Today blah blah ZA Central Registry blah blah .africa blah delegated blah.
ICANN blah blah root blah. Blah blah ZACR blah nic.africa.
Blah blah five years blah blah contention blah lawsuit blah blah DotConnectAfrica blah. Blah blah Bekele blah IRP blah.
ICANN blah blah Governmental Advisory Committee blah blah blah African Union blah blah blah.
Blah blah Geographic Names Panel blah blah controversy blah blah blah blah lawsuit blah blah blah leg to stand on.
— dotAfrica (@africandomain) February 15, 2017
Blah racist blah blah conspiracy blah blah blah… nutty. Blah.
Blah reporting blah damned blah story blah forever blah blah bored blah blah blah blah.
US civil rights group the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has reclaimed the domain name nigger.com after it expired and went to auction.
The names nigger.org and nigger.net were also affected, but according to Whois records the NAACP restored all three yesterday.
The names had been in pending renewal/delete status for three weeks, during which time the registrant was listed as Perfect Privacy, Web.com’s proxy/privacy provider.
While expired, the .com had been placed (presumably automatically) in a NameJet auction, as first reported by Raymond Hackney at The Domains.
At time of writing, the auction had attracted 72 bids and a high offer of $10,000.
It was a “Wish List Auction”, indicating that the domain’s prior registrant had not yet exhausted all options to have the name restored.
As Hackney noted, if these domains fell into the wrong hands it could have a negative impact on race relations in the US.
But the NAACP, which first got hold of the domains almost 20 years ago, seems to have had a remarkably lackadaisical attitude to them over the last few years.
Not only did it accidentally allow the names to expire, but DomainTools and Archive.org captures show that the associated web sites had been compromised repeatedly since late 2014.
Every capture since late 2014 shows taunting, racist messages from the hackers, at least one of which associated himself with troll group the “Gay Nigger Association of America”.
Top Level Design’s .ink has become the sixth new gTLD in the Latin alphabet to be approved for sale in China.
It was one of four new gTLDs given regulatory approval to begin operating properly in the country late last week. The others were all in Chinese script.
From Finnish-founded TLD Registry, .中文网 (“Chinese web site”) and .在线 (“Chinese online”) gained approval.
From local outfit Guangzhou Yuwei Information Technology Co, .集团 (“group”) and .我爱你 (“I love you”) were given the nod.
Under China’s Draconian domain name regulations, only domains registered via local registries and registrars may be used.
Registries from outside the country have had to set up a local corporate presence and agree to China’s censorship policies in order to be compliant.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation and Internet Commerce Association are among those expressing initial concern about the introduction of a new “UDRP for copyright” mechanism by the Domain Name Association.
The EFF said the DNA’s new proposals want registries to become “private arbiters of online speech”, while the ICA expressed concern that the proposals could circumvent the usual ICANN policy-making process.
As we reported earlier in the week, the DNA has set out a set of four “healthy practices” (the term “best practices” was deliberately avoided, I’m told) for registries and registrars, under the banner of its Healthy Domains Initiative.
The first three sets of recommendations cover malware, child abuse material and fake pharmacies and are relatively non-controversial.
However, the surprising fourth proposal seeks to give copyright holders a means to suspend or seize control of domain names where they have “clear and convincing evidence” of “pervasive and systemic copyright infringement”.
While the details have yet to be finalized, it appears to be targeted at sites such as The Pirate Bay, which are used for pretty much nothing but copyright infringement.
“This is a terrible proposal,” the EFF’s Jeremy Malcolm and Mitch Stoltz wrote yesterday:
The content that happens to be posted within [a] website or service has nothing to do with the domain name registrar, and frankly, is none of its business. If a website is hosting unlawful content, then it is the website host, not the domain registrar, who needs to take responsibility for that
it seems too likely that any voluntary, private dispute resolution system paid for by the complaining parties will be captured by copyright holders and become a privatized version of the failed Internet censorship bills SOPA and PIPA
Those are references to two proposed US laws, the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act, that attracted lots of criticism and never saw the light of day.
