ICANN/DNSO

Working Group C - new gTLDs
Interim Report, October 23th, 1999

Interim Report of Working Group C of the Domain Name Supporting Organization, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers

 

Introduction from the Co-Chairs


This document sets out the history of Working Group C and the results of its work to date; requests public comment on a series of position papers drafted by members of the working group; and describes our understanding of the working group's future tasks.

Working Group C has reached rough consensus on two matters. The first is that there should be new global top-level domains (gTLDs); the second is that it would be appropriate for ICANN, in expanding the name space, to begin with a testbed in which it adds six to ten new gTLDs, followed by an evaluation period.

Following the recommendation of Working Group D, we asked members of the working group to prepare a set of position papers advocating differing views on the issues before the group. Those position papers do not represent the views of the working group; rather, they represent the views only of their individual drafters and endorsers. We urge all interested groups, and all members of the Internet public, to comment on the position papers.
 

Procedural history


The Names Council approved the charter of Working Group C on June 25, 1999, and named Javier Sola as its chair. On July 29, the working group members elected Jonathan Weinberg co-chair. The nominal size of the working group has climbed steadily over the life of the group, and is now above 90. A majority of the members of the working group, however, have either posted no messages, or have posted only a negligible number. The core membership of the group (who have posted over twenty messages over the life of the working group) number about two dozen.

The working group's initial deliberations involved extensive -- but not always productive -- debate on a variety of issues. On August 26, the Names Council noted Working Group C's high traffic and limited progress, and concluded that the working group's structure was "not adequate to carry out the substantive work of the DNSO." The Names Council requested that Working Group D suggest measures to allow the Working Group C co-chairs "to restructure the working group in a way that allows it to perform its functions." Working Group D, while affirming that Working Group C "is in a position to find compromise, consensus solutions to at least part of the problem if left to find its own way," suggested two useful procedural mechanisms.

The first of these was that Working Group C should prepare an interim report containing "position papers," prepared by various members of the working group, setting forth their views on the issues before the working group. The process of preparing that document, the Working Group D report explained, would "clarify each group's respective position, highlight areas of agreement and disagreement, uncover areas of technical and economic impracticability, and discern the public support for the various positions."  The second was that the Working Group C co-chairs consider whether to moderate the list or to limit the number of messages that could be posted by each list member on a given day. The Names Council approved the Working Group D report, and we implemented both recommendations.
 

Rough consensus


Along the way to the interim report, the Working Group C reached rough consensus on two matters. First, the working group quickly reached consensus that there should be new global top-level domains.  Members of the working group overwhelmingly supported this position.  The only dissenting voices came from two members of the working group who stated that the addition of new gTLDs should be delayed until after the creation of a trademark dispute resolution mechanism and/or a famous marks exclusion procedure. It was the sense of the working group, though, that these concerns related not to whether ICANN should add new gTLDs but rather to when -- and how -- it should do so.

Consensus on the second matter took longer, for the remaining substantive issues before the group were not so easy to resolve. We conducted a series of straw polls as a tool for revealing whether there might be a route to rough consensus on any of these issues. On the issue of how quickly ICANN should roll out new global top-level domains, the straw poll found the group sharply divided between those favoring a cautious approach under which ICANN would begin the rollout by adding a few new gTLDs, and then pausing to assess the results before adding more, and those favoring an uninterrupted rollout of a large number of new top-level domains over the next few years.

In order to resolve this dispute, the working group considered a compromise recommendation that ICANN begin with an initial round of six to ten new gTLDs followed by an evaluation period. That initial round would serve as a testbed; ICANN's subsequent decisions regarding the rollout of subsequent gTLDs would rest on its experience with the initial rollout.  This recommendation was intended as a middle ground that working group members on both sides could support -- that is, as a way to bridge the gap between opposing groups.

More than 70% of the people expressing a view on this proposal supported it. That is, twenty-six people sent messages to this list weighing in on one side or the other, and of those, nineteen people expressed support.  Two of those people conditioned their support on the six to ten new TLDs being run by the same number of new registries, and one stated that at least four new registries must be included.

Seven people expressed opposition. Five of them urged that the working group should not discuss the number of new gTLDs until after resolving issues such as whether the new top-level domains were to be special-purpose or general-purpose. Three of the seven urged that the initial rollout should be limited to two or three new gTLDs, and must be linked to the establishment of an effective and speedy trademark dispute resolution process, including protection of famous marks, and an easy and cost-effective system for obtaining contact information. One stated that only one new gTLD should be introduced at the outset.

We agreed that the working group had reached rough (although by no means unanimous) consensus in support of the proposal that ICANN begin with an initial rollout of six to ten new global top-level domains, followed by an evaluation period. The number of people speaking to the issue was reasonable in light of the size of the core membership of the working group, and substantially more than a majority of those expressing views were in support.
 

Request for comments


The Working Group C interim report consists of this introduction and seven position papers drafted by members of the working group, in accordance with the Working Group D recommendations. The position papers discuss a wide range of issues relating to the introduction of new global top-level domains. They do not present the views of the working group as a whole; rather, they present the views only of the position papers' individual drafters and endorsers.

For lack of a better sequence, we have arranged the position papers in this interim report in descending order of their expressed support within the working group. That is, the position paper with the most endorsers from within the working group is placed first, and so on. For ease of reference in the comments, we are labeling them as Position Papers A through G on New gTLDs.

We urge all interested persons and groups to submit comments on these position papers to comments-gtlds@dnso.org. The comments will provide the basis for further progress within the working group. The working group's final report will draw on the public comments and on its further work.

Javier Sola
Jonathan Weinberg


Position Paper A on New gTLDs
Position Paper B on New gTLDs
Position Paper C on New gTLDs
Position Paper D on New gTLDs
Position Paper E on New gTLDs
Position Paper F on New gTLDs
Position Paper G on New gTLDs


Position Paper A on New gTLDs

 

Summary


ICANN should add a large number of new gTLDs, including both general-purpose and limited-purpose domains. It should begin with an initial testbed rollout of six to ten new gTLDs, with the expectation that it will add more if the evaluation period reveals no major problems. In the short term (during the testbed and initial phased rollout), to the extent that more registries seek immediate inclusion of their preferred gTLDs into the root than the schedule will accommodate, ICANN may engage in an ad hoc selection process. In the long term, what is most important is that ICANN adopt policies minimizing the barriers=20to adding new gTLDs to the root. It would make sense for ICANN to authorize both for-profit and non-profit gTLD registries.
 

Introduction


This position paper represents an attempt both to express the views of the drafters and to work towards consensus positions. It does not present specific implementation plans for every aspect of gTLD expansion.  Working Group C, rather, has been sharply divided on issues of basic principle:  this position paper is primarily directed towards achieving some settlement on those broad-brush issues.
 

I. Should there be new gTLDs?


Yes. Expanding the number of TLDs will increase consumer choice, and create opportunities for entities that have been shut out under the current name structure. It doesn't make sense to continue a situation in which huge segments of the general public view .com as the only "real" TLD, but every word in a typical English- language dictionary is already registered as an SLD there. This situation is currently requiring companies to register increasingly unwieldy domain names for themselves, and is inflating the value of the secondary (speculators') market in .com domain names.

Right now, .com stands astride the name space as the only "real" commercial TLD in the United States, and as a crucial player throughout the world; it is ten times the size of the largest ccTLD. Companies that currently have a domain name in the form of <www.companyname.com> have an extremely important marketing and name-recognition tool. They have an advantage over all other companies that do not have addresses in that form, because they are the ones that consumers, surfing the Net, will be able to find most easily. If the name space is expanded, companies will be able to get easy-to-remember domain names more easily, and the entry barriers to successful participation in electronic commerce will be lowered.  Similarly, addition of new gTLDs could enlarge noncommercial name space.

Addition of new gTLDs will allow different companies to have the same second-level domain name in different TLDs. That is (to pick an arbitrary example), shopping.com might face competition from shopping.biz and shopping.store.  Those businesses will have to compete based on price, quality and service, rather than on the happenstance of which company locked up the most desirable domain name first.

Indeed, expanding the name space could help solve one of our most intractable problems relating to trademark and domain names. Currently, when multiple unrelated companies have the same or similar names (such as United Airlines and United Van Lines), there is no good way to resolve the question of who gets the valuable domain name <www.companyname.com>. But if the domain name space were expanded, so that one firm could have, say, <www.companyname.biz> and another could have <www.companyname.firm>, many of these disputes could be avoided. Consumers, understanding that a given SLD string can belong to different companies in different TLDs, would be less likely to jump to the conclusion that any given domain name was associated with a given company.
 

