It’s late 2012. You’ve spent your $185,000, fought your way through objections, won your contention set, and proved to ICANN that you’re technically and financially capable of running a new generic top-level domain.
The registry contracts have been signed. But will your gTLD actually work?
The experiences of .xxx manager ICM Registry lately suggest that a certain amount of outreach will be needed before new gTLDs receive universal support in applications.
I’ve encountered three examples over the last few days of .xxx domain names not functioning as expected in certain apps. I expect there will be many more.
Skype. Type http://casting.com into a chat window and Skype will automatically make the link clickable. Do the same for the .xxx equivalent, and it does not.
Android, the Google mobile platform. I haven’t tested this, but according to Francesco Cetaro on Twitter, unless you manually type the http:// the domain doesn’t resolve.
TweetDeck, now owned by Twitter. It doesn’t auto-link or auto-shorten .xxx domains either, not even if you include the http:// prefix.
This problem is well known from previous new gTLD rounds. ICANN even warns applicants about it in the Applicant Guidebook, stating:
All applicants should be aware that approval of an application and entry into a registry agreement with ICANN do not guarantee that a new gTLD will immediately function throughout the Internet. Past experience indicates that network operators may not immediately fully support new top-level domains, even when these domains have been delegated in the DNS root zone, since third-party software modification may be required and may not happen immediately.
Similarly, software applications sometimes attempt to validate domain names and may not recognize new or unknown top-level domains.
As a 10-year .info registrant, I can confirm that some web sites will still sometimes reject email addresses at .info domains.
Sometimes this is due to outdated validation scripts assuming no TLD is longer than three characters. Sometimes, it’s because the webmaster sees so much spam from .info he bans the whole TLD.
This is far less of an issue that it was five or six years ago, due in part to Afilias’s outreach, but just this week I found myself unable to sign up at a certain phpBB forum using my .info address.
I understand ICM has also been reaching out to affected app developers recently to make them aware that .xxx now exists in the root and has resolvable domains.
ICANN also has released code in C#, Java, Perl, and Python (though not, annoyingly, PHP) that it says can be easily dropped into source in order to validate TLDs against the live root.
The last beta was released in 2007. I’m not sure whether it’s still under development.
(UPDATE: CentralNic CTO Gavin Brown has knocked up a PHP implementation here.)
Is the new adults-only top-level domain going to turn out to be just as big of a trademark shakedown as some had feared?
EasySpace, a British domain name registrar, claims that 80% of its .xxx pre-orders are from organizations outside the porn industry.
“Out of the hundreds of businesses that have rushed to pre-register with Easyspace ahead of the opening of the Sunrise phase for .XXX domains on 7 September 2011, only 20% of them are from the adult industry,” the company said in a press release.
EasySpace is just one rather small registrar, of course, and its marketing of .xxx is very much in the “Protect your brand” camp, so its numbers may not necessarily hold up industry-wide.
The company is charging $189.99 ($310) for non-porn defensive registrations, an almost 100% markup on the registry fee.
Still, 80% is a big number, and likely to be used by critics not only of .xxx but of new TLDs in general.
It seems that pretty much every time I’ve written about .xxx over the last five or six years the article has been mentioned, or focussed on, how the porn business hates it.
For a change, here’s a shameless propaganda video (possibly NSFW) that ICM Registry produced during a recent, evidently quite boozy, party at Platinum Lace, a strip joint in London.
Context: ICM was sponsoring the party.
The people heard supporting .xxx are either porn actresses who’ve just been given their .xxx domains, employees of the Paul Raymond stable of top-shelf men’s magazines, or domain registrars.
One of the interviewers is “Mario”, a Z-lister known for being annoying on the TV show Big Brother last year. I figured his 15 minutes were already up, but I guess not.
The other is ICM’s sales director Vaughn Liley. He’s the one who starts interviews with the question “So, do you think .xxx will be good for the industry, or great?”
Watch out, David Frost.
Also seen posing, though not speaking, is Ben Dover, pretty much the only mainstream-famous porn video producer ever to come out of the UK.
If you’ve ever doubted what a rarefied world we work in, check out this new CNN interview with ICM Registry, which confusingly conflates .xxx with ICANN’s new top-level domains program.
Anchor Pauline Chiou uses the approval of new gTLD program as a segue into a brief interview with ICM president Stuart Lawley about the forthcoming .xxx sunrise period.
“If they want to apply for this one-time block do they have to pay this $185,000?” she asks
She goes on to press Lawley into launching a defense of ICANN’s program that I doubt he was expecting.
You’ll notice that Chiou also refers to ICANN as the “Internet Corporation for Assigned Names” and flatteringly describes it as “the group that oversees the development of the internet”.
For a casual viewer, it would be fairly easy to come away from this interview assuming Lawley works for ICANN, and that .xxx domains could cost $185,000.
Citing demand, ICM Registry has lengthened the .xxx sunrise period, which begins September 8, by three weeks. It will now end October 28, running for 50 days.
The new deadlines apply to all three sunrises, which will run concurrently.
Sunrise A-T – for porn publishers with trademarks.
Sunrise A-D – for porn publishers with matching domains in other TLDs.
Sunrise B – for anyone outside the porn business who wants to “turn off” their trademark in .xxx to prevent cybersquatting.
Successful Sunrise B applicants will see their chosen domains resolve to a standard information page explaining that the domain is not available for registration.
Post-launch, anyone can register a non-resolving domain that returns an NXDOMAIN response, but they’ll have to pay for it annually. Sunrise B applicants pay a one-time fee.
If applicants from Sunrise A and Sunrise B both apply for the same domains, the porn applicant will be given precedence, although they will be warned about possible trademark infringement.
If more than one Sunrise A applicant applies for the same domain, the fight will be taken to an auction, managed by Pool.com. Auction rules will be published at a later date.
The sunsrise is outlined in a policy document (pdf) ICM published on its web site today that sets out the rules for its pre-launch period.
The company has not yet announced details of its Charter Eligibility Dispute Resolution Procedure, nor its Rapid Evaluation Service, though it has said it expects them to cost between $750 and $1,500, depending on what deals it can come to with dispute resolution providers.
The Rapid Evaluation Service, previously referred to as “rapid takedown” will be an interesting one.
It’s expected to be a little like the Uniform Rapid Suspension process ICANN’s new gTLDs will have to implement, except it will only take about 48 hours to take down an obviously cybersquatted domain.
ICM says it expects to publish these policies before the sunrise begins.
Landrush is now expected to run November 8 until November 25. General availability will begin December 6.