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DotMusic fails the “not gay enough” community test

Kevin Murphy, February 11, 2016, Domain Policy

DotMusic’s Community Priority Evaluation for the .music gTLD has failed, after the CPE panel decided the company was just trying to exploit ICANN rules to get its hands on a valuable string.

In a decision (pdf) published last night, the company score 10 of the available 16 points, four points shy of a passing score. The panel wrote:

The Panel determined that this application refers to a proposed community construed to obtain a sought-after generic word as a gTLD. As previously stated, the community as defined in the application does not have awareness and recognition among its members. Failing this kind of “cohesion,” the community defined by the application does not meet the [Applicant Guidebook’s] standards for a community.

The CPE fell apart at the first hurdle, with the panel awarding 0 out of 4 points on the “community establishment”.

It essentially ruled that the “music community” does not exist, despite frequent statements to the contrary from DotMusic and its legion of supporters.

DotMusic appears to have been condemned for the same reason as dotgay, the failed .gay community applicant.

While DotMusic and dotgay lost points on different criteria, their undoing in both cases was attempting to define a community that their respective panels judged overly broad.

DotMusic’s application included a list of 40 or more North American Industry Classification System categories of industry that it said were within its music community.

However, where it said “music lawyers” or “music accountants”, it referred to the NAICS codes for just “lawyers” and “accountants”, the panel noted.

This seems to have been responsible to a large extent for it losing its points on the “community establishment” criteria.

The CPE panel could said that while its proposed community members exhibited a “commonality of interest” there was no evidence of “cohesion” among them.

Further, no one preexisting organization could be said to cover the interests of the over-broad community as defined. The panel wrote:

There should, therefore, be at least one entity that encompasses and organizes individuals and organizations in all of the more than 40 member categories included by the application. Based on information provided in the application materials and the Panel’s research, there is no entity that organizes the community defined in the application in all the breadth of categories explicitly defined.

A knock-on effect of this was that DotMusic also dropped a point on the “community endorsement” criteria, despite having hundreds of letters of support from members of the music industry.

It dropped a further point because the string “music” only “identifies” but does not “match” its proposed community.

DotMusic will perhaps not take comfort from the fact that its losing score of 10 comprehensively beat rival community applicant Far Further by seven points.

With both community applications ruled invalid, .music should now head to auction, where there are eight applicants in total.

But .music is a bit of a passion project for DotMusic CEO Constantine Roussos — one of the few applicants who publicly announced his intention to apply long before it was possible to do so — so I think an appeal through the ICANN process is inevitable.

While DotMusic has support from powerful music industry figures, I don’t think that support extends to the kind of financial backing that will let it win a seven-to-eight-figure auction.

Don’t expect to see .music in your registrar storefront any time soon.

New gTLDs top 12 million domains

Kevin Murphy, February 9, 2016, Domain Registries

The new gTLD universe passed 12 million domains for the first time today, according to zone files.

Today, we counted 12,001,346 domains across all the 2012-round gTLD zones, up by just under 60,000 names on the day.

Over 50,000 of the new names were split fairly evenly between .xyz and .club, which seem to be the beneficiaries of a domainer surge that’s been going on for the last four days.

As of today, .club has overtaken .wang to be the third-largest zone, with 638,565 names.

It’s taken less than one month for the new gTLDs to add their latest million names.

Our total zone file count topped 11 million on January 12.

.xyz alone has added over 380,000 names since then; .club another 90,000. Most of that growth has come in the last seven days.

Second-placed budget Chinese-run gTLD .top has added over 95,000 names in the last 30 days.

Zone files don’t take account of domains that are registered but don’t have name servers, so the actual number of registered names will be slightly higher.

ICANN names Göran Marby new CEO

Kevin Murphy, February 9, 2016, Domain Policy

ICANN has its sixth CEO in its 18-year history.

Swedish telecoms regulator Göran Marby will take on the job in May, two months after incumbent Fadi Chehade leaves.

Marby

Marby is currently director-general of the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority, which regulates telecommunications and the internet in Sweden. It’s a government job.

He’s been in that role since 2010, and was reappointed to the role in November (when, presumably, he was already interviewing with ICANN).

He’s not an ICANN insider, telling a press conference yesterday that he has worked with ICANN participants but does not himself have a history of participating.

