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No, CentralNic isn’t the biggest new gTLD back-end

Kevin Murphy, August 17, 2015, Domain Registries

CentralNic’s registry back-end business may have got a big boost by last week’s news that Google has adopted a .xyz domain for its new parent, but it is not yet the biggest back-end provider.

That honor still belongs to Rightside, which currently leads CentralNic by a few hundred thousand names, according to zone files.

When Google started using abc.xyz as the primary domain for its new company last Monday, it caused a sharp spike in .xyz’s daily zone file growth.

The volume-leading new gTLD’s zone had been netting about 3,000 domains per day over the previous week, but that number has risen to almost 8,000 on average since the Google announcement.

While undoubtedly good news for XYZ.com and CentralNic, the growth has not been enough to propel CentralNic into the top-spot just yet.

CentralNic said in a press release today that it currently has 1,444,210 domains, making it the “number one registry backend”.

But according to DI’s numbers, Rightside has at least 1,701,316 domains in new gTLDs running on its back-end.

The CentralNic press release, as well as an earlier piece on The Domains, both cite ntldstats.com as their source.

That site had been listing Donuts as the top new gTLD back-end provider for over a year, with CentralNic in second place.

The problem is that Donuts is not a back-end provider. Never has been.

The portfolio registry disclosed right from the start that it was using Rightside (then Demand Media).

A Donuts spokesperson confirmed to DI today that it still uses Rightside.

The company runs its 190 delegated new gTLDs on Rightside’s back-end. Rightside manages another 39 of its own on the same infrastructure.

Combined, these gTLDs make up 1,701,316 second-level domains, making it the largest back-end registry provider.

Wildly popular Facebook scam attack hits .ninja

Rightside’s .ninja appears to be the victim of a broad, highly effective affiliate marketing scam that targets Indians and exploits Facebook’s trademark.

Today, 11 of the top 12 most-visited .ninja domains are linked to the same attack. Each has an Alexa ranking of under 15,000. They’re all in the top 40 new gTLD domain names by traffic, according to Alexa.

The domains are com-news.ninja, com-finance-news.ninja, com-important-finance-update.ninja, com-important-finance-news.ninja, com-important-update.ninja, com-important-news.ninja, com-important-news-update.ninja, com-finance-now.ninja, com-finance.ninja, com-news-now.ninja and com-personal-finance.ninja.

The domains do not directly infringe any trademarks and appear innocuous enough when visited — they merely redirect to the genuine facebook.com.

However, adding “facebook” at the third level leads users to pages such as this one, which contains a “work at home” scam.

Scam

Indian visitors are told that that Facebook will pay them the rupee equivalent of about $250 per day just for posting links to Facebook, under some kind of deal between Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.

It’s all nonsense of course. The page is filled with faked social media quotes and borrowed stock photos.

Not only that, but it uses Facebook’s logo and look-and-feel to make it appear, vaguely, like it’s a genuine Facebook site.

The links in the page all lead to an affiliate marketing campaign that appears, right now, to be misconfigured.

Infringing trademarks at the third level in order to spoof brands is not a new tactic — it’s commonly used in phishing attacks — but this is the first time I’ve seen it deployed so successfully in the new gTLD space.

It would be tricky, maybe impossible, for Facebook to seize the domains using UDRP or have them suspended using URS, given that the second-level domains are clean.

But it seems very probable that the domains are in violation of more than one element of Rightside’s anti-abuse policy, which among other things forbids trademark infringement and impersonation.

Rightside slashes new gTLD prices to $0.99

Kevin Murphy, April 13, 2015, Domain Registries

Rightside registrar eNom is to offer domains in several Rightside gTLDs for $0.99 over the coming days.

Today, .rocks domains can be obtained for the special price. They’re usually $12.99 a year.

The price does not apply to renewals. Customers have to use the promo code “pocketchange”.

Rightside stablemates .forsale, .reviews, .ninja and .social will get the $0.99 treatment for one day each over the coming week.

As we’ve learned over the last several months, super-cheap domains boost TLDs’ numbers as some of the internet’s less than ethical characters bulk-register thousands of throwaway domains at once.

So far, gTLDs such as .xyz, .country and .kim have been affected by these spikes, which I currently believe are related to typosquatting campaigns in legacy gTLDs.

I would not be at all surprised if Rightside becomes the latest registry to see its volume swell for similar reasons.

Rightside to release 20,000 two-character domains

Kevin Murphy, March 11, 2015, Domain Registries

A week from now, new gTLD registry Rightside is to release over 20,000 two-character domain names.

The releases will come across all of its delegated gTLDs, but exclude letter-letter combinations.

Only letter-number, number-letter and number-number combinations will be available, following ICANN’s partial lifting of the ban on two-character domains back in December.

Strings such as “a1”, “2b” and “69” will presumably become available.

Rightside said the domains will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis, with prices ranging from $200 to $50,000.

The registry has almost 30 delegated new gTLDs, including .auction, .software, .lawyer, .sale and .video.

If you’re interested, set your alarms for 1700 UTC on March 18. That’s when all 20,000 drop.

Two-letter domains are still reserved, pending the outcome of ICANN’s government-delayed release process.

Generics versus brands as two more gTLDs are sold

Kevin Murphy, February 17, 2015, Domain Registries

Two more new gTLD contention sets have been settled by auction, one a case of a portfolio applicant prevailing over a closed generic applicant, the other a case of a brand owner paying off a portfolio applicant.

Donuts has won the right to .jewelry over $10 billion-a-year jewelry firm Richemont, owner of brands including Cartier.

Richemont applied for several TLDs, some of which were generic terms. It was awarded .watches uncontested, but apparently didn’t want to fork out as much as Donuts for the matching .jewelry.

