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Pornographers still hate .xxx

Kevin Murphy, March 24, 2010, Domain Registries

The Free Speech Coalition, a trade group for the porn industry, has condemned the proposed .xxx top-level domain as “untenable” and “detrimental”.

In a letter to ICANN, FSC executive director Diane Duke challenged ICANN’s board to “settle the issue once and for all by going to the actual community to test the application’s true level of support”.

The FSC is concerned that the introduction of .xxx, as proposed and pursued by ICM Registry for the last 10 years, will inevitably lead to government regulation of the online porn industry.

Duke wrote: “a proposal for a ‘Sponsored’ top-level domain by a company that is not of the industry, with the added intent to ‘regulate’ an industry it knows nothing about, is simply untenable”.

The FSC has an even bigger problem with IFFOR, the International Foundation for Online Responsibility, the group set up by ICM to act as its sponsoring organisation

IFFOR – a bit of a hack to get around the fact that ICM was essentially applying for a gTLD during a “sponsored” TLD round – was loosely modelled on ICANN’s own bottoms-up structure, with four supporting organisations creating policy for .xxx domains.

Judging by this flowchart, which is open to interpretation, the adult industry would control less than half the votes.

“Our resolute position is that no self-respecting industry would ever agree to have a minority voice on a board tasked with setting critical policies for its members,” Duke wrote.

While ICANN ultimately rejected .xxx due to the lack of community support, ICM did manage to get some support from other areas of the adult community back in 2005.

ICANN was found at fault when it rejected .xxx. The question now is whether ICANN decides to stand by its first decision, to approve .xxx, or its second, to reject it.

Bottom line: It can’t win either way.

Dot-XXX lights fire under ICANN’s feet

Kevin Murphy, March 22, 2010, Domain Registries

ICM Registry has urged ICANN to stop messing around and finalise the contract that would add .xxx to the domain name system.

“There is no legitimate obstacle to the approval of ICM’s registry agreement,” ICM chair Stuart Lawley said in a letter to ICANN yesterday. “We can see no reason for further delay in the process of approving ICM’s registry agreement”.

At its Nairobi meeting earlier this month, ICANN’s board decided to hand the problem of how to handle .xxx to its staff, saying it “wishes to create a transparent set of process options which can be published for public comment.”

ICM now claims that no such process options are necessary. The .post application, Lawley said, was approved last December, six years after it was made, without the need for any new processes.

There are some differences between .post and .xxx, of course. While the .xxx application has previously been approved, it has also previously been rejected.

It is back on the table following an Independent Review Panel decision that ICANN broke its fairness rules by singling out ICM for special treatment.

Lawley reminds ICANN of as much several times in his latest letter, which can be found here.

ICANN’s staff is expected to deliver its process options next week. There will be a period of public comment, and the board will have to make a call by its June meeting in Brussels.

Cybersquatting registrar goes into receivership

Kevin Murphy, March 18, 2010, Domain Registrars

Lead Networks Domains, an Indian domain name registrar, has been handed to a California receiver after a cybersquatting lawsuit filed by Verizon.

ICANN said today that Bret Fausset has been appointed receiver for the Mumbai-based company, which had about 130,000 domains under management when Verizon sued it.

Verizon sued Lead in January 2008, claiming the registrar’s customers had registered 238 misspellings of Verizon trademarks.

The company further claimed that Lead ignored UDRP rulings that went against it and supplied UDRP avoidance services to its users.

ICANN yanked Lead’s accreditation last July. Fausett said he will now transition any of its remaining domain names to a new registrar.

Internet ‘villain’ to headline ICANN Brussels

Kevin Murphy, March 17, 2010, Domain Policy

It’s a date! Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, has accepted Rod Beckstrom’s invitation to attend ICANN’s meeting in Brussels this June.

Reding is a mildly controversial figure in the domain name world.

Notably, she is the recipient of a UK Internet Service Provider Association Internet Villain award over the launch of .eu, which happened under her watch as Information Society commissioner.

ISPA nominated her in 2007, for “foisting the most arcane set of rules yet seen for prior registration of .eu domains, requiring UK-registered companies to submit legal affidavits to justify the authenticity of their business.”

Arcane rules? At an ICANN meeting? Shurely shome mishtake.

It’s not clear whether Reding will be speaking at the meeting. She’s agreed to attend on June 22, the same day as the Governmental Advisory Committee meeting.

Is Go Daddy’s size a competition concern?

Kevin Murphy, March 17, 2010, Domain Registrars

Go Daddy is undoubtedly the runaway success story of the domain name industry.

It may not be as big as VeriSign, but unlike VeriSign it was not simply handed a multi-billion dollar resource to manage. It was essentially scratch-built. It didn’t even have first-mover advantage – Register.com and Network Solutions had that, and Go Daddy’s been eating their lunches for years.

The company has got where it is today through, in my opinion, a combination of cheap prices, decent customer service and populist marketing. Mainly the cheap prices, but I doubt that putting a great big pair of boobs on TV during the Super Bowl can have hurt sales.

But how big is the company? And with the introduction of new gTLDs, is its size now a cause for concern? (continue reading)