Report on Compliance by Sponsored gTLDs with the Registration Requirements of Their Charters
25 February 2003
on Compliance by Sponsored gTLDs with the Registration Requirements of
Prepared for the
The "Plan for Action Regarding New gTLDs" prepared by the President of ICANN recommended the solicitation of proposals for a limited number of new sponsored TLDs. The recommendation was subject to an assessment of compliance by the three existing sponsored gTLDs with the registration requirements of their charters. The three sponsored gTLDs are .aero, .coop, and .museum.
This "Report on Compliance by Sponsored gTLDs with the Registration Requirements of their Charters" constitutes this assessment. It is intended to evaluate whether the new sponsored gTLDs have admitted registrants that do not satisfy the criteria defined in their sponsorship agreements. It employs a number of means to perform the assessment. Registrations in each registry were numerically selected and sampled. Key officials from each sponsor were interviewed about their policies and procedures. GNSO constituencies and a number of Registrars were also surveyed.
The Report has found no evidence indicating that the sponsored gTLDs have had significant problems in verifying the conformity of applications for registration with their charter requirements. It did find at least one entry in each database whose status should be verified. None of these findings, however, appear statistically significant in light of the size of the databases that were sampled and analyzed. All sponsors acknowledged that no mechanism is flawless, and that as a result there are bound to be errors. They view themselves as having the greatest stake in vigilantly enforcing the eligibility requirements and maintaining the integrity of the registries.
The Report concludes, based on the evidence that was available and reviewed, that the sponsored gTLDs have not become havens for cyber squatting or other registration abuses. It suggests certain steps that the sponsors and ICANN might consider to further strengthen the verification mechanisms used today.
The Board of Directors of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) accepted the report of the ICANN New TLD Evaluation Process Planning Task Force on August 23, 2002 and instructed the President of ICANN to develop a plan for action for approval. The President prepared "A Plan for Action Regarding New gTLDs," which recommended the solicitation of proposals for up to three more sponsored top-level domains (TLDs) as an extension of the "Proof of Concept." This recommendation was subject to an assessment of compliance by the three new sponsored generic TLDs (gTLDs) .aero, .coop, and .museum with the registration requirements of their charters. At the 2002 Annual Meeting on December 15, 2002, the Board authorized the President to implement those aspects of the Task Force recommendations specified in the Action Plan. The Board also directed the President to develop a draft Request for Proposals for the Board's consideration that can solicit proposals for a limited number of additional sponsored gTLDs.
This "Report on Compliance by Sponsored gTLDs with the Registration Requirements of their Charters" constitutes the assessment called for in the ICANN President's Action Plan. The purpose of the Report is to evaluate the extent to which the new sponsored gTLDs appear to have admitted registrants that do not satisfy the criteria defined in the charters.1 It employs numerical sampling techniques, interviews with sponsored gTLD officials, and other information to perform the assessment. As noted in the Action Plan, although there has not been evidence of significant problems, it is important to determine factually whether there is evidence that sponsored TLDs have become havens for cyber squatting or other registration abuses.
The three new sponsored gTLDs are .aero, .coop, and .museum. Each of these gTLDs has a TLD Sponsorship Agreement with ICANN that describes its obligations (see http://www.icann.org/tlds/agreements/sponsored/sponsorship-agmt-16oct01.htm).
Under Section 3.8 of the TLD Sponsorship Agreement, each Sponsor "shall establish policies, in conformity with the Charter, for the . . . requirements of registration . . . and shall ensure the application and enforcement of those policies . . . ." Attachment 1 to each Agreement contains the relevant gTLD Charter, which specifies the criteria for eligibility within the Sponsored TLD Community (see Appendix A).
The .aero top-level domain was established to serve the global aviation community. The Sponsor is Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques SC ("SITA"), which is a cooperative association owned and operated by the Air Transport Community ("ATC"). The Registry Operator is SITA Information Networking Computing BV-SITA, Inc. ("SITA, Inc."). SITA, Inc outsources technical operations to the Internet Council of Registrars (CORE).
Under its Charter, .aero is "restricted to people, entities and government agencies that: (1) provide for and support the efficient, safe, and secure transport of people and cargo by air; and (2) facilitate or perform the necessary transactions to transport people and cargo by air."
The .aero Charter specifies that .aero policies may permit registrations within the global aviation community by the following groups:
The specific policies and procedures governing registration in .aero are published in "Domain Management Policy" (version 4.2, dated November 6, 2002) (the ".aero Policy") (see http://www.nic.aero/policy/aerodmp.htm). The Policy divides the aviation community into nineteen "Registrant Groups," which correlate to the groups enumerated in the Charter. The nineteen groups are:
Because the correlation between the nineteen Registrant Groups described in the Policy and the categories enumerated in the Charter are not exact, the parenthetical phrases added above are helpful. There are no registrations currently under the category "Recreational aviation."
The .coop top-level domain was established to serve the needs of the international cooperative community. The Sponsor is DotCooperation LLC ("DCLLC" or "DotCoop"). The registry operator is Poptel.coop, which is run by Poptel Ltd.
