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[wg-c] IMPORTANT: WG-C Report



	The WG-C physical meeting in Cairo was quite large  about 65 people, most
of whom weren't members of the WG.  The inestimable Diane Cabell took
notes; she's posted them at <http://www.mama-tech.com/wgc>.

	At the Names Council meeting, the NC directed us to submit, within ten
days, a WG report covering the same ground as the one I circulated on March
2, except that it would also include a description of our ongoing work.
The NC's plan was to put the report out for public comment and then take a
vote on the consensus items.  Part of the reason for the ten days was to
give us the chance to get our procedural house in order by taking the
formal vote that Bob urged, etc.

	The ICANN Board then upped the ante by directing the Names Council to
submit recommendations *to the Board* on the topic of new gTLDs by April 20.

	So we've got two immediate tasks before us:  First, we've got some more
time in which folks can post messages identifying errors in the report, if
any, and pointing out other places where the language should be improved.
John Lewis has told me that he's identified errors in the report, and that
in general, in his view, the document gives inadequate weight to the input
of the Business and Commercial constituency.  Please let me know about any
changes that you think would make the report better.  Second, we should
take a formal vote on the report.

	Given our time constraints, these two processes are going to have to
overlap.  Here's what I propose to do:

* we continue working on the language of the report; please get your
comments in (if you have any) as soon as you can.

* WG members are free to cast votes on the report, yea or nay, as soon as
they want, but any vote cast before March 17, midnight UTC can be retracted.

* At March 17, midnight UTC the report will be "frozen"  no more changes
will be made.

* Voting continues until March 20, midnight UTC.  (That way, anybody who
held off voting until after 3-17 still has three days to vote, and anybody
who voted before 3-17 has three days to reconsider.)  Majority vote prevails.

	I'm attaching the current version of the document below.  It's essentially
the version I circulated on March 2, with some changes reflecting comments
people made to me on the list and in Cairo, a couple of typos corrected,
and with the new section that the NC asked for.

	One more thing: We've got a consensus call outstanding.  If the consensus
call *in fact* manifests a rough consensus, it would be a shame not to
include it in the report.  (That said, only seven (!) people so far have
cast votes on the consensus call.  More people need to express their views,
if the vote is to mean anything.  Get those postcards and letters in,
folks.  The consensus call is on this compromise description of how to
select the TLDs in the initial rollout: "Registries would apply describing
their proposed TLD, and an ICANN body or process would make selections
taking into account the characteristics of both the registry and its
proposed TLD."  For details, see
<http://www.dnso.org/wgroups/wg-c/Arc01/msg00828.html>.)

	I issued the consensus call on March 5, and set the final deadline as
March 19.  To coordinate the consensus call with the report schedule,
though, we need to change the closing date of the consensus call slightly:
I propose to move it up two days, to 5 pm UTC on March 17.  That way, *if*
the consensus call generates a rough consensus, I can modify the report
accordingly before it's frozen.  It will then become part of the overall
package that people can vote up or down.

	I've attached the current draft version of the report.

Jon


---------------------

Report (Part One) of
Working Group C of the Domain Name Supporting Organization
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers


	This document is Part One of the Report of Working Group C.  It sets out
the rough consensus of  the group regarding whether there should be new
generic top-level domains (gTLDs), and if so, how quickly they should be
added to the root as an initial matter.

Introduction and summary

	Working Group C has reached rough consensus on two issues. The first is
that ICANN should add new gTLDs to the root.  The second is that ICANN
should begin the deployment of new gTLDs with an initial rollout of six to
ten new gTLDs, followed by an evaluation period.  This report will address
each of these issues separately.  For each of the issues, it will summarize
the discussions within the working group, arguments pro and con, and
comments received from the public.  It will then briefly summarize the
ongoing work of the group.

