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ICANN Yokohama Meeting Topic: Introduction of New Top-Level Domains

Posted: 13 June 2000
Deadline for Public Comments: 10 July 2000

CONTENTS

I. Background

A. Present Structure of the Domain-Name System.

B. History of Discussions.

C. Names Council Recommendation on New TLDs.

D. Action in Yokohama on New TLDs.

II. Suggested Principles for the Introduction of New TLDs

A. The need to maintain the Internet's stability: a "measured and responsible" introduction.

B. A well-controlled, small-scale introduction as a "proof of concept" for possible future introductions.

C. The purposes for adding new TLDs.

1. Enhancing competition for registration services.

2. Enhancing the utility of the DNS.

3. Enhancing the number of available domain names.

D. Delegation of policy-formulation requirements for special-purpose TLDs.

E. New TLDs to meet new types of needs.

F. Start-up challenges and the protection of intellectual property.

III. Suggested Schedule for the Introduction of New TLDs

IV. Suggested Data Elements to Be Sought from Organizations Applying to Sponsor or Operate TLDs

I. Information about the Proposed TLD

II. Information about the Proposed Sponsor and Operator of the TLD

III. Information about the Policies and Procedures Applicable to the TLD

V. Call for Statements of Interest in Proposing a New TLD


 

I. Background

For several years, there have been proposals to introduce new top-level domains (TLDs) into the Internet Domain Name System (DNS). After a ten-month-long study, on 18 April 2000 the Names Council of the ICANN Domain Name Supporting Organization (DNSO) recommended that ICANN adopt a policy under which new TLDs would be introduced in a measured and responsible manner. The ICANN Board of Directors is expected to consider adopting such a policy at its meeting on 15-16 July 2000 in Yokohama, Japan.

A. Present Structure of the Domain-Name System.

The DNS allows users to locate computers on the Internet by a name (e.g., www.icann.org) rather than a harder-to-remember IP address (e.g., 192.0.34.65). The DNS, which was introduced in the mid-1980s, is a distributed database containing resource records that allow you to input another computer's domain name, which your computer then maps to the other computer's IP address.

The DNS has a hierarchical structure, with each name composed of a series of "labels" separated by dots. The rightmost label in a name refers to the name's top-level domain (such as .org). Each top-level domain can be divided into many second-level domains (such as icann.org). Second-level domains can be divided into third-level domains (such as www.icann.org and members.icann.org), and so on.

The selection of TLDs within the DNS is defined by the root-zone file, the contents of which are made available to users on the Internet through the authoritative root server system. Under the White Paper, the responsibilities being transferred to ICANN include oversight of operation of that system.

For technical reasons, it is convenient to delegate the operation of each top-level domain to a single organization. Currently, the DNS employs top-level domains consisting of three types:

  • The current three-letter codes are referred to as "generic TLDs." Presently these codes are .com, .net, .org, .edu, .int, .mil, and .gov. Descriptions of the intended purposes of these TLDs are set forth in RFC 1591, which was issued in March 1994. No new TLDs in this category have been added since the late 1980s.
  • Two-letter codes (such as .de, .jp, and .uk) are used to represent the names of countries and territories and are referred to as "country-code top-level domains," or simply "ccTLDs." The policies governing the establishment, delegation, and operation of ccTLDs are discussed in ICP-1. Under these policies, ccTLDs are established only for two-letter codes appearing on the ISO 3166-1 list. A few of these ccTLDs were established in the 1980s, but most were created in the mid- and late-1990s.
  • There is one other top-level domain, .arpa, that has recently been designated to be used for Internet-infrastructure purposes. This top-level domain is managed by the IANA in cooperation with the Internet technical community under the guidance of the Internet Architecture Board.

Within the DNS database, all of the TLDs operate in a similar manner. They are distinguished mainly by their intended use, by which organization operates them, and by who is permitted to register names within them.

B. History of Discussions.

Although many new ccTLDs were established as new countries and territories joined the Internet, no other new TLDs have been established since the late 1980s. During the 1990s, various proposals were made to implement additional generic TLDs in the DNS. These proposals have ranged from adding a few gTLDs to several hundred. Different types of TLDs have been discussed, ranging from TLDs open to registrations by any person or organization for any use ("unrestricted TLDs") to TLDs intended for registrations by particular types of persons or organizations or for particular uses ("restricted" or "chartered" TLDs).

The US Government's June 1998 White Paper, which proposed transitioning the Government's responsibilities for technical coordination of the Internet to a private-sector not-for-profit corporation (now ICANN), noted that the private-sector coordinating corporation should ultimately have the authority necessary to oversee policy for determining the circumstances under which new TLDs are added to the root system. The White Paper noted, however, that:

"At least in the short run, a prudent concern for the stability of the system suggests that expansion of gTLDs proceed at a deliberate and controlled pace to allow for evaluation of the impact of the new gTLDs and well-reasoned evolution of the domain space. New top level domains could be created to enhance competition and to enable the new corporation to evaluate the functioning, in the new environment, of the root server system and the software systems that enable shared registration."

On 30 April 1999, the World Intellectual Property Organization, which at the request of the US Government had conducted a study of intellectual-property issues in connection with the DNS and the various proposals for its evolution, submitted a report to the ICANN Board of Directors. That report concluded that new gTLDs could be introduced, provided that various measures were adopted to protect intellectual-property rights and that the new TLDs were introduced in a slow and controlled manner that takes into account the efficacy of the proposed measures in reducing existing problems. Among the intellectual-property protections was a proposed mechanism for protecting globally famous names in any new generic TLDs.

