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August 27, 2012

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Here's the The Lowdown from DN Journal,
updated daily
to fill you in on the latest buzz going around the domain name industry. 

The Lowdown is compiled by DN Journal Editor & Publisher Ron Jackson.

M.I.T. Takes Dim View of New gTLDs - Former ICANN Chair Sees No Benefits Whatsoever

Though they are essentially a done deal the debate over new gTLDs continues with the Massachusett Institute of Technology's prestigious Technology Review coming down hard on the anti-new gTLD side in a new article by Wade Roush (a former Senior Editor) today. In the piece, titled "ICANN's Boondoggle," Roush wrote, "ICANN says it's opening up these 

domains to promote competition and choice in the domain-name industry. But confusion and profiteering are the more likely results...There is no general shortage of Web addresses. If there were a genuine clamor for additional top-level domains, one might have expected to see businesses flocking to .biz, .info, .name, and the handful of other gTLDs that ICANN has introduced over the past decade."

Roush's view was seconded by Esther Dyson who served as ICANN's very first Board Chairperson from 1998 to 2000. Dyson told Roush, "I don't think it's illegal, but it's wasteful," she said. "One version of the future is: a lot of people spend a lot of money marketing [domain names], and a lot of new consultancies are created, and a lot of lawyers are very busy protecting and enforcing property rights, and there is no net benefit to anybody."

New gTLDs will begin arriving in the 
near future but the debate over whether 
that is a good thing or a bad one goes on.
(Image from Bigstock)

Dyson also believes that the launching of hundreds of new gTLDs at once, as ICANN plans to do, will create so much confusion it will drive people to search engines (and away from direct navigation) to find sites they are interested in.  Dyson told Roush, " As fewer and fewer consumers resort to direct navigation, owners of new gTLDs could soon find that they have "spent large amounts of money on something that is fundamentally worthless." 

With the new gTLD program also still faced with a lot of opposition from major corporations who resent having to pay for "defensive" domain registrations across so many new gTLDs, Dyson also predicted "the whole thing is going to be mired in litigation for a long, long time."

While critics lament ICANN's new gTLD 
program, proponents say it will bring many 
benefits and spur innovation on the Internet.
Image from Bigstock

The first responses in the comment section that accompanies the article are from a couple of well-known domain industry figures who strongly disagree with Roush and Dyson's take on new gTLDs. Roland LaPlante, the Chief Marketing Officer at Afilias (who will provide backend registry services to many new gTLD registry operators) wrote that there will be many benefits to brands who operate their own TLDs. Using Rolex as an example LaPlante wrote, "Rolex will have 100% control over their domain and can use it to validate anyone who is licensed to sell genuine Rolex products."

Tom Barrett of registrar Encirca.com was more indignant, writing "The basic premise of this article is all wrong. Who are you or anyone else to decide if there is a good reason for the internet expansion?  We should be encouraging start-ups activity, not 

trying to hold it back. This expansion is being undertaken with an abundance of caution in terms of ensuring the internet's security and stability. Let's see what innovation results."  

(Hat tip to Scott Ross for bringing the M.I.T. article to my attention).

(Posted August 21, 2012)  


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