The .coop Charter defines a "cooperative" as an organization satisfying the definition and committed to the values and principles set forth in the Statement on the Co-operative Identity adopted by the International Co-operative Alliance ("ICA Statement")(see http://www.coop.org/ica/info/enprinciples.html). The ICA Statement defines "cooperative" as "an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise." It states that "[c]o-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others."
The seven principles that guide operation of co-operatives are: voluntary and open membership; democratic member control; member economic participation; autonomy and independence; education, training and information; cooperation among cooperatives; and concern for community.
The .coop Charter specifies that the following groups are eligible for registration:
The .museum top-level domain is intended to serve the needs of the international museum community. The Sponsor is the Museum Domain Management Association, known as MuseDoma. Technical registry services are provided by the Internet Council of Registrars (CORE).
The .museum Charter provides that "registrations shall be granted only to entities that are museums [as defined below], professional associations of museums, or individuals who are professional museum workers." The definition of a "museum" is from the Statutes of the International Council of Museums ("ICOM") and provides:
A "professional museum worker" may register names "only (a) under one or more role-descriptive second-level sub-domains within .museum (e.g., john.smith.curator.museum and jane.doe.conservator.museum) established for this purpose or (b) under one or more sub-domains assigned to a museum or museums with which the worker is affiliated." A "professional museum worker" includes:
Consistent with the .museum Charter, the ICOM’s Executive Council has flexibility in deciding what constitutes a museum. The ICOM Statutes allow the organization to decide that an entity qualifies as a museum because it has "some or all of the characteristics of a museum, or as supporting museums and professional museum personnel . . . ."
In .museum, unlike in .aero or .coop, there are clear restrictions governing the registration of second-level domain names. Professional organizations composed of bona fide museums may seek second-level registrations. Other registrants may register on the third level, or lower. In these cases, the second-level label is generally reserved for their location, their disciplinary affiliations (e.g., art or science), or other generic concept. In addition to providing flexibility for registrants, the indexing system permits web-based searches of general names (e.g., typing "art.museum" into a browser will return relevant third-level entries from the .museum registry).
As described more fully below, the Report uses a variety of means to measure whether the new sponsored gTLDs have complied with their charters in registering domain names:
Sampling techniques were used in two ways. First, at least 600 registrations in each registry were sampled to see if, on their face, any indicated a suspicious registration that might be inconsistent with the relevant charter ("disney.aero," "bloomingdales.coop," or "jane.museum" are obvious examples). If so, such a registration was examined by reviewing its entry in the Whois database or, if available, the registrant’s website. Any further questions were directed to the sponsoring organization with a request to review the particular registration and confirm whether it complied with the eligibility requirements specified in the relevant TLD charter. Eight hundred and sixty-eight (868) active registrations in the .museum registry were sampled in this manner.2 Six hundred and thirty (630) registrations (about 9%) from the .coop registry were reviewed in this manner and drawn arbitrarily by selecting every 11th entry on the alphabetical list of registrations. Six hundred and thirty-three (633) registrations (about 25%) from the .aero registry were reviewed in this manner and drawn arbitrarily from each of 19 Registrant Groups by selecting every 4th entry on each alphabetical list of registrations.
In the second phase, sampling was used to select at least 100 registrations from each database for review by examining the Whois data or website, if available, for each registrant. In the .aero database, 138 registrations (representing more than 5% of the total number of registrations) were selected in this manner, divided among the 19 categories of possible registrants. In the .coop database, 210 registrations (representing about 3% of the total number of registrations) were selected in this manner. In the .museum database, 130 registrations (representing about 15% of total registrations) were selected in this manner.
The percentage of registrations checked for the .coop database is a function of the size of that database in comparison to the two other databases being sampled. At 7,026 registrations as of January 31, .coop is more than 8 times larger than the .museum, and nearly 3 times larger than the .aero, databases that are being used for this assessment (with 868 and 2,485 entries, respectively). The registrations that were reviewed in this manner were drawn arbitrarily from alphabetical lists of each registry according to the following formula designed to ensure a representative sample. In .aero, about every 20th registration was drawn, from each of the 19 Registrant Groups, with at least one sample from each category and additional samples from two of the larger categories ("Airlines and aircraft operators" and "Airports"). In .coop, about every 33rd registration was used. In .museum, about every 6th registration was used.
Interviews were conducted with officials from each of the three sponsoring organizations. As described further in Appendix B, the questions posed included:
Sponsors were given the option of responding orally or in writing, within a mutually agreed time frame.
Surveys were made of three constituencies of the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) the Business Constituency, the Intellectual Property Constituency, and the Registrars Constituency as to whether they had any information suggesting registrations had been made in .aero, .coop or .museum that did not conform to the relevant charters. Similar inquiries were made of several individual registrars providing services in the three domains.
Finally, the record of public discussion and comments concerning "A Plan for Action Regarding New gTLDs," particularly the recommendation to solicit proposals for up to three more sponsored TLDs, was reviewed for allegations of abuse.