At its meeting in Berlin on 27 May 1999, the ICANN Board referred the issues of TLD expansion and globally famous trademarks to the newly formed ICANN Domain Name Supporting Organization (DNSO).

On 25 June 1999, the DNSO Names Council (which manages the process for development of policy recommendations within the DNSO) created a group, known as Working Group C, to study the issues raised by the introduction of new gTLDs. The Names Council also created another group, known as Working Group B, to study issues concerning the protection of famous trademarks in the context of any newly introduced generic TLDs.

C. Names Council Recommendation on New TLDs.

Working Group C submitted its report to the DNSO Names Council on 21 March 2000 and posted the report for public comment. Public comments were solicited and received through the icann.org web-based comment forum and via e-mail to the dnso.org site. Working Group C provided a supplemental report on 17 April 2000.

The Names Council discussed these reports and comments at a telephone conference held on 18/19 April 2000. At that meeting, the Names Council adopted the following statement of its recommendations, by a vote of 16-0 (two members were absent):

DNSO Names Council Statement of 18/19 April 2000 on New gTLDs

"The Names Council determines that the report of Working Group C and related comments indicate that there exists a consensus for the introduction of new gTLDs in a measured and responsible manner. The Names Council therefore recommends to the ICANN Board that it establish a policy for the introduction of new gTLDs in a measured and responsible manner, giving due regard in the implementation of that policy to (a) promoting orderly registration of names during the initial phases; (b) minimizing the use of gTLDs to carry out infringements of intellectual property rights; and (c) recognizing the need for ensuring user confidence in the technical operation of the new TLD and the DNS as a whole.

"Because there is no recent experience in introducing new gTLDs, we recommend to the Board that a limited number of new top-level domains be introduced initially and that the future introduction of additional top-level domains be done only after careful evaluation of the initial introduction. The Names Council takes note of the fact that the WG C report indicates that several types of domains should be considered in the initial introduction, these being: fully open top-level domains, restricted and chartered top-level domains with limited scope, non-commercial domains and personal domains. Implementation should promote competition in the domain-name registration business at the registry and registrar levels. The Names Council recognizes that any roll-out must not jeopardize the stability of the Internet, and assumes a responsible process for introducing new gTLDs, which includes ensuring that there is close coordination with organizations dealing with Internet protocols and standards.

"To assist the Board in the task of introducing new gTLDs, the Names Council recommends that the ICANN staff invite expressions of interest from parties seeking to operate any new gTLD registry, with an indication as to how they propose to ensure to promote these values.

"We would like to extend our deep appreciation to the substantial number of participants who worked so diligently in Working Groups B and C, and want to thank them for their significant efforts in evaluating the issues that were referred to them. Recognizing the Working Group C has recently approved additional principles and that Working Group B's formal report was provided to us yesterday, we advise the Board that we will be providing supplemental recommendations in the near future."

The Names Council held a telephone conference on 19 May 2000 to discuss the final report of Working Group B. The Names Council adopted the following statement, again by a vote of 16-0 (two members were absent):

DNSO Names Council Statement of 19 May 2000 on Famous Trademarks and the Operation of the DNS

"The Names Council recognizes the enormous work undertaken by Working Group B. The Names Council acknowledges that according to its final report, Working Group B has reached consensus on three points, namely:

1. Some type of mechanism, yet to be determined, is necessary in connection with famous trademarks and the operation of the Domain Name System.

2. There does not appear to be the need for the creation of a universally famous marks list at this point in time.

3. The protection afforded to trademark owners should depend upon the type of top-level domains that are added to the root.

"With regards to points (1) and (3), the NC notes that the Working Group members could not reach consensus on the type of mechanism that should be incorporated into the roll-out of new gTLDs (point (1)), which is understandable given their consensus in point (3) that the protection should likely vary depending on the type of top-level domain.

"The NC concludes that there is community consensus and recommends that there should be varying degrees of protection for intellectual property during the startup phase of new top-level domains. Therefore, the NC recommends that the ICANN Board make clear that nothing in the general consensus items, or areas of non-consensus, should be construed as creating immunity from the UDRP or other legal proceeding should a domain name registrant in a chartered top-level domain violate the charter or other legal enforceable rights. The NC notes that the principles of differentiated gTLDs (from WG-C) may provide additional assistance in avoiding confusion.

"With regards to item (2) on universally famous marks, the NC concludes that there is no consensus in the community at the present time that such a list should be adopted by ICANN.

"The NC also recommends to the ICANN Board that it take note of the Working Group B report, including the submissions by participating parties.

"The NC would like to express its gratitude to the hard work of Michael D. Palage, Kathryn Kleiman, and Philip Sheppard in steering the Working Group and seeking to guide them towards consensus on the difficult set of issues they were assigned."

D. Action in Yokohama on New TLDs.

At its 16 July 2000 meeting in Yokohama, the ICANN Board will consider the Names Council's 18/19 April 2000 recommendation that the Board adopt "a policy for the introduction of new gTLDs in a measured and responsible manner . . . ," as well as the Names Council's 19 May 2000 recommendations concerning protection for intellectual property during the startup phase of new top-level domains.

Under Article VI, Section 2(e) of the ICANN bylaws,

"the Board shall accept the recommendations of a Supporting Organization if the Board finds that the recommended policy (1) furthers the purposes of, and is in the best interest of, the Corporation; (2) is consistent with the Articles and Bylaws; (3) was arrived at through fair and open processes (including participation by representatives of other Supporting Organizations if requested); and (4) is not reasonably opposed by any other Supporting Organization. No recommendation of a Supporting Organization shall be adopted unless the votes in favor of adoption would be sufficient for adoption by the Board without taking account of either the Directors selected by the Supporting Organization or their votes."

