5 Reasons Why Closed Generic New gTLDs Should Be Opposed

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NOI’m on the record multiple times over the last few months for my opinions on “closed generics”. I first posted about it here back in June of last year:

Big Brands Trying To Corner Generic Namespaces?

Since then I’ve sent several letters to ICANN (supported by many others) and have been quoted and referenced in several articles on the subject including Politico.com: ICANN’s debating what’s in a domain name

Others have spoken out on this topic also:

If you’re not a domain “geek” then the danger of this issue might not be that easy to understand, so here are five reasons why “closed generics” are a really bad idea.

  1. The Internet thrives with freedom of choice and openness
  2. Dozens of applications to ICANN for new top level domains (gTLDs) seek to completely segregate and close-off common words for use by one company, rather than for the entire industry, group or class.
  3. Generic Words Belong to All People; .CLOUD, .BEAUTY, .BOOK, .BLOG, .SEARCH and .SECURITY should be open to all with appropriate interests and industries
  4. Closed Generic TLDs lead to unfair closures and improper restrictions. Companies will be barred from using the generic string of their industry to promote their own businesses on an equal and fair footing online; Entrepreneurs and inventors will be inhibited from bringing new products to market for fear that a large segment of the Internet marketplace will be closed to them; and Consumers, thinking they are accessing an entire industry, will not know the name space is controlled by one entity and competitors are locked out
  5. ICANN rules allowed a limited exception for Brands to create a closed space (.BMW), but not for entire classes of goods, services and people to close off (.STORE, .CARS and .BABY)

Just over a week ago Conn and I recorded an interview with domain blogger and journalist Kevin Murphy in which we talked about several things including new TLDs. Kevin gave a fantastic example of a wonderful new TLD – .blog.

As Kevin said in the interview, if you go to a .blog domain name you’d expect to find a “blog”. It’ll do exactly what you’d expect.

But, as we know Google has applied for .blog and has stated that they’ll restrict the domain to Blogger. Here’s what they’ve told ICANN they intend to do:

The purpose of the proposed gTLD, .blog, is to provide a dedicated Internet space where Google can continue to innovate on its Blogger offerings.  The mission of the proposed gTLD is to provide a dedicated domain space in which users can publish blogs.  All registered domains in the .blog gTLD will automatically be delegated to Google DNS servers, which will in turn provide authoritative DNS responses pointing to the Google Blogger service.  The mission of the proposed gTLD is to simplify the Blogger user experience.  Users will be able to publish content on a unique .blog domain (e.g., myname.blog) which will serve as a short and memorable URL for a particular Blogger account. This mission will enhance consumer choice by providing new availability in the second-level domain space, creating new layers of organization on the Internet, improving the Google user experience, and signaling the kind of content available in the domain.

So you won’t be able to use a .blog with WordPress, MovableType, TypePad, Joomla or any of the other blogging platforms or solutions out there. So much for competition and choice!

But it’s actually worse than that!

Charleston Road Registry intends to apply for an exemption to ICANN’s Registry Operator Code of Conduct and operate the proposed gTLD with Google as the sole registrar and registrant.

Translation: Google will be the holder / registrant / owner of ALL domains under .blog, so even if you are happy with being restricted to the Google blogging platform you’ll never have any real control over yourname.blog

If you are a blogger, shouldn’t you be able to choose which blogging software or platform you use? Shouldn’t you be able to register a domain for yourself?

What about some of the other closed generic applications?

Look at a sample of them below:

  • .app (Amazon)
  • .app (Google)
  • .baby (Johnson & Johnson)
  • .antivirus (Symantec)
  • .book (Amazon)
  • .cloud (Symantec)
  • .hair (L’Oreal)
  • .video (Amazon)

What gives Symantec exclusive rights to every single domain under .cloud ?

What about Amazon and .video?

If you agree that this kind of use of new TLDs is a fundamentally bad idea then please let ICANN know via their comment period here.


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7 Responses to 5 Reasons Why Closed Generic New gTLDs Should Be Opposed

  1. Rubens Kuhl February 24, 2013 at 2:27 am #

    Google cannot apply to the exception to the code of conduct on .blog, because others that are not Google or its Affiliates (capital A – legal definition of) will be editing content on .blog, even if Google is the single registrant of all .blog domains.

    Charleston Road Registry will need to accept other registrars, but if Google is the only registrant, Google is free to only choose a single registrar for its domains. Guess what: Google is an ICANN-accredited registrar and will select itself as registrar… so it won’t make business sense to get accredited at a TLD where no business will come from it.

    At the time of application, such things could be less clear, which explains why Google said it could do something it actually can’t.

    A closed generic can be closed without applying to the exception to the code of conduct, so any effort to only block closed generics from not applying to the exception will accomplish nothing.

    The only way for a closed generic stop being a closed generic is to file a PIC.

  2. Nic February 24, 2013 at 3:34 am #

    Thanks for your work here. Good post.

    I agree unreservedly.

    However, if you go back 20 years, could the same argument not be put in relation to the same generics at the second level? (Rhetorical question.)

    • Rubens Kuhl February 24, 2013 at 11:38 am #

      Actually, some open generics of this round might actually be closed generics 20 years from now. The open generics have no contractual binding to continue being open.


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