Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.
ICANN Posts New gTLD Questions Paper

6 July 2005

In September 2004 ICANN published a strategy for the implementation of new top-level domains (TLDs). The strategy called for the implementation of a strategy that would appropriately take into account many relevant technical, economic, socio-political and cultural issues. In light of several new developments regarding DNS operations and structure, ICANN has developed a plan to facilitate implementation of the strategy for the designation of new TLDs.

The staff paper has been drafted to inform about the current status of the implementation of the "New gTLD Strategy". It is also intended to solicit public comments on the completeness of the list of questions therein as well as on the consultation matrix enclosed.

Please also note the following: The paper is a draft and does NOT foreclose any procedures or outcomes of consultations. The draft questions in the question list are open and are NOT to be read as implying particular preferences. Future consultations will welcome contributions from ALL and the draft consultation matrix does NOT imply any exclusivity provisions.

Please submit your comments to You can view comments at Deadline for comments is 1 August 2005.

This is part of a long process of trying to decide if and how new top-level domains should be allocated. Many people complain that ICANN decides these things behind closed doors without taking input from the public. In fact, ICANN tries very hard to solicit input to develop consensus. The question about whether and how new top-level domains should be allocated is an important issue. ICANN is currently soliciting input on whether we are asking the right questions. If you have an opinion on top-level domains, I urge you to read the document above and submit your opinion. I promise you that we read all of the comments and will try to address and include them in our discussions.

For those not familiar with the debate, there are proposals including 1) no more top-level domains, 2) auctions, 3) sponsored top-level domains and 4) a first-come first-serve laissez-faire approach. Each of these proposals have interesting arguments for and against them and the questions we are asking help define the debate. Please take a look at the questions with these various scenarios in mind.


Is there a way we can free up any of the domains owned by cybersquatters? There is a domain I want to use that is held by, which owns 475,000 names, and they are holding it hostage for 7,000 dollars which I don't have. Is there any way I can get ICANN to release it for me without having a trademark on the name before it was registered? Is it the kind of thing that would take months or years and cost thousands of dollars even though it is a slam dunk case against them, or could it be taken care of in a week or two?

Alex, buydomains is not holding the domain hostage from you and your case is not a slam dunk against them. You have no automatic right to the name just because you want it. Good names are expensive for a reason, and to expect that you can force someone to give you their property (however unjustly you think they got it) just because you want it is somewhat unrealistic. (It's even worse if you want to make money with the domain.)

Buydomains does not own the name, they act as a broker for the real registrants. If the domain is registered at $7000 I suspect it is quite a good quality name and that there is the possibility that there will be other offers over time so the owners have the luxury of waiting for someone who has the will and the means to pay.

That said, (and I must preface this by saying that I am not a lawyer and you should seek professional advice) as far as I understand it under the anti-cybersquatting act if someone offers the URL for sale, then the one who is offered the URL can proceed under the Act to get the URL for free (less lawyer fees of course) - the argument being the seller is in fact a cybersquatter who is not making commercial use of the mark but only holding it for resale.

More here:

To strengthen your case you could register the trademark and then hire a lawyer, both of which are expensive and there is no guarantee of success. This strategy generally works best when the trademark already exists (McDonalds etc) and I am not sure if it would work well if you were to register the trademark after the fact. I suspect this process could easily exceed $7000.

If there was any impending legal action it is likely that the registrant would withdraw the domain from sale and make up a story that they were actually going to make a site on the name. In that case you will never get the name.

Perhaps a better option would be for you to contact the owner directly and to negotiate a lower price and/or arrange to lease it on an ongoing basis or, preferably, lease to buy over a period of a few years. Or you could always choose another name that suited your budget ;)

As for the topic at hand, ICANN has already proved it has no idea how to manage the domains (.aero .museum?). Scrap it and let the market decide.

Mark, I'm not claiming they got it in any underhanded way. However the only thing on the webpage is a notice saying that it is for sale for that amount. If there was an actual webpage there then I understand that I would have to pay big money for it, but I think it is unfair if they are just blatantly cybersquatting and are only reregistering it every year to keep it from expiring so they can sell it.

As an ICANN Board member, you continue to make a fool of
yourself and demonstrate how out of touch you are.