The councils of the Address Supporting Organization and the Protocol Supporting Organization have been advised of both statements of the recommendations of the Names Council. The Address Council concluded that there is no address policy issue of concern in connection with the recommendations. The Protocol Council has not expressed any view on the recommendations.

To allow additional community comment on the Names Council's recommendations, ICANN has established a web-based Public Comment Forum and will devote a portion of the public forum in Yokohama on 15 July 2000 to the issue.

Click here to enter the Public Comment Forum on Introduction of New TLDs

The following section discusses principles that might be followed in the adoption of new TLDs, and solicits comments on specific aspects of those principles.

II. Suggested Principles for the Introduction of New TLDs

The 18/19 April 2000 Names Council statement recommends that the ICANN Board adopt a policy for the introduction of new TLDs. In adopting such a policy, several principles should be addressed. The following discusses various possible principles and poses questions for which community input is specifically sought. Those questions, of course, are not meant to be limiting and the public is invited to submit comments on all aspects of policies for the introduction of new TLDs.

A. The need to maintain the Internet's stability: a "measured and responsible" introduction.

The U.S. Government's White Paper identified four principles that should guide ICANN's activities. Of these, the White Paper made clear that ICANN's primary mission is to preserve the stability of the Internet:

"The introduction of a new management system [to replace management by the U.S. Government and its contractors] should not disrupt current operations or create competing root systems. During the transition and thereafter, the stability of the Internet should be the first priority of any DNS management system. Security and reliability of the DNS are important aspects of stability, and as a new DNS management system is introduced, a comprehensive security strategy should be developed."

Introducing new TLDs implies a change in the overall structure of the DNS, and it is therefore appropriate to take care to introduce any new TLDs in a manner that does not endanger stability.

To help ensure that introducing new TLDs does not jeopardize the Internet's stability, the Names Council emphasized that the introduction should be done in a "measured and responsible manner." According to the Names Council, care should be taken to solicit the views of technical standards bodies:

"The Names Council recognizes that any roll-out must not jeopardize the stability of the Internet, and assumes a responsible process for introducing new gTLDs, which includes ensuring that there is close coordination with organizations dealing with Internet protocols and standards."

The Names Council statement also noted that the implementation of a policy for the introduction of new TLDs should give due regard to practical considerations, such as start-up issues (the "land rush" phenomenon of huge query and transaction loads during the first few hours and days of registration) and the possibility that many domain-name disputes would be created. In particular, the Names Council identified:

"(a) promoting orderly registration of names during the initial phases;

"(b) minimizing the use of gTLDs to carry out infringements of intellectual property rights; and

"(c) recognizing the need for ensuring user confidence in the technical operation of the new TLD and the DNS as a whole."

Many have also noted that, as a practical matter, the introduction of new TLDs is not an easily reversible act, since eliminating a TLD (including all domain names registered within it) once it has been created may create significant hardships. For these reasons, some have argued that the TLD introductions should begin with a relatively small group, so that if difficulties arise they are of limited scope and can be effectively addressed before proceeding with additional TLDs.

In view of these considerations, public comment is sought on the following issues:

Q1: In the introduction of new TLDs, what steps should be taken to coordinate with the Internet Engineering Task Force, the Internet Architecture Board, and other organizations dealing with Internet protocols and standards?

Q2: What stability concerns are associated with the initial phases of registration within the TLD?

Q3: What can be done to eliminate or reduce these stability concerns?

Q4: Would these stability concerns be magnified by introducing a large number of TLDs at once?

Q5: Are there any practical means of reversing the introduction of a significant new TLD once it goes into operation?

Q6: Is it feasible to introduce a TLD on a "trial basis," giving clear notice that the TLD might be discontinued after the trial is completed?

Q7: To ensure continued stability, what characteristics should be sought in a proposed TLD and in the organization(s) proposing to sponsor and/or operate it?

Click here to enter the Public Comment Forum on Introduction of New TLDs

B. A well-controlled, small-scale introduction as a "proof of concept" for possible future introductions.

Recent experience in the introduction of new TLDs is somewhat limited. No new TLD designated as a "generic" TLD has been introduced for over ten years, since before significant commercial use of the Internet began. Although dozens of ccTLDs have been introduced since the onset of commercial use of the Internet in the early 1990s, fewer than 10 of the 245 ccTLDs have as many as 100,000 registrations within them. In view of the limited recent experience, the Names Council's 18/19 April 2000 statement made the following suggestion:

"[W]e recommend to the Board that a limited number of new top-level domains be introduced initially and that the future introduction of additional top-level domains be done only after careful evaluation of the initial introduction."

Thus, the Names Council recommended that the first group of TLDs introduced serve as a "proof of concept." Although the Names Council did not formally recommend any specific number of new TLDs that should be intorduced in the first group, it did indicate that the first group should be used to evaluate the feasibility and utility of a range of different types of TLDs:

"The Names Council takes note of the fact that the WG C report indicates that several types of domains should be considered in the initial introduction, these being: fully open top-level domains, restricted and chartered top-level domains with limited scope, non-commercial domains and personal domains."

This recommendation suggests that choices about the particular TLDs to be added in the first group, as well as the resulting number of TLDs, should be made in a manner that promotes effective evaluation of :

  • the feasibilty and utility of different types of new TLDs,
  • the efficacy of different procedures for launching new TLDs,
  • different policies under which the TLDs can be administered in the longer term,
  • different operational models for the registry and registrar functions, and
  • different institutional structures for the formulation of registration and operation policies within the TLD.

Public comment is therefore sought on the following issues:

Q8: To what extent is the experience gained from introducing gTLDs in the 1980s applicable to present-day circumstances?

