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dotFM offers $1.1 million stash of emoji domains

Kevin Murphy, April 16, 2018, Domain Registries

BRS Media has started selling emoji domain names in its .fm ccTLD, and some of the more commonly used ones are quite pricey.

While a vanilla emoji will go for the standard .fm price of $95.95 a year when bought from dotFM’s web site, the company has set aside about 500 domains as “premiums”.

These reserved domains start at $995 for the first year, running to $4,995, according to a published price list.

In total, dotFM is sitting on a stash of premiums worth, it reckons, over $1.1 million in the first year.

The current Unicode standard supports 2,789 emojis, so if BRS manages to sell the lot it’s looking at a not-bad $267,000 a year in renewals.

Kicking off the registration process appears to be as simple as copy-pasting an emoji into the dotFM search box, but that may not work at its partner registrars.

It’s worth noting that emoji domains are what you might call an acquired taste, mainly attractive for their novelty value and not the kind of place you’d want to run your primary web site.

They’re also basically banned by ICANN policy in the gTLD space.

.fm is the ccTLD for Micronesia which BRS has been running as an open, if niche, TLD for the radio market for the last 20 years.

Community panel hands .radio to EBU because nobody objected

Kevin Murphy, September 11, 2014, Domain Registries

The European Broadcasting Union is likely to win the right to the .radio new gTLD, beating three portfolio applicants, after a favorable Community Priority Evaluation.

The main reason the EBU managed to score a passing 14 out of 16 points in the CPE is that there was no significant objection to the EBU’s bid on the public record.

The EBU managed to win, under ICANN’s complex scoring system, despite the fact that the CPE panel ruled that no one entity, not even the EBU, can claim to represent the “radio” community.

The win means that Donuts, Afilias and BRS Media, which all applied for open .radio gTLDs, will likely have to withdraw their bids and leave .radio in the hands of the EBU’s more restrictive policies.

The EBU’s bid envisages a post-registration enforcement regime, in which registrants’ web sites and Whois records are vetted to ensure they have a community “nexus” and are using their domains in the spirit of the community.

Registrants would have to provide a statement of their usage intent at the point of registration.

Domain investors are explicitly not welcome in the TLD, judging by the EBU’s application.

The EBU, as mentioned, scored 14 out of 16 points in the CPE. The threshold to pass is 14.

As I’ve been saying for years, passing a CPE should be very difficult because applicants can immediately lose two points if there’s any decent opposition to their applications.

The other three applicants for .radio could have easily beaten back the EBU had they managed to effectively organize just a single significant member of the radio community against the EBU’s bid.

However, they failed to do so.

The EBU scored the maximum of two points under the “Opposition” part of the CPE, because, in the words of the panel:

To receive the maximum score for Opposition, the application must not have received any opposition of relevance. To receive a partial score for Opposition, the application must have received opposition from, at most, one group of non-negligible size.

The application received letters of opposition, which were determined not to be relevant, as they were (1) from individuals or groups of negligible size, or (2) were not from communities either explicitly mentioned in the application nor from those with an implicit association to such communities.

Donuts, Afilias and BRS Media all submitted comments in opposition to the EBU application. As competing applicants, these submissions were (probably correctly) disregarded by the panel.

There were a small number of other objecting comments on the record that the CPE panel (again probably correctly) chose to disregard as coming from organizations of negligible size.

The was one comment, in Polish, from a Polish law firm. Another comment came from a something dodgy-looking calling itself the International Radio Emergency Support Coalition.

A third comment came from the Webcaster Alliance, a group that made a bit of a name for itself a decade ago but which today has a one-page web site that doesn’t even list its members (assuming it has any).

Attempts by BRS Media, which already runs .am and .fm, to orchestrate a campaign of opposition seem to have failed miserably.

In short, the panel’s decision that there was no relevant, on-the-record opposition seems to be on pretty safe ground.

What’s slightly disturbing about the CPE is that the panel seems to have decided that the EBU does not actually represent the radio community as described in its application.

It dropped one point on the “Community Establishment” criteria, and another on the “Nexus between Proposed String and Community” criteria.

Specifically, it lost a point because, as the panel stated:

Based on information provided in the application materials and the Panel’s research, there is no such entity that organizes the community defined in the application. Therefore, as there is no entity that is mainly dedicated to the community as defined in the .RADIO application, as the Panel has determined, there cannot be documented evidence of community activities.

In other words, there may be a “radio community”, but nobody, not even the EBU, is responsible for organizing it.

It also lost a point because while the string “radio” does “identify” the community, it does not “match” it.