The ICA, in a separate post on its own site, expressed concerns that private initiatives such as the HDI could give trademark holders another way to route around ICANN policies they do not like.
Noting that trademark protection mechanisms are already under review in a ICANN working group, ICA counsel Phil Corwin wrote:
What if the final consensus decision of that WG is that the URS remedy should remain domain suspension and not transfer, or that the UDRP standard of “bad faith registration and use” should remain as is? Are TM owners then free to develop their own “best practices” that include domain transfer via URS, or a bad faith registration or use standard? What’s the point of going through a multi-year exercise if those dissatisfied with the result can seek stiffer private policies? Just how many bites at the apple should trademark holders get
Both ICA and EFF expressed concern that the new DNA proposals seemed to have been developed without the broad input of members.
Stoltz and Malcolm wrote:
In any purported effort to develop a set of community-based principles, a failure to proactively reach out to affected stakeholders, especially if they have already expressed interest, exposes the effort as a sham.
ICA had no advance knowledge of the details of HDI and no opportunity to provide substantive input. So our fingerprints are nowhere on it.
The Copyright ADRP proposal appears to be the brainchild of Public Interest Registry, the .org registry.
PIR general counsel Liz Finberg told DI earlier this week that PIR is working with arbitration provider Forum to finalize the rules of the process and hopes to implement it in .org before the end of the first quarter.
No other registry has publicly stated similar plans to my knowledge.
The HDI recommendations are completely voluntary and registries/ars are free to adopt them wholly, partially or not at all. They are not ICANN policies.
A Los Angeles court has rejected a demand for a preliminary injunction preventing ICANN delegating .africa, meaning the new gTLD can go live soon.
Judge Howard Halm ruled February 3, in documents published last night, that the “covenant not to sue” signed by every new gTLD applicant is enforceable and that Africans are being harmed as long as .africa is stuck in legal limbo.
The ruling comes two and a half years after ZA Central Registry, the successful of the two .africa applicants, signed its Registry Agreement with ICANN.
Rival applicant DotConnectAfrica, rejected because it has no African government support, is suing ICANN for fraud, alleging that it failed to follow its own rules and unfairly favored ZACR from the outset.
Unfortunately, the ruling does not address the merits of these claims. It merely says that DCA is unlikely to win its suit due to the covenant it signed.
Halm based his decision on the precedent in Ruby Glen v ICANN, the Donuts lawsuit that seeks to stop ICANN awarding .web to Verisign. The judge in that case ruled last November that Donuts signed away its right to sue.
An earlier judge in the DCA v ICANN case had ruled — based at least in part on a misunderstanding of the facts — that the covenant was unenforceable, but that decision now seems to have been brushed aside.
Halm was not convinced that DCA would suffer irreparable harm if ZACR got given .africa, writing:
The .Africa gTLD can be re-delegated to DCA in the event DCA prevails in this litigation… Further, it appears that any interim harm to DCA can be remedied by monetary damages
He balanced this against the harm of NOT delegating .africa:
The public interest also weighs in favor of denying the injunction because the delay in the delegation of the .Africa gTLD is depriving the people of Africa of having their own unique gTLD.
So what now?
ICANN said in a statement: “In accordance with the terms of its Registry Agreement with ZACR for .AFRICA, ICANN will now follow its normal processes towards delegation.”
As of this morning, ZACR’s .africa bid is officially still marked as “On Hold” by ICANN, though this is likely to change shortly.
Assuming ZACR has already completed pre-delegation testing, delegation itself could be less than a week away.
If DCA’s record is anything to go by, it seems unlikely that this latest setback will be enough to get it to abandon its cause.
Its usual MO whenever it receives an adverse decision or criticism is to double down and start screaming about conspiracies.
While the injunction was denied, the lawsuit itself has not been thrown out, so there’s still plenty of time for more of that.
You can read Halm’s ruling here (pdf).