Testing the verification mechanisms of the three databases by actual registration was considered but not conducted. Efforts to register domain names that for one reason or another would not qualify for registration (such vint.aero, macys.coop or lynn.art.museum), or by entities that could qualify but had not authorized submission of a request (such as southwest.aero) might have yielded useful information. Such a step, however, would have necessitated false representations during the registration process.
The Business Constituency, the Intellectual Property Constituency and the Registrars Constituency of the GNSO were surveyed for information suggesting that there were registrations in .aero, .coop or .museum that did not conform to the relevant Charter. None of these constituencies responded with any such information. Similar inquiries were made of several individual registrars providing services in the three gTLDs, and no such information was found.
The record of public discussion and comments concerning "A Plan for Action Regarding New gTLDs," particularly the recommendation to solicit proposals for up to three more sponsored TLDs, was reviewed. It did not contain any allegations of abuse.
The results of two rounds of sampling of each registry database, detailed interviews with Sponsor officials (see Appendix C for a list of personnel), and review of the published policies and procedures for each registry, are detailed below.
As of February 3, there were 2,854 active domain names in the .aero registry and 3,550 registrations overall.3 For sampling purposes, this Report uses the active names listed in the .aero directory at http://www.nic.aero/directory,4 which number about 2,485. Five ICANN-accredited Registrars are providing registration services for .aero, including Nominalia, Namebay, Secura GmbH, Tuonome.it, and Domain Bank. ENom is expected to offer .aero services soon.
Sampling of the .aero database was conducted in two phases. First, 633 registrations were examined to see if, on their face, any indicated a reason to investigate further. Two hundred of these registrations (or 31.6%) were determined to warrant further checking by reviewing the entry in the Whois database or, if available, the relevant website. Thirty-one of these 633 registrations (or 4.9%) raised further questions, including whether the registrant was classified in the appropriate category or whether the registrant’s eligibility needed to be confirmed.
Ten of the 31 registrations raised questions concerning whether the entity was eligible to register in a particular registrant category. It needs to be emphasized that these questions do not necessarily raise concerns about eligibility to register in .aero under the terms of the Charter. SITA has pointed out that some registrants have activities that relate to more than one Registrant Group. Inconsistencies of this nature may nonetheless be relevant in reviewing eligibility because (1) they may indicate additional issues that need to be investigated; (2) they can shed light on the process used to determine eligibility; and (3) the .aero Policy provides that if a registrant ceases to be a member of the designated Registrant Group, it has 14 days to cancel the registration. But a lack of clarity in the relationship between a registrant and a particular Registrant Group, or the absence of any connection, does not automatically mean that the registrant is ineligible to register in .aero.
It was initially unclear, for example, whether the registrant of "steve.aero" should be listed under "Airlines and aircraft operators," or instead under "Pilots." SITA confirmed that the registrant organization has an air carrier certificate and is not precluded it from registering "steve" at the second-level.
It was also unclear whether the registrants of "lawyers.aero," "crewmail.aero" and wyvernltd.aero" were qualified under the category "Air safety, medical and certification." SITA confirmed that it has documentation indicating the registrants of "lawyers.aero" and "wyvernltd.aero" are involved in aviation-related certification proceedings or safety evaluations. The registration of "crewmail.aero," however, raises further questions that SITA is investigating.
Similar questions arose concerning whether the registrant of the three domain names "airlaw.aero," "aviationlaw.aero," and "coolinglaw.aero" was appropriately classified under "Business aircraft operators." SITA reported that the registrant was qualified under this category as a result of membership in business aviation organizations. Questions also arose regarding whether the registrant of "aircraftparts.aero," "star.aero" and "world.aero" was qualified under the category "Aviation education and research." SITA has indicated that the registrant provided documentation, and it is recommended that the Sponsor confirm their continuing validity.
Twenty-one of the 31 registrations are variations of "crash.aero," "aircrashattorney.aero" and airplanedisasterlawyer.aero." All of them were registered by the same registrant under the "Aviation and suppliers and service providers" category. Given the Sponsor’s prohibition on transferring .aero names, it is possible that these registrations will lapse in due course. Given the sensitivity of some of these particular names, SITA may wish to consider proposing them for inclusion on the list of reserved names.
Overall, four of the 633 .aero names reviewed during the first phase
of sampling, or .63%, would benefit from further confirmation of the registrant’s
The registration of "windsocks.aero" raised a concern about eligibility because the domain name resolves to the website of an Internet service provider with no apparent link to the aviation community. It is therefore recommended that SITA confirm whether the registrant is a member of the aviation community.
As during the first phase of sampling, it was unclear whether the registrant of "royal.aero" and "zidi.aero" (who also registered "aircraftparts.aero," "star.aero" and "world.aero," above) was eligible under the category "Aviation education and research." As above, SITA has indicated that the registrant provided documentation. It is therefore recommended that SITA confirm the continuing validity of the documents.
Of the 138 registrations sampled in the second phase, 16 (11.6%) of them pointed to a website using .aero. Another 11 (8%) of these registrations used their .aero domain name to point to a website in another top-level domain, primarily .com. Overall, 27 (19.6%) of these .aero registrations pointed to a website.