Q9: To the extent it is applicable, what are the lessons to be learned from that experience?

Q10: What lessons, if any, can be learned regarding new gTLD introductions from the experience of the ccTLD registries?

Q11: Can lessons relevant to introduction of new TLDs be learned from the recent decisions by a number of them to operate in a globally open manner? If so, what lessons?

Q12: Is the Names Council's recommendation that a "limited number of new top-level domains be introduced initially" a sensible way to minimize risks to Internet stability?

Q13: What steps should be taken to evaluate carefully the initial introduction of TLDs before future introduction of additional TLDs?

Q14: Should a fixed time be established for all the evaluations, or should the time allowed vary depending on the nature of the TLD and other circumstances?

Q15: Should choices regarding the types of TLDs included in the initial introduction seek to promote effective evaluation of:

  • the feasibilty and utility of different types of new TLDs?
  • the efficacy of different procedures for launching new TLDs?
  • different policies under which the TLDs can be administered in the longer term?
  • different operational models for the registry and registrar functions?
  • different institutional structures for the formulation of registration and operation policies within the TLD?
  • other factors?

Q16: Should any particular goal for, or limit on, the number of TLDs to be included in the initial introduction be established in advance, or alternatively should the number included in the initial introduction be guided by the extent to which proposals establish sound proofs of concept of varied new TLD attributes?

Click here to enter the Public Comment Forum on Introduction of New TLDs

C. The purposes for adding new TLDs.

In seems appropriate that the selection of the types of TLDs to be introduced initially reflect an assessment of the purposes for adding new TLDs. In discussions generally within the Internet community over the past several years, as well as in more recent discussions in the DNSO, various advantages of new TLDs have been cited. These advantages can be grouped in three broad categories: enhancement of competition in the provision of registration services, enhancement of the utility of the DNS, and enhancement of the available number of domain names.

1. Enhancing competition for registration services.

One of the main motivations for the change in policy reflected in the White Paper was a "widespread dissatisfaction about the absence of competition in domain name registration." At the time of the White Paper, registrations in the open gTLDs (.com, .net, and .org) were made by a single source (Network Solutions) at a price fixed by its cooperative agreement with the U. S. Government. Although registrations were also available through over 200 ccTLDs worldwide, the overwhelming majority of those ccTLDs were restricted to registrants that were affiliated with the countries involved and the relatively few "open" ccTLDs were not extensively used.

Since the establishment of ICANN in November 1998, the competitive conditions have changed significantly. Beginning in June 1999, competition was introduced at the registrar level for registration services and now 45 different accredited registrars receive equivalent access to the central registry for .com, .net, and .org. Competition at the registrar level is robust, resulting in prices significantly lower than a year ago and a much larger array of service offerings from which consumers may choose. In addition to this dramatic growth in competition in .com, .net, and .org, competition from the ccTLDs has also increased. Many formerly "closed" ccTLDs have begun to permit registrations by companies not affiliated with their countries; "open" ccTLDs have become more accepted within registrants worldwide.

The encouragement of competition in registration services continues to be a major goal of the Internet community. In its 18/19 April 2000 statement, the Names Council stressed that "[i]mplementation [of new TLDs] should promote competition in the domain-name registration business at the registry and registrar levels."

Although competition has increased markedly in the past year at the registrar level, the registry (the authoritative database that maps names within the TLD to IP addresses) for all three "open" gTLDs is still operated by a single company, Network Solutions. This situation limits the effectiveness of overall competition and, even aside from strictly competitive issues, gives rise to concerns over the Internet community's lack of vendor diversity. Some have argued these concerns (competition and vendor diversity) make it appropriate to introduce one or more alternative, fully open, globally available TLDs. Others have argued that these concerns are no longer so pressing as to justify adding new open TLDs. As discussed in detail in point 2 below, they assert that having additional, undifferentiated TLDs would tend to reduce the utility of the DNS by increasing inter-TLD confusion. (E.g., <example.com> would be confused with <example.firm>.)

One concern sometimes raised in this connection is that .com may have become so highly preferred in the market to any other TLD that effective competion among open TLDs is no longer likely. Those raising this concern sometimes point out that .com enjoys a vastly superior market share compared to .net and .org, with .com accounting for 80% of the total registrations in .com, .net, and .org. This predominance of .com registrations continues even though all three TLDs are offered by 45 registrars fiercely trying to sell registrations.

Q17: In view of the current competitive conditions, should the promotion of effective competition in the provision of registration services continue to be a significant motivation for adding fully open TLDs?

Q18: Should the desire for diverse vendors of registry services in open TLDs be an important motivation in adding fully open TLDs?

Q19: Would the introduction of additional undifferentiated TLDs result in increased inter-TLD confusion among Internet users?

Q20: Taking all the relevant factors into account, should one or more fully open TLDs be included in the initial introduction?

Q21: How many?

Q22: How effective would other fully open TLDs be in providing effective competition to .com?

Q23: What can be done to maximize the prospect that new fully open TLDs will be attractive to consumers as alternatives to .com?

Q24: Would the likelihood of effective competition with .com be enhanced by making one or more of the single-character .com domains (which are currently registered to the IANA) available for use as the basis of a third-level registry (i.e. a registry that took registration of names in the form of <example.e.com> or <example.1.com>)? Should the single-character .com domains be made available for possible registry usage in conjunction with the initial group of additional TLDs?