The panel explained:

To receive the maximum score for Nexus, the applied-for string must “match” the name of the community or be a well-known short-form or abbreviation of the community name. To receive a partial score for Nexus, the applied-for string must “identify” the community. “Identify” means that the applied-for string should closely describe the community or the community members, without over-reaching substantially beyond the community.

Failing to get full marks on community and nexus would usually, in my view, indicate that an application would not succeed in its CPE bid.

However, the lack of any outcry from significant members of the community (either because there was no such opposition or the three rival applicants failed to muster it) seems set to allow .radio to be managed by the applicant with the most restrictive policies.

Trademark Clearinghouse to get tested out on three existing TLDs

Kevin Murphy, April 6, 2013, Domain Services

Three already-live TLDs are going to use the Trademark Clearinghouse to handle sunrise periods, possibly before the first new gTLDs launch.

BRS Media is set to use the TMCH, albeit indirectly, in its launch of third-level domains under .radio.am and .radio.fm, which it plans to launch soon as a budget alternative to .am and .fm.

The company has hired TM.Biz, the trademark validation firm affiliated with EnCirca, to handle its sunrise, and TM.biz says it will allow brand owners to leverage Clearinghouse records.

Trademark owners will be able to submit raw trademarks for validation as in previous sunrises, but TM.Biz will also allow them to submit Signed Mark Data (SMD) files, if they have them, instead.

Encrypted SMD files are created by the TMCH after validation, so the trademarks and the strings they represent are pre-validated.

There’ll presumably be some cost benefit of using SMD files, but pricing has not yet been disclosed.

Separately, Employ Media said today that it’s getting ready to enter the final stage of its .jobs liberalization, opening up the gTLD to essentially any string and essentially any registrant.

The company will also use the TMCH for its sunrise period, according to an ICANN press release, though the full details and timing have not yet been announced.

Unusually, .jobs is a gTLD that hasn’t already had a sunrise — its original business model only allowed vetted company-name registrations.

The TMCH is already accepting submissions from trademark owners, but it’s not yet integrated with registries and registrars.

New gTLD applicants: here’s how to lobby the GAC

Kevin Murphy, July 20, 2012, Domain Policy

ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee has let it be known that it’s open to receiving communications from new gTLD applicants.

But the GAC will only hear briefings from applicants at the request of GAC members, according to a notice posted on the GAC’s web site recently.

The GAC has strong powers to recommend the rejection of new gTLD applications, so naturally enough some applicants have already been lobbying to reinforce their positions.

Applicants are now being asked to send information to a specific email address or — implicitly — to lobby GAC representatives individually.

The new statement reads:

It is important to bear in mind that GAC members are still in the process of analysing the list of applications and applicants for new gTLDs. However, there have been a number of requests from applicants or other interested stakeholders to brief or provide briefing material to the GAC.

Briefings for the GAC will only be scheduled on a best-efforts basis and entirely at the request of GAC members.

An internal process for handling requests and tracking materials is being put in place, but those wanting to make their interest or availability known or to express an interest in providing written materials to the GAC can contact the GAC via gacsec@gac.icann.org. A list of those expressing interest or availability or that have provided materials will be made available to the GAC membership.

The GAC caused controversy last month when it accepted the European Broadcasting Union’s application for Observer status on the committee.

The EBU is also an applicant for .radio, which is contested by Donuts, Afilias and BRS Media.

BRS Media claims this is a conflict of interest and recently started lobbying for the EBU to withdraw its application. This week, it set up a web site to promote its cause.

.radio applicant slams GAC “conflict of interest”

Kevin Murphy, July 11, 2012, Domain Policy

BRS Media, one of the four applicants for the .radio generic top-level domain, claims ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee has a “direct conflict of interest” over the gTLD.

As DI reported two weeks ago, the European Broadcasting Union, another .radio applicant (the others are Afilias and Donuts), joined the GAC during ICANN’s public meeting in Prague.

While the EBU only has Observer status, and may not vote, it’s still able to participate in discussions. Whether these include discussions about GAC objections to new gTLDs is unclear.

BRS Media, which already runs the radio-themed .fm and .am ccTLDs, is not taking any chances, however. In a letter to GAC chair Heather Dryden, company CEO George Bundy wrote (pdf):

We believe these activities to be a direct Conflict of Interest, by the European Broadcasting Union within the New TLD Application process.

Optimistically, to say the least, BRS requests that the EBU “recuse itself from the New TLD process by withdrawing its applications immediately”.

While I can’t see that happening, it seems to me that the GAC does have to formally address the conflicts issue if it wants to avoid looking like a bunch of hypocrites.

The GAC does not appear to have a formal conflicts of interest policy, even though it pushed hard for similar provisions in the ICANN board.

Now that it has its hard-fought veto rights over new gTLD applications, some sort of safeguards seem appropriate.

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