Comments of Copyright Coalition on Domain Names
- To: <gtld-strategy-draft@xxxxxxxxx>
- Subject: Comments of Copyright Coalition on Domain Names
- From: "Steve Metalitz" <metalitz@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Fri, 15 Oct 2004 13:41:57 -0400
The Copyright Coalition on Domain Names ("CCDN") is made up of leading
copyright industry trade associations; performance rights organizations;
and copyright-owning companies. CCDN and its component groups
participate actively in ICANN activities and have submitted comments on
a number of ICANN initiatives. CCDN appreciates this opportunity to
comment on the draft strategy for introducing new generic Top Level
CCDN believes the thoughtful approach laid out by the draft
strategy, parsing out relevant issues, and combining inputs from various
groups with public comments from Internet stakeholders, may be a
reasonable way to proceed to determine how gTLDs registries are to be
selected and allocated. However, there doesn't seem to be anything in
the draft strategy that addresses whether new gTLDs are needed at all.
This omission should be remedied before the draft is finalized.
The U.S. Government's statement of policy, referenced in the draft
strategy, while granting ICANN the authority to set out circumstances
when new gTLD registries may be added to the root, does not require
ICANN to recognize new gTLDs. See Statement of Policy, Management of
Internet Names and Addresses, 63 Fed. Reg. 31,741 (June 10, 1998). By
contrast, the draft strategy could be read as assuming that new gTLDs
are unequivocally a benefit to the public. This assumption is
questionable. For example, in its recent study, the Organization for
Economic Co-operation and Development ("OECD") examined the rate of
adoption of domain names in the newly created "open" gTLDs, .info, .biz,
and .name, and noted that while the numbers "suggest there is some
demand for new gTLDS [;]. . . [i]t has, however, fallen well short of
projections." OECD, Working Party on Telecommunication and Information
Services Policies, Generic Top Level Domain Names: Market Development
and Allocation Issues, at 28 (July 13, 2004), available at
http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/56/34/32996948.pdf. In fact, the OECD
report states a number of "cons" to the introduction of new gTLDs,
including the financial burden business must assume to defensively
register domain names. Id. at 34.
The draft strategy also seems skewed or even pre-determined to
granting new gTLDs. It does not specify any point at which it is
possible for the process to stop, with a conclusion that the
introduction of new gTLDs would be unwarranted at a particular time.
Rather, the choices at every step seem to be for different ways of
introducing new gTLDs, not for whether there should be any new
introductions at all.
Similarly, it is unclear from the draft strategy how and when the
process commences. What would trigger the first step? Would the
process be something ICANN engages in on a regular, predictable basis?
Surely, if ICANN has the ability to recognize new gTLDs, it likewise has
the ability to decide not to recognize new gTLDs. We do not believe
that ICANN is (nor should it be) under any unequivocal mandate to expand
the gTLD domain space regardless of the effect on Internet stakeholders
and the public at large. However, the draft strategy could be read to
assume such a mandate.
A measured, thoughtful determination requires ICANN to assess whether
the addition of new domains is needed, or beneficial, at any given time.
Logically, this step would seem to come before all the other inquiries
set out in the draft strategy, although we understand that it could also
be argued that this "go or no go" decision should be made later in the
process. The problem is that the strategy, as currently drafted, does
not make clear when this decision is to be made, or even whether it is
to be made at all. CCDN urges ICANN to clarify the draft strategy to
specify when and how this "yes or no" decision will be made.
Steven J. Metalitz
Counsel, Copyright Coalition on Domain Names
Smith & Metalitz LLP
1747 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Suite 825
Washington, DC 20006 USA