Click here to enter the Public Comment Forum on Introduction of New TLDs

2. Enhancing the utility of the DNS.

Another motivation frequently cited for introducing new TLDs is that doing so might increase the utility of the DNS. Under this view, the appropriateness of adding new TLDs should be evaluated based on whether addition of the new TLDs:

  • would make it easier for Internet users to find the web sites and other Internet resources they are seeking and
  • would make it easier for the providers of Internet resources to be found.

This view tends to favor adding special-purpose TLDs and to disfavor adding undifferentiated, open TLDs. To help keep TLDs distinct and meaningful, it has been suggested that TLDs should be given "charters" which define the purposes for which they are intended. These charters are intended to promote the distinctiveness of TLDs over time. Advocates of chartered TLDs note that all the present gTLDs (including .com, .net, and .org) have defined uses, see RFC 1591. The definitions of the uses of .com, .net, and .org, however, have not been enforced since 1996, when it was decided to suspend screening of registrations to reduce delays in processing applications for registration.

The view that enhancement of the utility of the DNS should be a chief goal in introducing new TLDs is reflected by the first three principles outlined in the second additional consensus point of WG-C's 17 April 2000 supplemental report:

"1. Meaning: An application for a TLD should explain the significance of the proposed TLD string, and how the applicant contemplates that the new TLD will be perceived by the relevant population of net users. The application may contemplate that the proposed TLD string will have its primary semantic meaning in a language other than English.

"2. Enforcement: An application for a TLD should explain the mechanism for charter enforcement where relevant and desired.

"3. Differentiation: The selection of a TLD string should not confuse net users, and so TLDs should be clearly differentiated by the string and/or by the marketing and functionality associated with the string."

A few have suggested that these principles (which were approved in WG-C by a vote of 46 yes, 21 no, 1 abstain) preclude the introduction of any new fully open TLDs. These people argue that introducing new unrestricted-use TLDs would not increase the availability of distinctive domain names, but would instead decrease the meaning of domain names generally by encouraging registration of domain names that are distinguished only by unmeaningful TLD labels. While the principles of WG-C's 17 April 2000 supplemental report point strongly toward introducing limited-purpose, distinct TLDs, most of those favoring them urge that they be applied flexibly so as not to rule out the introduction of one or more fully open, undifferentiated TLDs.

Differentiated types of TLDs that have been proposed for introduction under a chartered-TLD approach include:

  • restricted-use commercial TLDs, such as .travel (for the travel industry), .movie (for web sites dedicated to particular films), and .banc (for financial institutions).
  • TLDs defined by some geographic region, but not qualifying as ccTLDs under current policies.
  • a TLD restricted to adult uses (.xxx or .sex).
  • TLDs designated for use by particular types of non-commercial organizations, such as .museum and .union. An existing example of this type of TLD is .edu.
  • TLDs for use by various affinity groups.
  • TLDs intended for advocacy uses, such as .protest.
  • a TLD devoted to domains registered by individuals for their personal use.

Some have suggested that differentiated TLDs should be introduced in various systematic ways (e.g., by following a predefined taxonomy). Others have favored introducing each specific TLD according to a proposal by an organization interested in sponsoring the TLD that demonstrates the desire, legitimacy, and resources to introduce and manage the TLD in an appropriate manner.

In view of these considerations, public comment is sought on the following issues:

Q25: Is increasing the utility of the DNS as a resource-location tool an appropriate goal in the introduction of new TLDs?

Q26: Would the introduction of unrestricted, undifferentiated TLDs run counter to this goal?

Q27: If so, are there ways of accommodating the goal of enhancing registry-level competition with the goal of enhancing the utility of the DNS?

Q28: Is the concept of TLD "charters" helpful in promoting the appropriate evolution of the DNS?

Q29: Are the first three principles outlined in the second additional consensus point of WG-C's 17 April 2000 supplemental report (quoted above) appropriate criteria for selecting TLDs to be introduced in the first group?

Q30: Do those principles preclude the introduction of any new fully open TLDs?

Q31: What types of TLDs should be included in the first group of additional TLDs to best test the concept of chartered TLDs?

Q32: Should chartered TLDs be introduced according to a pre-defined system, or should proposals be evaluated on an individualized basis?

Q33: If charter proposals are evaluated on an individualized basis, should any steps should be taken to promote stable and orderly evolution of the DNS overall?

Click here to enter the Public Comment Forum on Introduction of New TLDs

3. Enhancing the number of available domain names.

A third reason cited for introducing additional TLDs is that doing so would increase the number of domain names available for registration. This rationale is usually based on the premise that "all the good names are already taken" and that adding TLDs would increase the supply of "good" names.

In fact, the number of second-level domain names within a single TLD is quite large (over 1098) and claims that any particular TLD is effectively exhausted are, as a technical matter, misplaced. (Even .com has only approximately 108 names registered). Some, however, have noted that the group of useful or desirable names is much smaller than the total theoretically possible. While this observation is correct, even a slight lengthening of possible second-level domain names increases the availabile possibilities much more dramatically than the addition of new TLDs. For example, under the currently followed format rules increasing second-level domain-name length by one character multiplies the possible domain names by 37, while adding three new TLDs similar to .com, .net, and .org would only double them.

Some participants in the discussion have asserted that adding undifferentiated TLDs for the purpose of increasing the number of available domain names runs counter to the goal of enhancing the distinctness of DNS names. In this view, adding names that differ from existing ones only because they fall into new, undifferentiated TLDs would impair the utility of the DNS. These participants argue that expansion of the DNS name space should not be accomplished by making available additional names that are likely to be confused with existing names, particularly since distinctive TLDs could instead be created.

Q34: Has the inventory of useful and available domain names reached an unacceptably low level?

Q35: Assuming it is important to increase the inventory of available domain names, should that be done by adding TLDs that are not differentiated from the present ones?

