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Why the rush to URS?

  • To: <irt-final-report@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: Why the rush to URS?
  • From: "Colin Pape" <mail@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 7 Jul 2009 09:23:58 -0400


While the current UDRP process is certainly less than perfect, it has worked
reasonably well for the past 10 years and now contains hundreds of
precedent-setting cases that provide the case law trademark holders and
domain name registrants need to ascertain the strength of a domain name
registration claim.

Just when this system is finally starting to bear proverbial fruit and
parties on both sides have finally established best-practices and procedures
for handling UDRP disputes, the IRT now seeks to implement a new system that
essentially renders the previous one irrelevant and will require ten more
years of development and participation to reach the level that the UDRP
process has attained.

Does this mean that ICANN admits that the UDRP process was ill-conceived? If
so, then how are your constituents and stakeholders to be assured that this
new URS process is any different? 

For the sake of the credibility of your organization (which is among the
most important in the world) I hope that more thought and consideration has
gone into this latest system you seek to implement. However, I highly doubt
this is the case judging by the speed with which the proposed changes appear
to be rushing through.

Domain names are the fundamental backbone of the user-centric internet, and
are essential to the infrastructure of the web for massive companies like
Google(.com) right down to the individual level. Should structural changes
to the nature of the agreement between registrants, registrars and ICANN not
undergo a much longer gestation period, thereby ensuring that all
stakeholders have the opportunity to fully-consider the implications of such
changes and that unintended consequences of hurried decisions are minimized?

While all systems and processes must change and evolve, and this is
especially true with a medium like the internet that has seen more rapid
change than any other in history, does it not make sense to 'measure twice
and cut once'?

In a world currently mired with weak contracts and crumbling rule of
business law, ICANN has the opportunity to provide the planet with stability
in very tumultuous times. Many, including myself, have felt that domain
names offered registrants one of the last safe havens on Earth where the
rights of IP owners were respected to a reasonable degree, and where a fair
arbitration process existed. 

The rapid introduction of this new process for 'redeeming' domain names will
certainly change this perception and will call into question the legitimacy
of all domain registrations - both unscrupulous AND legitimate - leading to
decreased investment in the internet economy and subjecting less powerful
stakeholders to undue pressure from better-funded and more legally-savvy
registrants who seek to take what they did not have the foresight to create.

The current UDRP process provides certain barriers to challenge that
minimize this activity to a level that is 'manageable'. The lower fees and
ability to challenge the ownership of multiple domains as proposed
essentially eradicate this barrier and will open ICANN to an onslaught of
filings. I am not sure you are prepared for the repurcussions of this
decision if passed.

While many have been critical of the UDRP process in the past, the onerous
defensive measures domain owners will need to implement to address the new
URS process' changes will unnecessarily burden both non-trademark and
trademark holding registrants and create major confusion while not solving
the 'abuse' that the IRT claims to be defending users and IP holders

No matter if this policy is adopted, phishing will continue using
sub-domains and trademark disputes will continue to arise (possibly more-so
with said lower barriers). Educating internet users on how to protect
themselves will be much more effective than implementing the URS. Large
brand holders could more effectively protect their brands by having the
foresight to register the domains representing their brands ahead of time
and by working with the existing UDRP process to win back the names they are
rightfully entitled to. 

We should all be wary of those who claim more rights for themselves in the
name of urgency - especially when it comes to something so critical to the
future of such an important medium.

This report and proposal appears to be nothing more than a land grab being
executed under the guise of protection by a group of companies that has been
historically ignorant to the value of domain names and the important role
that ICANN plays in global commerce. Because they have not exercised their
own due diligence in the past, they now wish to force the rest of the world
and the already overburdened and underfunded ICANN to do their diligence for
them. This is both unfair and unreasonable and WILL have unintended
consequences if it is successfully passed.

I am sure that ICANN has more foresight than these complainants and that
your organization will stand up for the importance and value of domain names
to global commerce and personal expression. The integrity of the world's
most important governing body and the domain name system that binds us all
together hangs in the balance - please appreciate the power you wield as you
make your respective decisions.

In closing, I thank you for the opportunity to air my concerns and strongly
urge you to consider making thoughtful modifications to the exising UDRP
process over time, rather than implementing an entirely new system at a
critical juncture in the development of the internet. The world needs
stability in these times of unprecedented change, and ICANN has a major
opportunity and role to play in this regard. 


Colin Pape



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