II. What should be the nature of the new gTLDs?


Some people argue that new gTLDs should be predominantly or entirely limited-purpose domains (that is, .airline rather than .firm). Their arguments are that limited-purpose TLDs give more information to the consumer (a consumer can expect that united.airlines is an airline, not a trucking company) and will be less threatening to trademark interests opposed to the expansion of the name space (because United Airlines will not feel threatened by the registration, say, of united.books). Some even argue that ICANN should map out, at the start, a framework of limited-purpose TLDs, such as .transp and .health, so that users could rely on the structure of the DNS in seeking the URLs associated with particular businesses or content providers.

We agree that limited-purpose TLDs can be useful. They should not, however, be the *only* new gTLDs. For the reasons stated above,  .com is currently the 500- pound gorilla of TLDs, and domain names in .com have tremendous (artificial) market value. Adding a set of limited-purpose TLDs would not change that: there would remain .com (and to a lesser extent .net and .org) atop the TLD pyramid, and a mass of special-purpose TLDs below. Alternative *general-purpose* top-level domains, by contrast, could provide effective competition to .com. This would more nearly level the playing field for individuals and businesses seeking attractive domain names, and would diminish the ability of a minority of e- businesses to collect rents based simply on their registration of good names in the "best" TLD.

This suggests that the ideal system would be one that mixes new limited-purpose gTLDs with new general-purpose ones. Part VII of this position paper discusses the process through which new gTLDs will be selected. If ICANN adopts a process in which it selects the gTLD strings itself, it could simply choose some gTLDs in each category. Alternatively, if ICANN adopts a process in which it simply accredits new registries and those registries choose their own TLD strings, the result would likely be a similar mixed system. Some registries might seek broad market reach by choosing a name with general appeal, such as .web; others might seek to exploit a niche market by choosing a name with limited uses, such as .per. The resulting name space would have gTLDs in each category.
 

III. How many new gTLDs should there be?


In the long term, a domain name system with a large number of gTLDs seems highly desirable. Each additional TLD provides new options for domain-name registrants. Further, a name space in which there are many TLDs and TLD registries is one in which the registries themselves are (or can be) subject to useful market competition. The existence of many competing TLD registries will diminish the market power that any particular TLD will exercise. Users who are unimpressed with the performance of one registry can instead acquire a new domain name in a different top-level domain, run by a different registry. Members of the Internet community will be able to decide themselves, through their name-registration decisions, which of the many possible TLDs will play an important role in the name space.

Imagine, thus, that the name space contains a single registry called .sports. Without more, this registry has market power corresponding to the degree that it is a better TLD for certain registrants than any other, and it can use that market power to extract inefficient rents.  If, on the other hand, there are many TLDs, and relatively free entry into the TLD namespace, then .sports can constrained by the creation of .athletics, to the benefit of domain-name registrants.   In this respect, it would be undesirable to artificially limit the number of gTLDs short of the bounds of the technically feasible and operationally stable.

The most important reason that has been suggested for limiting the number of gTLDs relates to trademark owners' concerns. Addition of many new gTLDs, trademark owners urge, will greatly increase their policing costs. The more new gTLDs there are, they argue, the more work they will have to do in order to ensure that nobody is using their trademarks (or variants) as second-level domains in ways that would confuse consumers.

In our view, this concern is overblown. Trademark owners are already policing their marks in the existing generic top-level domains, as well as in a variety of country-code top-level domains. Cost concerns can best be addressed through requirements that the new top-level domain registries make their lists of second-level domains easily searchable through an automated process. Such a rule will limit the costs to trademark owners of adding new domains. More importantly, it would not make sense to distort the entire structure of the Internet name space simply in order to avoid additional costs to trademark owners.

IV. What should the transition to an expanded namespace look like?


It would not be sensible to dump a huge number of new TLDs into the namespace on Day One. Rather, ICANN should supervise a smooth transition to an expanded namespace. During that transition, ICANN should require any would-be registry to satisfy qualifications relating to technical competence and stability. Further, it should limit each qualified new registry, at the outset, to a single gTLD. This will allow the greatest number of entities to participate in the transition, and generate the most "bang for the buck" in new registry competition.

ICANN can choose either of two transition plans. First, it could announce a testbed in which a fixed number of new registries would be added to the root, followed by an evaluation period. Assuming that the testbed revealed no major problems, it would then move to a phased rollout in which new TLDs would be added to the root as qualified registries applied to run them, but no more than a fixed number of registries would be added per month. The per-month "cap" would ensure that new TLDs would not be added so quickly as to overwhelm ICANN's processes or the new dispute- resolution system.

Alternatively, ICANN could dispense with the testbed, and simply begin with the phased rollout. Under either plan, after the close of the transition period, ICANN could establish=20procedures not only to add new registries, but to allow existing registries to add additional TLDs.

During the Working Group C straw poll, a large number of group members urged that dispensing with the testbed would be imprudent. In discussions building on that straw poll, the dominant (though not unanimous) sense of the working group was that even though we had differing views as to the *best* approach, most of us could support a compromise proposal that ICANN begin with an initial testbed rollout of six to ten gTLDs, with the expectation that it would add more if the evaluation period reveals no major problems. We support that rough consensus as a workable resolution of this question.

V. Should ICANN require each new gTLD registry to be shared -- that is, to support competing registrars on an "equal access" basis?


In a shared-registry system, the registry must support multiple registrars, subject to requirements designed to ensure that the registry does not exclude qualified registrars or give some registrars higher-quality access than others. This approach assumes (as ICANN currently does in connection with the NSI gTLDs) that the functions associated with SLD registration can be divided into two: the "registrar" function of dealing with the end user, and the "registry" function of maintaining the registry database. Sharing ensures competition, on a level playing field, in the provision of registrar services in any given TLD, and gives the user of the benefits of competition with respect to those services.  In particular, by ensuring that somebody who is skillful at providing registrar services will be operating in each TLD, it provides some protection against the situation in which the registry controlling a desirable TLD is clueless at providing registrar services. These are significant advantages.  The Nominet system in .uk is an example of a highly successful shared-registry system.

On the other hand, sharing is not a panacea; in particular, it has no effect on the registry's market power as a registry. (That is, the requirement that a registry support multiple registrars does not itself constrain the price that the registry is able to charge for registry services.  That price can only be limited by market forces or -- as in the case of NSI -- by direct regulation.) Further, it is possible to imagine situations in which a sharing requirement would actually interfere with the provision of innovative services. Consider, for example, a plan to operate .family, limiting registration to persons operating Web sites that in the considered (discretionary) judgment of the TLD operator were family-friendly. The commercial success of that domain would depend in part on the public's view of the care and discernment the operator exhibited in making those choices. That business plan would not succeed if any registrar could add names to the .family domain in the exercise of its own discretion.

In light of these concerns, it would be sensible for ICANN to enunciate a presumption that all gTLDs support competitive registrars, thus generating the benefits of registrar competition, rebuttable to the extent that a particular registry makes a showing to ICANN that there would be significant advantages to some other arrangement. We expect that only registries serving specialized markets would be able to make such a showing. (Joseph Friedman suggests that ICANN should require general-purpose gTLDs -- but not special-purpose ones -- to be shared. Rod Dixon, while signing this position paper, is of the view that ICANN should enforce no sharing requirements. Dixon urges that -- in contrast to the case of NSI and the current gTLD name space - - the establishment of new gTLDs may rely upon market forces to ensure competition and quality in registrar services. As long as ICANN opens up the name space at the registry level, market forces should ensure that registries provide licenses (or some form of right of access) for competing registrar services when licensing is consistent with the purposes and charter of the registry. In other words, in the new gTLD name space, genuine competition in competent registry services will lead to inevitable competition in registrar services without the need for an ICANN-imposed shared-registry system.)
 

VI. Should ICANN require that each new gTLD registry be operated on a non-profit (cost- recovery) basis?


Both non-profit and for-profit registries have advantages.  The advantage of non-profit registries lies primarily in the expectation that they will be less inclined to exploit their market power at the expense of domain-name registrants. The advantages of for-profit registries lies primarily in their greater incentives to operate efficiently and offer innovative services.

Registries have the potential to wield significant market power, for two reasons. First, any registry will have market power corresponding to the extent to which the top-level domain it controls is more attractive, to some subset of users, than are the alternatives. Put another way, each registry has "monopoly" control over its particular domain(s).  NSI, thus, would be able to extract monopoly rents flowing from its control over .com, were the price it charges for .com registry services not directly regulated by the DOC-NSI cooperative agreement. Second, a registry will have market power over its existing users by virtue of "lock-in": that is, to the extent that it is difficult for a user to switch to a new registry (because it would mean abandoning an existing domain name), a registry will be able to exploit users' reluctance to move.

