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.wine no longer blocked after EU drops complaint

Kevin Murphy, June 11, 2015, Domain Policy

Donuts and ICANN are currently in the process of signing new gTLD agreements for .wine and .vin, after the European Union and wine sellers dropped objections.

As of today, both gTLDs are “In Contracting” rather than “On Hold”, according to ICANN’s web site.

ICANN revealed earlier this week that the European Union and various wine trade associations have both dropped their Cooperative Engagement Process complaints.

CEP is less formal precursor to a much more expensive and lawyer-hungry Independent Review Process complaint.

With the CEPs out of the way, Donuts is now free to sign its contracts.

Donuts won the auction for .wine back in November, but its application was frozen due to ongoing arguments about the protection of “geographic indicators” representing wine-making regions.

Governments, particularly in Europe and Latin America, had protested that .wine and .vin should not be allowed to launch until areas such as Rioja and Champagne were given special privileges.

Last October, ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade told the French government that it was negotiating with applicants to get these protections included in the contracts.

Either Donuts has agreed to such protections, or the EU and wine-makers have gotten bored of complaining.

My feeling is the former is probably more likely, which may be controversial in itself.

There is no international agreement on GI protection — the US and Australia opposed the EU’s position on .wine — so this may be seen as a case of ICANN creating new rights where none previously existed.

TLD Operator Community no longer a “community”

The TLD Operator Community, which launched last Friday, has hastily rebranded itself after confusion about its proposed role.

It’s now the TLD Operator Webinar. It has switched its URL from a .community domain to a .help domain.

Almost immediately after the initiative was announced, I started hearing gossip about a split with the Domain Name Association.

There was a slight crossover between the DNA’s mission and what had been announced about the erstwhile “Community”.

On Friday, I was told by ARI Registry Services, which is coordinating the webinar:

a new community for all new Top-Level Domain (TLD) applicants has been created to provide a forum for operators to achieve meaningful commercial success. The TLD Operator Community will differentiate itself from other new TLD think-tanks by focusing entirely on the commercial activation of new TLDs for the benefit of the entire community.

But according to ARI CEO Adrian Kinderis, this was a poor description of the initiative.

He said in a DI comment that it was rather “one off effort by our consultancy team to get everyone together for a chat.”

“My team have incorrectly characterized it as ‘forming a community group’,” he wrote. “I assure you, the last thing we need is another community group.”

ARI was intimately involved in the launch of the DNA and Kinderis continues to be its chair.

The Webinar will happen June 30 (or July 1, depending on your time zone) and feature speakers from Donuts, Vox Populi, dotBerlin and others.

Barclays, which was due to participate in the webinar, is no longer listed as a speaker.

The Hunger Games is first to use a .movie domain

Donuts has signed up an impressive anchor tenant for its upcoming .movie gTLD in the form of The Hunger Games series of movies.

thehungergames.movie is one of just a handful of domains in .movie, which is currently pre-sunrise, indicating that it’s a deal Donuts has negotiated directly with the film distributors.

The Hunger Games is a series of inexplicably successful science fiction adventure films, starring Jennifer Lawrence, popular with teenagers.

The first movie in the series fetched a whopping $691 million in box office receipts.

A trailer for the fourth and final movie in the series was released today, and it’s the first to carry a .movie domain.

Hunger Games

You’ll notice that the Facebook and Twitter addresses and suggested hashtags take precedence over the domain, but that’s understandable given the target demographic.

For Donuts, it’s just about the best anchor tenant it could have hoped for — a mass-market popcorn movie aimed directly at the people who will be buying their own domains in a few years.

People in the movie business will no doubt notice also, which in the short term could be more important. Sunrise starts next week.

Here’s the trailer.

.xyz starts to plummet — NetSol freebies to blame?

XYZ.com has been seeing its .xyz zone file shrink rapidly over the last five days, likely as a result of free domains pushed out to Network Solutions customers starting to expire.

DI PRO stats show that .xyz has shrunk by 49,658 domains this week — today at 888,413 names compared to a June 4 peak of 942,927.

It was June 4 last year when the industry become aware that NetSol was automatically pushing .xyz names into the accounts of its existing customers without their explicit consent.

Renewal rates usually do not become clear for 45 days after expiration, due to grace periods, but domains can delete earlier.

On June 9, 2014, one year ago today, .xyz had 87,073 domains in its zone file. It’s difficult to see where a loss of almost 50,000 names this week could come from if not the NetSol freebies deleting.

It is believed that the NetSol giveaway contributed about 350,000 names to .xyz’s zone over the period of its offer.

NetSol has been bundling .xyz renewals — which along with the free year of email and privacy comes to a whopping $57 — when it asks its customers to renewal their matching .com/.net/.org domains.

.xyz likely hasn’t seen the worst of its total shrinkage yet.

When eNom pushed free .info domains into its customers’ accounts about 10 years ago the renewal rate on those names was virtually zero.

New gTLD trade group launches

A group of new gTLD registries have got together to form the TLD Operator Community, a new “think tank” devoted to the commercial aspects of running new TLDs.

According to its web site:

The TLD Operator Community is designed to provide all new TLD applicants with an opportunity to share their experiences, learn from each other and focus on the commercial realities of operating a TLD – away from the confines of ICANN, policy or technical discussions.

The group appears to be coordinated right now by ARI Registry Services.

The distinction between the TLD Operator Community and the Domain Name Association appears to be that the DNA has more of a focus on outreach and education beyond the industry.

The new group will hold an introductory webinar June 30 (or July 1, depending on your time zone) featuring speakers from Donuts, Vox Populi, dotBerlin, Barclays and others.