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D. Delegation of policy-formulation requirements for special-purpose TLDs.

As envisioned by the White Paper, ICANN is responsible for overall coordination of the DNS. In view of the hierarchical nature of the DNS, however, the responsibility for establishment of policies within TLDs varies depending on the nature of the TLD. Policies for fully open TLDs (such as .com, .net, and .org) are formulated through the ICANN process, which involves participation of all segments of the global Internet community. Policies for other TLDs (such as .edu and the ccTLDs), on the other hand, have been formulated by focused constituencies.

Proponents of limited-purpose TLDs have advocated a "sponsorship" paradigm, in which policy-formulation responsibility for the TLD would be delegated to an organization that allows participation of the affected segments of the relevant communities. The sponsoring organization would have authority to make decisions regarding policies applicable to the TLD, provided they are within the scope of the TLD's charter and comport with requirements concerning interoperability, availability of registration data, and the like intended to ensure that the interests of the overall Internet are served. For example, the TLD .museum might be sponsored by an association of museums and the .union TLD might be sponsored by a group of labor unions. In many respects, the sponsorship paradigm is a generalization of the concepts underlying appointment of managers for ccTLDs under existing ccTLD delegation policy.

According to proponents, the sponsorship paradigm has the advantages of allowing detailed policies for limited-purpose TLDs to be established through an easily manageable process in which those with relevant interests can participate, while allowing the more broadly participatory ICANN process to focus on issues of general interest to the entire Internet community.

Q36: Should the formulation of policies for limited-purpose TLDs be delegated to sponsoring organizations? In all cases or only in some?

Q37: What measures should be employed to encourage or require that a sponsoring organization is appropriately representative of the TLD's intended stakeholders?

Q38: In cases where sponsoring organizations are appointed, what measures should be established to ensure that the interests of the global Internet community are served in the operation of the TLD?

Q39: How should global policy requirements (adherence to a TLD's charter, requirements of representativeness, interoperability requirements, etc.) be enforced?

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E. New TLDs to meet new types of needs.

The 18/19 April Names Council statement recommended that the initial introduction of new TLDs include a variety of types of TLDs. Such a diversity in the initial introduction can provide useful data to determine what types of TLDs should be introduced in the future. In addition, introducing diverse types of special-purpose TLDs provides the opportunity to meet short-term needs for TLDs that are not met by the existing TLDs.

Q40: Are there any types of new TLDs that should not be included in the initial introduction? If any types should be excluded, why?

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F. Start-up challenges and the protection of intellectual property.

The statement adopted by the DNSO Names Council on 18/19 April 2000 urged that, in connection with the implementation of a policy for introducing new TLDs, due regard be given to "promoting orderly registration of names during the initial phases." On 15 May 2000, Working Group B issued its final report, which amplified on the concern that the startup phases of new TLDs can pose special risks to intellectual property and found consensus that some type of mechanism, yet to be determined, is necessary in connection with famous trademarks and the operation of the Domain Name System.

In its statement of 19 May 2000, adopted after considering Working Group B's final report, the Names Council concluded that there is community consensus and recommended that there be varying degrees of protection for intellectual property during the startup phase of new top-level domains.

One method of protecting intellectual property that has been proposed is to prohibit the registration of famous and well-known trademarks. Indeed, the White Paper suggested that ICANN consider adopting "policies that exclude, either pro-actively or retroactively, certain famous trademarks from being used as domain names (in one or more TLDs) except by the designated trademark holder." In its deliberations, Working Group B extensively explored the use of a famous-names list for exclusion and reached consensus that such a list was not necessary or appropriate at the present time. In its 19 May 2000 statement, the Names Council "conclude[d] that there is no consensus in the community at the present time that such a list should be adopted by ICANN." Thus, it seems clear that measures other than a famous-names list for the protection of intellectual property during the start-up phases of new TLDs must be considered.

The Names Council also concluded that different types of TLDs warrant different types of protection for intellectual property. For example, some have reasoned that more protections are appropriate in a commercial TLD than in one designated for non-commercial uses.

Along with its recommendation for varying intellectual-property protections depending on the type of TLD, the Names Council also recommended that, as a minimum, the basic methods for enforcing infringed rights should always apply. In its 19 May 2000 statement, the Names Council recommended that the existing procedures (the UDRP and conventionally available legal proceedings) should apply where a domain name registrant in a chartered TLD violates the charter or other legal enforceable rights.

Concerns over the effectiveness of the UDRP have prompted some in the DNSO Business Constituency to propose that the policy be evaluated and overhauled before any new TLDs are introduced. For example, as of 13 June 2000 the Business Constituency was considering version 5 of a position paper entitled "A practical approach to new Internet domain names," which (as one option) proposed a multi-phase process under which there would be several prerequisites to the introduction of new TLDs:

"Phase I

"1. Rapidly evaluate the first 12 months operation of the Uniform Dispute Resolution Process (implemented 24 October 1999), and subject to a conclusion that it has been successful in meeting its objectives, proceed to phase II.

"2. Extend the UDRP wef 1st October 2000 to evaluate claims for ownership transfer based on the relevance of a well-known trademark to a charter gTLD. Once implemented proceed to phase II.

"Phase II

"Introduce new gTLDs in a gradual but systematic way as outlined above, testing each proposed gTLD against the principles."

Based on the likely implementation schedule (see below), it is the assessment of the ICANN staff that such a phased approach would result in a delay in the introduction of new TLDs of nine months or more.

Q41: Does the start up of a new TLD pose additional risks to intellectual property rights that warrant additional protections?

Q42: Should the protections afforded intellectual property in the start-up phase of new TLDs differ depending on the type of TLD?

