs registry contract, made through ICANN’s Registry Services Evaluation Process, that allowed Employ Media to lift a rule that restricted registered domain names only to the names of companies.
What the RSEP didn’t do was change the .jobs Charter, which restricts “who” may register .jobs domains. Yet, weirdly, the Charter is partly the basis for ICANN’s threat.
Jeffrey refers to the Charter restrictions, which are easily circumvented, as “specious” and “do not serve the international human resource management community”.
This is the Charter that ICANN approved back in 2005, and which hasn’t changed since, remember.
To come back into compliance, ICANN wants Employ Media to shut down Universe.jobs and get back to selling company-name registrations.
I think it’s likely Employ Media will appeal, possibly by taking the case to arbitration, as its contract allows.
It was one year ago today that I registered the domain name domainincite.com and made my first blog post here.
Since that day, I’ve published well over 500 articles, approved over 1,300 comments, and currently receive roughly 10,000 unique readers per month, growing all the time.
Not bad for a part-time gig, but I hope to do much better in year two.
My goal in the first year of running DI was not to reach vast numbers of readers, but to reach the right readers with timely, useful information.
Judging from the feedback I’ve received from the industry’s movers and shakers over the last several months, both in person and online, I think I have achieved that goal.
I’d like to thank you all for reading. I hope you continue to do so.
I’d also like to thank my advertisers past and present for making DI feel like less of a money-sucking time vampire and for generously indulging my psychological Chinese wall.
I’ve got some potentially cool announcements to make in the not-too-distant future, so stay tuned.
The US government is considering taking away some of ICANN’s powers.
The Department of Commerce today kicked off the process of reviewing the so-called IANA contract, from which ICANN currently derives its control over the domain name system root zone.
ICANN has operated the IANA functions, often regarded as intrinsic to and inseparable from its mission, for the last decade. But the contract expires September 30 this year.
Significantly, Commerce now wants to know whether the three IANA functions – IP address allocation, protocol number assignments, and DNS root zone management – should be split up.
The NOI says:
The IANA functions have been viewed historically as a set of interdependent technical functions and accordingly performed together by a single entity. In light of technology changes and market developments, should the IANA functions continue to be treated as interdependent? For example, does the coordination of the assignment of technical protocol parameters need to be done by the same entity that administers certain responsibilities associated with root zone management?
I’m speculating here, but assuming ICANN is a shoo-in for the domain names part of the IANA deal, this suggests that Commerce is thinking about breaking out the IP address and protocol pieces and possibly assigning them to a third party.
The NOI also asks for comments about ways to improve the security, stability and reportable metrics of the IANA functions, and whether relationships with other entities such as regional internet registries and the IETF should be baked into the contract.
The timing of the announcement is, as I noted yesterday, interesting. It could be a coincidence, coming almost exactly five years after the IANA contract last came up for review.
But ICANN’s board of directors and its Governmental Advisory Committee will meet in Brussels on Monday to figure out where they agree and disagree on the new top-level domains program.
While it’s an ICANN-GAC meeting, the US has taken a prominent lead in drafting the GAC’s position papers, tempered somewhat, I suspect, by other governments, and will take a key role in next week’s talks.
Hat tip: @RodBeckstrom.