[NA-Discuss] Opinions requested from the At-Large community on objection comments received on new gTLD applications.

Evan Leibovitch evan at telly.org
Tue Jan 29 06:16:02 UTC 2013

Hi Randy,

On 28 January 2013 22:33, RJ Glass <jipshida2 at yahoo.com> wrote:

There is a much larger issue at hand that should be addressed.

I'm not sure I agree.

Remember. we're not re-arguing the Applicant Guidebook. Many of the really
worthwhile debates (and indeed, most of the public-interest issues) related
to the gTLD expansion have already, for better or worse (and generally
worse), been closed. It's highly likely that many of the large issues you
want to be addressed already have been, just not in any way that serves the
public interest.

ICANN has long ago decided that names -- including gTLDs -- are but
commodities, driven by an industry that cares about greatest volume and
speculative of names, public interest be damned. Every decision made about
the new gTLD expansion has been based on that sad foundation, one which
thrives on defensive activity and extracts value from the Internet rather
than adding.

The only real impediment to unfettered wide-open commoditisation has been
imposed -- thanks to massive political clout -- by the legal trademark
lobby. But not all names are protected; non-trademark names, such as those
of non-profit bodies, common-law brands, aboriginal names and geographical
regions without governing bodies are out of luck. In the stupidity that is
ICANN names policy, protection of the word "olympic" (which has apparently
been under merciless attack by a paint company) is more important than
stopping fraudulent use of the name of Oxfarm or other non-favoured

In this world, one in which ICANN long ago decided that generic terms at
the second level were up for grabs to the highest bidder, the gTLD
expansion is just a high-stakes extension of the existing philosophy. And
all "objections" made by At-Large have to be done under very specific
conditions, the result of a process primarily intended to filter our
obscene strings such as ".nazi". The current objection process does not
exist to reject applications merely because we don't think they'll serve
the public, unless we can identify specific communities that will
experience specific harm by misrepresentation.

Dev and his team have done an excellent job setting up the process, and it
is very detailed in order to stay within the bounds of what we're entitled
to object to. Unless a string is obscene or an application misrepresents an
identifiable community, we don't have grounds to object (as a formal ALAC

That's it. The larger issues have been settled. What is being solicited at
this time is CERTAINLY not a free-for-all expression of our feelings about
any application or string; that ship sailed long ago. We are to offer
feedback on specific comments -- some of them asking ALAC to launch formal
objections on their behalf based on the two allowable criteria. This
feedback is to be used by dev's group to determine whether justification
exists to elevate the objection for greater At-Large and ALAC scrutiny. In
this context, there are insufficient grounds *under the available criteria* for
At-Large to support the objections raised regarding .amazon, .book, or
.cba. I will spend some extra time determining whether the objections to
.patagonia and .nyc merit consideration; until now I have been opposed, but
based on comments in this thread I am prepared to re-evaluate. I won't
necessarily change my mind but I do promise both comments another look.

But Randy, please don't think that this cold approach means I disagree with
your big-picture concerns. I would simply note here that the last
officially-endorsed ALAC statement about the new gTLD program -- made at
the Summit and never formally modified or rescinded -- unequivocally called
the gTLD expansion program "unacceptable" as a matter of public interest.
Current events will indicate to you how well that advice has been heeded.
To this day, outside of those of our members who are themselves associated
with TLD applications or domain resale, I have a hard time within At-Large
finding much enthusiasm for the expansion at all. Indeed, given issues
regarding compliance and protection against fraudulent use with existing
domains, I still have serious concerns that the expansion program will be
damaging to the public interest.

As a result, I find myself treating current At-Large approach to the gTLD
expansion as an exercise in damage mitigation. My cynicism has strangely
led to indifference about the appropriateness of most specific
applications, as I sincerely think that most TLDs will crash and burn
anyway. Many, many registrants will be hurt along the way, many of them
domainers for whom I have zero sympathy. But what can we do along the way
to minimize harm to end users, knowing we can't reopen the present gTLD
creation process?

THAT IMO, is the discussion we need to (continue to) have.


- Evan


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