ICANN Report on GTLDs

Ah, the summer of 2001, when trademark owners wasted time and money buying .BIZ and .INFO domain names they didn’t need and didn’t want, in the process giving interest-free loans to finance the start-up of Afilias and Neulevel.  ICANN has commissioned a report “Evaluation of the new gTLDS: Policy and Legal Issues” (Executive Summary here).  The report is thorough.

I thought this statistic was striking:

Number of UDRPs by TLD by number and by percentage of all registrations in that TLD:

11,637     .043%   .COM

1,879       .042%   .NET

253          .022%   .INFO

169          .017%   .BIZ

0              0           .AERO

0              0          .COOP

0              0          .NAME

0              0          .MUSEUM

Now you can spend sometime discussing whether the fact that .BIZ had only half of the UDRPs of .INFO proves that it had a better sunrise, but I think that those four TLDs with zero instances of cybersquatting is the much more interesting thing to focus on (ok, not really zero – .NAME had 6 ‘charter’ disputes and there were one or two eligibility disputes in the others).  Granted the total number of registrations in those four are small, but those are four TLDs with no cybersquatting, probably little to no trademark infringement, probably little to no consumer fraud, no drive-by downloads of spyware and probably little to no domain names used for spam.

And there are also new information services provided by these ‘restricted’ TLDs.  Did you know that if you type in the three letter code of an airport plus .AERO, you get that airport’s website – try LAX.AERO or JFK.AERO.  If you type in INDEX.MUSEUM you get an, uh, index of museums.

I think the way to go with TLDs is either meaningful TLDs (.AERO) with oversight, or meaningless TLDs (random characters) without.  The problem is that .COM, .BIZ and .INFO are in the middle – without oversight the meaningful (.COM) becomes misleading.  How can .COM be a zone for reliable ecommerce when you can obtain a domain name with fraudulent contact data?

Look at those numbers again.  Compare the TLD with 11,000 instances of cyberpiracy to those with zero.  Where would you feel more secure giving your credit card number?

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