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ICM launches .xxx letter-writing campaign

Kevin Murphy, April 24, 2010, Domain Registries

ICM Registry looks like it has taken a leaf from its opponents’ playbook, and is encouraging supporters of the proposed .xxx top-level domain to send form letters to ICANN.
The company has revamped its web site this week, to make it look a little less 2005, and part of the revamp is this page, which allows users to quickly send emails supporting the TLD to ICANN’s public comment forum, which ends May 10.
The letter addresses the substantial concerns of the comment period — namely, how ICANN should process the .xxx application in the light of February’s IRP decision, which says ICANN was wrong to reject .xxx in 2007.
In recent weeks, Christian groups and the pro-porn Free Speech Coalition have organized campaigns aimed at protesting .xxx. Both campaigns have resulted in large numbers of emails flooding ICANN.
The Christian letters are way off-topic, basically just anti-porn rants.
While the FSC letters do address ICANN’s question, they largely challenge the idea that .xxx has community support. This may end up not being a consideration for the Board.
By contrast, ICM’s letters go directly to ICANN’s core mantras of accountability and equality.
Its letter says: “Picking and choosing elements of the Panel’s declaration, or adding unnecessary procedural steps in adopting the review’s findings, would be a clear sign to the global Internet community that the organization cannot be relied upon to do its job fairly and objectively.”
The new ICM web site does, however, bear the new slogan “It’s time for adult websites to self label”.
It seems to me that this could be quite easily interpreted as a call for all adult web sites to use .xxx, which I’m pretty sure is not ICM’s intention.

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A timely domain drop – iquitfacebook.com

Kevin Murphy, April 23, 2010, Domain Sales

The domain name iquitfacebook.com is dropping this weekend, and it couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time.
Facebook has walked into a bit of a privacy nightmare by announcing it will start to give third-party sites access to user data, leading some people to quit the service.
The site has already been called “Privacy Enemy Number One”, and there are dozens of other pieces of commentary and news picking holes in the new Facebook features.
Widely followed Googler Matt Cutts also raised eyebrows when he said he had deactivated his Facebook account today, and others are following suit.
“I just deactivated my Facebook account using the guide at http://goo.gl/rhpE Not hard to do & you can still revive it later,” Cutts tweeted earlier today.
Is there an opportunity for an enterprising domainer to capitalize on a trend here?
The name iquitfacebook.com is pending delete this weekend. It’s listed on SnapNames with an April 24 deadline, and has already attracted six bidders on Namejet, with a high bid of $79.

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ICANN picks Colombia for December meeting

Kevin Murphy, April 22, 2010, Domain Policy

ICANN chief Rod Beckstrom has just confirmed via Twitter that Cartagena, Colombia has been picked for the organization’s December meeting.
Judging from US State Department reports, the country is nowadays not nearly as scary as it was when Joan Wilder made a flying visit to rescue her sister in 1984.
Still, I’m guessing we’ll still see a little bit of that nervousness and paranoia that usually rears its head when ICANN heads for cities with a reputation for violent crime.
Terrorism concerns in Kenya caused many US stakeholders to stay at home and brave unreasonably early mornings participating remotely.
Even the choice of Mexico City caused a bit of a stir last year.
Personally, I’d love to see ICANN hold a meeting in Oakland or Baltimore, just to see what the security advisory looks like.

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Go Daddy feature tallies Whois queries on your domain

Kevin Murphy, April 22, 2010, Domain Registrars

I may be a bit late off the blocks, but I just learned about a rather nifty little feature buried within Go Daddy that lets you see when somebody has done a Whois lookup on one of your domains.
Log in to your Domain Manager, click Tools, click Exportable Lists, click Add New Export, then check the relevant boxes in the wizard.
The feature exports a .csv file telling you how many Whois searches have been run against each of your domain names in the last day, week, month and year.
I imagine this could provide a few useful data points when deciding how much interest there is in a domain you’re planning to sell.
I also found it quite interesting that more people executed Whois queries on domainincite.com in March than bothered to click the About tab at the top of the page.
Domain people are an odd bunch.

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Demand Media gets pre-IPO board boost

Kevin Murphy, April 19, 2010, Domain Registrars

Demand Media has added two big names to its board of directors, a move certain to feed the rumors that the company is preparing for an IPO this year.
Joining the board is Peter Guber, CEO and chairman of Mandalay Entertainment, a TV and movie production company that also has its fingers in the sports and digital media pies.
Josh James also takes a seat. He co-founded web analytics firm Omniture, now part of Adobe, and took it public during the dot-com boom.
“The experience they bring from two different ends of the spectrum – creative arts and web analytics – will be invaluable as Demand Media continues to focus on creating the content that consumers want,” Demand CEO Richard Rosenblatt said.
Demand Media, which owns domain name registrars eNom and BulkRegister, is mainly in the mass-market, search-driven content business.
It was reported last week that the company has hired Goldman Sachs to help it prepare for a public listing later this year.
Bulking up the board is one of the things companies do before they head to the stockmarket.