Interviews were conducted with officials from SITA and focused upon the application and verification process. As described in the "Domain Management Policy" (version 4.2, dated November 6, 2002) (".aero Policy") (see http://www.nic.aero/policy/aerodmp.htm) and confirmed by SITA officials, registration in the .aero domain is a two-step process consisting of (1) identification; and (2) registration.
Identification consists of recognition of the registrant by the aviation community through assignment of an "Aviation Community Membership ID." Every applicant for a registration is required to obtain the ID prior to trying to register a .aero domain name. To receive the ID, the applicant must establish that it belongs to one of the listed Registrant Groups. SITA employs several mechanisms to perform the identification and eligibility process. They include designation by an .aero Partner Association of which the applicant is a member (such as the International Air Transport Association or the National Business Aviation Association), or application to the .aero Office through a Registrar or the .aero website. If the potential registrant selects the application route, it must provide information regarding its identity, select the Registrant Group to which it belongs, provide relevant supporting credentials, and warrant that it meets the eligibility requirements. Supporting credentials depend on the Registrant Group category chosen, and could include an air operating certificate for an airline, a license for an air navigation services provider, a website for aviation media, or an explanatory letter for a recreational user.
SITA stated that it currently screens every application for an ID and for registration. If an application raises a question, such as the scope of the registrant category entitled "Media," it seeks advice from members of the Dot Aero Council (DAC). The Council provides advice on all matters relating to eligibility and registration restrictions.
The Sponsor estimates that about 70 applications for registration have been rejected (in addition to about 40 duplicate submissions). This number appears consistent with a Registrar’s estimate that about 5% of recent applications for a Membership ID have been rejected. Some of the 70 applications were denied because they contained insufficient information concerning credentials, and SITA's requests for relevant documents were ignored. Others were rejected because the name or email address of the applicant had no apparent link to the organization requesting the ID number, and the applicant ignored SITA’s requests for supplemental information. The applicants were invited to reapply once they can provide the requested information.
A registrant deemed ineligible may challenge the Sponsor’s decision under the Eligibility Reconsideration Policy ("ERP"), although no one has yet done so. The panel would be operated by WIPO, and the panelists would be aviation experts.
A third party with concerns about a registrant’s eligibility may file a claim under the Charter Eligibility Dispute Resolution Policy ("CEDRP"). No requests for action under the Policy are known to have been made. All registrants are bound by the terms of the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy ("UDRP").
SITA does not permit the transfer or sale of .aero domain names. If a registrant does not wish to renew a registration, it would expire. Another person or entity is then free to apply to register the name and must meet the same eligibility requirements. SITA reports that there have been no transfers of domain names to date.
SITA continues to review the eligibility of registrations it has accepted on the basis of occasional spot-checks and any information it receives that raises questions about a particular name. The Sponsor has investigated several complaints and revoked three registrations as a result. Two registrations were deleted because of non-compliance with the terms of the sunrise period policies. A third registration was revoked when the registrant was unable to demonstrate its eligibility. SITA also has the authority to revoke a registration if the name, or use of the name, "is not in the best interests of the aviation community." It has not yet exercised this authority.
As of January 31, there were 7,026 domain names registered in .coop.5
The ICANN-accredited Registrars currently providing registration services are the Internet Council of Registrars (CORE), Poptel, and Secura GmbH.
Sampling of the .coop database was conducted in two phases. First, 630 registrations were examined to see if, on their face, any indicated a reason to investigate further. Fifty-eight of these registrations (or 9.2%) were determined to warrant further checking by reviewing the entry in the Whois database or, if available, the relevant website. Thirteen (or 2%) of these 630 registrations raised further questions, including whether the registrant is a cooperative or whether there is a nexus between a registrant and its registration.
It needs to be emphasized that the .coop Charter does not require there be a connection between a registrant and a particular registration. For example, nothing in the Charter would appear to preclude an electrical cooperative from registering "nomansland.coop," a large multi-faceted cooperative from registering "postoffices.coop" or a consulting firm from registering "photographer.coop" or "toolcity.coop." On the contrary, DotCoop has encouraged cooperatives to think prospectively about registering names they might wish to use in the future. Moreover, it could be challenging for a sponsor to pass judgment on what constitutes a reasonable nexus, or whether a particular registrant has a reasonable expectation of using a certain domain name in the future. ICANN may wish to examine these issues in the context of adding new sponsored gTLDs. The other .coop registrations in which the connection between the registrant and the registered name was initially unclear were "bio.coop," "executiveassistant.coop," and "halloffame.coop" DotCoop was able to clarify that the registrants of both "executiveassistant.coop" and "halloffame.coop" had specific business uses in mind.
Of the remaining six of these 13 registrations, the Sponsor was able to confirm that the registrant of both "halal.coop" and "water.coop," as well the registrant of "weownit.coop," are indeed cooperatives.
