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Go Daddy checkout charity raises $20k for Haiti

Go Daddy’s quietly launched “Round Up For Charity” scheme has so far raised over $20,000 for the Hope For Haiti appeal, according to the company.

The month-old initiative gives the domain name registrar’s customers the option to round their bill up to the nearest dollar when they buy a product on its web site. The proceeds go to the charity.

With a new .com costing $12.17, that works out to a $0.83 donation every time somebody checks the box. With that in mind, $20,000 works out to the equivalent of about 24,000 registrations.

I was expecting more, given how much business passes though Go Daddy’s site every day, but I guess not all donations will be as high as $0.83, and not everybody will check the box (there really is no excuse for not checking the box).

It’s a pretty cool idea, a good example of how a company can leverage scale to do some good in the world. Haiti could use all the help it can get at the moment.

Company CEO Bob Parsons has also promised to match his customers’ donations dollar for dollar, according to a press release. He’s also uploaded a video of a recent trip to Haiti here.

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“Corruption” claims as .africa fight heats up

Kevin Murphy, May 9, 2011, Domain Policy

The fight for the right to run .africa as a top-level domain has been heating up in recent weeks, culminating today in claims of “corruption” and “large-scale illegality”.

A organization called DotConnectAfrica has been mustering support for .africa for a few years, but since March it has faced a rival bid from AfTLD, an association of African country-code TLDs.

The contest has already degenerated into quite a fierce war of words, with allegations of corruption coming from one side and counter-claims of FUD coming from the other.

DCA claims the AfTLD initiative is using “double-dealing” to “unfairly” win the endorsement of the African Union, while AfTLD says DCA is using “intimidation” to get its way.

Under ICANN’s proposed rules, any entity that wants to apply for a TLD purporting to represent a large geographic region must secure the support of 60% of the nations in that region.

It’s not explicit, but it’s quite possible that African Union support may cover this requirement. Backing from the AU therefore could be the deal-breaker for .africa bidders.

DCA has a letter, signed by AU Commission chair Jean Ping, dated August 2009, which offers to support the DCA application.

But there’s good reason to believe that this support may have been revoked last year, and that the AU Commission has opened up its options once more.

The Commission last November annnounced (pdf) a new Task Force, charged with finding an entity to act as the official applicant for .africa when the ICANN new gTLD program opens.

DCA seems to believe that this Task Force has been captured by supporters of the rival AfTLD bid. In a press release today, it says:

there is a dangerous nexus between a certain cabal within the AU Task Force on Dot Africa and the AfTLD – and this nexus has been established in order to disingenuously facilitate ‘insider’ help for AfTLD’s Expression of Interest to the AU and prospective bid to ICANN.

The release goes on to make a number of allegations, such as:

AU Task Force members on DotAfrica are also advisors and confederates of AfTLD. DCA believes that such affiliations are unwholesome and foster corruption, nepotism, abuse of office, and large-scale illegality.

DCA appears to be concerned (to put it lightly), that some of the members of the AU Commission Task Force appear to have conflicts of interest.

The Task Force’s chair, Pierre Dandjinou, and its vice-chair, Nii Quaynor (a former ICANN director) have both previously put their names to a different and now apparently defunct .africa project that also intended to compete with DCA for .africa.

Another member of the Task Force, Abibu Ntahigiye, manager of Tanzania’s .tz domain, also appears to sit on the executive committee of AfTLD as its treasurer.

I’m not sure if any of this cross-pollination meets the definition of “corruption” or “illegality”, but I can understand why DCA is worried.

The DCA press release follows an AfTLD meeting in Ghana last month at which attendees were urged to “don’t believe what others claim” and “entertain no intimidation” when it comes to the .africa contest.

A presentation (pdf) delivered by AfTLD general manager Vika Mpisane says: “AfTLD, just like the AU, recognizes no any alleged pre-endorsements of any alleged bidder by the AU.”

Mpisane has been quoted recently heavily implying that DCA plans to put its commercial interests before the good of Africans, saying:

On one side is the self-serving commercial interest that some entities are already championing; these are entities that are in it purely for the money; on the other side is a community-serving commercial interest that most of the African internet community prefers.

AfTLD says it recently closed an RFP for a back-end registry provider to join its bid for .africa (and .afrique, which it also plans to apply for) and will announce the winner soon.

The AU Commission is expected to launch an RFP for a registry manager to endorse.

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ICANN tries to dodge .jobs legal fees

“Please don’t sue us!”

That’s the message some are taking away from the latest round of published correspondence between lawyers representing ICANN and .jobs registry Employ Media.

