ARI Registry Services is attempting to spearhead an uprising against ICANN’s little-loved digital archery new gTLD application batching system.
The registry services provider wants ICANN to scrap not only digital archery – which is due to kick off on Friday – but the concept of batching in its entirety.
“Batching is a solution to a problem that I’m not sure exists any more,” said ARI CEO Adrian Kinderis.
“ICANN has a large number of single applicants going for a large number of domains, and that has to create some operational efficiencies,” he said.
Instead of batching, Kinderis said ICANN should lump all applications into a single “batch”, so they can all go through their Initial Evaluation phase at the same time.
If ICANN can promise to keep this single batch to 10-12 months of evaluation, rather than the five months currently envisaged by the Applicant Guidebook, he reckons most applicants would go for the idea.
Kinderis couldn’t name names until the companies in question have gone through their respective clearance processes, but said he expects strong support from his competitors.
“We’ve talked to some of the big registries and they’re waiting for us to put this out so they can come to the party and support it,” he said.
ARI sent a letter (pdf) outlining its ideas to ICANN’s board last Friday, and it plans to send another tomorrow morning, which it hopes other applicants will then express support for.
“If they extended initial evaluation to 12 months, I think that would have the support of the ICANN community,” Kinderis said. “No one wants batching.”
Digital archery is also not loved by ICANN’s intellectual property constituency, which thinks it puts dot-brands at a disadvantage.
Whether ICANN will go for the ARI proposal remains to be seen.
With the embarrassing TLD Application System outage – and delays – still a recent memory, there may be a desire to keep the program moving along according to plan.
However, if registries representing large numbers of applicants (ARI has 161 on its books, and has been one of the most vocal critics of delays) are asking for delays, ICANN will have to pay attention.
But by acknowledging operational efficiencies, ICANN would also have to acknowledge that its $185,000 application fee might have been a tad on the high side.
Rearranging the program into a single batch may also require the renegotiation of its deals with the independent third-party evaluators that will process the bulk of the program.
The Governmental Advisory Committee, which has used root zone scaling as a political tool in negotiations with ICANN previously, may also balk at a single batch.
But Kinderis said later stages of the program will have natural “organic gateways” – such as auctions and contract signing – that would slow down the delegation of new gTLDs.
“I think it suits the GAC,” he added. “It gives them more time to be a bit more deliberate about their [GAC Advice on New gTLDs] decisions.”
UPDATE: ARI has now sent its second letter, which states in part:
It is our view, and we believe the view of many applicants and the ICANN community generally, that batching and the chosen method of doing so will serve to increase the likelihood of confusion, frustration and uncertainty for Applicants. Applicants want a level playing field where they can all progress through the process at an equal rate. Batching is not something desired by Applicants.
We ask that ICANN staff delay the launch of the batching process, take the time until the Prague ICANN meeting to consider the options outlined in this letter and take the opportunity of the Prague meeting to discuss batching with the community.
Read it in PDF format here.
Another big domain name registrar has come out in opposition to ICANN’s “digital archery” system for batching new top-level domain applications.
NetNames, part of Group NBT, has asked ICANN to delay digital archery – currently scheduled to kick off this Friday – until a better batching solution can be found.
In a letter to ICANN, general manager Stephane Van Gelder wrote:
As it stands, DA risks generating applicant confusion. It is a contentious system that seems to favour those with in-depth knowledge of the second-hand domain industry and more specifically, its drop-catching techniques.
There’s no denying that, of course. Pool.com and Digital Archery Experts are both offering archery services to new gTLD applicants based on this kind of insight.
NetNames is also concerned that the archery system was created without any formal community input, and therefore suggests it be delayed until after the Prague meeting later this month.
ICANN saw fit to take its TLD Application System (TAS) offline at the last minute and keep it that way for over a month as it sought to identify and correct a computer problem. We urge that the same flexibility be exercised with regards to batching, so that the currently proposed system, which is clearly flawed and unfair, be re-examined and adapted.
NetNames follows Melbourne IT, which expressed similar concerns to ICANN last week.
Van Gelder is of course also chair of the GNSO Council, though he wasn’t wearing that hat whilst writing this particular letter (pdf).