DotCoop also confirmed that "scifi.coop" and "wow.coop" were registered by Poptel Ltd, which is indeed a cooperative. DotCoop indicated that "scifi.coop" was registered by a part of Poptel that is now Poptel Technology for product development purposes. DotCoop reported that "wow.coop" was registered by a member of Poptel’s marketing team who is no longer with the company. Poptel recently changed the Registrar for "wow.coop" from itself to Secura GmbH to test the registrar-to-registrar transfer process. It also updated the registrant contact information while it decides whether it will use the domain name.
DotCoop was unable to confirm whether "justchange.coop" is a cooperative without further checking. It is therefore recommended that the Sponsor conduct such review.
Overall, one of the registrations reviewed during the first phase of sampling, or .16%, appears to warrant further review.
During the second phase of sampling, 210 registrations from the .coop database were numerically selected for review by examining the Whois data or, if available, the website of each registrant. Nine (4.3%) of these registrations raised questions of a similar nature to the first phase of sampling, including whether the registrant is a cooperative or whether there is a nexus between a registrant and its registration. These questions were discussed with the Sponsor, which was able to confirm that the registrant of both "commercialgard.coop" and "coopinsurance" is a cooperative. It also confirmed that the registrants of "micro-robotics" and "myinfo.coop" are cooperatives. Further checking, however, would be required before the Sponsor could verify whether "itt.coop" is a cooperative. DotCoop also confirmed that two of these nine registrations, "gumo.coop" and "visual.coop" were revoked for nonpayment. The remaining two registrations in question concerned the link between "champ.coop" and "mira.coop" and their registrants. Overall, one registration out of the 210 sampled during this phase, or .48%, warrants further Sponsor verification.
Of the 210 registrations sampled in the second phase, 22 (10.5%) of them pointed to a website using .coop. Another 18 (8.6%) of these registrations used their .coop domain name to point to a website in another top-level domain, such as .org, .com or a ccTLD. Overall, 40 (19%) of these .coop registrations pointed to a website.
Interviews were conducted with officials from DotCoop, focusing primarily on the application and verification process, particularly applications for registration that have been deemed ineligible. According to DotCoop, it uses a multi-level verification process that depends on the extent to which the applicant for a registration is already known to the Sponsor or to the larger cooperative community (see http://www.nic.coop/verification.asp). If the applicant has previously purchased a domain name, it can provide its .coop user id and password. Otherwise, the applicant must provide the names of two sponsors who are willing to verify its cooperative status. If the sponsors are not selected from the list provided by .coop, the applicant must provide relevant contact information.
DotCoop anticipated at the outset that many applicants would be cooperatives that are not found within the .coop database consisting of recognized cooperatives. "Verification Partners" are therefore local cooperatives that have agreed to help .coop in determining eligibility, with the final decision made by DotCoop.
When a request for registration is made, the dotCoop Operations Center (the "Center") may conduct verification in one of several ways. If the applicant is found within the .coop database (i.e., its name has already been listed as a cooperative by a partner organization), approval is automatic. If the applicant is not found within the .coop database, the Center’s database may ask the two Verification Sponsors listed on the application for an assessment of eligibility. If the Center is unable to determine eligibility in this manner, it may use "manual verification" and ask the applicant to provide supporting documentation (such as a copy of the organization’s bylaws, its most recent annual report or a list of its members). Applications are selected for verification on the basis of either numerical selection by the Center’s database, with varying frequency and format, or random spot-checking by Center personnel. The Center does not verify every application, even if the sponsors are unknown.
If the Center determines that an applicant is ineligible for registration, the applicant has thirty days to challenge the decision.
Once a registration is accepted, concerns about eligibility may be resolved through the Charter Eligibility Dispute Resolution Policy ("CEDRP"). There have been no challenges to date. Concerns involving trademarks or service marks may be resolved through the dotCoop Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy ("DCDRP") (see http://www.coop/dispute.asp). Under the DCDRP, the Center may serve as a facilitator if the parties are unable to resolve the dispute. If facilitation fails, a party may seek the assistance of WIPO in conformity with the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy ("UDRP").
The Center reports that 18 applications for registration (.25%) have been rejected because they were deemed ineligible under the criteria. The problems in three of these applications were discovered when they were selected for verification by the database-supported verification system. The problems in fifteen applications were discovered by spot-checking all applications. A number of these applicants failed to respond to requests from the Center about eligibility. In other cases, verification revealed that the applicants were not cooperatives and may have misunderstood the criteria.
Two applicants for registration that were deemed ineligible raised concerns with the Center. In one case, a corporation protested not that it had been deemed ineligible, but that it had not been given a refund. In the other case, the entity refused to provide two bona fide sponsors or documentation supporting its claim to be a cooperative. In a third case, the applicant did not raise concerns, but DotCoop learned of them from a website. The Sponsor investigated and confirmed with one of its Verification Partners that the entity was not a cooperative.
With respect to continuing eligibility, DotCoop has encouraged registrants to let them know if they become ineligible. For example, a cooperative notified DotCoop when it converted into an investor-owned group and had to relinquish its .coop name. Where questions have been raised about continuing eligibility - as in a recent case - DotCoop placed the name "Under Investigation" until it was able to verify that the registrant is indeed a cooperative.
