ICANN has withdrawn its breach notice against .jobs registry Employ Media, opening the floodgates for third-party job listings services in the gTLD.
In a letter sent to the company earlier this week, ICANN seems to imply that it was wrong when it threatened in February 2011 to shut down .jobs for breaking the terms of its registry agreement:
ICANN has concluded that Employ Media is not currently in breach, but is instead in good standing under the Registry Agreement, with respect to the issues raised in the 27 February 2011 Notice of Breach letter.
ICANN will not seek to impose restrictions on new or existing policy initiatives within .JOBS as long as such conduct is consistent with the .JOBS Charter and the terms of the Registry Agreement.
The surprising move presumably means that Employ Media will be dropping its Independent Review Panel proceeding against ICANN, which was due to start in-person hearings next month.
The original breach notice alleged that the registry had gone too far when it sold thousands of generic domain names to the DirectEmployers Association to use for jobs listings sites.
The project was criticized harshly by the .JOBS Charter Compliance Coalition, an ad hoc group of jobs sites including Monster.com, which lobbied ICANN to enforce the .jobs contract.
The .jobs gTLD was originally supposed to be for companies to advertise only their own job openings.
The reasoning behind ICANN’s change of heart now is a little fuzzy.
Ostensibly, it’s because it received a letter December 3 from the Society for Human Resources Management, Employ Media’s policy-setting “sponsoring organization”.
The letter states that all of DirectEmployers’ domain names are perfectly okay registrations — “being used consistently with the terms of the .JOBS Charter” — and have been since the .Jobs Universe project started.
The domain names were all registered by DirectEmployers executive William Warren, who is a SHRM member as required by .jobs policy, the letter states.
Nothing seems to have changed here — it’s been Employ Media and SHRM’s position all along that the registrations were legit.
So did ICANN merely sense defeat in the IRP case and get cold feet?
Read the letters here.
Tucows has started offering .jobs and .aero domain names through its OpenSRS reseller channel.
According to a blog posting, resellers will have to opt in to offering these gTLDs. Prices are $125/year for .jobs and $50/year for .aero.
It’s potentially good news for both registries, particularly .jobs. Both are restricted, sponsored gTLDs, but .jobs has a much less strict set of entry requirements than .aero.
The OpenSRS network has about 11,000 resellers, according to the company, which is largely responsible for Tucows being the third-largest ICANN-accredited registrar by domain volume.
Employ Media’s fight to avoid losing its contract to run .jobs won’t be resolved this year, according to the latest batch of arbitration documents published by ICANN.
February 2013, two years after the the battle was joined, is now the absolute earliest the company could find out whether ICANN has the right to shut down .jobs due to an alleged contract breach.
As you may recall from deep in the mists of time (actually, February last year) ICANN threatened to terminate Employ Media’s contract due to the controversial .Jobs Universe project.
The registry gave thousands of .jobs domains, mostly geographic or vocational strings, to its partner, the DirectEmployers Association, which started competing against jobs listings sites.
A coalition of jobs sites including Monster.com complained about this on the basis that .jobs was originally designed for companies to list their own jobs, not to aggregate third-party listings.
The coalition believed that the .Jobs Universe project was essentially a fait accompli, despite Employ Media’s promise that all the names now allocated to DirectEmployers would be subject to an open RFP process.
ICANN eventually agreed with the coalition, issued a breach notice, and now it finds itself in arbitration under the auspices of the International Chamber of Commerce.
A face-to-face hearing has now been scheduled for January 28 to February 8, 2013. Between now and December, it’s paper filings – claims and counterclaims – all the way.
Arbitration clauses were added as standard to ICANN’s registry agreements in order to create a cheaper, faster option than fighting out disagreements in the courts.
However, with both sides lawyered up and a process now likely to last at least two years, it’s easy to wonder just how much more efficient it will be.
It won’t be an easy decision for the ICC panel.
While I still believe Employ Media was a bit sneaky about how it won ICANN approval for the .Jobs Universe project – and it certainly disenfranchised other jobs sites – there’s no denying that .jobs is now a much healthier gTLD for registrants as a result of DirectEmployers’ involvement.
An ICANN win might actually be a bad thing.
I’d like to introduce a new jobs feature for DomainIncite readers.
As you’ll be able to see in the sidebar to the left, and in the header above, DI Jobs is now live on the site.
If you’re in the domain name industry you probably already know that most of your colleagues and competitors read DI, so I think this might be a great way for you to find new talent.
I’m using SimplyHired, a third-party service, for the listings. The jobs you can see right now — which may vary based on your IP address — are likely to be what it calls “backfill”.
It’s a bit like Google Adsense, and I’ve been made aware that one or two of the listings might therefore appear to be a bit distasteful to begin with (Whois email address scraping? Really?) but these will be bumped from view once a small number of DI reader jobs are posted.
For now, the top five most recently posted jobs will be listed in the sidebar, and the rest will be accessible via jobs.domainincite.com.
The introductory price for a listing is $90 for 90 days, just a buck a day.
ICANN’s GNSO Council has deferred a decision on whether Verisign should have to thicken up the Whois database for .com and its other gTLDs.
A motion to begin an official Policy Development Process on thick Whois was kicked down the road by councilors this afternoon at the request of the Non-Commercial Users Constituency.
It will now be discussed at the Council’s face-to-face meeting in Costa Rica in March. But there were also calls from registries to delay a decision for up to a year, calling the PDP a “distraction”.
Verisign’s .com registry contract and the standard Registrar Accreditation Agreement are currently being renegotiated by ICANN, both of which could address Whois in some way.
Today, all contracted gTLD registries have to operate a thick Whois, except Verisign with its .com, .net, .jobs, etc, where the registrars manage the bulk of the Whois data.