October 17, 2000
6:06 PM   Subscribe

All of this talk about madonna.com and string.com seems to me to be just a mad scramble to grab a 'scarce' resource (ie. the .com TLD). The only problem is that the scarcity is completely artificial. Networking expert and lawyer Karl Auerbach has just been elected to ICANN as the US at-large rep on a platform of reducing ICANN's role from it current one as a overreaching international law making body. He says that the DNS system is capable of handling far more than just a few top-level domains like .com, .org, .net, .uk, .au etc. He says it could handle millions.
posted by lagado (5 comments total)

From Domain Name Policy - Top Level Domain Policy

My position has always been that there ought to be no impediment to the creation of new TLDs - but with one proviso: There is a limit out there somewhere on the number of TLDs, probably somewhere between one and several million, where DNS loses its value as a hierarchical system.

So I'd let anybody operate any TLD for any purpose they chose - the creation and imposition of charters is up to the TLD operator. (And an operator could change the charter if the contract with his/her customers doesn't prohibit it.)

I would not impose any operational requirements in the name of "stability" - I figure that is a contractual matter between the TLD operator and his/her customers. If a registrant wants stability and escrowed databases, then he/she can go to a TLD that offers that kind of service (presumably for a price.)

I'd not place any obligation on TLD operators to honor anything like a UDRP. I figure that if somebody registers a domain name and actually uses it to infringe on a trademark that there's an adequate legal foundation for the injured party to obtain a remedy - there's no need for us to need to create new and ad hoc legal system.

I'd probably require TLD operators to create and publish certain policies - privacy, availability of the zone files, statement of backup practices - just so that the customers have a way of evaluating what they are buying. But I'd allow the privacy statement to be as strong or weak as the TLD operator wanted - take a look at the CaveBear privacy policy for an example: http://www.cavebear.com/privacypolicy.htm

My concern about the one-to-several million number of TLDs needs to be handled by the imposition of some sort of barriers to prevent unproductive collecting. I am somewhat afraid of monetary barriers because that allows the rich to buy in. I personally like lottery systems - I kinda like some sort of plan that says:

We will introduce 1,000[*] new TLD's slots each year. Every natural person is entitled to purchase one "ticket" (perhaps for some nominal price to recover *reasonable* costs[**].) The 1000 winners will be selected in sequence - and each winner gets to select the character string they want to use for his/her TLD - there would be absolutely no examination of the name in terms of trademark or obscenity - that kind of thing ought to be up to the external legal system. (In case of duplicate character strings, priority goes to the winner that came first in that year's drawing sequence.) I'd allow the winners to sell their tickets or prizes at any time (including a winning ticket that has not yet selected the character string) for any price they can get.

[*] I picked the number 1000 because it's probably enough to cover the needs of the first year or two while the bugs are worked out of the system. After that, it could readily go to 10,000/year - that gives us 100 years before we reach the million TLD mark.

[**] I'm kind of fond of the notion that the costs should be underwritten by the current suite of TLD's - they got a big free ride, especially the NSI ones, and its time for them to return the favor.

posted by lagado at 6:09 PM on October 17, 2000

the DNS system can be expanded, just like the telephone system was expanded.

But 1-800 numbers are still the best toll free numbers to own. Especially in the advertising world...about a year ago an ad agency i do work for made a little TV commercial for a local business. Used their toll-free number---had it on screen the entire commercial. [you know those horrid local commercials.] The commercial aired and our office got a call from a post-production office at Paramount studios, asking why people kept calling their 800 number, asking about Puercos, in Spanish.

the domain-name rush is an advertising matter...the DNS system can be expanded. Consumer's attention spans won't be...not for a long while. Dot-com is going to be strong for a while i'm afraid....for sites that spend and make money. Not that that will help all the generic, un-brandable, impossible to copyright or trademark dotcom names be valuable or anything.
posted by th3ph17 at 7:06 PM on October 17, 2000

If you care about this issue -and you should- please visit http://www.tldlobby.com The current legislation is ridiculous and actively discriminates against the average individual and small companies in favour of the rich and powerful. There have been rulings against com domain holders ( e.g. barcelona.com ) which are so morally and ethically wrong, that reading the transcripts of the rulings can turn your stomach. I'm not exaggerating. They're available for reading on the Net. The bias and twisted logic defies belief.
posted by mike l at 8:17 PM on October 17, 2000

But *why* is an 800 number so much more strongly impressed upon our minds than other types of toll-free numbers? Because for years, it was the only type available and was strongly reinforced, through advertising so directed and repetitive it could probably be called branding.

It takes time to compensate for this kind of conditioning. Contrast the toll-free number situation with telephone number prefixes (the first 3 numbers of the 7). There are probably hundreds of prefixes in use, and yet we seem to cope with them just fine (although a lot of people thought it would lead to chaos when they stopped using the simpler mnemonic of words in phone numbers: e.g., Pennsylvania 6-5000).

Ditto for dot com. If the artificial scarcity hadn't been permitted for as long as it has been (and still going), the integration and acceptance of other domains wouldn't be so (relatively) difficult. The sooner it starts, the better off we'll all be, it seems to me. Just as it seems to me that it is inevitable that it will eventually happen. So why drag it out, making it more difficult for everyone, just so a few companies can make a lot of money at our expense?
posted by rushmc at 9:17 PM on October 17, 2000

Yes, it does take time, but you know what?

Tough fuckin shit. I'm sorry, but it's just that simple. The cures are worse than the disease. I find myself quite impressed by his approach: he's coming at it from an engineering standpoint, probably accidentally, but who cares. If there are enough TLD's, this "quick, register your domain in all the TLD's so that no one can infringe your trademark" stupidity will *HAVE* to end: no one will have that kind of money, even MS and IBM.

And it's *that* stupidity that will be the fatal blow to DNS; if we can avoid it, we might make it.

Rah, Karl!
posted by baylink at 8:49 AM on October 18, 2000

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