With respect to transfer of a domain name to a new registrant, DotCoop reports that there have not yet been any such requests. Should a request be made, the Sponsor intends to verify manually the eligibility of the proposed registrant until such time as demand would justify an automated process.
As of January 31, there were 868 active, untwinned domain name registrations in .museum that are relevant to this Report.6 The ICANN-accredited Registrars providing registration services in .museum are Domain Bank, Inc., domainregistry.de, Nominalia and Tuonome.it.
Every name registered in .museum is intended to be "clearly and recognizably" derived from the name by which the entity is known. No entity is allowed to register the name of any other entity at its own initiative (see http://musedoma.museum/name_requests/policy.html).
Sampling of the .museum database was conducted in two phases. First, all 868 active registrations were examined to see if, on their face, any indicated a reason to investigate further. Forty of these registrations (4.6%) were determined to warrant further checking by reviewing the entry in the Whois database or, if available, the relevant website. Three of these registrations, or .35% of the total number of registrations reviewed, raised further questions. With respect to "ramsay.art.museum" and "cia.intelligence.museum," it was unclear the extent, if any, to which the collections are open to the public. With respect to "masks.org.online.museum," it was not possible to locate the entity online. Checking with MuseDoma indicated that "ramsay.art.museum" has not yet been through ENS and might prove ineligible; that the CIA Museum does not offer public access but is otherwise a museum; and that the status of "masks.org.online.museum" requires further scrutiny. Two registrations out of the 868 reviewed during this phase, or .23%, appear to require confirmation of eligibility.
During the second phase of sampling, 130 registrations from the .museum database were numerically selected for review of the relevant Whois data or, if available, website. The only question that arose resulted from a typographical error in the list of registrations provided by MuseDoma. As a result, review of the 130 entries in this sample indicated that they were legitimate museums.
Of the 130 registrations sampled during the second phase, 55 (42%) of them pointed to a website using the .museum domain name. Another 49 (38%) of them used the .museum domain name to point to a website in another top-level domain, such as .org, .com or a ccTLD. Overall, 104 (80%) of these .museum registrations pointed to a website.
Sampling revealed that it is common for a registrant to have several variations of a registration. To provide just one example, "whitney.art.museum," "whitney.newyork.museum" and "thewhitney.nyc.museum" are all registered to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Many other registrants have registered at least two domain names.
Sampling included several "virtual museums," such as "mosa.virtual.museum" (the "Museum of Sentimental Art") and "tigertail.virtual.museum" ("specializing in the virtual restoration of fine art"). Museums that exist only on the Internet are permitted to register as long as their domain name makes this status clear. These entities are distinct from physical institutions that offer virtual tours of their collections, which are also eligible to register under the second-level label of "virtual."
Interviews were conducted with MuseDoma that focused primarily on the application and verification process, particularly registrations that have been deemed ineligible. According to the Sponsor, applicants for a .museum domain name must apply first to its Eligibility and Name Selection Services ("ENS Services") for an ENS Identification Number (ENS ID) before applying to register the domain name with an ICANN-accredited Registrar. The ENS ID constitutes approval of the registrant as a "museum" consistent with the .museum Charter. MuseDoma, as the sole "ENS Provider" at present, reviews each application before deciding whether it warrants approval. Registrations that were submitted before ENS Services were established have been advised that they must complete ENS approval and register their names with an ICANN-accredited Registrar.
The ENS process allows applicants that are members of a professional museum association to provide their membership number. If an applicant has no such membership, it is asked to provide detailed information about the nature and scope of its museum activities. If the membership number appears suspicious, it may be checked against the relevant organization’s database. If no membership number is provided, and the information is otherwise insufficient to conclude that the applicant is legitimate, the ENS Office at MuseDoma will tell the applicant what must be satisfied or that more information is required. MuseDoma indicated that this process which occurs in about 20% of the cases is intended to initiate a discussion between an applicant and the Sponsor, rather than constitute a final decision. Applicants have one year to satisfy the concerns raised by MuseDoma to qualify for a .museum name. About 50 requests for ENS approval are currently pending confirmation of eligibility.
If the eligibility of an applicant cannot be confirmed by the ENS Office, it will ask if the applicant wishes to resolve the issues raised, or to have MuseDoma forward the application to either a Special Committee of the ICOM Executive Council, or to an independent expert panel for review. The Special Committee is composed of officials serving on the Board or Staff of both MuseDoma and ICOM. The option of constituting an independent panel has not yet been chosen by an applicant. If the need arises, MuseDoma is prepared to utilize the services of legal experts in the museum community.
If the Special Committee cannot confirm eligibility, it may forward the application to the ICOM Executive Council or to the relevant ICOM National Committee. The ENS Office may also consult informally with the Secretariat of ICOM or other professional associations about a particular application.
