Legitimize The Large Community of "non-compliant" dot pro Registrants...
The proposed amendments to the dot pro registry agreements offer a welcomed spirit to liberalize registration eligibilities, but unjustly, unwisely, leave out any provisions toward recognizing or legitimizing the large number of "non-compliant" registrations that as a class represent the most substantial portion of present dot pro registrations. The original ideals of the dot pro name-space are admirable in terms of their lofty public welfare goals (ensuring that only officially recognized professionals are registrants, etc). The originally chosen professional specialties to get their own third level name-spaces were likely those among the most commercially promising. Unfortunately, however, the market appeal within its intended audience proved to be extremely limited and 5 years later on now very few of these "officially recognized professional registrants" ever bothered. While this ideally intended audience never commercially materialized (threatening the very survival of the name space), another type of audience DID. and now provides the practical entirety of financial support to keep the registry alive: essentially non-compliant registrants of many different types. These registrants are enabled via the creative "Pro Forwarding" registration service offering of the EnCirca Company. I count myself among the many customers of EnCirca very happy to have access to their Pro Forwarding service. I am a private (sole proprietor) VAR offering customized systems development solutions to professional practitioner clients in the legal & medical fields. My acquisition of dot pro names (via EnCirca) is intended for bundled (software, systems, plus premium domain name) product solutions I'm developing to offer to my client base. My acquisition and intended end use of these domain names, while within the "spirit" of the domain name-space, is (strictly speaking) non-compliant with the letter of the existing and newly proposed registration rules. While EnCirca has provided me the vehicle to acquire several seemingly premium dot pro domain names, after carefully reading through their lengthy legal agreements, I have no illusion about their ever helping me defend my rights to these names. (Their "legally smart" behavior of not answering customer service type emails or phone calls isn't comforting for me in the least either.) This realization holds me back from increasing my dot pro name registrations. As the existing rules and these proposed new amendments read. If a "government licensed" professional, such as a commercial taxi cab driver, should assert that he has a superior claim to one of my premium domain names (let's say, for instance "holistic.pro", because he offers his cab clients homey chats & advice about his ideas on natural living while driving in his bare feet, etc), he can readily initiate the proscribed mediation action and easily win (steal) my domain from me for his total cost of $500. Likewise, the government licensed "CPR Provider" (who took a weekend course & pays the $25 annual fee for the nice looking CPR license in his wallet), can assert a superior claim than me to my "cardiac.pro" domain. It's likely that many/most of EnCirca's Pro Forwarding customers are in this same predicament as me: we're all just $500 away from losing any of our so-called premium dot pro domain names. (This price of mediation may in actuality define the upper value of all dot pro domain names.. You thought that "sex.pro" or "business.pro" was worth a lot? The way the rules are presently written and still proposed, chances are big that most nominally qualified "compliant" challengers can readily win/steal any domain away from the present registrant for this $500 cost.) I'm a life-long/long-term "systems professional": server administrator, software developer, project manager, etc. However, in this capacity I'm not licensed or "government recognized/certified" (nor do I desire to be). Within these specializations, I'm a member of at least one (private, non-government, non-profit) professional association. One of my past client shops was a partnership of electronic engineers involved in the design of hospital-use specialty medical devices. These fellows were members in private professional associations, and were industry recognized via their awards, publications, and patents. None of these guys were "government licensed". By most reasonable persons' opinions, both I and my EE clients would readily be judged to be "professionals". but not by either the existing or newly proposed amendments to the dot pro registration rules. There exist many more recognized fields & professions that are not government licensed than are. Many of these non-licensed professions involve years of education, dedicated training and experience, and many have long-established peer-community professional associations. Everyone can surely understand the registry's intended recognition of such groups as MD's, lawyers, accountants, (and now) dentists, architects, etc. All government licensed professions. However, many government licensed "professional" fields involve much less education, training or experience: In addition to my earlier examples of cab drivers & CPR providers, we commonly see professional government certified hair dressers/barbers, nail manicurists, lunch room attendants in nursing homes, etc, etc. The established dot pro rules along with these proposed amendments do not offer any amelioration of the inequities present in my above examples. They instead offer just a nominal eligibility expansion to the original rules. original rules that have more than sufficiently proven to be completely unpopular with their intended audience and in fact commercially untenable. As reality in this name