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Scottish gTLD may launch before independence vote

Kevin Murphy, January 27, 2014, Domain Services

The application for .scot, a new gTLD for Scottish people, is ahead of schedule and is likely to launch before the nation heads to voting booths for an independence referendum later this year.

Glasgow-based applicant Dot Scot Registry signed its ICANN Registry Agreement on January 23. That’s despite having a processing priority number way down the pile at 1,453.

The company had previously expected that it would launch in “early 2015”, according to a press release. Now it’s hoping to launch before the Commonwealth Games kicks off, also in Glasgow, on July 23.

If .scot moves as quickly through the remaining stages of the application process as other registries have, it could be delegated in late March, meaning general availability could come as early as June.

This means the domain is likely to be in the hands of Scots and those of Scottish heritage before the landmark independence referendum, which is set for September 18 this year.

The vote will see Scots asked “Should Scotland be an independent country?”. If the majority says “yes”, Scotland would withdraw from the United Kingdom and become fully self-governing.

Scotland’s first minister, Alex Salmond, said in the press release:

2014 is an exciting year for Scotland, and I’m delighted that this distinct online identity for the nation, and all who take an interest in Scotland, will become available this summer.

If Scotland does become the world’s newest formally recognized country, it will be eligible for its own two-character ccTLD too.

The string would be designated by the International Standards Organization and is not likely to be particularly meaningful. The only two-character strings remaining that begin with S are .sf, .sp, .sq and .sw.

The process of obtaining a ccTLD would also take at least a year after (if) Scotland is recognized by the United Nations as an independent nation, which wouldn’t be until at least 2016.

Whatever happens, .scot is going to see the light of day well before any potential Scottish ccTLD, perhaps making it the .com to the country’s .us over the long term.

Gripe sites and PPC banned in new gTLD

Kevin Murphy, January 24, 2014, Domain Registries

New gTLD registry Plan Bee expects to ban gripe sites in its forthcoming .build registry.

Its Acceptable Use and Takedown Policy (pdf), published this week, is among the strictest I’ve seen.

The gTLD was delegated last weekend. It’s going to be an open space targeted at the construction industry, but its AUP bans a lot of stuff.

As might be expected, any form of malicious hacking or spamming behavior is verboten, as is child abuse material.

Activities more often regulated today by registrar user agreements — such as piracy and counterfeiting — are also prohibited.

But the policy goes on to ban activities that are typically permitted in other TLDs, including “gripe sites” and “pay-per-click”. The AUP reads (I’ve emphasized some oddities):

Further abusive behaviors include, but are not limited to: cybersquatting, front-running, gripe sites, deceptive and⁄or offensive domain names, fake renewal notices, cross-gTLD registration scam, name spinning, pay-per-click, traffic diversion, false affiliation, domain kiting⁄tasting, fast-flux, 419 scams or if the domain name is being used in a manner that appears to threaten the stability, integrity or security of the Registry, or any of its Registrar partners and ⁄or that may put the safety and security of any registrant or user at risk.

Domains deemed abusive can be suspended or deleted by Plan Bee, under the policy.

I can see why a niche gTLD might want to build up loyalty in its associated industry by suspending gripe sites targeting construction companies, but banning “pay-per-click” is a baffling decision.

Will .build registrants be prohibited from using Google Adsense to support their sites?

The .build launch dates have not yet been revealed but it’s likely to be a matter of weeks.

Ten more new gTLDs go live

Kevin Murphy, January 24, 2014, Domain Registries

Donuts, Afilias and Atgron were the beneficiaries of 10 new gTLD delegations yesterday.

Various Donuts subsidiaries had .boutique, .bargains, .cool, .expert, .tienda (“shop” in Spanish), .tools, .watch, .works delegated, bringing the company’s total portfolio to 70 gTLDs.

Afilias had its fourth new gTLD of this round go live in the DNS root: .kim, which is expected to serve people who have the first or last name Kim.

I think it’s the first personal-name gTLD to hit the internet.

Finally, Atgron had .wed delegated. It’s going to be an unrestricted gTLD aimed at marrying couples. It will eventually compete with the currently contested string .wedding.

I have to ponder what the renewal rates are going to be like for what seems to be the first event-focused TLD.

How long before their big day will registrants register their names, and for how long afterwards will they keep the registration alive for sentimental reasons? Atgron reckons such sites stay live for about 18 months.

There are also reportedly twice half as many divorces as marriages in the US at the moment. One wonders why nobody applied for .divorce.

DotConnectAfrica files for ICANN independent review

Kevin Murphy, January 22, 2014, Domain Policy

Failed .africa gTLD applicant DotConnectAfrica has filed an Independent Review Process appeal against ICANN, it emerged today.

The nature of the complaint is not entirely clear, but in a press release DCA said it’s related to “ICANN Board decisions and actions taken with regard to DCA Trust’s application for the .africa new gTLD”.

It’s only the third time an IRP has been filed. The first two were related to .xxx; ICM Registry won its pioneering case in 2009 and Manwin Licensing settled its followup case last year.

DCA said that it’s an “amended” complaint. It turns out the first notice of IRP was sent October 23. ICANN published it December 12, but I missed it at the time.

I’d guess that the original needed to be amended due to a lack of detail. The “Nature of Dispute” section of the form, filed with the International Center for Dispute Resolution, is just a sentence long, whereas ICM and Manwin attached 30 to 60-page legal complaints to theirs.

The revised notice, which has not yet been published, was filed January 10, according to DCA.

DCA applied for .africa in the current new gTLD round, but lacked the government support required by the Applicant Guidebook for strings matching the names of important geographic regions.

Its rival applicant, South African ccTLD registry Uniforum, which does have government backing, looks set to wind up delegated, whereas ICANN has designated DCA’s bid as officially “Not Approved”.

DCA has been alleging a conspiracy — often involving DI — at almost every juncture of the process, even before it filed its application. Read more here, here and here.

To win an IRP, it’s going to have to show that it suffered “injury or harm that is directly and causally connected to the Board’s alleged violation of the Bylaws or the Articles of Incorporation”.

New gTLDs top 100 as first dot-brands hit the root

Kevin Murphy, January 18, 2014, Domain Registries

There are now 107 new gTLDs live on the internet, following the latest batch of delegations.

Sixteen strings were entered into the DNS root today, including the first two dot-brands, which are Monash University’s .monash and CITIC Group’s .中信 (“.citic” in Chinese).

.CLUB Domains, Luxury Partners and Plan Bee became freshly-minted registries with the delegations of .club, .luxury and .build while legacy gTLD registry Afiias added .red, .pink and .shiksha to its roster.

Uniregistry added five new gTLDs to the two it had delegated in an earlier batch: .gift, .guitars, .link, .photo and .pics.

The delegation of .photo means the root now has its first singular/plural clash; Donuts already owns .photos.

Finally, I-REGISTRY added .rich to its .onl and China’s CNNIC had .网络 (“.network”) and .公司 (“.company”) delegated.

UPDATE (Jan 22): This post originally overlooked the delegation of .公司. It has been updated accordingly.