Procedural and outreach history

	The Names Council approved the charter of Working Group C on June 25,
1999, and named Javier Sola (Business constituency) as its chair.  On July
29, the working group members elected Jonathan Weinberg co-chair.  The
working group currently has more than 140 members, not all of whom are
active.  It includes extensive representation from each of the
constituencies.  (There is one partial exception:  For most of the life of
the working group, no NSI representative participated.  When WG-C's
co-chair solicited greater participation from the Registry constituency,
Don Telage explained that NSI had chosen not to involve itself in the WG-C
process.  That representational gap has been filled now that Roger Cochetti
and Tony Rutkowski, WG-C members from the start, have joined NSI in senior
policymaking capacities.)

	On October 23, 1999, the Working Group released its Interim Report.  That
report described the issues on which the Working Group had reached rough
consensus to date.  It also included seven "position papers," setting out
alternative scenarios for the introduction of new gTLDs.  On November 23,
1999, the Names Council formally requested public comment on the Interim
Report.  This call for comments was publicized on a variety of mailing
lists maintained by the DNSO, including ga-announce, ga, and liaison7c
(which includes the constituency secretariats).  In addition, WG-C's
co-chair spoke at the meetings of most of the constituencies at the Los
Angeles ICANN meeting, and urged constituency members to file comments.
Nearly 300 comments were filed in response to the interim report.  They
included responses from leading members of all of the constituencies but
two - the record does not include comments from the ccTLD or Registry
constituencies (although ccTLD members participated in the discussions that
led to the Interim Report, and WG-C's co-chair expressly solicited the
comments of both of those groups).

	This report was circulated to the working group on March 2, and a version
of the report was presented to the Names Council on March 8.  [rest of this
paragraph will summarize the list discussion through 3-17 and the final vote]

Issue One - Should There Be New gTLDs?

Discussions within the working group

	The working group quickly -- by mid-July, 1999 -- reached consensus that
there should be new global top-level domains.  There was very little
dissent from this position.

Arguments supporting the consensus position

	Expanding the number of TLDs will increase consumer choice, and create
opportunities for entities that have been shut out under the current name
structure.  Today, .com stands astride the name space: it has more
registrations than all other top-level domain names combined, and is ten
times the size of the largest ccTLD.  Yet it has become nearly impossible
to register a new simple domain name there: Almost a year ago, in April
1999, a survey found that of 25,500 standard English-language dictionary
words, only 1,760 were free in the .com domain.  Millions of additional
names have been registered in .com since then. 

	This situation is undesirable.  It requires companies to register
increasingly unwieldy domain names for themselves, and is inflating the
value of the secondary (speculators') market in .com domain names. Existing
second-level domain names under the dot com TLD routinely change hands for
enormously inflated prices. These are legitimate trades of ordinary,
untrademarked words; their high prices reflect the artificial scarcity of
common names in existing gTLDs, and the premium on .com names in particular. 

	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 the companyname.com firms
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.  Addition
of new gTLDs will allow different companies to have the same second-level
domain name in different TLDs.  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.
 
	Similarly, addition of new gTLDs could enlarge noncommercial name space,
and allow the creation of top-level domains designed to serve noncommercial
goals.  One proposal made in WG-C, widely applauded in the public comments,
advocated the creation of a new top-level domain to be operated by North
American indigenous peoples.  Other examples are easy to imagine.

	In response to the unsatisfied demand for new gTLD names, several ccTLD
registries, including .nu, .cc, and .to, have transformed themselves into
gTLDs, marketing their names globally as alternatives to .com, .net and
.org.  This is undesirable from the perspective of protecting trademark
rights, since no mechanisms are in place to ensure that these TLDs enact
the same trademark-protective procedures (such as the UDRP) now in place in
the gTLDs.  The transformation of ccTLDs into globally marketed commercial
gTLDs deprives the local Internet community of the benefits of a ccTLD more
closely oriented to serving that community.  To the extent that ICANN
wishes to deploy new gTLDs subject to community-determined policy
guidelines, finally, the growth of ccTLDs in response to pent-up demand for
TLDs frustrates that goal.