space has evolved to now, we have a very large number of actual "non-compliant" registrants (via EnCirca's successful/registry-tolerated Pro Forwarding scheme) who are overwhelmingly supporting a miniscule number of "compliant" registrants. The potential new "compliant" registrants enabled via these latest amendments are entirely "theoretical" at this time, and very likely again commercially non-existent. If we allow for these nominal changes and question where we're likely to see the most growth and success looking forward. either with these new third level name spaces, and associated second level liberalizations. or EnCirca's continuing Pro Forwarding scheme. the smart money easily goes with the overwhelming proven winner. EnCirca. We're now at one of these rare (once every five years or so) times where we have the opportunity to change things in the dot pro registry. Let's admit the truth that the original rules are a complete failure within the marketplace, so much so that without the legally-stretching scheme of the Pro Forwarding product, it's almost certain that this name space would now be defunct. Continuing this present reality of the "non-compliant" registrants (>99%) supporting the "compliant" registrants (<1%) is grossly unjust. Once the larger population of these non-compliant registrants come to understanding their essentially inequitable lot (no protection of their acquired domain name properties, no representative voice within the registry, no support from their sole-source monopoly registrar, etc, etc), this whole equation will again prove the name space to be commercially unattractive and practically unsustainable. Two simple changes to the existing-rules/proposed-amendments could address all of these above concerns: Rather than require certification credentials of registrants or any others, the rules can be changed to require "certified end usage" of the domain name itself. This will enable a wider general-community participation in the domain (encouraging a healthy after market in domain name sale transactions - providing a good lift to the general-community visibility of the domain), while preserving (even strengthening) the ostensible public service goals of the domain; Rather than requiring the present "government licensing" credentials (or only further requiring these for the third-level name space), we can instead expand recognition to all persons who are "full members in good standing" of any peer-group type professional association. if necessary, only such organizations officially recognized by a government body (such as 501c designations, etc). This would allow for many obvious professionals who are not otherwise "government licensed". Combining these two changes, we could see a growing number of dot pro domains registered and/or owned by either "professional" (as our expanded definition would allow), or also "non-professional" persons. In the end usage of any dot pro domain, however, we would enforce (via the registration agreement asserted onto the responsibility of the registrant) that only "professionally certified" persons or purposes (not necessarily a registrant, admin, owner, etc) could end-use the domain - that is, we want to create, maintain and enforce a reasonable public expectation that any person or entity presenting themselves/itself on a dot pro domain (website, email, etc) is in some definite degree a community-recognized professional. via (at a minimum) a professional association that is itself registered/recognized by a government (national, state) authority. If we merely allow for the proposed nominal amendments at hand. then these above identified inequities in the dot pro name space will continue, will pile-up, and inevitably encourage prospectively bizarre defensive maneuvers on the part of our big crowd of non-compliant registrants here. which will also lead to all sorts of unintended consequences. If necessary to defend my own dot pro registrations, I can investigate all of the many "government licensed" fields offered in my home state. Already, I'm familiar with my state's CPR licensing, which appears to meet all of the newly proposed requirements of the dot pro registry agreements. If I go through the required weekend course, and annual refresher training courses, and pay the required $25 annual state registration fee, it seems safe to assert that I'm an officially recognized CPR professional, and as such, can now (under the new amendments), cleanly register any dot pro domain name. "Any" dot pro domain name? Even those very clearly having nothing to do with CPR? Under these newly proposed rules/amendments, yes. Once I meet the restrictive dot pro registrant requirements. that's essentially it. There's no follow-on proscription for what I do with my registered domain. I can secure a dot pro domain name that has nothing to do with CPR (as long as I don't step on any other's IP rights here), and then put it to use (displaying a product or service on the website) that has both nothing to do with either CPR or professional offerings of any sort. Does this make sense? Does this sound like a scenario worth promoting? As my above examples suggest, both the present dot pro rules and these new proposed amendments present many practical undesirable aspects. If we've got an opportunity here to change any of this for the better. let's do it. Otherwise. I'm either enrolling in a local CPR class ASAP. or borrowing EnCirca's creative (albeit proven effective) Pro Forwarding language to paper my local "licensed professional" bare-footed holistic taxicab driver to front-agent for my several dot pro registrations. I suspect that his customer service delivery will be much better than what I'm getting from my present (monopoly bad-attitude) fronting-agent. Bill Butkiewicz bb@xxxxxxxxxxxx