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Name.Space Comments on ICANN RFP for Sponsored Top Level Domain Applications
  • To: stld-rfp-comments@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: Name.Space Comments on ICANN RFP for Sponsored Top Level Domain Applications
  • From: Paul Garrin <pg@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 25 Aug 2003 22:35:26 -0400
  • Reply-to: pg@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Sender: pg@xxxxxxxxxxx

Name.Space Comments on ICANN RFP
for Sponsored Top Level Domain Applications

Examining ICANN and the TLD Selection Process 

Name.Space was founded in 1996 with its primary mission to
develop, publish and provide registry services for new Top
Level Domains on the Internet, to introduce competition,
diversity and localism in the Domain Name market as well as
support the balanced interests of commercial,
non-commercial, and political speech on the internet.  Our
founding and the beginning of Name.Space's TLD publishing
operations began more than 2 years before ICANN was
contracted by the NTIA to become the gatekeepers of the
ROOT.DOMAIN.  Besides being one of the foremost advocates
and publishers of new Top Level Domains, Name.Space has
since the beginning been the strongest and perhaps even the
first advocate of a Shared Registry System, which came about
reluctantly when the Department of Commerce essentially
mandated that then-monopoly and now near-monopoly Network
Solutions develop the so-called "shared registry system"
that today allows registrars to pay a wholesale fee and
resell domain names to the public.

Through public input to an ongoing survey, thousands of
requests and suggestions for TLDs by customers and potential
customers were submitted to Name.Space over the 5 years of
its existence. Out of those requests Name.Space editorially
chose to publish and place into service approximately 540
TLDs to serve the needs of culture, commerce and community
such as ".art" ".info" ".museum" "pro" ".politics" ".shop"
and ".sucks". Name.Space's business model is one of a simple
economy of scale--one that provides equal support and access
for domains that are commercially popular as well as domains
that have value and purpose for cultural and community use
but may not stand on their own commercially. The idea, to
spread the costs across the board by operating a diversity
of TLDs on a common infrastructure, designed to carry
multiple TLDs to maximize efficiency and keep costs low for
all customers.

Name.Space invested in geographically diverse infrastructure
using co-located servers in various commercial and
non-commercial facilities, and built the software to
register and manage TLDs and second-level domain
registrations. Its innovative real-time domain registration
system has been operating on the internet for seven years
and is one of the first of its kind. Name.Space has also
produced a "universal" global domain name and IP number
search engine, http://DNS411.com that uses "smart" Whois
developed by Name.Space in 1996-97.  DNS411 is free to the
public and provides a powerful and convenient search tool
that has been useful in tracking down spammers and other
cyber-nuisances, and in finding domain contact information
in any TLD in any country, and from any active registry and
registrar with a "whois" database.

The TLDs published and operated by Name.Space can not be
seen by the entire internet because they are not included
into the ROOT.ZONE, the "master list" of all the TLDs
visible to the internet by default that is operated by
Network Solutions, Inc., formerly under a Cooperative
Agreement with the National Science Foundation, and since
September, 1998 under contract with the NTIA and by
extension, ICANN. Unlike other new TLD advocates who refer
to themselves as "alternate roots", Name.Space does not
advocate nor support the separatism that is characteristic
of the so-called "alternate-root" community.  Instead,
Name.Space has and continues to seek INCLUSION into the
recognized root, now under the auspices of ICANN and
ultimately under the authority of the US Department of
Commerce's National Telecommunications and Infrastructure
Agency (NTIA).

In March, 1997 Name.Space requested that Network Solutions
(NSI) amend the ROOT.ZONE to include the TLDs published and
operated by Name.Space. NSI refused and Name.Space sought
relief in the Courts by filing an antitrust action against
NSI for denial of access to the "ROOT" and for conspiracy to
commit antitrust along with a group of non-party
co-conspirators, many of them with ties to today's ICANN.
http://namespace.org/law  The lawsuit filed by Name.Space
was based on the successful antitrust suit that MCI brought
against ATT which resulted in the breakup of the telephone
monopoly in the United States in 1983 that brought
competitive phone rates to consumers.  Name.Space v. Network
Solutions was successful in effect in breaking up the
monopoly and lowering domain registration prices; however
the case came to a conclusion in January, 2000 when the
Second Circuit Court of Appeals "immunized" NSI's conduct in
this particular case so that the NTIA could pursue its
stated policy objective, which was to let ICANN decide on
adding TLDs to the ROOT.

