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ICM files $120m lawsuit over Manwin’s .xxx “boycott”

Kevin Murphy, October 1, 2012, Domain Registries

ICM Registry has counter-sued YouPorn owner Manwin Licensing, looking for at least $120 million in damages, saying the porn giant is using its market power to sideline the .xxx domain.

The company claims that Manwin’s antitrust lawsuit, filed last October, is merely one of several attacks against its business.

The counter-suit alleges that Manwin, after trying and failing to invest in ICM, illegally restrained trade by forcing its business partners not to do business with ICM.

The suit (pdf) reads:

Manwin has utilized its dominance in the adult entertainment industry to encourage the wholesale boycott of the .XXX TLD in the industry in order to destroy any competition tat may arise from the commercialization of .XXX and has secured agreement, either express or implied, by those within the industry that they will not do business with .XXX.

Manwin, for example, “coerced .XXX spokesmodels to end relationships with ICM” and “conditioned contracts with third parties on their non-involvement with the .XXX TLD”, according to ICM.

The counterclaims were filed in a California court on Friday, as the latest stage of the two companies’ ongoing legal battle.

The registry is looking for $40 million in damages for Sherman Act violations, trebled.

Manwin claims ICM and ICANN broke US competition law by setting up the .xxx “monopoly”, which both ICANN and ICM deny.

Nominet caught using Google Translate on Welsh gTLD site

Kevin Murphy, October 1, 2012, Domain Registries

Welsh internet users have accused Nominet of using Google to translate its .wales and .cymru gTLD sites into Welsh.

According to a Welsh-speaking reader, the majority of the Welsh version Domain For Wales makes “no linguistic sense”.

The site “looks like it has been initially translated using Google Translate, and amended by someone who isn’t that proficient in the language”, the reader said.

While I do not read Welsh, the Nominet site does bear some of the giveaway hallmarks of Google Translate.

If you regularly use Google to translate domain name industry web sites, you’ll know that the software has problems with TLDs, misinterpreting the dot as a period and therefore breaking up sentences.

That seems to be what happened here:

Nid yw eto’n bosibl i gofrestru. Cymru neu. Enw parth cymru gan fod y ceisiadau yn cael eu hystyried gan ICANN.

On the English site, the text is:

It is not yet possible to register a .cymru or .wales domain name as the applications are under consideration by ICANN.

Running a few other English pages through Google Translate also produces the same text as Nominet is using on the Welsh version of the same pages.

Welsh language tech blogger Carl Morris first spotted the errors.

Nominet has applied to ICANN for .wales and .cymru with the blessing of the Welsh and UK governments.

Its selection was initially criticized by some in Wales because Nominet is based in England and has no Welsh presence.

The company has committed to open an office in Wales, hiring Welsh-speaking staff, however.

GNSO Chair contest is Rickert v Robinson

Kevin Murphy, September 28, 2012, Domain Policy

Two candidates for the soon-be-vacated chair of the Generic Names Supporting Organization have been put forward.

Jonathan Robinson has been nominated by the contracted parties house (registries and registrars), while Thomas Rickert has been put forward by the non-contracted parties.

Rickert, an IP lawyer, is director of names and numbers at Eco, a German internet industry association. He was appointed to the GNSO Council by the ICANN Nominating Committee last year.

UK-based Robinson is a longstanding member of the domain name industry and a registries rep on the Council. He’s a director of Afilias and runs IProta, the startup that managed ICM Registry’s sunrise last year.

The two men will be voted on by the GNSO Council before the chairman’s seat, currently occupied by Stephane Van Gelder, is vacated at the end of the Toronto meeting next month.

Van Gelder is coming to the end of his term on the Council after two years in the chair, hence the need for a replacement.

NIC Argentina offered prizes to object to .patagonia

Kevin Murphy, September 28, 2012, Domain Policy

Argentinian ccTLD manager NIC Argentina offered its Twitter followers prizes if they commented on the controversial .patagonia gTLD application.

Earlier this week, the company tweeted a few times:

My Spanish isn’t great, but this appears to be a prize draw for “kits de calcos” — stickers or decals of some kind — for followers submitting comments against .patagonia.

The .patagonia application, a dot-brand bid filed by a clothing retailer, has caused a huge ruckus in Argentina, where Patagonia is a large geographic region.

The application has received over 1,500 comments to date, pretty much all of which are from disgruntled Latin Americans.

European privacy watchdog says ICANN’s Whois demands are “unlawful”

Kevin Murphy, September 28, 2012, Domain Policy

European Union privacy officials have told ICANN that it risks forcing registrars to break the law by placing “excessive” demands on Whois accuracy.

In a letter to ICANN yesterday, the Article 29 Working Party said that two key areas in the proposed next version of the Registrar Accreditation Agreement are problematic.

It’s bothered by ICANN’s attempt to make registrars retain data about their customers for up to two years after registration, and by the idea that registrars should re-verify contact data every year.

These were among the requests made by law enforcement, backed up by the Governmental Advisory Committee, that ICANN has been trying to negotiate into the RAA for almost a year.

The letter (pdf) reads:

The Working Party finds the proposed new requirement to re-verify both the telephone number and the e-mail address and publish these contact details in the publicly accessible WHOIS database excessive and therefore unlawful. Because ICANN is not addressing the root of the problem, the proposed solution is a disproportionate infringement of the right to protection of personal data.

The “root cause” points to a much deeper concern the Working Party has.

Whois was designed to help people find technical and operational contacts for domain names, it argues. Just because it has other uses — such as tracking down bad guys — that doesn’t excuse infringing on privacy.

The problem of inaccurate contact details in the WHOIS database cannot be solved without addressing the root of the problem: the unlimited public accessibility of private contact details in the WHOIS database.

It’s good news for registrars that were worried about the cost implications of implementing a new, more stringent RAA.

But it’s possible that ICANN will impose the new requirements anyway, giving European registrars an opt-out in order to comply with local laws.

The letter is potentially embarrassing for the GAC, which seemed to take offense at the Prague meeting this June when it was suggested that law enforcement’s recommendations were not being balanced with the views of privacy watchdogs.

During a June 26 session between the GAC and the ICANN board, Australia’s GAC rep said:

I don’t come here as an advocate for law enforcement only. I come here with an Australian government position, and the Australian government has privacy laws. So you can be sure that from a GAC point of view or certainly from my point of view that in my positions, those two issues have been balanced.

That view was echoed during the same session by the European Commission and the US and came across generally like a common GAC position.

The Article 29 Working Party is an advisory body set up by the EU in 1995. It’s independent of the Commission, but it comprises one representative from the data privacy watchdogs in each EU state.