	Creation of new generic top-level domains can be beneficial in other ways.
 One proposal before WG-C, with significant support, urges the creation of
multiple registries, each capable of managing registrations for multiple
TLDs, so as to eliminate the single point of failure for the registration
process.  Under this view, multiple new gTLDs are necessary to support the
multiple registries needed for stability.

	Adding new gTLDs to the root, finally, 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 U.S. Department of Commerce's
White Paper saw the establishment of policy "for determining the
circumstances under which new TLDs are added to the root system" as one of
ICANN's fundamental goals.

Arguments opposing the consensus position

	Three arguments were made, or suggested, in WG-C that cut against the
addition of new gTLDs.  The first relates to trademark policing concerns:
Expansion of the domain space will create additional opportunities for the
registration of domain names that are confusingly similar to existing
trademarks.  The relationship between domain names and trademark rights
presents an important and difficult issue, and is appropriately addressed
by registry data maintenance requirements, dispute resolution mechanisms
such as the UDRP, and any other device that ICANN may choose to adopt.
Trademark owners' concerns in this regard are important ones, and not to be
overlooked.  The argument that ICANN should impose substantial delays on
the initial deployment of new gTLDs in the interest of adopting or
perfecting such mechanisms, however, did not win much support within the
working group except among Intellectual Property constituency members.

	Second, some working group members suggested that an increase in the
number of top-level domains could confuse consumers, because it would be
harder for consumers to keep in mind and remember a larger set of top-level
domains.  Accordingly, any increase in the number of new gTLDs should be
cautious.  Notwithstanding requests, though, no working group member
offered studies or other evidence backing up this view.

	Finally, some working group members suggested that the perceived need for
new gTLDs was illusory.  For the reasons described above, it is the sense
of the working group that that view is incorrect.

Public comments

	The comments received by the working group fell into several categories. A
few commenters questioned whether new gTLDs were indeed needed: this group
included Bell Atlantic, Marilyn Cade and John Lewis (writing on behalf of
some members of the Business constituency).

	Some commenters took no position on whether new gTLDs should be added.
Rather, they focused their comments on the position that deployment should
be delayed until after implementation of the uniform dispute resolution
procedure, improved domain name registration procedures, and protection for
so-called famous marks.  These commenters included, among others, Jonathan
Cohen (then an NC member, IPC), Dr. Victoria Carrington, AOL, British
Telecom, Disney, INTA, Nintendo of America and Time Warner.  Comments
noting the need for caution in deploying new gTLDs, but not explicitly
referencing famous-marks protection, were filed by the Software and
Information Industry Association (which supports adding new gTLDs, but only
after the creation of a robust, responsive whois system), John Lewis
(writing on behalf of some members of the Business constituency), and Steve
Metalitz.
 
	A third set of comments urged the addition of new gTLDs without further
delay.  These  commenters included, among others, Hirofumi Hotta (NC
member, ISPCPC) (emphasizing that discussion of famous-mark protection
should not delay the gTLD rollout), Kathryn Kleiman (NC member, NCDNHC),
Michael Schneider (NC member, ISPCPC), Computer Professionals for Social
Responsibility, Melbourne IT, AXISNET (Peruvian Association of Users and
ISPs), the United States Small Business Administration's Office of
Advocacy, Register.com, InterWorking Labs,  Tucows.com, InterAccess Company
and PSI-Japan.  Raul Echeberria (then an NC member, NCDNHC) filed comments
urging that the establishment of new gTLDs was important and positive, but
that rules should be devised to avoid massive speculative purchases of
domains in the new TLDs, or trademark holders simply duplicating their
existing domains.

	A fourth, and by far the largest, set of comments supported the creation
of a specific proposed new domain: .NAA, proposed as a new gTLD to be run
by North American indigenous peoples.


Issue Two - What Should be the Nature of the Initial Rollout?

