Present Guidebook rules will surely lead to almost all of the best IDN gTLD ideas/concepts (forever) in any script to be owned and operated by mostly Western-ASCII oriented corporations as opposed to poorer native in-IDN country players
- To: 6gtld-evaluation@xxxxxxxxx
- Subject: Present Guidebook rules will surely lead to almost all of the best IDN gTLD ideas/concepts (forever) in any script to be owned and operated by mostly Western-ASCII oriented corporations as opposed to poorer native in-IDN country players
- From: S Subbiah <subbiah@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 16 May 2011 04:16:30 -0700
> New GTLD Applicant Guidebook comments
> By S. Subbiah, i-DNS.net.
>> Section 126.96.36.199.3 of the new guidebook states :
>> An application that passes the String Similarity review is still subject
>> to objection by an existing TLD operator or by another gTLD applicant in the
>> current application round. That process requires that a string confusion
>> objection be filed by an objector having the standing to make such an
>> objection. Such category of objection is not limited to visual similarity.
>> Rather, confusion based on any type of similarity (including visual, aural,
>> or similarity of meaning) may be claimed by an objector. Refer to Module 3,
>> Dispute Resolution Procedures, for more information about the objection
>> While the section applies to all gTLDs, as a pioneer of IDN and the coiner
> of the term IDN itself when the technology was conceived in substantively
> the current form back in Singapore in 1997/8, my fears are in connection
> with IDNg TLD application and deployment.
> Our fear back then was always that Western incumbents (strong and rich in
> cash and from ASCII-centric countries) will ultimately use ICANN and other
> means to exploit most of the monetary gains in IDN names as well as control
> (and by default almost certainly abuse) the cultural aspect of IDN
> deployment in native regions (It has already happened and well-documented
> when the idn.ascii experiment was done in past decade by ICANN).
> Previous versions of the guidebook (3 years ago) enshrined at least a
> fighting chance for the poor native IDN regions to control the destiny of
> IDN names against default Western domination.Many in the ICANN community
> fought and made sure of that - thoughtful IDN and non-IDN citizens alike.
> Only visually similar strings that could cause confusion across scripts were
> to be potentially objectionable to by an incumbent ASCII gTLD registry.
> However as the years stretched and the guidebook rose to 2000 plus pages
> (including attachments) and no one reading them, primarily Western
> incumbents that had much to gain have ensured that clauses have been
> inserted to tip the scale in their financial favor.
> Thus, the current section (as above) basically says that current ASCII gTLD
> registries - all Western and many powerful - have special objection rights
> when a new IDN applicant (potentially from poor regions) musters in effect a
> few hundred-thousand non-refundable dollars to apply for something that can
> be quickly objected to for as little as $5 000 by an incumbent on the basis
> of not only the reasonable reason of visual confusion, but also for aural
> and meaning/concept similarity. That is, if somebody applies for a Mongolian
> script IDN gTLD string that means "business" (as opposed to maybe
> "commercial"), Verisign could object on the basis of its current stewardship
> of the ascii.com gtld string.
> While it maybe true that Verisign could lose the objection, given the clear
> support for such objection already implicitly enshrined in the guidebook,
> not many investors (from poor IDN countries and not skilled in parsing
> subtle legal connotations in English) will risk taking a chance of a
> near-certain possibility of losing a few hundred thousand dollars against a
> system rigged in favor of a multi-billion corporation needing only to spend
> $5K or so to object.
> It gets worse.
> We now estimate some 450 or more of the 500 new gTLD applicants who have
> been patiently waiting for years and spending a few hundred thousand dollars
> simply waiting will spend a further $200 K non-refundable dollars to apply
> for financially worthwhile ASCII gtLD strings. Not many IDN centric poorer
> applicants have the wherewithal to apply in this expensive round. Further
> with some 500 applicants, some still with secret TLD concepts, thinking for
> 3 years - it is guaranteed that virtually any good concept for a TLD in any
> language would already have been thought of and being applied for as an
> ASCII gTLD in this round.
> Most of these will get approved (even past objections) within a year of
> application and be in the process of spending more dollars preparing for a
> launch within 18 to 24 months of application. ICANN has promised for a few
> years now, as an antidote to the $200 K fee this round, a second round
> within a year at much reduced cost designed to bring poorer and presumably
> IDN-centric applicants in. .
> Well when these future poorer IDN applicants turns up with nice TLD
> concepts in their particular IDN scripts, naturally the current 450 ASCII
> gtLD applicants, by now being approved INCUMBENT REGISTRIES (like Verisign
> now) will exercise their special objection rights as per the Guidebook
> section above to block with $5K and impunity any concept similar to theirs
> in every other language, knowing they already got approved in ASCII and are
> likely to finally make a bunch of money for sure in ASCII at least. For
> example, a newly approved " .sports" ASCII gTLD will block a new Mongolan
> applicant trying to get the Mongolian script version of a similar meaning
> concept of ".athletics" (in Mongolian script).
> In fact, even though the round may be cheaper,given the possible precedent
> of Verisign having prevailed using the objections allowed for in the
> earlier, first round, no poor IDN applicant will bother to apply in the
> second round, since there are no more good gTLD idea/concepts left in that
> any script to apply for.without a certain fear of losing their investment on
> the basis of a $5K or so objection from a ICANN-favored incumbent
> registry.When the incumbent registries are good and ready and have
> established good revenue in their ASCII gTLDs they will then apply for an
> IDN equivalent and having no conflict with someone else for similarity in
> meaning or other similarities can be expected to receive the IDN versions
> (no matter whether they are perfect equivalents or not in meaning) and in
> scripts the company founders did not even know existed in the first place.
> In short and in effect, after waiting more than some 15 years for ICANN to
> deploy IDN widely, this current round will be the ONLY real IDN round in any
> script. Anyone who has the money to spend a few hundred thousand dollars
> (i.e. mainly Western ASCII-centric folks) in this round will walk away with
> most of the money (possibly hundreds of billions of dollars of final asset
> value if current ASCII valuations are anything to go by) to be made in the
> whole IDN space forever. They will also by default, control the cultural
> destinies of most IDN names in a Western imperialistic (dare we say
> "globalised" and therefore "good") way that "clearly must be good for the
> So the original fears of the "West stealing the East's language" we had
> after inventing IDNs (ironically in the East) more than a decade ago is now
> poised to pass. Unless of course the guidebook Section above is changed to
> what it was after much debate in previous guidebook versions.
> In fact a prominent GNSO council member who was much involved in the early
> and current new gTLD process once observed "The West will once again
> colonize and plunder the East as in past centuries but this time not take
> land but steal and profit from the elements of the language and therefore
> culture itself".The added irony being that this time it will be the West
> exploiting the East after the East actually invented the idea too. A new
> level of exploitation.
> This can be at least partly stopped if we simply went back to allowing
> objection from the currently very very FEW ( and thanks to ICANN largese
> thus far extremely rich ) incumbent registries to be limited only to cases
> of clear visual confusion and not aural or meaning/concept related ones.
> If we don't, then the likely outcome is the rape of the world's languages
> in order that a handful of Western corporations that had little or no
> connection to the IDN cultures or the pioneering of the IDN technology
> itself, profit, as it was in the European colonization of the past of the
> mostly poor and now IDN world.
> Wish it were not so. But that's where this is headed and its simply the
> greed of a powerful few driving it.