ASCAP Comments .net registry
The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers ("ASCAP") submits these comments in response to ICANN's request for comments regarding applications for .net registry operation. ASCAP, the oldest and largest U.S. performing rights society, licenses, on behalf of its 200,000 members, the performing rights of copyrighted musical works. Included among the countless types of users that perform ASCAP music and to whom ASCAP grants licenses are thousands of on-line Internet web sites and services. One of the methods by which ASCAP determines who is performing copyrighted music and requires an ASCAP license is via the contact data residing in the publicly accessible WHOIS database. Without access to publicly available WHOIS contact data, it would be difficult at times, if not impossible, for ASCAP to determine who is actually performing ASCAP music on-line. WHOIS contact information is the necessary tool ASCAP utilizes in ensuring that its copyright owner members are fairly compensated for the use of their property on-line. Currently, .net is operated on a "thin registry" basis, meaning that key WHOIS contact data on domain name registrants is not held by the registry, but by the individual domain name registrar. Most of the applicants propose migrating .net to a "thick registry" system, in which WHOIS data for all .net registrations will be held by the registry in a single database. Under both models, information on the IP addresses associated with the domain registration (nameserver data) is held by the registry. ICANN's RFP for the .net competition requires that competitors either maintain the same level of public access to WHOIS data that currently prevails in .net (if a thin registry is proposed), or else to follow the rules applicable to .org (the largest gTLD that is currently run on a thick registry basis). See .Net Request for Proposals, at 13 (Dec. 10, 2004), available at http://www.icann.org/tlds/dotnet-reassignment/net-rfp-final-10dec04.pdf, under item 5 "Technical Competence". Either way, full contact data on registrants and their administrative and technical contacts would remain freely accessible to the public, as it always has been since the inception of .net. However, as we reviewed the application material first posted a few days ago, it soon became clear that some of the applicants to run .net plan to abandon the long-standing model of free public access to full WHOIS data. Instead, they propose to close off all public access to some or nearly all WHOIS data, and in at least one case to nameserver data as well. Note that none of the applicants propose a so-called "tiered access system;" under their proposals, it appears that a great deal of data now made available to the public would simply disappear from view. Problematic applications include those from DENIC, Sentan, and probably Afilias. These proposals would severely undermine or entirely eliminate the value of WHOIS and nameserver data in providing accountability and transparency to Internet activities. In addition to hampering ASCAP's activities, they would undercut the efforts of consumers, parents, journalists, law enforcement agencies, computer security systems, other intellectual property owners, and countless other Internet users to track down who is responsible for particular sites or nodes online. The result would be to make the second largest gTLD a much more comfortable place than it is today for online criminals, infringers, phishers, scam artists, and other malefactors. Accordingly, ICANN should reject any application that proposes to reduce the status quo of publicly available WHOIS data. Furthermore, ICANN should vigilantly remove the license and authority of any registry that at any times removes the transparency of domain name ownership WHOIS information. Sam Mosenkis Director of Legal Affairs ASCAP smosenkis@xxxxxxxxx -------------- A . S . C . A . P.-------------- ASCAP -- Celebrating Nine Decades of America's Best Music! This message, including any attachments, is intended solely for the person or entity to which it is addressed and may contain information that is legally privileged, confidential or otherwise protected from disclosure. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact sender immediately by reply email and destroy all copies.