The primary advantage of non-profit registries is that non-profits may be less inclined to exploit their market power by charging monopoly rents. This advantage is not guaranteed. Non- profits often do not have great incentives to reduce costs and prices; a non-profit registry, not subject to rigorous cost control, might simply allow its costs to balloon and raise prices as necessary to cover them. At least some non-profits, though, may do an excellent job of providing registry services at low cost.  Again, Nominet is exemplary.

For-profit registries have a different set of advantages. Most importantly, the registry's interest in making more money will lead it to be more energetic in seeking to heighten efficiency, lower prices and provide additional value-added services. Similarly, a for-profit registry will likely be much more energetic in branding and marketing the TLD. As a general matter, one can expect for-profit TLDs to be more likely to come up with innovative services and innovative structures, to the benefit of users.

These advantages are contingent, though, on finding a solution to the problem of market power -- if a registry is not subject to meaningful market constraints, then the advantages of for- profit orientation will be illusory.  Remember that a registry can derive market power from two possible sources.  To the extent that its market power simply derives from the attractiveness of the TLD, the expansion of the name space will itself provide an answer: As the number of gTLDs expands, the attractiveness of any particular gTLD vis-a-vis alternative, competing gTLDs will diminish. In the current architecture, in which we have only a few gTLDs, users have few credible alternatives in choosing a top-level domain. To the extent that users have many alternatives, on the other hand, TLD registries will wield little market power, and the premium that a TLD registry will be able to charge in return for registrations in that domain will shrink. For-profit firms in competitive markets have substantial incentive to reduce their costs and prices; specifically, in a competitive environment, a registry that wants to attract new registrants will keep its costs and its prices low.

Market power deriving from lock-in may be less tractable. Here, the expansion of the name space will not provide an answer. Some of us believe that other constraints on the registry will be sufficient.  So long as the market is growing, a registry will likely have little incentive to put the screws on existing customers, because that would discourage new customers. In addition, other mechanisms -- possibly including the availability of long-term contracts and registry codes of conduct discouraging sharp price increases, as well as mechanisms making it easier for users to change domain names -- may play a useful role. Others of us believe that these mechanisms will be insufficient.

Most of the signers of this paper believe that it would make sense to have a mixed system of nonprofit and for-profit registries. Members of each group would have something different to offer. Domain name holders most concerned about lock-in would be free to use domains run by non-profits if they thought that a safer course; other folks could take advantage of the dynamism and innovation of the for-profits. Others of us, however, believe that for-profit registries are inadvisable absent more effective mechanisms constraining the market power created by lock-in.
 

VII. What should ICANN's process be for selecting new domains and registries?


It is useful to address this question from both a long-term and a short-term vantage point. In the long term, ICANN can take one of two approaches. Under the first approach, ICANN would select new gTLDs to be added, and then solicit applications from would-be registries to run those gTLDs. Under the=20second, ICANN would accredit registries by reference to criteria including the applicants' technical abilities to perform registry services and financial stability, and the registries would then decide for themselves what the names of their gTLDs would be (subject to a process under which ICANN could resolve conflicts, and could deem certain gTLD strings out of bounds).

Notwithstanding that these two approaches are often presented as radically different, they are more similar than they appear. Under either approach, a relatively small group of people will choose the names of the new gTLDs. Under the first, the decision will be made by ICANN decision-makers, on the basis of their views as to which new gTLDs would be most beneficial to the community. Under the second, the decision will be made by registry operators, on the basis of their views as to which new gTLDs are most desired by the community (that being the course that will generate the most registration dollars). These are similar considerations, and will likely result in similar sets of names. (Eric Brunner, while a signer of this paper, does not join this paragraph.)

Under either approach, if ICANN lets enough new TLDs into the root, it will be the Internet users themselves who ultimately decide which gTLDs succeed and which will not. Users will make their own choices as to which top-level domains to register names in; as a result, some new gTLDs will thrive, and some will stagnate. It will be the community that decides.

In that respect, ICANN's choice between these two approaches is not crucial. What is most important is that ICANN adopt a policy under which it is relatively easy to get new gTLDs into the root (whether operated by a newly created registry or an already-existing one). That is, ICANN's criteria for the qualification of new registries should not be unreasonably burdensome. Moreover, to the extent ICANN passes directly on the content of a proposed new TLD string, its processes should be geared towards approval without extensive delays. Finally, aside from its reasonable limitation on the pace of gTLD expansion during the phased rollout period, ICANN should not seek to limit the total number of gTLDs short of the bounds of the technically feasible and operationally stable.  If ICANN's process satisfies these criteria, then either of the selection processes described above will work.

The remaining important question is that of the short term: How should ICANN proceed during the testbed and phased rollout, to the extent that more registries seek immediate inclusion of their preferred gTLDs than the schedule will accommodate? There is no especially satisfactory answer to this question; by hypothesis, some qualified applications will have to be deferred. None of the available paths to decision are ideal. The process that would likely make ICANN itself most comfortable would be an ad hoc selection process under which ICANN was free to look to a variety of factors, including both the qualifications of the registry and the nature of the TLD. In the long term, such an approach would not be desirable; it presents the risk of subjective and unaccountable decision-making. In the short term, however, as a matter of supervising the initial rollout, it would be responsive to oft-expressed concerns about Internet stability and reliability.

Ann-Catherine Andersson
Jean Michel Bécar
Eric Brunner
Robert F. Connelly
Dave Crocker
Rod Dixon
Joseph Friedman
Siegfried Langenbach
David Maher
Mark Measday
Paul Stahura
Jonathan Weinberg


Position Paper B on New gTLDs

New gTLDs: Competition, Innovation, and Cultural Diversity

A Position Paper From Members of Working Group C

 

Summary


This Position Paper documents the strong demand for new gTLDs. ICANN should declare in advance its intention to add 500 new gTLDs over the next three years. Additions should take place in a gradual but progressive manner and should be halted only if proven threats to stability develop. After the three-year period there should be no fixed limit on the number of new TLDs or registries. Artificial limits on the name space should not be used as a form of intellectual property protection, especially once a UDRP has been adopted. The content of the top-level name space should be driven by applications submitted by prospective registries. End users and suppliers, interacting in a marketplace, should determine the market structure of registries, registrars, and the name space. ICANN's role should be strictly limited to the coordination of their activities and to defining the minimal technical and operational criteria needed to maintain the stability of DNS.

Working Group C members
Milton Mueller, Syracuse University School of Information Studies
Rod Dixon, J.D., LLM, Rutgers University-Camden
Timothy Denton, BA, BCL, Telecom and Internet Law and Policy
Mikki Barry, Domain Name Rights Coalition
William Walsh, DSO Net
Christopher Ambler, Image Online Design
Joop Teernstra, IDNO
Anthony M. Rutkowski, NGI Associates
Paul Garrin, CEO, Name.space
Mark Langston
Kathryn Vestal, Esq. Billings, MT

Other supporters:
Hans Klein, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
Don Mitchell, Vienna Virginia
Peter Deutsch, Shophound, Inc.
Richard Sexton, VRx
 
 

1. Adding new gTLDs to the root is an important part of ICANN's mandate

ICANN was created because the institutions that preceded it were unable to resolve the intense political and economic conflicts created by demand for new top-level domain names. The US Department of Commerce White Paper included "oversee policy for determining the circumstances under which new TLDs are added to the root system" as one of the 4 key purposes of the new corporation. Thus, ICANN's handling of new TLDs is an important test of its DNS stewardship. We urge a flexible, diverse, and open approach to this problem.
 

2. Demand for new gTLDs

There is abundant evidence of significant end user demand for expanding the name space. While some users will continued to be satisfied registering under ccTLDs, a very large number prefer gTLDs and want alternatives to .com, .net, and .org. Evidence of the intense demand for new, semantically interesting gTLDs is enumerated below:

a) Second-level domain names under the dot com TLD routinely change hands for enormously inflated prices. (See Table) These are not cases of "cybersquatting" but legitimate trades of ordinary, untrademarked words. High prices reflect the artificial scarcity of common names in existing gTLDs, and the premium on .com names in particular.

