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M+M raises $4.4m losing latest gTLD auctions

Kevin Murphy, December 3, 2014, Domain Registries

Minds + Machines made $4.4 million losing three recent new gTLD auctions, according to a company press release.

It’s withdrawn bids for .latino, .school and a third string it said it could not disclose due to the rules of the private auction.

M+M now says it has $45 million cash on hand.

So far, the company has withdrawn 31 new gTLD applications, almost half of its original 70. Not all of those were lost at auction.

It has 17 contested applications left and expects those contention sets to be resolved one way or the other by the end of June 2015.

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Community proposes way to replace US oversight of ICANN

Kevin Murphy, December 2, 2014, Domain Policy

The process of removing the US government from management of the DNS root system took a significant step forward today, with the publication of a community proposal for a transition.

The Cross Community Working Group, which convened itself earlier this year, has published a proposal to replace the US with a new contracting company and a bunch of committees.

The DNS community has been tasked with coming up with a way to transition stewardship of the IANA functions from the US National Telecommunications and Information administration, which said in March this year that it intends to relinquish its historic, but largely symbolic, Damoclean role.

After discussions which by any measure of ICANN policy-making have been forcibly swift, the 119-member CWG has now presented two broad options.

The first, a description of which forms the bulk of its report, would see ICANN overseen by a new, lightweight non-profit company managed by multi-stakeholder committees.

The other, which doesn’t get much airplay in the document, would see ICANN simply take over the NTIA’s responsibilities entirely. Accountability would be provided by enhanced accountability processes within the existing ICANN structure.

Under the primary proposal, the CWG was keen to avoid creating something ICANN-like to oversee ICANN, due to the complexity and cost, but it also decided that ICANN remains the best place to house the IANA function for the foreseeable future.

It’s proposed a new company, known currently as “Contract Co”, that would be replace the NTIA as the party that contracts with ICANN to run IANA. It would have “little or no staff”.

The contract itself would be developed and overseen by a Multistakeholder Review Team, comprising people drawn from each area of the ICANN community.

The precise make-up of this MRT is still open to discussion and will be, I suspect, the subject of some pretty fierce debate as the various competing interest groups wrestle to have themselves with the strongest possible representation.

Like the NTIA, the MRT would have the power to pick another entity to run IANA in future, should ICANN screw up.

A new Customer Standing Panel would comprise executives from gTLD and ccTLD registries — the “customers” of IANA’s naming functions — and would have the job of relaying the concerns of registries to the MRT, keeping ICANN accountable to its primary users.

Finally, there’d be an Independent Appeals Panel. Any IANA decision — presumably including the delegation or redelegation of a TLD — could be appealed to this IAP. This function would very probably be outsourced on a case-by-case basis to an existing arbitration body.

Is this worrying? Arbitration panels handling new gTLD disputes haven’t exactly inspired confidence in their ability to provide consistent — or even rational — decisions over the last year or so. Should the last word on what goes into or stays out of the DNS root really go to the same folk who think .通販 and .shop are too confusingly similar to coexist on the internet?

There doesn’t appear to be anything massively surprising in the proposal. When ICANN or its community try to solve a problem the answer is usually a new committee, and the ideas of MRTs, CSPs and IAPs do seem to mirror existing structures to an extent.

The whole thing can be downloaded and read over here.

There’s a December 22 deadline for comment. It will be submitted to the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group by the end of January, with a view to getting a final proposal to the US government next summer in time for the hoped-for September 30 handover date.

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Richemont pulls two dot-brand bids

Kevin Murphy, December 2, 2014, Domain Registries

Luxury goods company Richemont has withdrawn two of its original 14 new gTLD applications.

The company, which has been a vocal supporter of dot-brand gTLDs, pulled its bids for .netaporter and .mrporter this week.

Mr Porter and Net A Porter are fashion retail web sites for men and women respectively.

It’s not clear why these two bids have been withdrawn — the company isn’t commenting — but it’s certainly not a signal that Richemont is abandoning the new gTLD program completely.

The company has already entered into ICANN contracts for six dot-brands including .cartier, .montblanc and .chloe.

It has another five applications — four generics and one brand — that are still active: .手表 (“.watches”), .珠宝 (.jewelry), .watches, .jewelry and .jlc.

It has previously withdrawn an application for .love.

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FIBA wins .basketball

Kevin Murphy, December 2, 2014, Domain Registries

A sport-related new gTLD is going to an official sporting body.

FIBA, the Fédération Internationale de Basketball, won the right to .basketball after an auction shoot-out with Donuts and Famous Four Media.

While FIBA is the official world organizing body for the sport, there’s no plan to place strict restrictions on the gTLD — the application states that .basketball will be open to all.

FIBA had filed Community Objections to its two rival bids, arguing that they would allow gambling web sites that would harm the reputation of the sport, but the objection panels rejected both complaints in January this year.

FIBA’s bid is supported by Minds + Machines, its registry back-end provider.

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ICANN meetings in for big shake-up, more dancing

Kevin Murphy, November 24, 2014, Domain Policy

Could you tolerate an eight-day ICANN meeting?

Could you get all your work done in just four days?

Would you be happy to wait up to nine months between Public Forums?

Do you want to see more regional dancing during ICANN opening ceremonies?

These are question you’re going to have to start asking yourself, because come 2016 ICANN meetings are in for a big change.

Recommendations adopted wholesale by the ICANN board last week would scrap the three six-day meetings schedule and replace it with one six-day meeting at the start of the year, one four-day meeting in the middle and one eight-day meeting towards the end.

The first of the year would be formatted pretty much the same as all meetings are currently.

The second, however, would scrap formalities such as the opening ceremony, as well as the Public Forum and public board meeting. Instead, the focus would be on policy development work within and between advisory committees and supporting organizations.

The final meeting of the year, the AGM, would add two extra days to the regular schedule for outreach sessions and SO/AC policy-making. There would be two Public Forum sessions, one immediately after the opening ceremony on day three, the other on day six as usual.

As this would be the official outreach “event” of the year, the opening ceremony would usually have some display of local culture, such as music or dance. That was once a staple of ICANN meetings, but we haven’t seen much of it the last couple of years.

The shake-up was recommended in a report published by the Meeting Strategy Working Group in February and adopted in its entirely by the ICANN board last week.

The third meeting of the year would be “would have a focus on showcasing ICANN’s work to a broader global audience”, according to the report. It would have an anticipated attendance of over 2,000 people and would therefore likely be held in a large hub city.

The smaller (it is anticipated) second meeting, with its reduced focus on formality and outreach, would (contrarily) be able to visit cities with smaller facilities, perhaps in parts of the world ICANN has not been able to visit before, the report says.

To be honest, I’m not really sure whether what’s been adopted will be any better than what’s in place today.

I’m pretty certain of one effect, however: if bombshells are dropped shortly after the first meeting of the year, you’re looking at somewhere between seven and nine months before you’ll be able to stand at a mic and yell at the ICANN board about it in public.

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