Donuts Inc has finally showed its hand.
The company, which was set up as a portfolio gTLD player by domain industry veterans Paul Stahura, Richard Tindal, Jonathon Nevett and Daniel Schindler, is applying for 307 gTLDs.
Yes, 307. That’s roughly 15% of all the applications ICANN has received.
We were all expecting big plans from Donuts, but I’m not sure many people thought it would go for so many strings.
The company has raised $100 million from Austin Ventures, Adams Street Partners, Emergence Capital Partners, TL Ventures, Generation Partners and Stahurricane to fund the ambitious plans.
Demand Media has been chosen to provide the back-end registry.
Donuts has also staffed up with some familiar faces. Former ICANN CFO Kevin Wilson is its new CFO, former Oversee marketing chief Mason Cole has joined as vice president of communications and industry relations.
The company says it has created almost two dozen new rights protection mechanisms for its gTLDs, but that it has an “open internet” philosophy.
“We have resources set aside for handling objections by parties who, for whatever reason, believe only they are equipped to administer a generic term,” Stahura said in a press release.
“The Internet is an engine of information, ideas and commerce, and one that’s not restrictive unnecessarily. Donuts intends to preserve that openness for all users, not operate a ‘by invitation only’ section of the Internet.”
I’m guessing this means there’s going to be fireworks in contention sets such as, say, .music.
The full list of applied-for strings doesn’t seem to be available yet.
ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee is the beneficiary of the biggest changes in the new version of the new gTLD program Applicant Guidebook.
Published late last night, the Guidebook has been revised with mainly cosmetic changes.
The exception is the updated text on GAC Advice on New gTLDs, the mechanism through which the GAC can effectively torpedo any new gTLD application it doesn’t like.
The new text is exactly what the GAC asked for following the ICANN meeting in Dakar last October, rather than the edited version ICANN chose to put in the Guidebook in January.
Basically, the GAC put ICANN staff on the naughty step in Costa Rica this March for failing to insert its advice into the Guidebook verbatim, and this has now been rectified.
The changes don’t mean a heck of a lot for applicants.
Essentially, if the GAC finds a consensus against an application, there’s still a “strong presumption” that the ICANN board should reject it.
If only some governments object, the board is still expected to enter into talks to understand the scope of the concern before making its call.
The new Guidebook has removed two references to the fact that the ICANN board can overrule a GAC advice-objection, but that power still exists in ICANN’s bylaws.
The main reason the text has been removed was that the GAC complained in Costa Rica that it appeared to weaken the consultation process required by the bylaws.
And it was pissed off that ICANN staff had edited its text without consultation.
Dot Registry LLC, a new company to the domain name industry, has applied to ICANN for four company-themed gTLDs, saying it has the backing of US secretaries of state.
It’s going for .inc, .corp, .llc and .llp.
CEO Shaul Jolles says the plan is for all four to be restricted to US-registered companies, even though some other countries give their companies the same labels.
“While the extensions do exist in other countries, they do not have definitions similar to the entity classifications in the US,” Jolles said in an email.
“We will not offer registrations to companies not registered in the US,” he said. “We chose this option because we are able to easily verify business entity registration in the US.”
Dot Registry, which is using .us contractor Neustar as its registry services provider, says it has support from various US secretaries of state.
As we blogged in April, the president of the National Association of Secretaries of State wrote to ICANN to express reservations about these types of gTLD strings.
But Delaware Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock indicated in a separate letter that Dot Registry’s propose regime of restrictions, which would manually match domains to company names, might be acceptable.
I’m still somewhat skeptical about the value of these kind of gTLDs. You can pretty much guarantee plenty of pointless defensive registrations, and the benefits seem fuzzy.
“The benefit of these strings is two-fold,” Jolles said. “For consumers it creates a level of reassurance and the ability to quickly ascertain if a company is legitimate or not.”
“From a company perspective it has simple benefits such as guaranteeing that you receive a domain name that matches your registered business name, increased consumer confidence which increases revenue, and a decreased possibility of business identity theft in a cyber setting,” he said.