Domain Name Price
Bingo.com US$ 1.1 million
Wallstreet.com US$ 1.03 million
Rock.com US$ 1.0 million
Eflowers.com US$ 1.0 million
Drugs.com US$ 800,000
University.com US$ 530,000
Computer.com US$ 500,000
Blackjack.com US$ 460,000
BBC.com L 200,000
Business.com US$ 150,000
Internet.com US$ 100,000
Trade.com US$ 40,000

b) There are widespread complaints among users that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find simple domain names in the NSI gTLDs. The basis for these complaints was verified in an April 14, 1999 Wired News survey, which found that of 25,500 standard dictionary words, only 1,760 were free in the .com domain. At the time of that article, only about 7.5 million domain names had been registered. More than 3 million have been registered in the ensuing five months.

c) Currently, the weekly growth rate of domain name registrations is over 270,500. Projecting that growth rate into the future would put the number of domain name registrations at 67 million by 2003. Current gTLDs simply will not be able to contain such growth.

d) The growing demand for domain names cannot be satisfied by ccTLD registries. The problem is not capacity, but consumer choice. Most users prefer gTLDs. 74% of the world's domain names are registered in gTLDs; 61% are in dot com. The gTLD's share of total domain name registrations has remained constant since 1997. This is true despite the fact that the proportion of Internet users outside North America has grown significantly in the same period. Internet users' preference for gTLDs over ccTLDs has remained evident despite the limited choice of gTLD names available now. Expanding the number of gTLDs and making their semantic content relate to different cultures and languages will make this preference even stronger. We believe that TLD policy ought to reflect end user preferences, not top-down, preconceived notions of where users "ought" to register.

e) On the supply side, there are numerous potential suppliers of registry services willing and able to administer new gTLDs. These include, but are not limited to, Core, Image Online Design, Name.space, VRx, and MHSC. Thousands of registrants have paid to reserve domain names under TLDs not carried in the legacy IANA root. Several ccTLD registries, such as .NU, .CC, and .TO, have transformed themselves into gTLDs, marketing their names globally as alternatives to .com, .net and .org. It is obvious that these businesses perceive a serious demand for gTLD services.
 

3. The WG-C Recommendations

WG-C's report to the DNSO proposes to add only 6-10 new gTLDs to the root as a "testbed." It would then engage in an evaluation period before adding any more. There is no commitment or presumption that more would be added, and the duration and criteria of the evaluation are not specified. An entirely new process would have to be initiated to add more. Although many of the signatories of this report supported the 6-10 proposal as the lowest-common denominator for widespread agreement in the working group, we believe that the proposal is far too limited and imposes undue restrictions on competition, innovation, and cultural diversity.
 

4. An Alternative Proposal

The following policy better reflects the mandate of ICANN and the needs of the Internet:

a) ICANN announces its intention to accept applications for 500 new gTLDs over the course of the next three years.

b) The applicants for these new gTLDs would be added at a gradual pace =96 e.g., 10 the first six months, 40 the next six months, 150 the second year and 300 the third year.

c) A defined proportion of the new gTLDs should be reserved for names that reflect distinct cultural/linguistic groups. ICANN's 5 geographic regions could be used as the basis for these reservations.

d) Instead of an open-ended "evaluation" period, we propose that ICANN define clear, objective, quantitative indicators of problems that would justify an interruption or cessation of the process of adding new gTLD registries and names to the root. In other words, new gTLDs should be considered innocent until proven guilty. After the third year there should be no artificial limit on the number of gTLDs.

A proposal similar to this one received the support of about 35% of the voting working group participants in a straw poll conducted by the WG-C chairs. Below, we enumerate the reasons for the more open, diverse, and competitive approach to the new TLD problem.
 

4.1 Competition Policy

The most important reason to specify at the outset a specific and large number of gTLDs is to ensure a competitive market and a level playing field in the provision of domain name registration services under new gTLDs. Only 6-10 new gTLDs, with no commitment to add more later, risks creating an oligopoly of registries and a monopoly under each name. Competition would be attenuated, and the incumbents might have a vested interest in slowing or stopping the addition of new competitors. The initial grantee(s) will have a significant and unfair competitive advantage. They will be able to capitalize on the pent-up demand for new names in the short term.
 

4.2 Market Certainty

A highly restricted initial rollout, with no commitment to move forward, makes the initial grant of the gTLD to new registries a far less rational process for consumers and producers alike. The public will not know whether new alternatives will be available in the near future, and hence their choice of a supplier may be based on the assumption that the new gTLDs are the only option. A small number of new gTLDs encourages pre-emptive and speculative registrations that are based on the possibility of continued artificial scarcity. Prospective competitors will have no idea when they will be allowed into the market or whether they will be allowed at all. Limiting the number makes the initial assignment decision more controversial and arbitrary as well. ICANN will not be able to ensure that its initial award is not a permanent and final grant of a very special privilege, similar to the NSI monopoly of the past.

A pre-announcement of a larger number, on the other hand, makes it clear that the initial winners of new gTLD awards can anticipate plenty of additional competition. Investment and entry decisions of new competitors will be far more rational. Consumption decisions will be based on the need for and value of the domain names themselves, not on attempts to exploit artificial scarcity.

5. Trademark Concerns and new GTLDs.

Some concerns were expressed in WG-C that the number of new gTLDs should be restricted and the pace of introduction slowed in order to guard against trademark infringement. We believe that that argument is deeply flawed.

It is legitimate for the trademark and intellectual property interests to advocate case-specific dispute resolution procedures to protect themselves from abusive domain name registrations. It is not legitimate, however, for trademark holders to demand what amounts to a blanket prohibition on entry into a market for a legal service (domain name registration) solely to make their policing and enforcement task cheaper and easier. Such a policy unfairly imposes costs and restrictions on millions of innocent consumers and suppliers. Operating a TLD is not, per se, abusive or infringing; infringing and speculative name registrations constitute a tiny fraction of the total number of registrations in any TLD. Similarly, we know that the existence of VCRs, photocopying machines and similar recording devices will result in copyright violations. No one in this day and age proposes to ban them or severely restrict the number that can be manufactured and sold for that reason. Technology should be allowed to develop, and legal protections should be adjusted, if necessary, to reflect new realities. We should not, therefore, restrict the number of gTLDs based on concerns about their impact on trademark protection.

Even if one does not agree with the reasoning above, the adoption of a UDRP by ICANN completely severs any linkage between the number of gTLDs and concerns about trademark protection. Under the UDRP, contact information will be accessible and accurate, and challenges to registrations will be easy and inexpensive. Cybersquatters have lost every court case in which they have been challenged at any rate, and all objective indications are that the problem is declining. The UDRP should serve as an additional deterrent.

Finally, we would point out that narrow restrictions on the number of gTLDs actually contribute to many "cybersquatting" problems. Name speculation is fueled by the premium value attached to domain names in gTLDs. That premium value is largely a product of artificial scarcity in the TLD space. Also, if there are only four or five new gTLDs, the most logical course of action for major trademark holders will simply be to pre-emptively register names across all gTLDs. That defeats the purpose of adding gTLDs.
 

6. Diversity and Competition in Registry Models

Perhaps the most controversial issue in Working Group C concerned the proper economic model for registries and the process for selecting names. All of the following questions were debated at length:

a) Should registries be shared, exclusive, or should both be allowed?
b) Should registries be non-profit, for-profit, or should both be allowed?
c) Should ICANN define the names to be added to the root, or should applicants come to ICANN with proposals for names? Should the names available represent a fixed, standardized taxonomy?

All of these questions can be boiled down into one fundamental issue. Does ICANN control the market structure for domain name registrations and then license specific firms to fit into its pre-ordained structure? Or, do end users and suppliers, interacting in a marketplace, determine the market structure of registries, registrars, and names, and ICANN in turn coordinates their activities?

We believe that the latter alternative is the best one and the only policy consistent with ICANN's mandate. ICANN should not impose any specific business model upon registries, nor should it centrally impose any specific pattern of names. It should allow the choices of end users in the marketplace to decide which models and names succeed and which fail.

We believe that discussion of business models has been distorted by the case of Network Solutions and its near-term market dominance. The White Paper sought to remedy NSI's monopoly on gTLDs by requiring sharing in .com, .net, and .org. But the policy approach to NSI's short-term dominance should not dictate how the domain name market works in the long term. Indeed, we believe that ICANN lacks the authority to set itself up as an economic regulator and impose specific business models.

The content of the top-level name space should be driven by applications submitted by prospective registries. Registries should contract with registrars on a free market basis, with no pre-ordained pattern. Competition in the marketplace and user preferences will determine which approaches succeed. Regulatory and legal remedies to consumer protection problems that develop should be left to professional regulators in national governments. ICANN should concentrate exclusively on technical and administrative coordination of registry operators to ensure stability, interoperability, and accountability. It should establish basic qualifications for top-level domain name registries, and these should be confined exclusively to technical stability and financial responsibility.

