Top-Level Domain Name Sale
At this writing, more than a thousand new top-level domain names (TLDs) are just starting to go live. TLDs are the descriptors that follow the period in a Web address, such as .com, .org, and .gov. Up until 2014, there were 22 general TLDs and 280 country-specific ones.108 Some of the new TLDs will be written in Arabic, Chinese, and Russian scripts; others are likely to be company names, such as .google or .amazon; still others will be generic terms, such as .blog or .pizza. Successful registrants will have the right to sell second-level domains (the portion of the address that precedes the TLD). Thus, popular TLDs could also be very lucrative to their holders. Verisign, which currently manages the .com and .net TLDs, reported $874 million in 2012 revenues. ICANN accepted proposals from applicants for both open-use TLDs and restricted TLDs, the use of which the successful applicant might reserve solely for itself. L’Oreal is seeking the TLD .beauty and has stated that it would reserve some second-level domains, such as personal.beauty for itself. Amazon indicated that all of the TLDs for which it applied will be closed, for its use only. ICANN has indicated, however, that it has not yet determined whether to allow “closed generic domains.”109 [For more on the new TLDs, see http://newgtlds.icann.org/en]
1. If you were a member of ICANN, who would you vote to give the TLD of .amazon to—Amazon.com or the consortium of Latin American countries through which the Amazon River runs?110 Would you agree to the creation of such TLDs as .Jew, .Christian, .Muslim, .Baha’i, .Moses, .Jesus, and .Mohamad? Explain. Should community, cultural, historical interests—such as the use of a name—be in control of commercial interests and individual companies? Discuss.
2. Applicants were charged $185,000 for each TLD application they filed. They will incur another $25,000 annually for each TLD they retain.111 Do these fees raise ethical issues in terms of who might have wanted to control a particular TLD, but were financially unable to pay these fees? Explain.
3. Donuts Inc. filed the most applications, 307, and paid $57 million for the privilege to do so.112 It was the only applicant for 149 of them. Some have expressed concern with Donuts Inc. as an appropriate registrant because of its alleged ties to Demand Media, “a company with a well-documented history of providing services to spammers and other perpetrators of Internet abuses.”113 Demand Media has been a “host to sites that commit ‘cybersquatting.’”114 Would you vote to allow Donuts Inc. to control over a hundred new TLDs? Discuss.
4. As stated above, Donuts Inc. applied for 307 TLDs. Google applied for 101 TLDs; Amazon for 76.115 Should one entity be permitted to control that many TLDs? Is it anticompetitive to give control over generic TLDs to private companies? Discuss.