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Music Domain Initiative Comments on ICANN's gTLD Proposed Final Guidebook

  • To: 5gtld-guide@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: Music Domain Initiative Comments on ICANN's gTLD Proposed Final Guidebook
  • From: "Constantine G. Roussos" <costa@xxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 10 Dec 2010 04:35:26 -0800

Comments by the dotMusic (.music) Domain Initiative on the Proposed Final
Applicant Guidebook - Public Comment:

Evaluators must be able to take into consideration public comments. The
proposed final applicant guidebook does not give applicants the opportunity
to reply to public comments despite the serious negative effect it could
have on their application.

Recommendation: The Applicant Guidebook should provide an opportunity for
applicants to comment on any comments submitted in regards to their
application. ICANN should also make sure they are clear about the type of
comments or information that should be considered relevant by the evaluators
as well as ensure that scoring will not be solely based on the mere quantity
of comments. Comments of relevance must be aligned with the objectives of
the new gTLD program to spur innovation and competition in compliance with
ICANN’s Affirmation of Commitments. Any comments that do not promote the
objectives of competition and innovation or filed for the purpose of
obstruction should not be considered.

4.2.3 - Community Priority Evaluation Criteria:

The intention of the Community Priority Panel is to identify qualified
community-based applications, while preventing “false positives” and “false
negatives.” The scoring was set up by ICANN to authenticate genuine
communities with regards to their accountability towards their community
constituents, fostering transparent, international participation and
fair,representation of the at-large community on the Internet.  Based on the
Community Criteria established by ICANN, Community TLDs of such structure
would score higher than standard TLDs.

The Music Domain Initiative supports this type of community establishment
that is consistent with ICANN’s Affirmation of Commitments in regards to
reflecting public interest, international participation of community,
transparency, accountability and openness. Unfortunately, the current
Community Priority Evaluation Criteria does not fully support this objective
and consistent with the ICANN Affirmation of Commitments. In the current
system, bona-fide community based applicants are unable to score higher than
an alleged “good faith” applicant which could be organized in a manner that
would compromise the ICANN process and take advantage of the potential
loopholes in the Community Priority Evaluation scoring criteria. This would
impose a negative effect and create harm not only to long-standing, bona
fide TLDs such as our Music Domain Initiatives but others that have been
actively participating and performing international public communication
outreach for the benefit of their communities.

The fears of gaming are further aggravated by the fact that the scoring
system in Criteria #4 under Community Endorsement can be abused. Based on
the current criteria any community-TLD applicant is highly susceptible to
abuse originating from the support/opposition section under Criteria #4 that
would move the community-application scoring to under 14 points, thus
eliminating community-status and pushing the community-TLD to auction.
Auctions hurt genuine TLD-communities, their constituents as well as
threaten ICANN’s non-for profit status. Under the current scoring system
even a scenario involving a multiple-stakeholder music industry coalition
community TLD effort can be compromised and pushed to auction.

* *Recommendation: For these reasons, we recommend that an extra point in
the Community Priority Evaluation should be given if:

-     - The application of the organization representing the community TLD
shows that it is based and supported by a sound multiple-stakeholder
governance model that is accountable to the community and represents all
genuine constituents in a fair manner.

      - If the applicant’s TLD initiative has undertaken fundamental ongoing
documented outreach to their respective community and has participated in a
broad range of community-recognized activities for an extended period of
time of at least 2 years. This can be defined to be synonymous to ICANN’s
Affirmation of Commitments in regards to transparency, accountability,
openness, international participation and ensuring fairness, preventing harm
and limiting gaming. Further definitions include public-speaking engagements
at relevant conferences/events, significant public postings accessed
internationally and goodwill public awareness campaigns. The rational of
outreach is consistent with ICANN’s effort to launch its own Communication
Outreach campaign that reflects public interest and transparency.

It is also noteworthy to mention that an additional point does not hurt
legitimate newcomers since the existing scoring system does not discriminate
against scores of 14, 15, 16 or a newly added 17. All scores over 14 are
treated equally and only serve to give community status.

**Furthermore Criterion 4 Guidelines in regards to opposition must be
aligned with the objectives of the new gTLD program to spur innovation and
competition in compliance with ICANN’s Affirmation of Commitments. It is of
critical importance to include guidelines that clearly define that
opposition that does not promote competition be addressed.

Recommendation: We recommend the addition of the pertinent words “not
compatible with competition” in the following sentence on page 4-18, Section
4.2.3 of Community Priority Evaluation Criteria to reflect public interest
and promote competition:

"…To be taken into account as relevant opposition, such objections or
comments must be of a reasoned nature. Sources of opposition that are
clearly spurious, unsubstantiated, *not compatible with competition
objectives*, or filed for the purpose of obstruction will not be considered
relevant." (Page 4-18)

Guidelines given to 3rd Party Evaluators:

Since ICANN has decided to use the expertise of 3rd party evaluators to
determine the potential outcome of the applications, it is imperative that
the appropriate training, instructions and guidelines are given to
evaluators given that their subjective perspective will be pivotal to
determining the success of the new gTLD program. Guidelines and community
criteria assessment by 3rd party evaluators must be consistent and aligned
with the foundations of ICANN’s Affirmation of Commitments to prevent harm
to genuine community TLD applicants and gaming the process through
loopholes. 3rd party evaluators must ensure that they are aligned with the
new gTLD program's objectives of promoting competition and innovation,
ensuring international participation and accountability in respect to
generic community-based applications, transparency, fairness and openness,
while preventing opposition set up for the purpose of obstruction and/or
serving interests that are not compatible with competition objectives.


Bundled Applications - Discount Pricing on additional Translated Strings
under same Application:

The proposed final guidebook does not address bundled applications and
discounting the aggregate price of a community applicant applying for the
same string in different languages and IDN equivalents (for example .music,
.musik (Germanic), .musique (French). These applications can be merged under
one community application as a bundle. Charging $185k per translated TLD
falling under the same application umbrella will reduce ICANN's processing
costs, since equivalent, translated strings would not require the whole
application to be processed in its entirety due to redundancy.

Putting all the bundled-translated strings (multiple-TLDs with equivalent
string translations) under one community application will cut ICANN's costs
significantly because it only needs to process the application once,
excluding the string script technical requirements. All the information,
community criteria, registry technical requirements and financial
information will only have to be verified once. The only part that needs to
be verified and additional cost allocated is whether the equivalent
translated string meets the technical script requirements set forth by
ICANN. Also legal liability of a bundled application does not increase as a
result of bundling since the application is considered one and the same, so
legal liability fees should be considered once and not multiplied as if the
applications are different in scope or nature. They are exactly the same and
the litigation liability is shared and does not increase as a result of
bundling. Litigation on a bundled application of .music, .musik and .musique
will be the same since all the translated strings fall under the same
umbrella and business plan.

Market Differentiation and Preventing User Confusion for Similar String /
Synonym gTLDs:

It is a recommendation that ICANN addresses the issue of confusingly similar
strings to prevent defensive registrations and user confusion in the
marketplace. For example, if there are applications for .music, .song,
.tune, .band, .artist and so forth how will these strings differentiate
between themselves in an effective way to prevent user confusion given that
they can be construed as synonyms by Internet users? An effective policy
that gives priority to one community-based application that serves all
legitimate, community stakeholders is highly recommended.

We applaud ICANN for voting for Vertical Integration to spur competition and
innovation and kindly request a timely launch of the gTLD program. We look
forward to adding value to our constituents as well as the promotion of new
jobs, opportunities and innovations that will materialize as the result of
new top-level domain. 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


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