The following are the reasons for this approach:

6.1 Product differentiation and innovation may require integration of the registrar-registry function. A registry that wants to create a distinct identity and unique features for a TLD may need to control who registers within it. It may also want to control the front-end software interface for registration or other technical and business parameters. For example, a TLD devoted to North American aboriginals, as was proposed to WG-C, may want to ensure that specific tribal names are only assigned to legitimate members of that tribe. Or a privacy-enhanced gTLD, which was also proposed in comments to WG-C, may want to dictate certain technical parameters and protect the integrity of its data. Either requirement might best be implemented by integrating the registry-registrar function. This should be an option available to applicants.

6.2 Imposing uniform models on new entrants will probably make it more difficult for them to compete with NSI. Dot com already has enormous market dominance and a huge economic premium is attached to names in that TLD. Com and the other NSI gTLDs are already shared, and their wholesale price is regulated. If new entrants into the marketplace are forced to adhere to the exact same business model, their ability to generate the profits, mindshare, and investment required to challenge NSI may be hampered.

6.3 Compulsory sharing requires detailed technical and economic regulation. As the US Department of Commerce has learned, imposing "equal access" upon a registry requires: a) fixing the wholesale price; b) ensuring that the same SRS software is used; c) trying to determine the economic costs of the registry; d) regulating the price for transferring names from one registrar to another; and other complex monitoring and regulatory/contractual issues. ICANN lacks the resources and the expertise to engage in such activity on a global basis. Furthermore, ICANN is not the only line of defense against abuse of market power. Antitrust actions, national-jurisdiction price regulation, consumer fraud proceedings, and other remedies are available.

6.4 The benefits of sharing can be realized without making it compulsory. Shared-registry TLDs are an option in the marketplace. The NSI gTLDs are already shared. Several ccTLDs are also operating on that model. If consumers express a clear preference for the price and service delivered by this model, then it will be emulated. If, however, consumers willingly choose services offered by businesses following a different model, why should ICANN interfere?


Position Paper C on New gTLDs

 

Question One: How Many New gTLDs, and How Fast?


We strongly believe that the question of how many gTLD's should be added and how fast, should not be addressed until appropriate safeguards are in place in the form of i) improved domain name registration procedures; ii) implementation of speedy and effective uniform dispute resolution procedures for abusive registrations; and iii) adoption of a system for protecting famous and well-known trademark across all gTLDs.

Once these safeguards have been adopted and are shown to be effective, we believe new gTLDs may be introduced, if necessary, provided they are introduced in a slow and controlled manner followed by an evaluation period before any further new gTLDs are added. The evaluation must include all technical and legal aspects of the new gTLDs and registries, in order to make any necessary amendments of rules and conditions. Only after assessing the results of the evaluation should it be possible to add more, if needed.

We strongly support WIPO's conclusion that there is a need for improvement of the registration practices in the Domain Name System (DNS), and in particular, centralized access to the "WHOIS"-type data. The lack of reliable information about domain name registrants dramatically increases the amount of time and money expended by intellectual property owners in defending their intellectual property against abusive domain name registrations. Such limitations only serve to encourage abuse of intellectual property rights, frustrate the effective enforcement of legitimate intellectual property rights and, inevitably, increase the cost of doing business on the Internet for the end user, as well as reducing their confidence in same. ICANN has recognized the importance of such data and proposes requiring that all accredited registrars be obligated to provide query-based access to registration data and be barred from placing conditions upon any legal use of the data under the tentative agreements among ICANN, the United States Department of Commerce and NSI (see http://www.icann.org/nsi/factsheet.htm).  While this is a step in the right direction, we believe access to the data must be centralized in light of the number of registries being accredited by ICANN.

Specifically, the primary concern of the intellectual property community is with the clear cases of abuses which are occurring daily under the current DNS without such safeguards. However, the intellectual property community also has a strong secondary concern in resolving disputes between owners of competing, legitimate interests in trademarks/domain names. While we agree that ICANN must quickly move to implement systems that will thwart, if not eliminate, the cases of clear abuse, we also believe that ICANN must develop procedures that will adequately address situations where owners of legitimate trademark rights in the real world marketplace come into conflict within the DNS of the virtual world marketplace.

Similarly, we agree with WIPO's observation that the current dispute resolution policy that is maintained by current registries is unsatisfactory. For this reason, we strongly support WIPO's recommendation that the development and implementation of an administrative dispute resolution procedure will assist in alleviating the problems currently faced by all intellectual property owners under the current DNS. By instituting a dispute resolution procedure, ICANN will provide intellectual property owners with a cost effective and speedy option for resolving domain name disputes without the onerous task of resorting to litigation. It should be noted that we believe that a uniform dispute resolution policy should be implemented shortly since ICANN has a proposed policy pursuant to the August 26th resolution reached at the ICANN meetings in Santiago which is supposed to be completed within forty-five (45) days of same.

Likewise, we agree with the WIPO recommendation that ICANN implement a procedure designed to protect famous and well-known trademarks.  Working Group B of the Domain Name Supporting Organization is already working on this issue, and we believe we should await the preparation of its report and wisdom before adding any new gTLDs.
 

Question Two: How to Select TLD Strings and Registries?


We believe that ICANN should decide on a set of new gTLD strings, and then solicit applications from would-be registries (or existing registries) to run those TLDs. In picking the new gTLD strings, it should have the assistance of a standing Working Group who would make periodic proposals for new gTLDs.

With regard to the issue of differentiation between commercial and noncommercial gTLDs, we are somewhat skeptical that such a distinction would resolve a number of the intellectual property problems existing under the current DNS. We are concerned, for example, that adopting a less stringent standard for contact information for so-called "noncommercial" gTLDs may encourage abusive practices in such gTLDs. Given that trademarks may be diluted by uses that are claimed to be "noncommercial," we believe that uses masquerading as "noncommercial" have the potential to be just as abusive as "commercial uses."  More importantly, we are wary that end users of the Internet might not appreciate such a distinction and that consumer confusion would abound.

Furthermore, based on the nefarious activities which intellectual property owners are already facing in the existing gTLDs, we are mindful that a system relying on such a distinction may lend itself to abuse.

Therefore, should a system that differentiates between commercial and non-commercial TLDs be put in place, we believe that very specific and stringent protections should be established to prevent a party from establishing a "noncommercial" Web site that lambastes its competitors' products or services.

We believe that a more constructive solution to the current problems facing the DNS is to develop systems and procedures to greatly reduce current abuses and to provide intellectual property owners with the tools and mechanisms to effectively eradicate the abusive practices causing controversy in the DNS.
 

Question Three: Should Registries be For-Profit or Non-Profit?


We believe some registries would be run on a not-for-profit, cost-recovery basis, and could operate any number of gTLDs. Other registries, however, could be run on a for-profit basis, and would be limited to a small number of gTLDs. Assuming the proper safeguards are in place, we see no problem with having for-profit registries.
 

Question Four: Should ICANN Require Sharing?


An ICANN rule would presumptively require that gTLDs be shared, but ICANN would allow exceptions in particular cases. There may be new gTLDs for special purposes, that should be excluded from the general rule of sharing
 

Summary


In summary, we believe that it is incumbent upon ICANN and all Internet stakeholders to work together in order to develop the appropriate safeguards to effectively deal with the problems which exist in the current gTLDs and ccTLDs before confronting the challenges associated with adding new gTLDs to the DNS. After the necessary safeguards are in place, ICANN and WIPO should evaluate whether these safeguards are in fact alleviating the problems currently plaguing the DNS. Once it is clear that the proposed safeguards are working, we agree with the WIPO's recommendation that, if any new gTLDs are to be introduced to the DNS, they should be introduced in a controlled manner on an as needed basis.

Caroline Chicoine
Marilyn Cade
Tod Cohen
Keith Gymer
Anthony Lupo
Rita Odin
Annie Renard
Petter Rindforth
Martin Schwimmer

   This position paper has received expressions of support from AT&T, Angela Babineck, Bell Atlantic, Dr. Victoria Carrington, Jonathan Cohen, J. Scott Evans (Adams Law Firm), Elissa Hecker (NMPA), Michael Kirk (AIPLA), Steve Metalitz (CCDN), Nintendo of America and Viacom, Inc.


Position Paper D on New gTLDs

Kent Crispin
Oct 18, 1999
 

Motivation


Concerns such as human freedom, individual rights, intellectual property rights, increased competition, avoidance of monopolies, and so on, are of course very important. But, because they have been addressed at great length elsewhere, they are not emphasized in this proposal.  Instead, this proposal concentrates on another area, largely ignored in the debate so far -- the area of Internet stability.

