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August 9, 2008, New York - Several days ago in our “Update” post, I portrayed us as 95% of the way toward creating a landscape that will allow us to apply for the .nyc TLD. Last night I received an email from ICANN entitled “Updates to New gTLD Program Implementation” that leads me to think that last 5% might not be as easy to achieve as I’d expected.

The email linked to a paper prepared by ICANN and its “auction design consultant” and discusses the options for selecting TLD developers in situations where there’s more than one interested party. The paper, Economic Case for Auctions in New gTLDs, written by PowerAuctions LLC, an auction manager, purports to make the economic case for auctions as the preferred tie-breaking mechanism for resolving contention among identical or confusingly similar applications for new TLDs. I use the word “purports” because of the seeming self-interest of an auction company providing an “authoritative” paper on the efficacy of its core business. I’ve contacted ICANN to determine the status of the paper, whether there will be others reviewing such alternatives as comparative analysis and the lottery methodologies. See my Point of Information message to ICANN.

Whatever the status of this “Auctions” paper, this is an enormously important issue to us for two reasons: The first is the impact it might have on our ability to acquire the .nyc TLD. The paper begins with the premise that names should go to those who can generate the most income from their operation - more is better. And when there is a name dispute between Apple Computer, Apple Records, and the Apple Pie Bakers Association for the .apple TLD, perhaps more is better.

But with the basis for cities acquiring TLDs being their capacity to help deal with far deeper needs - including the social, economic and cultural life of the cities and their people - it becomes apparent that the Economic Case for Auctions’ fundamental premise does not apply in all instances. But we’ll withhold judgment until we hear from ICANN on our Point of Information request .

The second reason the issues discussed in the paper are important to us is that we too need to develop conflict solutions. In our case it’s about second level names: Who gets potentially important names such as astoria, finance, news, and sports .nyc?

We’ve placed resources for examining this issue on our Domain Name Allocation Plan page and look forward to hearing from New Yorkers on the issue. This Fall, as part of our Names for a Livable City project, we’ll be visiting the city’s community boards to gain a greater public perspective on this question. You’ll see a post on this here soon. (Commons photo courtesy of vernhart.)

Learn more about The Campaign on our wiki pages.

Filed August 9th, 2008 under City-TLDs, Auction, Competition, Domain Names, ICANN, Civics, Governance
  1. It’s been 5 days and I’ve not received a response from ICANN.

    Comment by Tom Lowenhaupt on August 14, 2008 at 9:31 am

  2. Tom,

    Are you working with, or competing against, the City of New York to acquire Dot-NYC? Based on one of your previous blogs, I would imagine that cities will have a significant interest in acquiring their Dot-City domain to add another revenue line item on their P&L along with the prestige.

    Kind Regards,

    Raymond Marshall
    NuMedia Concepts, LLC

    Comment by Southland.LA on August 15, 2008 at 12:24 am

  3. Raymond,

    There are many ways cities can benefit from the careful development of a TLD - good domain names, identity, connectivity, and portals being amongst them. And the combination of these can play a significant role in advancing a city’s economic development.

    But I beg to differ on the prospect of TLD fees providing a significant revenue stream to a city of New York’s size. Our city’s revenue budget for FY 2009 is $59 billion, and with deficit clouds on the horizon, every little bit helps, but as a plug for that potential hole, a TLD is fairly insignificant.

    Indeed, one might imagine a scenario where a TLD could prove a drain on a municipal budget. For example, imagine if New York City invested resources to establish a department to administer the .nyc TLD. But then the predicted revenue shortfalls for FY 2010, 2011, and 2012 arrive and budget pressures cause the city to sell off its domain names to the highest bidders, with hoarding, delayed deployment, ineffective use, and scarcity of good names for local civic and business use resulting. Imagine that department’s revenue shortfall if, as a consequence, the city’s brand is diminished and a .nyc name has the panache and value of a dead week old fish.

    I can’t speak for other cities, and indeed there might be instances where TLDs become bankable resources for boutique cities, somewhat like postage stamps are for Niuafo’ou, or like the .la and .tv TLDs are presumably doing for Laos and Tuvalu.

    But New York City is a 400 year old institution that has experienced its ups and downs and today fully realizes the value of its brand. And to answer your question, we are working with city government and its institutions and residents to create for .nyc the governance, technical, and management structures that best serve our city’s future.

    Tom

    Comment by Thomas Lowenhaupt on August 15, 2008 at 11:33 am

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