Google, meanwhile, won the two-horse race for .moto against Rightside. This one’s interesting because it’s basically a case of Rightside forcing Google to pay up to own one of its own brands.

Google owns a trademark on “Moto” due to its acquisition of Motorola Mobility a few years ago, but Rightside applied for it in its generic sense as an abbreviation of “motorcycle” or “motorbike”.

Google had filed a legal rights objection against its rival for .moto, but lost. Now it’s been forced to cough up at auction instead.

Prices, as usual, have not been disclosed.

Yeehaw! Bumper crop of new gTLD launches

Kevin Murphy, September 15, 2014, Domain Registries

There’s a definite wild west flavor to today’s crop of new gTLD launches, in a week which sees no fewer than 16 strings hit general availability.

Kicking off the week, today Minds + Machines brings its first wholly-owned TLDs to market.

Following the successful launch of .london, for which M+M acts as the back-end, last week, today we see the launch of the less exciting .cooking, .country, .fishing, .horse, .rodeo, and .vodka.

Afilias’ rural-themed .organic also goes to GA today.

As does .vegas, an oddity in the geo-gTLD space as it’s a city pretty much synonymous with one vertical market, gambling. Or three vertical markets, if you include booze and prostitution.

.vegas names do not require a local presence, so I’m expecting to see gambling businesses the world over attempt to capitalize on the Vegas brand regardless of their location.

A second batch of launches is due on Wednesday September 17.

Sticking with the wild west theme, RightSide’s .republican is due to go first-come, first-served.

With a somewhat more eastern flavor, Radix Registry’s first new gTLDs — .website, .press and .host — all hit GA on the same day.

Donuts’ .loans, .life, .guide and .church all enter their standard-pricing phases, while .place and .direct enter their premium-priced Early Access Period on Wednesday too.

Demand Media spins off Rightside

Kevin Murphy, August 5, 2014, Domain Registries

Demand Media has completed the spin-off of its domain name business, Rightside.

Shares in the new company, which will be listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange, went to existing Demand Media shareholders.

Trading under the ticker symbol NAME, Rightside stock started off at $16.77 yesterday morning and is currently trading at around $15.07.

Rightside comprises number two registrar eNom, retail registrar Name.com, new gTLD portfolio registry United TLD (which is branded Rightside), and its share of auction house NameJet.

It is headed by CEO Taryn Naidu and chairman David Panos.

The company also today named its initial board of directors.

Clinton.democrat sold to some guy in Kansas

Some guy in Kansas registered the domain name clinton.democrat before Rightside’s new gTLD went into general availability today.

It’s one of 38 .democrat domain names in today’s zone file — a mixture of trademark protections registered during the sunrise period and names sold during a three-week landrush.

Judging by the registration date, the name clinton.democrat appears to have been registered during landrush, one of only a small handful currently in the zone file.

The Whois record for the domain lists one Jared Mollenkamp of “Politically Correct Personal Computers” in Topeka, Kansas as the registrant.

While the email address appears to be protected by Whois privacy, a quick Google reveals that a genuine individual by that name lives in Topeka and is involved in PC enthusiast groups.

Quite why he wants clinton.democrat is not clear. There are many reasons the registration could be completely legit.

It seems to be the only personal name of a politician registered prior to .democrat going to general availability.

The Clintons — Bill and now Hillary, who is tipped for a 2016 run at the presidency — are of course one of the most famous Democratic dynasties, probably second only to the Kennedys.

The string “clinton” has been registered in 22 new gTLDs so far, including clinton.center, clinton.watch and clinton.sexy.

Rightside does not have any special mechanism in place to protect the names of politicians, though it has published a policy that prevents registrants using its gTLDs to mock its own employees.

Public figures generally do not have trademark protection for their personal names, and as such have been ripe for cybersquatting and other types of mischief over the years.

Afilias wins .green auction

Afilias won the auction for the .green new gTLD, it emerged today.

Rightside withdrew its application for the string in the last few days, according to the ICANN web site, leaving Afilias the only remaining applicant in the four-way contention set.

Top Level Domain Holdings said last week that it had lost a private auction with Afilias and Rightside. The fourth applicant, Dot Green, withdrew last year citing the likely cost of an auction.

It’s not known how much Afilias paid in the auction, but it’s likely to have been in the millions.

Taryn Naidu is a *%@$! Rightside bans company “ridicule” in its new gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, January 27, 2014, Domain Registries

If you register a domain name in one of Rightside Registry’s new gTLDs, you’ll be banned from using it to mock the company or any of its employees or shareholders.

That’s according to its Acceptable Use (Anti-Abuse) Policy (pdf) published by ICANN today.

As well as prohibiting the usual kinds of malicious hacking and spamming activity, child abuse material and so on, the policy bans:

Holding of [United TLD Holdings] (including its affiliates) or their employees or shareholders up to public scorn, ridicule, or defamation.

I can’t recall seeing that kind of clause in a domain name registration agreement before.

While “defamation” is obviously illegal in most places (as determined by a court), “scorn” seems to be a pretty broad term that could capture a lot of free speech commentary.

Rightside has applied for 26 new gTLDs. Several are the kinds of places you might expect to see some edgy discussion: .republican, .democrat, .army, .actor and .gay to name a few examples.

It seems the simplest route to getting a web site you don’t like shut down in any of these gTLDs would be to buy a single Rightside share and file an abuse complaint.

Also banned by the policy is:

Impersonating any person or entity, including, but not limited to, a UTLDH official, or falsely stating or otherwise misrepresenting your affiliation

Rightside, aka United TLD, is the Demand Media domain name retailer and new gTLD registry currently being spun off into a standalone company under CEO (and thoroughly nice bloke) Tayrn Naidu.