The basic question of stability, as far as DNS registration services are concerned, is "what happens if the registry becomes unavailable"? In concrete terms, what happens if Network Solutions registry is taken out of commission for an extended period of time through physical, political, or economic disaster? Who would take over?   How would the data be recovered?

Of course, in the short term the correct functioning of the Internet does not depend on being able to register domain names, so short term outages of a registry are not significant. But a long term breakdown in the registration process would have serious impact, and loss of the registration data could lead to chaos, as there would be no way to establish "ownership" of a domain.

Just to emphasize the point, in the view taken in this proposal the fundamental problem with the current state of affairs is not that NSI is a monopoly, or that there is lack of competition in the registration business (though these may indeed be problems). Instead, it concentrates on the fact that there is a single point of failure for a critical service, and proposes a model to alleviate that problem.

The basic model is of multiple registries, each capable of managing registrations for multiple TLDs. The registry data for each TLD is transportable, and replicated or escrowed. The destruction or unavailability of any particular registry can be remedied by another registry taking over its functions, within a time frame consistent with stability. Note that from the point of view of registry operation, a ccTLD registry is no different from a gTLD registry, and indeed, the same entity could run registries for several gTLDs, in addition to its ccTLD. [The term "registry" is used in the common sense, as the entity that runs the back end database for a TLD, and does not include registrar functions.]

Within this model, there is a need for multiple new gTLDs, not for competitive reasons per se, but instead to support the multiple registries needed for stability. This model also argues against "proprietary" TLDs, because of the potential legal difficulties in moving the registry data from one registry to another. It also argues against any form of monopoly by a registry operator -- this may be controlled by requiring non-profit status, but other mechanisms may be used. (NSI is under price controls).  Finally, this model makes no presumption about the ultimate desirable number of TLDs, except in that it seems necessary to add more TLDs in the near (1 to 3 year) time frame to develop the infrastructure needed for stability.
 
 

Proposal


1) Five to nine new TLD names be approved forthwith with the intent that they be run as totally open gTLDs. No further open gTLD names should be approved until a process for approval of "chartered" or "sponsored" TLDs is in place, and at least as many "chartered" or "sponsored" TLDs are approved.

These initial names should be selected completely independent of any consideration of registries to run them.

2) ICANN should publish a request for proposal for registry operators.  The goal of this RFP would be the selection of five independent registry operators, one from each ICANN geographical region. Some of these operators would operate more than one TLD, and the RFP should include plans for orderly transfer of TLDs from one operator to another.

3) The proposals generated by the RFP should for the operation of a registry in general, and should not be tied to any particular TLD name or names. ICANN should select these registries on the following grounds: 1) on regional affiliation; 2) plans to implement the "public service" model, described below; 3) technical competence.

4) Allocation of TLD names to registries should not happen until after the registry operators are selected, and should be done through a completely independent process -- perhaps random selection. Registries with more than one TLD assigned should be prepared to move the TLD operations to another registry, as designated by ICANN, and ICANN should, on perhaps a random basis, exercise such moves on a regular basis.

5) ICANN should expeditiously publish an RFP for "sponsored" or "chartered" TLDs, to give entities that feel such TLDs should exist the opportunity to propose them. Such proposals would need to go through an approval process to be developed by ICANN/DNSO. Since no further TLDs can be approved until this approval process is in place, the highest priority should be placed on developing it.

A "sponsor" for a TLD is an agency granted a certain degree of policy authority over a TLD. The idea has been around for some time, though the term has not. The relationship between ICANN and the sponsor would need to be carefully delineated; ICANN may, for example, require the sponsor to indemnify ICANN. The characteristics of a sponsor, and the conditions under which a sponsorship could be revoked must be very carefully explored as well.

6) ICANN should support the standardization effort in the IETF for a shared registry protocol, and that the new registries commit to using and developing this protocol.

7) All new registries should operate according to the public resource model described below:
 

The registry data is is not owned by the registry, it is subject to privacy limitations, and escrowed in favor of ICANN in case the TLD must be moved, for failure, mismanagement on the part of the registry operator, or similar reasons. The data in the registry should be escrowed under different control from the registry operator, and in multiple widely dispersed jurisdictions and locations. Backups at another registry would be highly desirable.

The registry is operated as a shared registry on a not-for-profit cost-recovery basis. The registry operator, however, may be a for-profit company, operating the registry under contract to ICANN, or to an ICANN-approved registry sponsor. The registry operator may be removed for cause, and the contract must be rebid on a periodic basis. A TLD may be run under the aegis of a registry sponsor, which may enforce restrictions on registration in the TLD. Such restrictions must be approved by ICANN, and must be fairly enforced.

There should be several registry operators, any one of which could, within a few days, assume operation of a gTLD registry from escrowed data.  These registry operators should be distributed worldwide. Presumably each registry operator would operate several TLD registries at the same facility.

The transfer of registries from one registry operator to another must be a straightforward technical operation.

[Registry operators can fail; physical disasters can strike a particular installation. Having multiple dispersed registry sites with multiple operators gives a great deal of robustness to the whole DNS. A single monolithic site, no matter how secure, can fail, but distributing registries like this, with escrowed copies of the registry data available for quick switch-overs would be a far more robust and resilient system.

A requirement of easy transferability of registry data is that the underlying software and protocols be standardized.]


The following people have indicated support for this proposal.  Such support does not mean that they necessarily agree with every detail, but rather that the proposal is something they could live with and work from. All are members of wg-c.

Ann-Catherine Andersson
Eric Brunner
Kent Crispin
Dave Crocker
Joseph Friedman
Jim Glanz
David Maher
Javier Sola



 

Position Paper E on New gTLDs


Domain Names Supporting Organization
Working Group C Draft

E. Brunner
Abenaki Community of Portland
B. Geogh
Intertribal Council on Utility Policy
A. Mandell
Nevada Indian Environmental Coalition
J. Cristeau
Treaty 7 Tribal Council
October 18, 1999

A Position Paper on some new gTLDs

<draft-icann-dnso-wgc-naa-01.txt>
 
 

Status of this Memo


This document is work product of Working Group C (WG-C) of the Domain Names Supporting Organization (DNSO) of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and is in conformance with the charter for WG-C, subsequent expressions of direction from the Names Council (NC) of the DNSO to WG-C, and the WG-C instructions from the Co-Chairs to member drafters, shown below for reference.
 

WG members must submit initial drafts of position papers.  We encourage drafters to include these items: an abstract of the proposal, summarizing the drafters' position and recommendations; a clear statement of the proposal and its rationale; an analysis of who and what systems would be affected; a specific implementation plan; a discussion of the costs and risks of the proposal; and a discussion of the proposal's support in the various stakeholder communities. Drafters, however, are free to develop statements in the form they think best.
Working Group C co-signers:

Kent Crispin only

Copyright Notice


Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1999). All Rights Reserved.
 

Abstract


This document is a position paper on the issues before WG-C, specifically on the issues relating to the creation of additional generic top-level domains (gTLD) in the root of the domain name system (DNS).

It joins and expands the Co-Chairs' Statement of Consensus ("6-10") and advocates the creation of a jurisdictionally scoped, policy specific gTLD, elsewhere described as a "chartered" or "sponsored",
 
 

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specifically a gTLD jurisdictionally scoped to North America and the territories, trusts and treaty dependencies of the United States and Canada, and with a policy model of registry delegation to, and registry operation by, the Indigenous Nations and Peoples of North America.
 
 
 
 

1. Preface


The usages of "chartered" and more recently "sponsored" in the DNSO and larger ICANN literature suggest alternatives to the indiscriminate global (aka "open") gTLDs and those for which a specific jurisdictional scope and policy model (aka ccTLDs) exists or is presumed to exist.  This dualism makes for a convenient shorthand, but it is frequently at odds with prevailing practices.

Here we propose gTLDs with most of the attributes of jurisdictional scope and policy model casually associated with ccTLDs, and a specific test case for the model of a gTLD which is both jurisdictional scoped and possessed of a policy model, a gTLD for the Indigenous Nations and Peoples of North America.

Please note that jurisdictional scope and policy model may be decoupled, e.g., the policy model of .EDU, and the jurisdictional scope of .TO, to cite but two familiar examples, though a larger set of examples is present in the DNS's SLDs, particularly the SLDs of the ccTLDs. This decoupling is not addressed in this position paper.
 
