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RIAA threatens ICANN over new TLDs

Kevin Murphy, January 18, 2011, 18:25:40 (UTC), Domain Registries

The Recording Industry Association of America has added itself to the list of organizations making vague legal threats over ICANN’s new top-level domains program.
The RIAA, no stranger to playing the bogeyman when it comes to technological change, is concerned that .music, for example, could be used to encourage copyright infringement.
It wants ICANN to “ensure best practices are developed” to prevent musical TLDs being used to enable music piracy. In a letter, RIAA deputy general counsel Victoria Sheckler wrote:

We are concerned that a music themed gTLD will be used to enable wide scale copyright and trademark infringement.

We would like to work with ICANN and others to ensure that best practices are developed and used to ensure this type of malicious behavior does not occur.

She signs off with a barely veiled threat:

We strongly urge you to take these concerns seriously… we prefer a practical solution to these issues, and hope to avoid the need to escalate the issue further.

One of the RIAA’s objections to the current Applicant Guidebook for new TLDs is the “community objection” procedure, which the RIAA doesn’t think gives it a good enough chance of blocking a .music TLD application.
I wonder if the RIAA is planning its own .music bid.
There is already one very public .music initiative, championed for the last couple of years by Constantine Roussos, an active and vocal ICANN community member.
But the string is valuable, is likely to be contested, and there’s a not insignificant chance that Roussos will be beaten to it by an applicant with deeper pockets.
Regardless, the RIAA’s argument that .music equals piracy is pretty poor, possibly disingenuous, and unlikely to influence the Guidebook.
ICANN constantly walks the tightrope between technical coordination and content regulation; getting into the business of fighting piracy is not going to make it onto the agenda any time soon.

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Comments (18)

  1. theo says:

    RIAA what a joke. Nine inch nails seems todo rather well.
    Good article.

  2. Kevin,
    I have echoed a lot of the same concerns the RIAA has at the public forum and to ICANN’s Kurt Pritz in regards to community top-level domains. We echo a lot of the concerns the RIAA is posing.
    The underlying problem will be one that concerns applications for music-related TLDs that have weak policies in regards to protecting artist trademarks and copyrights. Assigning artist names is quite a complex undertaking given that there are so many bands with the same name in all corners of the global. For example, there are over 10 bands called “Rain” or “Bliss” worldwide. We have been developing the policies to undertake this task in a fair manner. That is just one example of the task at hand. How about dealing with piracy or copyright infringement on music-related domains? How about fan sites? These are a few areas that we have been developing policies for. Unfortunately copyright infringement and cybersquatting is a reality, especially in the music space. Malicious conduct is of primary concern here. This is why we have been pushing the music industry to get on board, govern the music TLD space and help us fine-tune everything so that we do not get unpleasant surprises. We will be presenting to trade groups, governments and music communities at events such as Midem, New Music Seminar, SXSW, which we have lined up. Our objective is a unified effort.
    Even with the support of the music industry, the .music initiative is not given any guarantees that it earns community-status. I have been pretty vocal about that part. Another issue is gaming. How are applicants protecting from gaming? ICANN offers no protection mechanisms to prevent this kind of behavior.
    Also a concern that the music industry has is the possibility of other music-related TLDs, where they have no idea the background of the applicant. We have been in communication with primary commercial music industry trade organizations and realize that the concerns are very similar to ours.
    In my most recent comments to ICANN in regards to synonyms, I have asked for priority to be given to one community-based application that serves all
    legitimate, community stakeholders.
    The RIAA has legitimate points that we echo in regards to malicious conduct, accountability and transparency. Our outreach campaign, which has been ongoing for years now, is consistent with ICANN’s effort to launch its own Communication
    Outreach campaign that reflects public interest and transparency. It is synonymous to ICANN’s
    Affirmation of Commitments in regards to transparency, accountability, openness, international participation and ensuring fairness, preventing harm and limiting gaming.
    As highlighted in our comments to ICANN, we are honored to be given the opportunity to provide exceptional value and brutal efficiency to the music community in a responsible manner as well as ensuring that the music industry and the
    legitimate international music community is assured of a safe top-level domain or equivalents that prevents malicious conduct and music-related trademark or copyright infringement. We are looking forward to the introduction of a music top-level domain that will bring benefits to the
    legitimate music community and encourage progress and innovation, wider international participation and choice.
    Constantine Roussos
    dotMusic (.music) Domain Initiative

    • ahhahha riaa says:

      Constantine, how much does the RIAA pay you to sound off for them? Did you even read what you wrote?
      I’ll save the reply: the answer is no.
      we knows us a shill when we see it.