Marby, like Chehade, has a background as a technology entrepreneur. He founded, managed, then sold the security company AppGate, which made network security appliances.

Attention was immediately drawn yesterday to a July 2015 article from Swedish national broadcaster Sverige Radio, in which several sources demanded Marby’s resignation.

These telco industry sources said Marby had an “unprofessional” and “aggressive” management style that did not inspire confidence in the industry he regulates.

One journalist interviewed for the piece said Marby had threatened and physically intimidated him during an interview.

At the time, Marby would not talk to Sverige Radio. However, during yesterday’s press conference he seemed to characterize the claims as sour grapes.

He said that the allegations had come from executives at regulated companies at a time when PTS had just made a decision requiring them to invest more heavily in their networks, which they weren’t happy about.

He said that the PTS staff, board, union, and then the Swedish government had backed him, noting his November reappointment to the role.

Technically, he’s the first European ICANN CEO (M Stuart Lynn was a Brit by birth, but had gone septic by the time he was employed by ICANN) but Crocker said that this fact was not particularly relevant to his hiring.

He’s going to move to Los Angeles, from his current home in Stockholm.

Chehade is due to leave March 15. Marby starts in May.

ICANN Global Domains Division president Akram Atallah will be interim CEO for the interregnum, as he was between Rod Beckstrom leaving and Chehade starting.

ICANN cancels Panama due to Zika virus

Kevin Murphy, February 5, 2016, Domain Policy

ICANN has cancelled its upcoming meeting in Panama City, Panama, due to the Zika virus.

ICANN hasn’t officially announced the move yet, but ICANN insiders and several community members are saying that the meeting venue is being changed to a currently undecided country.

Zika is that virus you’ve probably been hearing about on the news that reportedly makes babies’ brains not develop properly. Thousands of kids are believed to have been affected by it in South and Central America

It’s spread by mosquitoes, but this week there were reports of it being also passed between human sexual partners.

Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff has declared a “war” on the responsible mosquitoes, and the World Health Organization has declared it a “global public emergency.”

It’s not yet obvious whether ICANN has cancelled the meeting due to the risk of mosquito bites or the risk of Zika being spread by shagging.

ICANN was due to meet in Panama City, Panama for ICANN 56 between June 27 and June 30.

Ted Cruz slams Chehade over Chinese “conflict”

Kevin Murphy, February 5, 2016, Domain Policy

US presidential hopeful Ted Cruz has taken time out of his busy primaries schedule to lay into ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade over his new job on a Chinese policy panel.

Cruz said in a letter to Chehade that China is known for its terrible track record on freedom of speech, and wondered aloud whether Chehade’s involvement in the panel constituted a conflict of interest.

Chehade said in December that he’d joined, as co-chair, an advisory committee of the World Internet Conference.

Also known as the Wuzhen Summit, the WIC is an annual conference organized by the Chinese government in order to push its agenda of national sovereignty over the internet.

The conference, apparently regarded as a bit of a joke even in China, actually has little international participation from government leaders.

It’s also been criticized by Reporters Without Borders, which called for a boycott of the 2015 conference after some Western news outlets were barred from attending.

While Chehade stressed that his involvement is in a personal capacity, that his panel is not due to meet until mid-2016 (after he will have left ICANN), and that he remains committed to ICANN’s “one internet” mantra, Cruz doesn’t believe him.

Cruz said in his letter (pdf) that he was “surprised and dismayed” to learn of Chehade’s involvement in Wuzhen, writing:

your participation as a co-chair of the committee raised concerns about a personal conflict of interest while you serve as the Chief Executive Officer of ICANN under contract with the United States Government.

Cruz poses nine key questions that appear to be designed to get Chehade to admit that his conduct in some way represents a conflict of interest, or that he’s a loose cannon operating without the approval of his board of directors.

He wants to know whether, for example, Wuzhen has already discussed the IANA transition, which will see the US government sever formal oversight of the DNS root zone later this year.

It’s a view common to US Republican politicians, of which Cruz is one, that the transition will open the door to China, Russia and other boogeymen to initiate a crackdown on free speech, which has always seemed a little far-fetched.

Cruz is currently considered one of the front-runners for the Republican nomination in the presidential race, following his victory over Donald Trump in Iowa this week.

His letter, which demands answers before February 19, was also signed by fellow Republican senators James Lankford and Michael Lee.

Chehade is due to leave ICANN at the end of March.