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A Critique of NSI's goTLD Constituency Plan


I have read the Network Solutions proposal to "self organize" the gTLD
constituency of the DNSO (see  http://netsol.com/policy/icann427/) and I
am greatly concerned by its lack of responsiveness to the ICANN
constituency formation process.

In effect, NSI is turning the process on its head and creating its own
definition of the gTLD constituency, which it has redefined as the
"Generic Open TLD Registry" constituency. By doing so, it is excluding
the current gTLDs it does not manage or control - .EDU, .INT, .GOV,
.ARPA and .MIL - and is making the specious assumption that it is the
only arbiter of what a gTLD really is.

In addition, NSI incorrectly cites historical Internet RFCs which set
polices for gTLDs as its explanation for creating this "one-company"
constituency, while ignoring the fact that, according to RFC 1591, all
the gTLDs it currently manages should be "closed" by definition and
(see http://www.isi.edu/in-notes/rfc1591.txt, excerpted below).

Most disturbing, NSI is actually re-writing history in its submission to
ICANN when it states "Since RFC 1591 in early 1994, DNS TLD zone use has
largely proceeded to be defined through entrepreneurial and marketplace
initiative," and then uses that misreading of RFC 1591 to justify the
actions it has taken since 1994 to *ignore* the requirements of RFC 1591
that .COM, .NET and .ORG be "closed" in order to increase its revenues.

Ever since the National Science Foundation allowed NSI to begin charging
for registrations, NSI has ignored the designated-closed nature of these
domains and has allowed anyone to register in any of the three it
controls directly, .COM, .NET and .ORG. Yet RFC1591 specifically states
that .COM is a closed TLD and limits .COM registrations to be for
"commercial entities" only, .NET registrations to be for "the computers
of network providers, that is the NIC and NOC computers, the
administrative computers, and the network node computers" only, and .ORG
to be "the miscellaneous TLD for organizations that didn't fit anywhere
else," or non-commercial entities only.

RFC1591 also specifically states that .NET is *not* to be used by the
customers of ISPs for their TLDs: "The customers of the network provider
would have domain names of their own (not in the NET TLD)." (see below
for the complete excerpt). All the other gTLDS listed in RFC 1591 are
also closed. 

Although NSI has continued to manage the .EDU TLD in a closed manner
under direction of NSF, it has, of its own volition, decided to ignore
the requirements of RFC 1591 and has treated the other three TLDs it
manages directly as if they are all "open", even though they are defined
in RFC 1591 as being closed. In other words, there is no case for NSI to
suddenly create a new class of TLDs, Generic Open TLDs, since none
exists under the current Internet RFCs. Many of the domain name problems
that currently exist - such as large corporations' trademark names being
pirated in the .NET and .ORG space - would not exist if RFC 1591's rules
had been managed properly by NSI. WIPO has recently proposed the
creation of a non-commercial TLD; in fact, one already exists in .ORG -
but it has not been managed as such.

Today, when an often-noncommercial customer of NSI discovers that her
favored domain name is not available in the .COM TLD, NSI's online
registration form responds with the option that the customer should
register the name in .NET and .ORG. And *even if* the name is available
in the .COM TLD, NSI still tries to market additional .NET and .ORG
registrations of the same domain name to the customer to "protect your

This process is probably not news to most observers. But what may be
news is that it has happened in contravention of the Internet's
governing rules. I believe the DNSO should make it an early priority to
see to it that these kinds of controlling policies, RFC 1591 in
particular, be re-implemented with respect to gTLDs (after some
updating) and are not ignored in the future.

In addition, I strongly urge ICANN to require that any gTLD constituency
that is finally approved include the managers or primary decision-makers
of the other currently-active gTLDs - .EDU, .INT, .GOV, . and .MIL (and
perhaps .ARPA if it is turned over to the Addressing Supporting
Organization to manage).. It is very likely that any technical or other
decisions made by the DNSO in the DNS space will impact these TLDs,
which are no different than any other TLDs from a practical and
technical point of view. It's probably a good idea to involve their
managers in the process.


J. William Semich (NIC JWS7)
Co-founder, International Association of TLDs (IATLD)
President, Internet Users Society - Niue
.NU Domain
Memberships: ISOC, ISP/C, APTLD, APIA

Excerpted from RFC 1591 (http://www.isi.edu/in-notes/rfc1591.txt),
published in 1994:

"World Wide Generic Domains:

   COM - This domain is intended for commercial entities, that is
         companies.  This domain has grown very large and there is
         concern about the administrative load and system performance if
         the current growth pattern is continued.  Consideration is
         being taken to subdivide the COM domain and only allow future
         commercial registrations in the subdomains.

   EDU - This domain was originally intended for all educational
         institutions.  Many Universities, colleges, schools,
         educational service organizations, and educational consortia
         have registered here.  More recently a decision has been taken
         to limit further registrations to 4 year colleges and
         universities.  Schools and 2-year colleges will be registered
         in the country domains (see US Domain, especially K12 and CC,

   NET - This domain is intended to hold only the computers of network
         providers, that is the NIC and NOC computers, the
         administrative computers, and the network node computers.  The
         customers of the network provider would have domain names of
         their own (not in the NET TLD).

   ORG - This domain is intended as the miscellaneous TLD for
         organizations that didn't fit anywhere else.  Some non-
         government organizations may fit here.

   INT - This domain is for organizations established by international
         treaties, or international databases.

   United States Only Generic Domains:

   GOV - This domain was originally intended for any kind of government
         office or agency.  More recently a decision was taken to
         register only agencies of the US Federal government in this
         domain.  State and local agencies are registered in the country
         domains (see US Domain, below).

   MIL - This domain is used by the US military.