There have been fewer than ten cases in which the ENS Office was unable to conclude the ENS process to the applicant’s satisfaction. In one case, an applicant sought a domain name indicating that it is a virtual museum without having first established such a presence. It was told to inquire again when it had done so. In another case, consultations with the ICOM Secretariat indicated that a family-owned corporate museum that was non-profit and open to the public would be eligible. In a third case, the Executive Committee decided that another family-owned corporate museum that was closed to the public would not be eligible until it provided public access. In a fourth case, the ICOM Executive Council decided that, consistent with the flexibility it has under its Statutes, a for-profit entity, the "International Spy Museum," could nonetheless qualify as a museum because it was recognized by national museum associations.
Once a registration is accepted by MuseDoma, formal concerns about eligibility may be resolved through the Charter Eligibility Dispute Resolution Policy ("CEDRP"). There have been no CEDRP challenges to date.
With respect to continuing eligibility, MuseDoma employs a process of random checking to determine whether a museum is using its .museum name in accordance with the initial determination of eligibility. MuseDoma acknowledges that, as the namespace grows, it may wish to institute a formal monitoring program.
MuseDoma reports that there have not yet been transfers of .museum domain names. Were there to be a request for a transfer, the Sponsor would assess the eligibility of the potential registrant in the same manner as it reviewed the original applicant.
Questions concerning the eligibility of an applicant for registration are distinct from those regarding consistency with .museum naming conventions, which may arise once an ENS ID is approved. This step too may involve a dialogue between a registrant and the Sponsor. In one case, an entity that was clearly a museum wanted to use "the" as its third-level label, as in "the.xxxxxxx.museum." At the time, "the" was not an approved third-level label. Upon reconsideration, and confirmation that there was no other museum known by that name, MuseDoma approved the domain name.
This Report has evaluated the extent to which .aero, .coop and .museum may be operating inconsistently with their charters and admitting registrants that do not meet the defined criteria. Its assessment is based on the results of numerical sampling techniques, interviews with officials of the new sponsored gTLDs and other information. The Report has found no evidence indicating that the sponsored gTLDs have had significant problems in verifying the conformity of applications for registration with their charter requirements. It has also found no evidence that these registries have become havens for cyber squatting or other registration abuses.
The Report has found at least one entry in each database whose status should be verified. None of these findings, however, appear statistically significant in light of the size of the databases sampled. In .aero, four of the 633 names reviewed during the first phase of sampling, or .63%, appear to warrant further review. Three registrations out of the 138 sampled during the second phase, or 2.2%, appear to warrant such review. In .coop, one registration sampled during the first phase, or .16%, and one registration out of the 210 sampled during the second phase, or .48%, appear to require confirmation of eligibility. In .museum, two registrations, or .23% of the registrations sampled during the first phase, and none sampled during the second phase, appear to require confirmation of eligibility.
Interviews with officials from each sponsor suggest that they take their responsibilities under their respective charters seriously and that they have taken steps to maintain the integrity of their respective registries. All acknowledged that no mechanism is flawless, and that as a result there are bound to be errors. They view themselves as having the greatest stake in vigilantly enforcing the eligibility requirements.
Surveys of key GNSO constituencies and Registrars directly involved in the process did not elicit any information indicating concerns. The absence of general or specific concerns is consistent with the statistical findings described above.
Careful review of the policies and procedures of the sponsored gTLDs suggests several steps that may further strengthen the verification mechanisms in use and also other issues for consideration. These recommendations may also be reviewed in the context of proceeding with additional sponsored gTLDs.
First, it could assist future assessments if sponsored gTLDs were to keep careful track of applications for registration that are deferred or denied because of eligibility concerns. Being able to easily retrieve and describe these cases, including when and how a problem was uncovered, would make it simpler to reassure the ICANN community that vigilant screening policies and procedures are being maintained.
Second, ICANN might wish to review whether there are technical or policy considerations that would justify limiting registrations in a sponsored gTLD to registrants that can establish a connection to the desired domain name. Such a change would be more relevant for .aero and .coop than for .museum, where there is already a strong nexus between registrants and their registrations. Some of the differences between an unsponsored and a sponsored gTLD might support such a policy distinction. On the other hand, such a requirement could discourage multiple registrations in registries where the number of registrations is already lower than expected. Perhaps most important, it could be difficult for a sponsored gTLD to make the kinds of subjective and potentially intrusive decisions that might be required to enforce such a policy.
Third, the example of one .aero registrant having at least 21 registrations that are variations of "crash.aero" and "airplanedisasterlawyer.aero" raises the question whether the Sponsors and Registrars will be able to monitor transfers to ensure that the eligibility of a new registrant is confirmed before proceeding. Each of the Sponsors appears to have appropriate mechanisms in place for such review, but they have not yet been tested. It is recommended that Sponsors test the procedures and also educate Registrars and registrants about them.
Fourth, SITA has published a Domain Management Policy on its website that is quite detailed and helpful. The document could be even more useful if it could include greater guidance on emerging issues, such as clarifying which individuals can register and in what categories.
Fifth, DotCoop could instill even greater confidence in its verification mechanisms by examining the feasibility of instituting a system that would review every application that does not contain a .coop user id or two known sponsors. Currently applications are verified on the basis of computer generated sampling and spot-checking. As a result, a number of applications even those with unknown sponsors are not being checked.