Discussions within the working group

	In September 1999, the WG-C co-chairs made the determination that the
working group had reached rough consensus supporting a compromise proposal
that the initial deployment of new gTLDs should include six to ten new
gTLDs, followed by an evaluation period.  Because there had been no formal
consensus call, though, the working group held a vote in December 1999 to
reaffirm that consensus.  Following the lead of Working Group B, the
working group determined in advance that a two-thirds margin would
constitute adequate evidence of rough consensus.  The vote reaffirmed the
compromise position as the rough consensus of the working group, by a
margin of 44 to 20.  (A substantial number of working group members did not
cast votes.  In addition, some working group members, having been solicited
to vote, sent messages to the list explaining that they were declining to
take a position at that time, and listed themselves as consequently
abstaining.  Neither the non-voters nor the abstainers were counted in
figuring the two-thirds majority.)

	Members of the working group had expressed sharply varying positions on
the nature of the initial rollout.  Some working group members urged that
ICANN should immediately announce its intention to authorize hundreds of
new gTLDs over the course of the next few years.  While ICANN might
interrupt that process if it observed serious problems with the rollout,
the presumption would be in favor of deployment to the limits of the
technically feasible and operationally stable.  If ICANN simply deployed a
small number of new gTLDs with no commitment to add more, they argued, the
public would have to make registration decisions based on the possibility
that the small number of new gTLDs would be the only options.  This would
give the new registries oligopoly power and the ability to earn
greater-than-competitive profits; it would encourage pre-emptive and
speculative registrations based on the possibility of continued artificial
scarcity.  By contrast, they urged, an ICANN decision to deploy a large
number of gTLDs would enable competition and a level playing field: If
ICANN announced an intention to add hundreds of new gTLDs over a three-year
period, no new registry could exercise market power based on the prospect
of a continued artificial scarcity of names.

	Other working group members took the opposite approach.  New gTLDs, they
urged, could seriously aggravate the problems facing trademark
rightsholders in the existing domain name space.  Accordingly, they urged,
new gTLDs should be introduced only slowly and in a controlled manner, and
only after effective trademark protection mechanisms had been implemented
and shown to be effective.

	A third set of working group members took still another approach.  In the
long term, they stated, it would be desirable for ICANN to allow the
deployment of new gTLDs to the limits of the technically feasible and
operationally stable.  As a short-term matter, however, the immediate
deployment of hundreds of new TLDs would not be prudent.  The operationally
safer course, rather, should be to deploy a smaller number, and to follow
that deployment with an evaluation period during which the Internet
community could assess the initial deployment.  ICANN would go on to deploy
additional TLDs if no serious problems arose in the initial rollout.

	The proposal that ICANN start by deploying six to ten new TLDs, followed
by an evaluation period, was crafted as a compromise position to bridge the
gap separating the three groups, and to enable a rough consensus to form in
the middle ground.

Arguments supporting the consensus position

	The consensus position has the advantage of being a compromise proposal
supported by a wide range of working group members.  In a bottom-up,
consensus-driven organization, broad agreement on a policy path is valuable
for its own sake.  The sense of the bulk of the working group is that this
proposal strikes an appropriate balance between slower, contingent
deployment of new gTLDs and faster, more nearly certain, deployment.

Arguments opposing the consensus position 

	Three arguments were made in the working group against the proposal.  The
first was that the contemplated initial deployment was too large; rather,
some WG members urged, it would be appropriate, following the
implementation of effective intellectual property protections, for ICANN to
roll out no more than two or three new gTLDs.  Most WG members felt,
however, that this figure was smaller than caution dictated, and that such
a modest deployment would not give ICANN the information that it would need
to make sensible later decisions.

	The second argument was that the contemplated initial deployment was too
small: that, as detailed above, a deployment of only six to ten, without an
upfront commitment to roll out many more, will be a half-measure that would
grant oligopoly power to the lucky registries selected for the initial
rollout.  This argument has considerable force.  Most of the working group
members felt, however, that an initial commitment to many more than six to
ten would not be operationally sound.  Until we see the consequences for
the domain name space of adding new gTLDs, there are advantages to a more
circumspect path.

