DomainMonster has become the latest registrar, the first in the UK, to announce support for ICM Registry’s upcoming .xxx porn-only top-level domain.
The company said it has been accredited by ICM, and that it will start taking pre-orders for the domains on its Domainbox reseller platform soon.
I’m not sure if any have been officially accredited yet — no .xxx registrars show up on ICANN’s offical list.
DomainMonster CEO Matt Mansell said: “We anticipate the .XXX launch to be the biggest we’ve seen in recent years. The demand our support teams are seeing already far outstrips anything that’s gone before.”
ICM has previously projected somewhere between 300,000 and 500,000 registrations after launch. It took around 600,000 pre-reservations in the few years before it was approved by ICANN.
Getting .xxx accrediation is said to be quite a lengthy process. Registrars have to answer 14 detailed questions, including agreeing to abide by ICM’s policies and detailing how they plan to promote the domains.
ICANN has confirmed that Kurt Pritz, its point man for the new top-level domains program, will represent the organization at a Congressional hearing next week.
As I reported yesterday, The House Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet will hold an “ICANN Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLD) Oversight Hearing” on May 4.
Pritz is senior vice president of stakeholder relations. He has led the development of the new gTLD Applicant Guidebook for the last few years.
Some, such as GNSO Council chair Stephane Van Gelder, have already expressed surprise that ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom will not be attending.
The last time Congress dragged ICANN to Capitol Hill, in 2009, it was former CEO Paul Twomey who took the brunt of the questioning.
As Domain Name Wire recounts, ICANN took a good kicking on that particular occasion.
The focus of next week’s hearing is expected to be the intellectual property implications of new TLDs.
The US Congress is to investigate ICANN’s new top-level domains program next week.
The House Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet will hold an “ICANN Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLD) Oversight Hearing” on Wednesday May 4 at 10am local time.
The hearing has been called at the direction of the committee’s chairman, Rep. Bob Goodlatte.
The list of witnesses has yet to be published, but I’d be surprised if we don’t see a representative of the intellectual property lobby in attendance.
It will also be interesting to see who from ICANN is put forward to defend the new gTLD program.
ICANN is accustomed to being hauled over the coals on Capitol Hill every year or so, but I believe that this is the first time it has been subject to a US “oversight” hearing since it signed the Affirmation of Commitments in September 2009.
The AoC ostensibly separated ICANN from direct US control, in favor of a multi-stakeholder approach that gave voice to all national governments.
The domain name’s strange history raises questions.
The typo domain facebok.com is currently at the center of an unusual legal battle that has put a respected domain name registrar’s ICANN accreditation at risk.
EuroDNS, as I reported last week, has been handed an ICANN breach notice for failing to transfer the domain to Facebook, which won it in a slam-dunk UDRP complaint last September.
If it does not hand over the domain by May 11, it stands to lose its ability to sell domain names.
But the registrar says it is a defendant in a lawsuit, filed in its native Luxembourg, which has put a jurisdictional question mark over its ability to legally transfer the domain.
According to EuroDNS, the suit was filed by a company calling itself “Facebok.com Inc”, on September 24 last year, just one week after the UDRP case was decided.
This suspiciously named company alleges that the domain is its rightful property, and that it was stolen by the respondent in the UDRP case, one Franz Bauer of Munich, Germany.
The suit names Bauer, Facebook and EuroDNS as defendants.
A review of historical Whois records shows that Bauer has been associated with the domain facebok.com since August 2009, after it emerged from a few years behind a Whois privacy shield.
The address in the Whois, then and now, seems to be a hotel in Munich.
However, on September 21, 2010, a few days after WIPO informed Bauer he had lost the UDRP, the contact information in the Whois changed to a Hushmail email address and:
Company: FACEBOK.COM, INC.
Name: Facebok Domains Facebok Admininstrator
Address: IPASA Building, 3rd Floor, 41 Street Off Balboa Avenue, Bella Vista District
City: Panama City
Postal Code: 83256
That address is shared by Panama Offshore Legal Services, a company that offers corporate formation services to individuals outside of Panama, with the promise of “global asset protection, privacy, investment diversification, tax minimization, affordability and convenience.”
Facebok.com Inc, which is suing EuroDNS, Facebook and Bauer, therefore appears to be an offshore shell company. The question is: who’s behind it?
At the time the domain’s Whois changed from Bauer to Facebok.com Inc, it was in ClientTransferProhibited status, meaning it could not be transferred to another registrar, but that the registrant was free to change his contact information at will.
By early October, the Whois record had reverted back to Bauer.
The domain facebok.com currently directs fat-fingered web surfers to a variety of affiliate scams, depending on where they live, that rely upon users completing spurious surveys and not reading the fine print when they sign up for pricey mobile phone messaging services.
With 500 million Facebook users, many of whom will be youngsters, silver surfers, or may not use ASCII as their primary script, the site is likely to be getting a fair bit of traffic.
Compete.com estimates it received roughly 4,000 to 8,000 visits per month last year. Alexa gives the site a rank of roughly 154,000. Both sites show a huge traffic spike in March.
Australian authorities are planning to back bids for .melbourne and .sydney top-level domains, according to a report in The Australian.
The article quotes an official from the New South Wales Premier’s Office saying there’s a plan to release a tender for the right to operate .sydney, and somebody from the City of Melbourne saying they’re “actively considering” .melbourne.
The report does not spell out the expected uses of the TLDs. I expect some of the strategy will depend on what business plans the successful registry operator comes up with.
The current draft of ICANN’s Applicant Guidebook protects city names, demanding applicants show proof of support or non-objection from the relevant public authorities.
The only exception is when the applied-for string matches a non-capital city name, but is not intended to represent that city.
That’s designed to allow brand or generic TLDs that match smaller place names — think .phoenix or .buffalo.
With the latest revision of the Guidebook, it is noted that it is up for national governments to decide what the appropriate entity to support a city TLD bid is, which could complicate matters,
There’s already a Facebook group devoted to a .melbourne application.