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IP address privacy policy killed

Kevin Murphy, April 19, 2010, Domain Policy

A proposal that would have brought the equivalent of domain name proxy registrations to IP addresses in North America has been dropped after its author had a chat with the FBI.
The policy would have allowed ISPs that take their IP addresses from ARIN, the American Regional Internet Registry, to substitute their own contact information in place of their customers’ details.
Proposing the policy, Aaron Wendel of WholesaleInternet.com initially said that the requirement to publish customer lists into a Referral Whois (RWHOIS) database “runs contrary to good business practices” and allows ISPs to poach each other’s customers.
Wendel publicly withdrew his proposal an hour ago at the ARIN meeting in Toronto, shocking some attendees.
He said he was doing so after a late-night session hearing the concerns of an FBI agent who is at the meeting, as well as conversations with members of ARIN staff.
The proposed policy had also been criticized by companies including Paypal, and many security experts.
RWHOIS allows any internet user to identify the user of an IP address in much the same way as Whois allows domain name registrants to be identified.
It is regularly used by law enforcement to track down spammers and other online crooks.
Unlike Whois, RWHOIS has a carve-out protecting residential users.

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RapidShare chases cybersquatters

Kevin Murphy, April 19, 2010, Domain Policy

RapidShare, the popular German file-hosting site, has filed six cybersquatting claims against people with the word “rapidshare” in their domains.
The UDRP complaints are either a sign that RapidShare is cracking down on pirated content, or an example of balls-out intellectual property chutzpah.
My guess is it’s the latter, for two reasons.
First, a search reveals dozens of popular sites with “rapidshare” in the domain, all serving RapidShare links to copyrighted content, none of which have had UDRP claims filed against them.
Second, each of the six domains RapidShare has filed claims for seem to provide links only to files hosted by competing services such as Hotfile.com or Uploading.com.
RapidShare.com is currently the 35th most-popular site on the internet, more popular than Craigslist, according to Alexa.
A German court ruled two years ago that it had to start deleting pirate content, and it has been playing whack-a-mole with the bootleggers ever since.
Now, it wants the World Intellectual Property Organization to help it protect its trademark. There’s irony for you.

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Network Solutions under attack again

Kevin Murphy, April 18, 2010, Domain Registrars

Network Solutions’ hosting operation is under attack for the second time in a week, and this time it’s definitely not a WordPress problem.
The company has acknowledged that it has “received reports that Network Solutions customers are seeing malicious code added to their websites”, but has not yet released further details.
Sucuri.net, which was intimately involved in the news of the hack against NSI’s WordPress installations last week, blogged that this time the attacks appear to have compromised not only WordPress, but also Joomla-based and plain HTML sites.
Last week’s attacks were eventually blamed on insecure file permissions, which enabled shared-server hosting customers to look at each other’s WordPress database passwords.
But today NSI, one of the top-five domain name registrars, said: “It may not be accurate to categorize this as a single issue such as ‘file permissions’.”
Sucuri said that malicious JavaScript is being injected into the sites, creating an IFrame that sends visitors to drive-by download sites.
It’s a developing story, and not all the facts are out yet.
But it’s clear that NSI has a public relations problem on its hands. Some customers are already using Twitter to declare that they will switch hosts as a result.
And if it’s true, as Sucuri reports, that Google is already blocking some of the affected sites, who can blame them?

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$10 billion disk-maker wins domain name

Kevin Murphy, April 16, 2010, Domain Policy

Seagate Technology, the world’s biggest hard disk drive maker, has won seagatetechnology.com – the exact match of its company name – at UDRP.
The squatter, identified as Standard Bearer Enterprises, registered the name in 2004. That’s six years of squeezing click revenue from an exact-match name of a multi-billion dollar firm.
Standard Bearer has a track record of losing famous names at UDRP, and was named in a cybersquatting lawsuit filed by Andre Agassi and Steffi Graff last year.
Seagate is a huge company, reporting revenue approaching $10 billion last year. It has been using the Seagate Technology trademark since 1983.
It’s not exactly naive about domain names, either.
Its primary domain, seagate.com, was first registered in 1992 – the Neolithic by internet standards. It beggars belief that its taken 18 years to secure its long-form company name.

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Demand Media in rumored IPO

Kevin Murphy, April 16, 2010, Domain Registrars

Demand Media, which owns number-two domain registrar eNom, could file to go public this summer, the Financial Times has reported.
Widely thought of as a “content mill”, Demand is in the business of mining search and domain data and pumping out content which it can sell ads against.
The FT, using anonymous sources, reports that an IPO, which could happen by November, would value the firm at $1.5 billion. Revenue is estimated to be around $250 million a year.
While selling domain names does not appear to be Demand’s core business, other domain name registrars have a rocky record when it comes to public listings.
Register.com, which used its early-mover advantage to IPO at the tail end of the dot-com boom, ended up going private after low-cost registrars like Go Daddy started eating its lunch.
Go Daddy itself gave the world a glimpse at its finances when it filed its S-1 back in 2006, but CEO Bob Parsons yanked the IPO at the eleventh hour, citing poor market conditions and his inability to keep his mouth shut during the traditional pre-offering Quiet Period.
Parsons said at the time that it’s hard to show a profit under GAAP as a growing registrar, due to the way registrations are accounted for.
Tucows, meanwhile, has managed to tick along quietly with a listing on the small-cap markets for years.

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