part 2: attempt to summarize some public comments to ``ICANN Economic Framework for analysis of expansion of gTLD names'' report posted in june 2010
ICANN has not yet provided any summary of the public comments of the previous (all) four economic studies of new gTLDs. Here is a cursory attempt at summarizing some of the less subtle positions in the public comments on the July 2010 Economic Framework report. ( http://forum.icann.org/lists/economic-framework/ ) More careful public summaries of and responses to the comments of all four reports are needed. As noted by others in this thread, the most recent (December 2010) "economic framework" report fails to address the majority of previous public comments, and the parts of the report that do address such comments, e.g., case studies of previous TLDs and their impact, make an even stronger case against additional generic TLDs than the previous reports. The vast majority of the public comments reflect an abundance of distrust of ICANN internal process, pointing out veiled connections with previous specious study by Compass Lexecon, lack of expertise and relevant (DNS industry) knowledge, clear affirmations of the need for more data collection, more scientific study, importance of trademark and consumer protection. Notably, those in favor of moving forward with gTLDs typically omitted their affiliations, which might have revealed potential conflicts of interests. Those opposed were generally more transparent about the (typically commercial) interests funding the comments. + AT&T Finds initial studies of gTLD issues inconclusive. More data and information is needed. Fully supports the recommendations of the paper that ICANN gather more comprehensive data about new and existing gTLDs. Better data collection important not only to understanding gTLDs but also for understanding malicious conduct and associated consumer costs. Also, framework paper supports the need for trademark protections and other safeguards to mitigate consumer confusion. support implementation plan that introduces new gTLDs in discrete, limited rounds and prioritizes introduction of IDNs. + Time Warner Inc. Deeply concerned that ICANN appears poised to move forward with the launch of new gTLDs despite the fact that none of the "overarching issues" identified by ICANN in early 2009 have been adequately addressed in draft applicant guidebook v4.0. Believe ICANN is indifferent to comments submitted by stakeholders in this process but do concur with the reports recommendations to collect more data, consider potential confusion to consumer, addtl studies to try to lessen delegating new gTLDs that have negative net social benefits, should introduce new gTLDs slowly. + Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse (CADNA) Clearly unhappy with ICANN process, study author selection. Urges ICANN to slow process down. + Michael D. Palage Request basis for reconciling the default action mechanism currently in the DAG with the net social benefit concept set forth in this report. What is the basis for 500% increase in the base registry fee in the new registry agreement? + Christopher Wilkinson Believes that: Bad timing business-wise world wide for new TLD registries. Model for DNS registries should be not-for-profit orgs operating in public interest. Should be no secondary market for names. Discontinued, abandoned, renounced names should return to the Registry and thus the pool. ICANN should target new TLDs that address new markets, economic and social niches, under-served languages, local and regional identifiers. Because of lack of portability, creating new TLDs does not improve conditions for competition in DNS industry. New TLDs increases scope for choice in initial registration of a new domain, but should not be confused with improving conditions of competitiveness between Registries. + Richard Tindal <richardtindal@ Generally supports the paper. Thinks ICANN wisely included: 1. background requirements and checks on applicants; 2. evaluation questions and contract provisions regarding Security, DNSSEC, and Abuse Prevention and Mitigation 3. What is Expected of a Registry Operator' obligations; and 4. legal rights protections such as the string rights objection process, URS, Trademark Clearinghouse, Trademark Launch Claims, Sunrise, PDDRP and Thick Whois. None of these are required of current gTLDs. There are however flaws with the concept of 'discrete limited rounds' that have not been adequately examined: 1. There is no way of knowing if one round will produce results representative of others. The assumption is that the measured costs and benefits of one batch of applications will be indicative of other batches but this seems both illogical and unlikely. 2. There were discrete limited rounds in 2001 and 2003. There is no reliable study that shows trademark or consumer confusion costs to be higher with those TLDs than with COM, NET or ORG. Indeed, the data that is available tends to show the opposite. 3. There is no fair or predictable way to decide which applications should be selected for a limited round. Of the various methods available to do this almost all favor the well funded, technically sophisticated or politically connected applicant. A truly innovative application, with the most potential consumer benefit, might be delayed years or never eventuate. 4. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there will be a natural phasing of TLDs entering the market as the evaluation, objection, review, testing, launch and adoption cycles of the impending round are very likely to be spread over a 20 to 30 month period. This is the same reason, in my view, why root scaling issues will be manageable. + Jon Nevett Recommends moving ahead with discrete, heavily vetted batches, can use what we learn to refine process. + Antony Van Couvering (Minds + Machines) Believes the entire report could have consisted of this one paragraph, which contains the entire wisdom of its contents: "Because business model innovations are difficult to predict, experience with the development of gTLDs that serve specific communities is limited, and the community has no experience with IDNs at the TLD level, it is difficult to describe the expected effects of new gTLDs with precision." i.e., the report is mostly a farce but required by that Affirmation of Commitments. Also notes that the report uses lots of imprecise language -- the words "may" and "might" appear 128 times, or roughly twice per page. Predicts risks and benefits without quantifying any of them. Rhe report provides something for everyone... "But the professionalism of the authors shows through: their most important recommendation is that the new gTLDs will provide data for -- wait for it -- another study. "I commend the authors for taking money from ICANN, and for setting themselves up for more work later, and for producing a document that looks entirely professional, while saying nothing more than ``it depends.'' They were given an dubious task, and performed it to the hilt." + Coalition for Online Accountability ( includes ASCAP, BMI, ESA, MPAA, RIAA, SIIA, Time Warner, Walt Disney ) Much concern about the process and specific wording of the questions used for background checks and vetting of registrants as they relate to infringement of intellectual property rights. (No suprise there) Recommends new applicants for gTLD should have to disclose policies for WHOIS data quality. Concerns about community objections and the relative sizing up and evaluation of competing communities. Still Need a mechanism by which a registrant, though otherwise compliant based on baseline standards, may still be denied based on potential threat or detriment to the community. Example given .kids ICANN should employ recent best practices from registry agreements for .asia, .mobi, and .post that require searchable whois, and require compliance with designation of a PoC, investigation of claims of false info, speedy cancellation/correction of registrations found to be false, and allow 3rd parties to invoke these procedures. COA hopes ICANN will follow Economic Framework and evaluate expected costs and benefits for various types of gTLDs and focus on "Types" that offer the greatest promise. Lots of concerns about not enough meat in current docs regarding addressing malicious content. Clearly still not enough rights management for their taste in the DAG v.4 No reason why ".brand" registrants should not be allowed to have full vertical control and act as their own registry. + Paul Tattersfield http://www.gpmgroup.com There are still serious questions about the nature of what it means to be a registry, how competition should be introduced, whether through fixed term with invitations to tender on each expiry or whether to award registries in perpetuity to a gTLD. Observes that comments to the earlier Carlton report seem to be ignored in this report, requiring redundant comments. If new gTLDs are launched without price caps, on the principle they do not enjoy market power and given existing registries do not all enjoy the same level market power, smaller existing registries which consider themselves to have less market power than larger incumbents are likely to apply to have their price caps lifted. This has the potential to introduce massive externalities for existing innocent third parties. "What if Rupert Murdoch purchases a controlling interest in a company that gets awarded .news?" + Olivier MJ Crepin-Leblond (GIH: global consulting/network services firm) "This document has raised more questions than answers in my mind." With no conclusion, neither abstract nor clear overall vision emanating from the prose, it is hard to draw a clear set of conclusions. Nonetheless, the conclusions which I sketch from the document are: * The support by the authors for a proposal of two basic categories of new gTLDs: - gTLDs with private benefits only; and - gTLDs which bring social benefit; which is something that ALAC has been emphasizing for a long time. * Not that many studies on costs and benefits of new gTLDs have been published so far. * The authors recommend mathematical modelling of Costs of increased registration, monitoring, and enforcement of trademarks across multiple gTLDs. I differ in viewpoint because believe their proposed model is over-simplified, uses too many assumptions, and risks either wasting valuable time or will lead to incomplete and flawed results. * Case studies based on historical data of how a new gTLD introduction has affected another gTLD are recommended by the authors. I think that this is long overdue and I am baffled as to why this has not yet been undertaken in-house.