[ALAC] Closed generic statement
alan.greenberg at mcgill.ca
Thu Feb 28 06:00:24 UTC 2013
At Tuesday's ALAC meeting, Evan presented a statement on closed
generic word domains that gave the two opposing positions that had
been expressed by various ALAC and At-Large people. I suggested that
the ALAC not vote for or against that statement, but each member say
with side they supported. As the discussion evolved, there was some
discomfort about simply giving a tally of the two sides, and
moreover, that it ignored a third option that allowed some parts of
both sides to be supported. I volunteered to work with Evan to create
a new version.
I did create such a 3rd "in between" option. As we were reviewing it,
and partially guided by a message from Roberto Gaetano, Evan
suggested that this in-between option, with some enhancements, could
be a single statement that most or all of the ALAC could support.
What you see here is an evolution of that statement. Thanks to
Olivier and Rinalia who identified a number of problems with earlier versions.
The comment period closes on March 7th, so a vote will need to be
completed by March 6th. I believe that Olivier would like to start a
vote relatively quickly, so if you have any problems with what you
see here, please speak up quickly.
This new statement is also posted on the wiki -
On the whole, the ALAC does not believe that closed generics provide
public benefit and would prefer that TLDs -- especially for strings
representing categories -- were not allocated in a way that would
lock out broad access to sub-domains. Some members of At-Large
believe, on principle, that all closed generics are harmful to the
public good. Others believe that, while not necessarily being
beneficial to end users, closed gTLDs should be allowed as simply
being consistent with existing practise for lower-level domains.
However, in developing this response to the Board's request, the ALAC
found the issue to be far more nuanced than the above hard positions
would suggest. We can foresee innovative business models that might
allow a closed TLD to be in the public interest. An example might be
a registry that makes 2nd level names available at no cost to anyone,
but retains legal control over them. This is similar to the model
used by Facebook and many blog hosting sites. Allowance should be
made for applicants interested in widespread sub-domain distribution
that do not require domain-name sales as a source of revenue, or for
other forms of sub-domain allocation.
Whether a generic-word string is used with its generic meaning or in
some other context may also be relevant. The fictitious but famous
computer manufacturer, Orange Computers Inc. using the TLD ".orange"
might be acceptable, while the same string used as a closed TLD by a
California Orange Growers Cooperative (and not allowing access to
orange producers from Florida or Mediterranean and South American
countries) might well be considered unacceptable.
Allowing this nuanced approach would likely involve a case by case
review of how a TLD will be used and how its sub-domains will be
allocated. Moreover, it would require a contractual commitment to not
change that model once the TLD is delegated.
In summary, the ALAC believes that completely uncontrolled use of
generic words as TLDs is not something that ICANN should be
supporting. However, some instances of generic word TLDs could be
both reasonable and have very strong benefits of just the sort that
ICANN was seeking when the TLD space was opened. Such uses should not
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