	The final objection raised was that the consensus agreement answered the
wrong question: The working group, said some, should not be addressing the
number of new gTLDs at all before resolving such issues as whether the new
top-level domains should be general-purpose (like .com), special-purpose,
or some combination of the two.  These issues are discussed in this report
under the heading of "ongoing work," and certainly it would not have been
inappropriate for the WG to have sought to reach conclusions on those
matters before discussing Issue Two.  But most members of the working group
concluded that the size of the initial rollout could and should be
addressed first, before resolving less tractable issues.

Public comments

	As with Issue One, public comment on this issue was divided.  Bell
Atlantic and Marilyn Cade supported the introduction of just a single new
gTLD at the outset.  John Lewis, on behalf of some members of the Business
constituency, suggested the introduction of a very small number; British
Telecom and Time Warner urged the initial rollout of only a few.  Other
commenters, including Jonathan Cohen (then an NC member, IPC), Dr. Victoria
Carrington, AOL, Disney and Nintendo of America, generally endorsed the
statement that the introduction of new gTLDs should be slow and controlled,
and should incorporate an evaluation period.

	By contrast, Hirofumi Hotta (NC member, ISPCPC), Kathryn Kleiman (NC
member, NCDNHC), Michael Schneider (NC member, ISPCPC), Computer
Professionals for Social Responsibility, AXISNET, InterWorking Labs,
Tucows.com and InterAccess Company supported the  position that ICANN
should, at the outset, announce a schedule for introducing hundreds of new
TLDs.  The Office of Advocacy, U.S. Small Business Administration concluded
that ICANN should start with a limited introduction of new TLDs followed by
an evaluation period, but that ICANN should announce in advance that it
would continue with a steady introduction of additional TLDs so long as
pre-announced technical criteria were met.  Raul Echeberria (then an NC
member, NCDNHC), by contrast, emphasized that ICANN should evaluate the
operation and market acceptance of the TLDs added in the initial rollout
before creating or announcing more.  Melbourne IT, PSI-Japan and
Register.com all supported the compromise position of an initial rollout of
six to ten new gTLDs followed by an evaluation period.

Ongoing work

	The next question before the working group relates to how the new gTLDs
deployed in the initial rollout, and their associated registries, should be
selected.  In discussion and straw polls, working group members fell into
several camps.  One group urged that ICANN should first select new gTLD
strings, and only then call for applications from registries wishing to
operate those TLDs.  A second group urged that ICANN should select new gTLD
registries on the basis of objective criteria, and allow the registries to
choose their own gTLDs in response to market considerations.  A third group
has suggested that registries should apply describing their proposed gTLDs,
and that an ICANN body or process will then make selections taking into
account the characteristics of both the registry and its proposed gTLD.
The working group is now considering the third option, viewed as a possible
middle ground, as a consensus call.  The consensus call relates only to
selection of gTLDs for the initial rollout; it is possible that other
considerations might govern the deployment of gTLDs in the longer term.

	[section tba describing the result of the consensus call - whether it
succeeded or failed - etc.]	

	The strong sense of the working group (although no consensus call has been
taken on the issue) appears to be that the namespace should have room for
both limited-purpose gTLDs (which have a charter that substantially limits
who can register there) and general-purpose gTLDs.  The working group has
extensively discussed a set of eight "principles," drafted by Philip
Sheppard (NC member, Business) and Kathryn Kleiman (NC member, NCDNHC),
against which applications for new TLDs might be judged.  The proposed
principles, in their current iteration, incorporate the keywords Certainty,
Honesty, Differentiation, Competition, Diversity, Semantics, Multiplicity
and Simplicity.  The working group has not yet, however, achieved a
consensus on this matter.

--------------

A detailed summary of the public comments on the working group's Oct. 23,
1999 interim report is available at
<http://www.dnso.org/wgroups/wg-c/Arc01/msg00490.html>.