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Is The Hunger Games’ new .movie domain illegal?

Donuts may have launched its best new gTLD anchor tenant in violation of ICANN rules.

The company revealed earlier this week that The Hunger Games movies are using thehungergames.movie to promote the fourth and final installment of the wildly successful “trilogy”.

The domain name even features in the trailer for the film, which currently has over 1.7 million YouTube views.

But it has been claimed that Donuts activated the domain in the DNS two weeks before it was allowed to under its ICANN registry contract.

It boils down to “controlled interruption”, the controversial mechanism by which registries mitigate the risk of potentially harmful name collisions in the DNS.

Under ICANN’s rules for CI, for 90 days registries have to implement a wildcard in their zone file that redirects all domains other than nic.[tld] to 127.0.53.53 and your-dns-needs-immediate-attention.[tld].

“The Registry Operator must not activate any other names under the TLD until after the 90-day controlled interruption period has been completed,” the rules say, in bold text.

Donuts’ .movie was delegated on or around March 26, which means when thehungergames.movie was activated there were still about two weeks left on the .movie CI clock.

As far as I can tell from reading ICANN documentation on CI, there are no carve-outs for anchor tenants.

The .movie zone file has five other domains related to The Hunger Games in it — the only names other than nic.movie — but they don’t seem to resolve.

There’s no actual security or stability risk here, of course.

If .movie had used the old method of blocking a predefined list of identified name collisions, thehungergames.movie would not have even been affected — it’s not on .movie’s list of collisions.

However, if ICANN decides rules have been broken and Donuts is forced to deactivate the domain, it would be a painfully embarrassing moment for the new gTLD industry.

It can perhaps be hoped that ICANN’s process of investigating such things takes about two weeks to carry out.

I’ve contacted Donuts for comment and will provide an update if and when I receive any additional information.

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.