The New CEO of ICANN Rod Beckstrom Posted a “Message From The CEO” on ICANN site a few days ago.
We welcome Mr Beckstrom to his new position and agree with him when he says:
“”In the end, every single name must be unique and only one party can own it.””
ICANN, WIPO, trademark holders disputes, UDRP’s, The IRT, the URS all summarized perfectly in one sentence by Mr. Beckstrom.
Only one party can own it.
Now as to the two points in this message that causes me some consternation:
In discussing the new g’TLD’s, Mr. Beckstrom says:
“””The Internet has historically thrived whenever the system is opened up further to allow users to express their creativity and innovation. We are now working on opening up the top-level domains so that not only nations but also other peoples and groups can have a unique identity on the Internet.
For example, the chief of the Zulu tribe, His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu, recently sent a letter notifying us of his intent to register the dot-zulu domain name so that different but related businesses and other groups can be linked by their domain name to the entire Zulu community. According to His Majesty, “We believe that the .Zulu TLD, as conceived and proposed by the Dot Zulu Project Inc. represents the best interests of the Zulu community and will be able to provide a viable structure for us as an evolving community.” New York City and the city of Berlin have expressed a similar interest in their own domain names. It is impossible to imagine the possibilities that could occur when these and a multitude of other TLDs are opened.
The ICANN responsibility to support methods for securely introducing new TLDs was specified in the original White Paper that led to our formation. And our original 1998 memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Government stated one of our key responsibilities this way: “Oversight of the policy for determining the circumstances under which new top level domains would be added to the root system.” It went on to say, “The Parties will jointly design, develop, and test the mechanisms, methods, and procedures that will achieve the transition without disrupting the functional operation of the Internet.” According to Chairman of the Board Peter Dengate Thrush, “We are . . . declaring success on these points. It’s been 11 years. We have developed and tested those mechanisms, and we find that they work.””””
He’s the problem that I have with this line of reasoning.
Most importantly what the financial crisis should have taught all of us, is that just because someone want to offer a product for sale, it doesn’t make it a good idea.
Sometimes the sale of certain products can undermine the entire system.
Look at some of the products that Wall Street offered, which in large part lead to the failure of Bear Sterns and Lehman Brothers, products which capitalists offered for sale but which damaged the underlying economic system.
This brings us back to the comments of Mr. Beckstrom.
The question isn’t how many companies want to offer new extensions.
The question is how many end user want to build a site using a .whatever extension.
Yes certain communities can probably show support.
.nyc, .berlin and other cities maybe able to show support by end users for the extension, yet that should be required of any new g’TLD sponsor.
Any new g’TLD application should be required to be accompanied by a showing of support for it, from real people wanting to use the extension to put up a site.
I’m not talking about a Pool.com scenario where largely domainers place their “interest” on a new extension and backorder a .whatever, for no cost and under no obligation.
I’m talking about expression of interests by community members, citizens, end users.
Mr. Beckstrom in discussing ICANN role said:
“”Oversight of the policy for determining the circumstances under which new top level domains would be added to the root system.”… design, develop, and test the mechanisms, methods, and procedures that will achieve the transition without disrupting the functional operation of the Internet”
Mr. Beckstrom goes on to say ICANN has been around for 11 years and its worked so far.
However in 11 years ICANN has only allowed 21 TLD.
Now ICANN is going to allow hundreds or maybe thousands of new extensions in a very short time span.
How does ICANN successful 11 year history with administrating 21 TLD’s going indicate it is prepare or capable of handling hundreds or thousands of new extensions “without disrupting the functional operation of the Internet”?
Certainly an sudden expansion by just doubling the number of extensions could be argued to have substantial likelihood of disruption, but an expansion by 10X the current number, or 30X or more, how can that in and of itself not have the effect of disrupting the operation of the internet, and how can the organization be certain such a plan will not disrupt the operation?
Once again I would call for a much slower roll out of no more than 10 new extensions per year, determined by ICANN to have the most demand for it fro END USERS, not sponsors.
Want to be more aggressive?
How about doubling the number of g’TLD every year?
So we have 21 now; how about 21 new one’s next year, if they go alright without an major problems and the system absorbs then without major issues, then allow 42 new extensions the follow year, and so on and so on.
The second point in Mr. Beckstrom’s message of concern for me is his statement regarding the protection of intellectual property rights:
“As with the acceptance of any innovation, there are areas of concern and friction, and a healthy debate is taking place within the many ICANN stakeholder groups on how to handle the key facets of these new TLDs smoothly. Some of the more interesting debates have centered around protection of intellectual property rights. We have been pleased with the concrete solutions being developed by experts in the intellectual property field“”
My translation is that he IRT committee and the proposed URS is going to get ICANN’s blessing.
ICANN has failed to take into consideration that domains are intellectual property as well.
The IRT, comprised of trademark groups and completely unrepresented by domain holders groups, proposed the URS, to give additional protection to trademark holders.
Well what about our intellectual property?
I can only hope that Mr. Beckstrom realizes that the abuse of intellectual property cuts both ways.
Domain name holders interest in their intellectual property should be of equal importance to ICANN as trademark holders rights to their intellectual property.
Because as Mr. Beckstrom correctly noted:
“In the end, every single name must be unique and only one party can own it”