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Minds + Machines comments on Proposed Final Applicant Guidebook

  • To: 5gtld-guide@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: Minds + Machines comments on Proposed Final Applicant Guidebook
  • From: Antony Van Couvering <avc@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 10 Dec 2010 04:30:02 -0500

Minds + Machines appreciates the opportunity to make some brief comments about 
the Proposed Final Applicant Guidebook.  Among many other cogent and helpful 
comments, the contributions of Jon Nevett, Bret Fausett, one of the submissions 
by Eric Brunner Williams, and for detailed comments, the submission of the 
Registry Stakeholder Group, make the points that we would like to reinforce.  
With a few exceptions, we support these submissions, and would like to 
highlight some of their points.

Eric Brunner Williams (http://forum.icann.org/lists/5gtld-guide/msg00064.html), 
Bret Fausett (http://forum.icann.org/lists/5gtld-guide/msg00057.html) and the 
Registry Stakeholder Group 
(http://forum.icann.org/lists/5gtld-guide/msg00029.html) all note the harm that 
can be caused by the "continuity instrument" requirement, which ties up 
considerable capital as a guarantee against failure.  Several of them provide 
alternative solutions that achieve the same result without the harm.  While we 
(and they) support protections for registrants in the case of registry failure, 
the current proposed financial requirements are burdensome to businesses 
attempting to launch a new TLD and are entirely unnecessary.   We support the 
idea of a "pool" of money to deal with such cases, and urge ICANN to consider 
endorsing cross-registry agreements to take over core registry functions in 
case of failure.  For example, Minds + Machines could sign an agreement with 
other registries or registry operators whereby one would agree to take over the 
other's provision of core registry services in the event of business or 
technical failure. 

Jon Nevett (http://forum.icann.org/lists/5gtld-guide/msg00063.html) also makes 
some excellent points that we support.  He notes that there is no new 
information in the economic report.  We agree, and note furthermore that what 
information is contained in the economic study does not support its conclusions 
due to a fundamental misunderstanding on the part of the authors, who assume 
that all Latin-character unrestricted TLDs have the same value and are 
interchangeable, and use that fallacy to prophecize about competition to .com.  
He correctly notes the multitude of trademark protections put in place after 
painful negotiation with intellectual property interests, who eventually were  
given free reign to come up with policies they liked through the IRT, and 
further refined through the STI.  He notes, as I did in my comments during the 
public forum, that even after reaching agreements, intellectual property 
interests are backing away from their commitments and asking for further 
concessions.  We agree with Jon that enough is enough. 

Finally, we strongly urge ICANN to discount the "me-first" pleas for a staged 
introduction of "good" or "unproblematic" or "uncontentious" TLDs prior to 
other applications, as seen in some otherwise reasonable submissions.  Apart 
from the obvious self-interest of such special pleading, we note that it is 
impossible to know which applications are "good" or "bad" until the 
applications are submitted and evaluated, rendering these suggestions logically 
impossible.  Furthermore, the ICANN Board and staff should resist any 
temptation to pick "better" applications over "worse" ones.  Previous rounds 
have shown that they are not very good at it. 

We have made separate comments about the Board decision on Vertical Integration 
(http://forum.icann.org/lists/5gtld-guide/msg00030.html) and the most recent 
economic study (http://forum.icann.org/lists/5gtld-guide/msg00024.html).  

Once again, we appreciate the chance to comment.

Antony Van Couvering
CEO, Minds + Machines

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