 
 

2. Introduction


The introduction of political geography to the top-level of the DNS [1, 2] was one mechanism (among many possible) for achieving the transition of the day-to-day responsibility for most top and second level Domain Names handling to regional registries. This solution to one problem set introduced a new set of problems in turn:

reliance upon the work product [3] of a standards body for which no IAB liason relationship existed then, or subsequent,

termination of the IANA's role in the definition of new top level domains, and

exhaustion of the IANA's ability to direct discussion of the resolution of the contractor abuse problem.
 
 

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From that moment to the present the attractions of political geography and those of monopoly market deconstruction (or altered constructions) has managed to confine the terms of discussion of the fundamental properties of the namespace to the terms of this dualist reduction of scope and policy space available to the IANA and its successors in interest.
 
 
 

3. The Working Group C Statements of Consensus


Working Group C Co-Chairs issued two consensus statements:
 

There should be new gTLDs.
There should be 6-10 new gTLDs in the proximate future, followed by an evaluation period.


Subsequently Working Group C Co-Chair Weinberg circulated a position paper addressing seven issues:

1. Should there be new gTLDs? 2. What should be the nature of the new gTLDs? 3. How many new gTLDs should there be?  4. What should the transition to an expanded namespace look like? 5. Should ICANN require each new gTLD registry to be shared, that is, to support competing registrars on an "equal access" basis? 6. Should ICANN require that each new gTLD registry be operated on a non-profit (cost- recovery) basis? 7. What should ICANN's process be for selecting new domains and registries?


This draft expands on three of the seven questions.
 

Question 2. What should be the nature of the new gTLDs?

 
Fundamentally the nature of the new gTLDs should not preclude solutions to the problems introduced by the introduction of political geography as the one of two prevailing mechanisms for the organization of the DNS name space. Neither should the nature of the new gTLDs preclude solutions to the problems induced by the reliance upon monopoly control over the some portions of the thematic DNS name space (e.g., .COM, .NET, .ORG) treated as a private resource, beyond both regulatory oversight and protected from economic competition.

To this end the new gTLDs should include both commonly understood forms of TLDs. There should be both "open" gTLDs, and "chartered" gTLDs (aka "restricted" or "sponsored"). Additionally, there can also be a new ccTLD, if only to provide an institutional form for examples to late-adopting or problematic ccTLD registries, and to


 

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facilitate technically uncomplicated allocation and operation of each new ccTLD, e.g., the ccTLD which the Palestinian Authority will eventually seek, as well as for other compelling technical reasons.

This proposal, draft-icann-dnso-wgc-naa-00.txt, calls for the creation of a jurisdictionally scoped, policy specific gTLD. While it is reasonable for ICANN to create new gTLDs, first "open", then "chartered", then "open", in alternating groups, it is not in ICANN's interests to delay overly long before identifying the actual requirements of both "open" and "chartered" gTLDs.

Proposals which are for scoped but not policy specific new gTLDs, or for non-scoped but policy specific new gTLDs are likely to arise in the near future. Examples of each are:

jurisdictionally scoped - European Union, etc.,
and,
policy complete - aeroports only, lawyers only, etc.

Question 5. Should ICANN require each new gTLD registry to be shared, that is, to support competing registrars on an "equal access" basis?

 
Co-Chair Weinberg's Position Paper calls for the rebuttable presumption that registry access be open and competitive. We wish to draw attention to the role of policy in the definition of a registry. In the Co-Chair's example, ".family", the underlying issue is a shared policy model for registrars accessing a registry, in contrast to the registrar discretionary model.  A similar construction will arise for shared jurisdictional scopes for registrars accessing a shared registry, in contrast to theimplicitly non-scoped model.

Question 7. What should ICANN's process be for selecting new domains and registries?

 
Two mechanisms are proposed in the Co-Chair Weinberg's Position Paper. The first is identification of new gTLDs by ICANN, followed by solicitations for registrars for the gTLD. The second is selection of registrars by ICANN, followed by identification of the new gTLDs by the registrars.

The Co-Chair offers the observation that under both approaches, a small group of people will choose the names for and associated


 

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registries of new gTLDs, or visa versa, and that the distinction between the two mechanisms is not crucial, to ICANN or the user communities of the DNS.

We differ. The decisions made by elites reflect the composition of, and common motivations of the elites. The composition of the ICANN elite is distinct from the composition of the NSI and its potential competitors elites, and the motivation of public benefit is distinct from the motivation of private benefit.

We are confident that ICANN will act on the issue of indigenous requirements of the DNS root, if not now, then in the reasonable future. We cannot even dimly foresee the epoch when the motivation for private benefit will result in equivalent action on the same issues.


 
 

4. Statement of the Proposal and Rationale


At least one new TLD name be approved forthwith with the intent that it shall be run as a jurisdictional scoped gTLD, the policy model for which is delegated to the jurisdictionally defining body.

Specifically, the TLD name "NAA" shall be approved forthwith with the intent that it be run as a gTLD jurisdictional scoped to North America and the territories, trusts and treaty dependencies of the United States and Canada. The policy model, not limited to the operation and management of the associated registry, to be delegated to the designates of the National Congress of American Indians/Assembly of First Nations, pursuant to Resolution PALM SPRINGS-99-000[4].

The NCAI/AFN are the appropriate bodies to accept the delegation of a gTLD with the jurisdictional scope specified. The NCAI/AFN are the appropriate bodies to delegate the basic policy model articulated in the Mataatua Declaration on Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights of Indigenous Peoples[5], specifically recommendation 1.8, to establish an appropriate body with appropriate mechanisms to:
 

a) preserve and monitor the commercialism or otherwise of indigenous cultural properties in the public domain,
and
b) generally advise and encourage indigenous peoples to take steps to protect their cultural heritage,


and the operation of a registry as a public trust along the lines of cost-recovery and tribal infrastructure development.
 
 

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5. Analysis of Affected Parties


Only one party can be clearly identified as affected by this proposal, the IANA. Currently the IANA functions as registrar of the NSN.US SLD.  It is possible that this registry would experience a net loss of registrants consequent to this proposal being approved and the NAA registry start of operations.

As of August the zone transfer revealed only 45 registered names in the NSN.US SLD, so this effect is minimal.

The effect upon the registries used by tribal concerns and others other than the NSN.US SLD is also minimal, involving only a few thousand registrants scattered in the .CA, .COM, .ORG, and .NET TLDs.
 
 

6. Specific Implementation Plan


The NAA shall operate according to the public resource model described below:
 

Registry data is a public resource, subject to tribal and other privacy limitations, held in trust for the public by the NCAI/AFN or its designates, which by default is ICANN.


The NAA registry shall operate as a shared registry on a cost- recovery, tribal infrastructure development basis. The registry operators are:
 

Nevada Indian Environmental Coalition,

Treaty 7 Tribal Council,

National Indian Telecommunications Institute,

Abenaki Community of Portland,


and (policy role only, non-operational)
 

Intertribal Council on Utility Policy.


The registry will be organized along the lines of the European and North American registries, especially the French and Irish models. Two organizational modes will be employed:
 

dotted suffix notation (canonical sub-domain form)

 
 

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hyphen prefix notation (sectorial-regional form)


The NAA shall operate consistent with the norms of the international law system, in particular the intellectual property system, and the statement of principles contained in the Mataatua Declaration on Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Where conflicts arise between the international law system and the system for the promotion and preservation of indigenous knowledge, or the systems of the United States or Canada (aka "Federal Indian Law" and "Aboriginal Law", respectively) the indigenous claim shall be rebuttably presumed to be the better claim.

The conflicts resolution body is the Indigenous Intellectual Property Council and the Intellectual Property Constituency of the DNSO, sitting jointly as collegial peers. The process model for this body is to be determined.

Where conflicts arise within the system for the promotion and preservation of indigenous knowledge, e.g., between Indigenous Nations, the conflicts resolution body is the Indigenous Intellectual Property Council.
 
 
 

7. Cost and Risk Discussion


There is no anticipated cost or risk to ICANN, or to the DNSO for this proposal.

The anticipated cost to establish the NAA registry is comprised of one-time and recurring costs.

The one-time costs are primarily comprised of the fees associated with authorization by ICANN to operate the NAA registry, and costs to acquire a Shared Registry System (SRS), and the costs to acquire supported DNS software from the Internet Software Consortium.

The recurring costs are primarily comprised of staffing, provisioning, and related costs ordinarily bourne by Internet Service Provider entities.

There is no risk anticipated to the registry not adequately addressed by the adoption of a geographically distributed set of initial registrars operating on the basis of mutual trust and common policy within a specific jurisdictional scope.
 