Sixth, MuseDoma might wish to consider the introduction of more automated measures, such as automatically checking all museum association membership numbers against established databases. Such steps will be particularly important as the Registry expands and detailed vetting of each application becomes more difficult. MuseDoma should also consider updating and summarizing the information about its verifications policies and procedures available on its website.
Finally, the percent of sampled domain names that pointed to a website varied with each registry: 20.6% for .aero, 19% for .coop and 80% for .museum. The wide discrepancy between .aero and .coop on the one hand, and .museum on the other hand, may reflect in part the difficulty that .aero and .coop have had in getting major ISPs and websites to recognize their customers’ web and email addresses. Although this particular problem may lie outside the scope of ICANN’s mission, it is a serious one with implications for the growth rates of existing sponsored gTLDs and the creation of new ones. As a first step, the situation could be brought to the attention of the ISP and Registrar Constituencies of the GNSO with a request for immediate assistance.
2. According to MuseDoma, there are 1,758 names in the .museum zone files it maintains. The zones files include a systematic “twinning” of every name with its comparable “www. name” (e.g., both “terra.americanart.museum” and www.terra.americanart.museum are included ). In order to avoid duplicative sampling, as well as to provide a basis for comparisons, the Report excludes the “www twins” from review. The Report therefore covers the 868 active, untwinned registrations, all of which were reviewed during the first phase of sampling. In addition to these “active” registrations, the registry includes 880 “passive” names that have not been activated (i.e., they are not included in the Whois database and they do not resolve in the DNS).
5. There have been 7,125 registrations in .coop to date. A number of these names are no longer registered because of a grace period in effect during the start-up phase that allowed people to terminate their registrations. In a few cases registrations were revoked because of non-payment.
TLD Sponsorship Agreement:
Attachment 1 (.aero)
The .aero TLD is intended to serve the global aviation community. In accordance with its Articles of Association, the Sponsor will manage the .aero TLD pursuant to the provisions of this charter ("Charter") and in the interests of the global aviation community. Sponsor will be responsible for establishing registration requirements for the .aero TLD consistent with this Charter.
The .aero TLD is restricted to people, entities and government agencies which: (1) provide for and support the efficient, safe, and secure transport of people and cargo by air; and (2) facilitate or perform the necessary transactions to transport people and cargo by air.
The Sponsor, with the advice of relevant government and industry representative bodies, may establish stricter requirements for registrants according to the delegation of authority described in Attachment 2.
Without being exhaustive, Sponsor's policies may permit registrations within the global aviation community by the following:
The Sponsor may extend the bulleted list above if petitioned to do so by a recognised organization within the global aviation community, provided that any such extension is (1) in accordance with the global aviation community's perceptions about the prevailing scope of the community, and (2) is restricted to people, entities, and government agencies which (a) provide for and support efficient, safe, and secure transport of people and cargo by air, and (b) facilitate or perform the necessary transactions to transport people and cargo by air.
Agreement: Attachment 1 (.coop)
The .coop TLD will be established to serve the needs of the international cooperative community ("Community"). It will be managed in accordance with the provisions of this charter ("Charter") and in the interests of the Community.
From Statement of Co-operative Identity
Definition - A co-operative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.
Values - Co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others.
Principles - The co-operative principles are guidelines by which co-operatives put their values into practice.
TLD Sponsorship Agreement:
Attachment 1 (.museum)
The .museum TLD will be established to serve the needs of the international museum community. It will be managed in accordance with the provisions of this charter ("Charter") and in the interests of that community.
From Article 2 of the Statutes of the International Council of Museums:
What was date of launch?
How many registrations?
Are they divided in any way (eg active sites/inactive or by sub-category)?
Are ICANN Registrars active? How many?
What policies and procedures are currently in effect to review registrations to verify whether registrants meet the criteria defined in the charter?
To what extent do you believe that Eligibility and Name-Selection Services ("ENS Services") have been effective in limiting abusive registration practices?
How many registrations have been found not to meet the criteria, and why? Can you provide specific examples?
At what point in the process, and how, were they discovered?
Have registrants protested adverse decisions and what were the results?
How many Eligibility Reconsideration Policy or other formal reconsideration decisions have there been? Have any of the challenges been successful?
How many times has the Charter Eligibility Dispute Resolution Policy (CEDRP) been used? Were any challenges successful?
Have there been any complaints from ICANN-Accredited Registrars concerning ENS services?
Have there been any complaints from registrants concerning ENS services?
How do you enforce continuing eligibility? Has any registered name been found to be ineligible after activation (because of an initial error discovered afterwards, qualifications that changed, or other reason)?
Mr. Martin Gaskell, Director of Business Incubation, Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques, Geneva, Switzerland
Mr. Paul Hazen, President and CEO, National Cooperative Business Association, Washington, DC
Ms. Carolyn Hoover, Information Lead, DotCooperation LLC, Washington, DC
Dr. Cary Karp, President & CEO, Museum Domain Management Association, Stockholm, Sweden
Ms. Marie Zitkova, .aero Development Manager, Geneva, Switzerland
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