Q43: Is the availability of the UDRP and court proceedings as remedies for violations of enforceable legal rights an appropriate element of protection of intellectual-property rights that should apply to all new TLDs? Are there any other protections that should be made available in all new TLDs, regardless of their type?

Q44: Does the start up of a new TLD pose difficulties for those other than intellectual property owners that should be addressed through special procedures?

Q45: What mechanisms for start up of a new TLD should be followed to ensure that all persons receive a fair chance to obtain registrations?

Q46: Is exclusion of names appearing on a globally famous trademark list a workable method of protecting such marks from infringement at the present time? Would an exclusion mechanism be approprate in the future?

Q47: Should introduction of new TLDs await completion of an evaluation of the operation of the UDRP and be subject to a finding that the UDRP has been successful in meeting its objectives? How long would such an evaluation likely take to complete?

Q48: Should introduction of new TLDs await extension of the UDRP to cover claims for transfer of domain names based on the relevance of a well-known trademark to a chartered gTLD? How long would implementing such a revision to the UDRP likely take?

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III. Suggested Schedule for the Introduction of New TLDs

The following is a draft schedule for the initial introduction of new TLDs:

13 June 2000 - Initial Postings and Drafts:

  • Background.
  • Suggested Principles for the Introduction of New TLDs
  • Suggested Schedule for the Introduction of New TLDs
  • Suggested Data Elements to Be Sought from Organizations Applying to Sponsor or Operate TLDs
  • Call for Statements of Interest in Proposing a New TLD

In conjunction with these postings, a web-based public comment forum is established to receive comments on the introduction of new TLDs.

15 July 2000 - ICANN Public Forum, Yokohama

A portion of the Yokohama agenda will be devoted to policies and timelines for the introduction of new TLDs. The public forum is an opportunity for public comment and dialogue, either in person or through the webcast's online remote participation tools.

16 July 2000 - ICANN Board meeting, Yokohama

The ICANN Board will consider the Names Council's 18/19 April 2000 recommendation that the Board adopt "a policy for the introduction of new gTLDs in a measured and responsible manner . . . ," as well as the Names Council's 19 May 2000 recommendations concerning protection for intellectual property during the startup phase of new top-level domains.

1 August 2000 - Call for Proposals

ICANN will issue a formal call for proposals, accompanied by a New TLD Registry Application Form, instructions for filling out the application, and a statement of criteria for the Board’s eventual decision.

It is proposed that the New TLD Registry Application Form include the elements shown in Part IV below. Because ICANN will seek heterogeneity and diversity in applicants' TLD models, none of the data elements should be read to restrict or preclude a particular TLD proposal. Comments about these proposed application elements should be posted in the public comment forum.

1 October 2000 - Deadline for Proposals

All proposals received by the 1 October deadline will be made public on the ICANN website as to the data elements in I and III described in Part VI below. Proposals will be posted when received, rather than waiting until 1 October to post. Comments on the proposals will be solicited through the public comment forum that will be created for that purpose. No additional proposals will be accepted after this date.

8 October 2000 - Deadline for Public Comments on Proposals

This deadline will ensure that at least 1 week is available for public comments on all proposals; to the extent that proposals are received prior to 1 October, the comment period will be longer for those proposals.

1 November 2000 - Announcement of Decision

ICANN will announce the decision as to the first group of new TLDs to be added to the DNS root.

1 December 2000 - Completion of Registry Contracts

Deadline for ICANN and the selected registry applicants to sign and publish the new registry contracts.

 

In connection with the foregoing suggested schedule, public comment on the following topics is especially solicited:

Q49: Does the schedule allow sufficient time for formulation of proposals?

Q50: Does the schedule allow sufficient time for public comment?

Q51: Should all proposals be posted for comment simultaneously to maintain equal time for public comment? Should all proposals be posted for public comment as they are received to allow the greatest possible time for public analysis and comment?

Q52: Should the formal applications be posted in full for public comment? If not, which parts of the applications should remain private?

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IV. Suggested Data Elements to Be Sought from Organizations Applying to Sponsor or Operate TLDs

The following is a general proposal for the data elements that should be requested of those proposing to operate or sponsor new TLDs. The actual application would likely require more detail as to these elements:

I. Information about the Proposed TLD

A. Proposed TLD label (i.e., the string of letters identifying the TLD, such as .com, .net, .org, etc.)

Questions for public comment:

Q53: Should proposals choose a single proposed TLD or numerous possibilities?

Q54: Should ICANN select the TLD labels, should they be proposed by the applicants for new TLD registries, or should they be chosen by a consultative process between the applicants and ICANN?

Q55: Should there be minimum or maximum length requirements for TLD codes? Are restrictions appropriate to avoid possible future conflicts with ISO 3166-1 codes?

Q56: Should there be restrictions on the types of TLD labels that are established (for example, a prohibition of country names)?

Q57: What should be the criteria for selecting between potential TLD labels? Should non-English language TLD labels be favored?

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B. Type of TLD, such as but not limited to:

1. Unrestricted (e.g., .com)

2. Unrestricted with definition or semantic meaning, but no enforcement (e.g., .org)

3. Restricted to a particular class of registrants or particular uses ("sponsored" or "chartered", e.g., .edu)

Questions for public comment:

Q58: How many new TLDs of each type should be included in the initial introduction?

Q59: Which types of TLDs will best serve the DNS?

Q60: Are there any types of TLDs that ICANN should not consider?

Q61: Which types, if any, are essential to the successful testing period?

