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5 Reasons Why Closed Generic New gTLDs Should Be Opposed

Michele Neylon

I'm on the record multiple times over the last few months for my opinions on "closed generics". I first posted about it 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.

Related articles:
Closed gTLD debate threatens Google and Amazon Domain Incite
Questions on the Debate on 'Closed Generic' gTLD Applications CircleID

By Michele Neylon, MD of Blacknight Solutions. More blog posts from Michele Neylon can also be read here.

Related topics: Domain Names, ICANN, Internet Governance, Policy & Regulation, Top-Level Domains

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