 
 
 

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8. Stakeholder discussion


The stakeholders in a top-level domain to be operated by the Indigenous Nations of North America in the DNS root are the National Congress of American Indians and Assembly of First Nations, the network information centers (registry operators), the voice and data network infrastructure providers, tribal governments and quasi- governmental bodies, elected officials and candidates for elected offices, non-profit organizations, for-profit entities, individuals, bands and clans, language and arts institutions, general educational institutions, sectorial formations and professional and trade associations, and trademark agents.

Other stakeholders may be identified as the registry operation matures.

The stakeholders who are aware of this proposal, and the corresponding proposal to extend the domain of "intellectual property rights" to indigenous knowlege systems, support this proposal unanimously.

The interested reader is encouraged to subscribe to The Benton Communications Policy Mailing List <BENTON-COMPOLICY@CDINET.COM>, where a lengthy review of the actual state of affairs in a portion of North America (US) is available.  The title of this extensive stakeholder discussion is "Native Americans and the Digital Divide".
 
 

9. Acknowledgements


This document has benefited from innumerable rounds of review and comments in various fora of the Indigenous Law, Indigenous Knowledge, Indigenous Telecomms and Data Networks communities, the generous reviews by members of the DNS community, and the generous reviews by present and former members of the IESG and IAB.

Tribal access to the DNS has been the subject of discussions between tribal early adopters and the IANA and DoD since 1992. This particular discussion began in 1996, between the principal author and Jon Postel.  Unfortunately the shortness of life precluded this discussion contributing to the operational character of the Domain Name System.
 
 
 

10. Principal Author's Address

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Eric Brunner
1415 Forest Avenue
Portland, ME
04103

Email: brunner@world.std.com
Phone: +1 617 803 3699
 
 
 

11. References:


[1] Cooper, A., and J. Postel, "The US Domain", RFC 1480, June 1993.  (Status: INFORMATIONAL)

[2] Postel, J., "Domain Name System Structure and Delegation", RFC 1591, March 1994 (Status: INFORMATIONAL)

[3] ISO 3166:1988 (E/F) - Codes for the representation of names of countries - The International Organization for Standardization, 3rd edition, 1988-08-15.

[4] Brunner, E., Gough, B., Mandell, A., "Creation of a Top-Level Domain Operated by the Indigenous Nations of North America in the Domain Name System (DNS) root", National Congress of American Indians Resolution PALM SPRINGS-99-000, October 4-8, 1999. [The text in full, reformatted, constitutes Appendix 1.]

[5] Mataatua Declaration on Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Whakatane 12-18 June 1993 Aotearoa New Zealand.
 
 

12. Appendix 1 -- Text of the NCAI Resolution PALM SPRINGS-99-000


Resolution PALM SPRINGS-99-000

Title:   Creation of a Top-Level Domain Operated by the Indigenous Nations of North America in the Domain Name System (DNS) root.

WHEREAS, We, the members of the National Congress of American Indians of the United States, invoking the divine blessing of the Creator upon our efforts and purposes, in order to preserve for ourselves and our descendants rights secured under Indian treaties and agreements with the United States, and all other rights and benefits to which we are entitled under the laws and Constitution of the United States to enlighten the public toward a better understanding of the Indian people, to preserve Indian cultural values, and
 
 

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otherwise promote the welfare of the Indian people, do hereby establish and submit the following resolution; and

WHEREAS, The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) is the oldest and largest national organization established in 1944 and comprised of representatives of and advocates for national, regional, and local Tribal concerns; and

WHEREAS, The health, safety, welfare, education, economic and employment opportunity, and preservation of cultural and natural resources are primary goals and objectives of NCAI.

WHEREAS, The NCAI reaffirms the Working Principles stated in the Declaration of Kinship and Cooperation among the Indigenous Peoples and Nations of North America through the Assembly of First Nations and the National Congress of American Indians in Vancouver, 23 July 1999.

WHEREAS, The NCAI endorses the recommendations to Indigenous Peoples contained in the Mataatua Declaration, and in particular recommendation 1.8, to establish an appropriate body with appropriate mechanisms to:

a) preserve and monitor the commercialism or otherwise of indigenous
cultural properties in the public domain, and
b) generally advise and encourage indigenous peoples to take steps to
protect their cultural heritage,
Mataatua Declaration on Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Whakatane 12-18 June 1993 Aotearoa New Zealand.

WHEREAS, The NCAI notes the undertaking of United Nations Member States to: "Adopt or strengthen appropriate policies and/or legal instruments that will protect indigenous intellectual and cultural property and the right to preserve customary and administrative systems and practices." - United Nations Conference on Environmental Development: UNCED Agenda 21 (26.4b).

WHEREAS, The NCAI further notes the undertaking of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to take over responsibility for domain name system management, and root server system management functions now performed under U.S. Government contract by IANA and other entities.

WHEREAS, The INTERTRIBAL Council On Utility Policy (COUP) has pointed out the economic and social value of the Internet to the advancement of the Indigenous Peoples and Nations of North America, and of the central relationship of the domain name system (DNS) to the full expression of the potential to realize these values.

WHEREAS, The NCAI endorses the preparation to meet the requirements for the operation and management of a top-level domain, and of the capabilities of the Nevada Indian Environmental Coalition (NIEC) and Treaty 7 Tribal Council (TREATY7), internet service providers, and
 
 

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the National Indian Telecommunications Institute (NITI) and Abenaki Community of Portland (WAMPUMPEAG), centers of technical excellence.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Congress of American Indians does hereby request the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to create a top-level domain to be operated by the Indigenous Nations of North America in the DNS root.

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that National Congress of American Indians does hereby request that NEIC.NET, TREATY7.ORG, NITI.ORG, and WAMPUMPEAG.COM, undertake the operational and management responsibilities for this top-level domain, and, in conjunction with the INTERTRIBAL COUP, undertake the responsibility for basic policy and cost recovery.
 

CERTIFICATION
 

______________________________
W. Ron Allen, President

ATTEST:
 

____________________________________
Lela Kaskalla, Recording Secretary

Adopted by the General Assembly during the 1999 Mid-Winter Session held at the Palm Springs Convention Center, in Palm Springs, California, on October 4-8, 1999.



 

Position Paper F on New gTLDs

 

Principles to Guide ICANN's Delegation of gTLD Management


1.  The Internet naming system is a public resource and the TLD space is an essential facility of the public Internet.

2.  Correspondingly, the management of the root zone and of gTLD registries must be performed on behalf of the public interest in a manner that ensures the world-wide interoperability of unique Internet identifiers and their traceability back to the Internet's publicly coordinated root.

3.  Accordingly, the WG-C affirms that no private intellectual or other property rights inhere to an assigned gTLD itself, nor accrue to the delegated manager of the gTLD as the result of such delegation.

4.  Furthermore, the WG-C affirms that the assignment and delegation of a gTLD registry is subject to the ultimate authority of ICANN.

5.  Considering that, under the current applications of Internet technology, mnemonically and semantically useful domain names have become an important and convenient tool of human communication.

6.  Considering also that expansion of the gTLD space is necessary to ensure there will be continue to be an abundant choice of names available for people who wish to acquire useful Internet identifiers.

7.  Considering further that expansion of the gTLD space is also necessary to ensure that current Internet users and newcomers alike will be afforded the continuing opportunity to communicate by way of domain names which have mnemonic and semantic utility.

8.  Considering also that domain names themselves are often used as mechanisms for conveying normative expressions and opinions.

9.  Affirming that ICANN should not be turned into an instrument which imposes biased or arbitrary restrictions on political, religious, and other normative speech or content.

10. Noting that ongoing work relevant to the specification and documentation of best practices for the administration of gTLDs is being conducted by various parties within the Internet engineering community.

11. Expecting that this work will be completed and published within an Internet Current Practice (ICP) series prior to the delegation of any new gTLD registries.

12. The WG-C therefore resolves that new gTLDs should be added to the root. The process of addition should begin with between 6 and 10 gTLDs.

13. The WG-C further resolves that, as the first set of new gTLDs is introduced, an impact study should be conducted with a view to adding more in a reasonable and timely manner.

14. Concerned that these principles receive proper and legitimate exposure prior to their possible implementation, the WG-C further resolves that no directive assigning a delegation should be issued by ICANN until these principles have been considered by a duly constituted and fully seated ICANN Board of Directors.

Craig Simon
 


Position Paper G on New gTLDs

 

Root Level Registry Rules, The Manner of Adding New gTLDs to the Internet


Roeland M.J. Meyer, Morgan Hill Software Company (MHSC)

Because of its length, we have left this position paper as a separate document.
 



Information from:
DNSO