    • ViNi says:

      What a load of BS! RIAA’s concerns? Yeah, they are concerned… Loosing their control over all music – that is their major concern! And you’re siding with them? What does it say there? “We are concerned that a music themed gTLD will be used to enable wide scale copyright and trademark infringement.” So just creating a .music TLD magically enables “wide scale copyright and trademark infringement”? Then I guess all that infringement was started by creating a .com TLD!? How about banning the .com then? Do you at least realize that copyright and trademarks are TOTALLY different animals? It really looks like you’re either never read what you (or some other entity) have written, or you have not done any study/thinking on this matter…

  3. SirBarmy says:

    Music, game, movie, and software piracy will always continue no matter what these pathetic organizations do. Matter of fact even bands are starting to post their own music as torrents. All these groups, and congress, etc, may think they are making it harder for people to pirate when in reality they are making everyone more unified on it more then ever.
    You cannot stop piracy. You will not stop piracy. You will only make people find better ways to step up their pirating and make it harder to track. When you attack one place a new one pops up, and when you attack them, someone else opens another. It is literally impossible.
    It will not bring benefits to the legitimate music community until record companies stop whoring out their bands and artists. I have worked with many bands who wish they would have stayed out of record deals for that reason. The only reason they take them is so they can get wide recognition. They barely see any money from cd sales because of the record company and that’s not because of pirating.
    These attempts are pathetic and only have the interests of the highest bidder in concern. Not the artists themselves. You are only enabling the underground community to pull together and find more ways around. So I congratulate you for doing so. Congress already killed the radio, why not finish killing music altogether?

  4. ahhahha riaa says:

    bwahahahahahah what a complete and total crock of crap.
    it amuses me to no end that the RIAA is saying “do for us what we want or else” in typical RIAA fashion: they don’t want to go legal first because why?
    because they can get whatever they want if it’s an under the table deal.
    if they go legal, they have to have actual proof of something (and know that they have a better chance of suing a judge because that it snowed on a tuesday) and there is no proof, mostly because this TLD hasn’t even been created.
    this is like suing a gun-maker for a murder made with their guns.

  5. Nick says:

    This is a power play by the RIAA. By pretending to not be aligned with the concerns of Roussos, the top .music proponent, they are attempting to take control of the conversation and ultimately try to control the sales of the .music TDL. If they want to be able to confiscate a name on a whim if they thing it is infringing. Constantine, I think you are better off calling them out on this.

  6. […] the RIAA is making veiled legal threats against ICANN over the introduction of a “.music” domain name.  The RIAA’s deputy general […]

  7. ViNi says:

    Just a thought… They are not going legal on ICAAN. They’ll just make a call to John Morton at ICE and ask him nicely to seize some more domains for them… Immigration and customs are their best friends to fight competition!

  8. Jean Guillon says:

    Why doesn’t RIAA ask Constantine to participate in writting the .MUSIC rules ? Isn’t it more simple this way ?

  9. […] – RIAA threatens ICANN over new TLDs […]

  10. Dashworlds says:

    There are new Dashcoms for music, jazz, rock, pop classics etc already being registered at
    For the first time, users can create their own set of TLDs free and any without reference to ICANN.
    Yes, there’s an APP but there’s also an ISP link to resolve these addresses at network level. Running in parallel with ICANN domains, Dashcoms integrate with no risk of colliding with the Dotcoms.
    Yes, there are a variety of opinions, but Dash domains will allow you a previously unheard of level of free choice. As a result there are now members and users in over 90 countries worldwide.

  11. F. ICANN says:

    ICANN is making an utter MESS out of the internet. The original intent was to organize areas on the internet with MAJOR usage “categories”. Everyone should respect that unless you want a complete mess. Now it’s utter wilcarding and DOT.anything what a freaking mess. com.sports or what a freaking mess. Why doesn’t somebody DO something and stop this out of control bastard organization. By the way, .CO is a SUBSTRING of .COM YOU ICANN IDIOTS. What’s next .NE .OR .BI (all substrings of .net .org .biz). What a freaking mess everyone needs to get a clue.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      .co pre-dates ICANN’s formation by several years.
      .ne and .bi would not be allowed under ICANN’s rules, which ban two-letter strings.

      • I Can't says:

        Quote “.co pre-dates ICANN’s formation by several years.”
        It’s irrelevant WHEN .co was proposed. ICANN allowed it. It’s wrong. It’s a bastardization of the internet. What part of “.co is a substring of .com” does anybody on this thread not understand. It’s asinine. What’s next “.c” ? (I’m sure programmers would want this).
        Quote: “.ne and .bi would not be allowed under ICANN’s rules, which ban two-letter strings.” Pls. explain – .co is a “two-letter string”.
        .* – what a mess. What a trademark nightmare.

        • Kevin Murphy says:

          How is it irrelevant?
          .co was created in 1991. ICANN didn’t exist until 1998.
          Ergo, .co has nothing to do with ICANN.
          In addition, ICANN has no powers to block the creation of ccTLDs, so even if .co had been created when ICANN did exist, there’s nothing ICANN could have done about it.
          The two-letter rule applies to TLDs created in the future, not ones that were created 20 years ago.

  12. Stop ICANN says:

    Hey let’s just start using !#$%^&*()+{}?>< etc. instead of the "." dot – that'll really make a mess of things, just open it up wide, anything goes, make a freaking mess out of the internet. What a self-serving BASTARD organization. com.sports sports!com what.freaking.mess.a any.thing.goes no sense.tothe internet any.more. — .asinine People in favor of ICANN are pro-lawsuit pro-money-wasting frivolous nonsense. We all gotta' run out and purchase .crap etc. whatever to protect trademarks – B.S. Block me because whatever you post in response to this – I'M NOT GOING TO FREAKING READ IT. ICANN IS A SELF SERVING BASTARD ORGANIZATION that does not care about order and organization of the internet. Ten years ago there was order – now there is not.

  13. […] and doing so the only way it knows how: by rolling out the legal threats. This time it’s threatening ICANN over its new top level domain program, which allows all sorts of new TLDs to be registered — including planned proposals for a […]

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