Name.Space accepted the Court's decision and acted in good
faith to apply through the ICANN TLD selection process,
submitting its application for 118 of the 540 TLDs it
publishes and operates, and paying the non-refundable
$50,000.00 fee to ICANN. While I was personally skeptical of
the amorphous and undefined process by which ICANN would
select new TLDs and their operators, fearing that they would
only choose the dominant market players, as they have indeed
done, I strongly believed in my company's technical
competence and business potential to succeed as a TLD
registry. I didn't imagine however that ICANN would not only
reject Name.Space's proposal, but that they would go so far
as to "select" TLDs already in service by Name.Space, namely
".INFO" ".PRO" and ".MUSEUM" and choose to assign them to
some of the very parties who had acted, and in some cases
may have criminally conspired, to prevent Name.Space from
entering the domain name market with its diverse and
competitive TLDs and business model. Unfairness and nepotism
apparently pervaded the initial ICANN board, many of whose
members recused themselves from the TLD selection process
because they were among the applicants who were in the end
awarded TLDs to the exclusion of those "outsiders" who
applied in good-faith and who were arbitrarily rejected by

Name.Space has predated ICANN by two years and is well
established as a pioneer and entrepreneurial small business
whose mission is to provide diversity and competition and
localism in the domain name market with respect to the
greater public good, balancing the needs of culture,
commerce and community. Instead of being rewarded for its
efforts in defining and developing the new domain name
market, its accomplishments have been ignored and its
efforts to its rightful place in the domain registry field
have been continuously thwarted by a small group of special
interests determined to keep a stranglehold on the domain
market by any means necessary. Those special interests are
among ICANN, NSI, CORE and their affiliates.

As ICANN Director Dr. Vint Cerf admitted before the House
Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications on February 8,
2001, the selections of 7 new companies to act as Top Level
Domain (TLD) registries by ICANN was "subjective". The ICANN
board's selection of dominant industry players at the
exclusion of entrepreneurs and small businesses also ignored
the voices of the only publicly elected members of its board
who were denied a vote in the TLD selection process.   Had
the elected at-large board members been given an opportunity
to vote in the year 2000 TLD selection round, they would
have likely recognized all of the qulaified applicants who
were otherwise rejected by the ad-hoc, discretionary and
subjective process that froze out all but the already
dominant corporate players and insiders.

Dr. Cerf also added that ICANN did not spend all of the
applicants' money they claimed was necessary to process the
TLD applications.  In this case it is again unfair that
ICANN is requesting an additional non-refundable application
fee of $25,000.00 from those applicants who paid $50,000.00
in the year 2000 round, and whose applications were
rejected.  It is further inappropriate that ICANN seek to
limit applicants to so-called "sponsored" TLDs and to
restrict applications only to those who submitted
"sponsored" TLD applications in 2000 and were rejected.

Fairness dictates that ICANN be compelled by the NTIA to
reconsider ALL of the applicants who paid $50,000.00 in the
year 2000, and in fact grant all of those still interested
and in exsistance at least 3 TLDs each or more, as each
organization's model dictates.

The mandate that the NTIA set forth for ICANN states that it
is ICANN's role to oversee the creation and addition of new
TLDs to be included into the ROOT.ZONE; Instead ICANN has
served to restrict and artificially limit the introduction
of new TLDs, causing harm to both the publishers and
operators of new TLD registries as well as to those who
publish on the internet and wish to express their content
through descriptive and meaningful domain names.

Name.Space respectfully requests the the current ICANN board
approve its application for a number of the TLDs we publish,
currently operate and have applied for in the year 2000
round, and that the other applicants who were rejected also
be re-considered and granted the recognition of the TLDs
they seek to serve.

Respectfully submitted,

Paul Garrin
Name.Space, Inc.

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