Employ Media last week said it will take ICANN to the International Chamber of Commerce, after they failed to resolve their dispute over the company’s controversial Universe.jobs venture.

Now ICANN has asked the registry’s executives to return to the negotiating table, apparently to reduce the risk of having to spend millions of dollars on lawyering.

In a letter (pdf) to Employ Media’s attorneys, ICANN outside counsel Eric Enson of Jones Day said that ICANN wishes to avoid “costly legal fees associated with arbitration or litigation”:

I again request a meeting among the business persons involved in this matter to discuss potential resolutions before spending more of ICANN’s funding on unnecessary litigation.

The latest round of published correspondence, like the last one, and the one before that, seems to contain a fair bit of legal posturing, with both sides accusing the other of conducting negotiations in “bad faith” for various reasons.

Filing the arbitration notice with the ICC might turn out to be a smart move by Employ Media, knowing how risk-averse and cash-conscious ICANN is.

ICANN is still smarting from the last time it headed to arbitration, for its Independent Review Panel over ICM Registry’s .xxx top-level domain.

ICANN lost that case in February 2010, and had to cover the panel’s almost $500,000 in costs, as well as its own legal fees. The overall price tag is believed to have comfortably made it into seven figures.

But that may well turn out to be small beer compared to the price of losing arbitration against the .jobs registry.

Unlike the IRP, in which both parties pay their own lawyers no matter who wins, Employ Media’s contract states that the losing party in arbitration must pay the legal fees of the winner.

To go up against .jobs at the ICC and lose could hit ICANN’s coffers harder than the .xxx dispute, in other words. That’s not to say it would lose, but with matters as complex as this there is that risk.

It’s worth noting that Employ Media’s lead attorney has form when it comes to reaching into ICANN’s pockets – Crowell & Moring’s Arif Ali also represented ICM Registry in the .xxx IRP case.

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Graham beats Doria to ICANN board

Kevin Murphy, May 8, 2011, Domain Policy

Bill Graham of the Internet Society has won an election to ICANN’s board of directors.

Graham beat academic Avri Doria by 8 votes to 5 in the second round of polling from the Non-Contracted Parties House of the GNSO Council.

He will take his seat at the end of ICANN’s meeting in Singapore next month, June 24, replacing trademark lawyer Rita Rodin Johnson, who is reaching the end of her term.

Graham currently leads ISOC’s “strategic global engagement” initiatives.

(UPDATE: Thanks to Graham for alerting us to the fact that he actually retired from ISOC a week ago).

Until 2007, he was director of international telecommunications policy with Industry Canada, the Canadian government’s department responsible for the technology economy.

In that role, he also served as vice-chair of ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee.

The current GAC chair, who also has a non-voting seat on the ICANN board, is Heather Dryden, also a senior policy adviser at Industry Canada.

Graham will become the fourth former GAC member to join the ICANN board, after former CEO Paul Twomey of Australia and current directors Bertrand de la Chapelle of France and Gonzalo Navarro of Chile.

Here’s a useful infographic, courtesy of ICANN, that shows how the board is composed (click to enlarge).

ICANN Board structure

The two green squares are set aside for members of the GNSO. One is for “contracted parties” such as registrars and registries. Graham, elected by the NCPH, will take the other.

In the first round of voting, which concluded a week ago, Doria led by 7 votes to 6, one short of the 8 votes needed to win.

While the voting was private, it is believed that non-commercial and commercial stakeholders voted in blocs in the first round – commercial for Graham, non-commercial for Doria. In the second round, two of her supporters evidently switched sides.

Graham and Doria were the only candidates to be nominated.

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Princess Kate’s brother registers domain for nude photo take-down threat

Kevin Murphy, May 6, 2011, Gossip

The brother of the newly installed Duchess of Cambridge (formerly known as Kate Middleton) reportedly posed as a lawyer in order to get his nude photos yanked from a porn site.

According to Gawker, James Middleton sent a take-down notice to its sister site, the porn blog Fleshbot, after it published some fairly tame photographs of his naked frat-boy antics.

The notice was sent via email, purportedly from “Nice Group London Legal” at nicelawyers.co.uk.

But the Whois record, as Gawker discovered, showed that the company was a phoney, and that Middleton himself was the registrant.

The creation date of the domain, April 10, suggests it was registered precisely in order to send this kind of take-down threat. Fleshbot continues to carry the photographs.

And the lesson here? I’m sure there is one. I’m just blogging it because I think it’s funny.

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