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C. In the case of a restricted TLD, the mechanisms proposed to make the restrictions effective

D. Requirements for domain name registrants in the Proposed TLD

E. Purpose, mission, justification for the TLD

1. What (if anything) will distinguish the proposed TLD from existing or other proposed TLDs?

2. What market will be served or targeted?

3. How would introduction of the TLD enhance the utility of the DNS?

4. For unrestricted TLDs: What will be the value to the broader Internet community? Will the TLD seek to provide competition with existing TLD registries?

5. For restricted TLDs: What will be the value to the specific community or market to be served?

F. Why should the proposed TLD be included in the initial introduction of TLDs?

1. What concepts are likely to be proven/disproven by evaluation of the introduction of this TLD?

2. By what criteria should the success or lack of success of the TLD be evaluated?

3. Are there any reasons, other than the desire to evaluate the introduction process, for including the TLD in the initial introduction?

Question for public comment:

Q62: Which other structural factors, if any, should ICANN consider in determining the potential success of a specific TLD proposal?

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G. Naming conventions within the TLD (i.e. will registrants register second-level domain names, or will the TLD be organized into sub-domains?)

II. Information about the Proposed Sponsor and Operator of the TLD

A. Company/organization information

1. Company or organization name

2. Address

3. Business locations/offices

4. Names of officers, directors, and executives

5. Annual report or similar document

6. Current business operations

7. Past business operations and experiences

8. Qualifications and experience of financial and business officers

9. Qualifications and experience of technical officers

Questions for public comment:

Q63: Should ICANN accept proposals from companies formed/forming for the purpose of operating or sponsoring a new TLD? If so, how should ICANN determine the competence of the company?

Q64: If a company has significant operational or policy positions not yet filled, how should ICANN evaluate the level of competence of officers and employees?

Q65: How should ICANN evaluate the competence of officers and employees?

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B. Registry business model

1. Capitalization of registry

2. Sources of capital

3. Revenue model (i.e. for-profit or cost-recovery?)

4. Business plan

5. Allocation of registry/registrar functions

a. How will registration services be provided to registrants (i.e. through a single registrar, selected registrars, all ICANN-accredited registrars, or some other model)?

b. Relationship of registry to ICANN-accredited registrars

6. Proposed registration fees

Questions for public comment:

Q66: How much capital should be required? Should it be a fixed amount or should it vary with the type of proposal and the sufficiency of the business plan? How should the sufficiency of capital be evaluated?

Q67: Should ICANN seek diversity in business models as well as TLD types? Which, if any, business models are essential to a successful evaluation phase?

Q68: What measures should be in place to protect registrants from the possibility of a registry operator's business failure?

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C. Technical capabilities

1. Physical plant

a. Hardware

b. Software

c. Facility security

2. Data security and escrow

3. Scalability and load capacity

4. Registry-to-registrar technical and other support

5. Registrar-to-registrant technical and other support

6. Billing and collection operations

Question for public comment:

Q69: What should be the minimum technical requirements to ensure sufficient stability and interoperability?

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III. Information about the Policies and Procedures Applicable to the TLD

A. Unrestricted TLDs

1. Basic TLD policies (how do they differ from the policies applicable to .com, .net, and .org)?

2. Policies for selection of, and competition among, registrars

3. Measures for protection of intellectual property rights

4. Procedures for start-up phase of TLD

5. Dispute-resolution procedures

Questions for public comment:

Q70: How should ICANN evaluate the sufficiency of proposed intellectual property protections?

Q71: What role should ICANN have in the start-up procedures for new unrestricted TLDs?

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B. Sponsored/chartered/restricted TLDs

1. Basic TLD policies

2. Criteria for registration

a. Enforcement procedures and mechanisms

b. Appeal process from denial of registration

3. Policies for selection of, and competition among, registrars

4. Measures for protection of intellectual property rights

5. Procedures for start-up phase of TLD

6. Dispute-resolution procedures

a. Intellectual-property disputes

b. Charter issues

Question for public comment:

Q72: In what ways should the application requirements for sponsored/chartered/restricted TLDs differ from those for open TLDs?

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C. Allocation of policymaking responsibilities

1. Is a sponsoring organization proposed to receive policymaking responsibility for the TLD? Or will policies all be made through the ICANN process?

2. If some policies are to made by the sponsoring organization, on what subjects?

3. Relationship of registry operator to policymaking body (i.e. which organization decides which policies?)

4. Policymaking procedures (i.e. how would future changes in registration or registrar policies be made?)

5. Openness, transparency, and representativeness of policymaking process

a. Selection of policy makers

b. Types of stakeholders represented in the policy-formulation process

Questions for public comment:

Q73: Should ICANN require a statement of policy or should a statement of how policies will be made be sufficient?

Q74: What level of openness, transparency, and representativeness in policymaking should ICANN require?

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V. Call for Statements of Interest in Proposing a New TLD

In its 18/19 April 2000 statement concerning new TLDs, the Names Council stated:

"To assist the Board in the task of introducing new gTLDs, the Names Council recommends that the ICANN staff invite expressions of interest from parties seeking to operate any new gTLD registry."

In accordance with that recommendation, the ICANN staff invites expressions of interest from parties seeking to operate and/or sponsor any new TLD registry. Expressions of interest should be brief (generally no more than ten pages) but descriptive. All submissions should include self-identification, brief description of the structure and purpose of the proposed TLD, and an indication of the likelihood of submitting a formal application for the proposed TLD.

Although those who submit expressions of interest will neither be advantaged nor disadvantaged in the formal application process, as suggested by the Names Council statement the expressions will be used to assist the formulation of appropriate policies concerning the consideration of formal applications.

Please send expressions of interest in electronic form to tld-interest@icann.org. All submissions should be suitable for public posting.

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