The population and free market has walked away from ICANN
and will never return. Six years of watching the IANA
posturing is enough. It is all BS from the research/academic
government community that wants to protect their job
security and funding.

Your list of solutions does not even include the obvious
path the free market is taking. There is no need for a
central .COM or .NET Registry and server. Smart nodes
at the edge can agree via mesh software and grid agents
who is *really* who in the .COM name-space. At some point,
renewals in .COM end and the funding to Verisign and
their non-profit division ICANN ends.

The .NET TLD will likely take this path first. There is
more clue in .NET. The .NET owners know who they are and
what their HAM-like call-letters (aka domain name) are.
With their .NET name, they also get a FREE block of IP
address space, WITHOUT needing the IANA blessing (or curse).

@Why Comment

Thanks to the uncompromising laissez-faire approach of this blog's host, you can say anything you like here. Yet, I object to your tone. Dude isn't a fool. I mean, Shit -- the guy is just soliciting your opinion. That's more than the average asshole on the street will do for you.

Having said that, I must go on to generally agree with the point you're making about market influence. It reminds me of how lettered telephone exchanges were done away with in the late 60s. (Before my time.) By '66 All Figure Numbers (AFN) were introduced in most major US and UK cities.

Part of the consensus process is that the participants should at least understand what is being discussed. Even if you are remotely interested in this topic, taking a look at some of the questions being raised is an interesting way to see some of the issues involved. I urge you, (even you Mike) to take a look at the document.

It really isn't as simple as people believe. There are people using the Internet from all over the world and the DNS and IP addresses are what tie these people together. Some people want very badly to be able to use International Domain Names and type URLs in their native scripts. Some governments want control of IP address allocation. The global dialog going on about this isn't something you can just walk away from and ignore if you still want the Internet to be a single network rather than a patchwork of smaller networks like it used to be. Anyone who believes that these discussions are irrelevent is naive.

I started to read the document, but then I fell asleep. When writing my last post I knew I had my head up my rear, but I guess the view didn't bother me that much. Sorry for the diversion.

ICANN has served one purpose, it has helped to "out" all
of the ISOC insiders from the Jon Postel clan. Now the
world can red-line (block, black-hole, etc.) all of their
IP address blocks. They (you) will cease to exist.

In place of the corrupt ISOC-run Internet, a new
high-speed transport will emerge supported by the 4 or
5 major carriers in the USA. The rest of the world will
be on low-speed services and generally will cease to
exist on what paying customers describe as "the .NET".

ICANN and the rest of the .ORG tax-and-spend party
groupies will have zero say about the new .NET.
Bandwidth and willing participants WILL shape the
new .NET. ICANN has helped to show them how NOT to
do it.

1. http://www.White.House has a very nice .NET
2. We do not want to be connected to you and/or your ICANN/ISOC terrorists.
3. We protect people's rights to free speech, which ICANN censors.
4. We protect people's rights to meet and gather via the .NET vs the ICANN face-to-face approach.
5. The ICANN "single root" does NOT include all of the .NET community.
6. Bandwidth is a limiting factor to who is connected and who is not. You are not connected.
7. We do not want to be connected to you and/or your ICANN/ISOC terrorists.
8. We do not want our .KIDS to be connected to you and/or your ICANN/ISOC .XXX porn vendors.
9. Do you have the .KIDS TLD ?

"It is the fact that we have a single root and that we have global policies and protocols which allows the Internet to be a single network and allows anyone to reach anyone else in the world. Clearly, allowing anyone in the world to reach anyone else in the world with a single click introduces a variety of problems, but it creates a single global network which allows dialog and innovation to be shared worldwide without going through gateways or filters. This attribute of the Internet is a key to the future of a global democracy and I believe we need to fight to preserve this.

Since more and more people are using the Internet, there are more and more diverse views about the policies and control. This is clearly making consensus more difficult and ICANN is one of the groups which is having to adapt to the increasing number of inputs in the consensus process. This is all the more reason to work harder to keep everything together. Please. Let's fight to keep the Internet and not let it turn into the internets... It is a difficult process with various flaws, but if we give up, it will be very difficult if not impossible for all of to talk again very soon."