• Meeting - Whose TLD Is It?

last modified October 22, 2011 by tomlowenhaupt

On September 9, 2011 we convened a meeting on the question: "Whose TLD Is It: the City of New York, the State of New York, or the "Internet Community"? The nexus question was also touched upon. That meeting is this page's focus.

The Hangout Screen Shot


Google+'s Hangout proved an effective and efficient channel for connecting 5 experts with TLD. Hangout participants are shown in the horizontal bar, from left to right: Michael Palage (also in top window), Joly MacFie, Robert Pollard, Seth Johnson, and Thomas Lowenhaupt.

 (Commons photo courtesy of Patti Shubitz.)

  Meeting - Governance as a Common Pool Resource

























































If you consider that there are several options for New York's TLD: .newyork, .newyorkcity, or the presumed .nyc, the "Whose TLD" question is quite complicated. With the city, state, and "Internet Community" having more or less rights or power to claim the TLD, and with NYC an international airport code, and Newark Airport operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey located in Newark, New Jersey, the complexity quadruples.

The September 9 meeting was convened by Connecting.nyc Inc. and moderated by Thomas Lowenhaupt. The participants were Seth Johnson, a New York based information quality specialist and policy advocate, Joly MacFie, V.P. Internet Society-NY,  Michael Palage, the day's expert guest, an attorney and former member of the ICANN's board of directors, and Robert Pollard, founder of Information Habitat: Where Information Lives, a United Nations NGO. 

During the hour meeting - as is each Thursday's "Tea and New York's TLD" meeting - the complexity of the question was hinted by the number of entities with a role in defining New York's TLD usage and suitability: the City of New York, the State of New York, ICANN, IANA, and the U.S. Department of Commerce's NTIA.

The Video

Joly MacFie captured and published a 53 minute video of the Hangout, available here. Some minor interruptions are present, but it's mostly comprehensible.

The Conversation

The Hangout began at 10 AM with Thomas Lowenhaupt (host), Michael Palage, and Robert Pollard present. The following are minutes from the conversation. Time indications are presented to aide in locating the corresponding video recording. 

  • Tom Lowenhaupt introduced the participants and asked Michael Palage if the new TLD program was on schedule.
    • Seth Johnson joined the conversation at about +1 minute.
  • Mike responded that he doesn't see anything that will impede the rollout of the new TLDs. The EU concerns should be ironed out at a meeting with the GAC at the next ICANN meeting. But we need to pay close attention to the IANA contract.
  • Tom Lowenhaupt (at 6 minutes) asked: "What TLD is appropriate for New York. With a new governor who had a strong plank on information policy in his election effort, what might he think of .nyc vs. .newyork? What if the mayor of Niagara Falls, New York expressed an interest in .newyork rather than .nyc? And what about .nyc vis a vis the airport code of NYC. Does that involve Newark, New Jersey where one of the three NYC airports exists. And then what about the Port Authority, which oversees the airports?"
  • Mike Palage - Page 2.18 of module 2 of the Application Guidebook, says, "the level of government and which administrative agency is responsible for the filing of letters of support or non-objection is a matter for each national administration to determine. Applicants should consult within the relevant jurisdiction to determine the appropriate level of support." To New York's TLD dreams that means the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA). "NTIA will most likely be making the call on the appropriate level of support." And thus this might vary from country to country.
  • Tom Lowenhaupt (at 8 minutes) - What about the role of IANA in evaluating the existence of consensus in formulating an application by the "relevant stakeholders."
  • Mike Palage (at 9 minutes) - He sees this as a role for NTIA in determining the footprint for a geographic area. He does not believe that policy question has yet to be addressed at NTIA.
  • Robert Pollard (at 14 minutes) - Noted that a recent report showed the importance of New York as a regional communication area.
  • Michael Palage - Regional ID used to be told by telephone area codes. 
  • Michael Palage (at 16 minutes) - Some entity needs to do baseline research on nexus requirement. But how do you determine the footprint. It's a two part question: Using the example of Philadelphia, if the NTIA says the broader metropolitan area is the appropriate applicant area; then the ICANN guidebook requires letters of support or non objection  from the city and surrounding townships and suburbs. What happens if you get an application for .philly and letters of support and non objection from say 5 geo entities. And then a year down the road an election change results in a letter being rescinded. He used the example of Mumbai where a previous letter of approval was rescinded by a new administration. And the possible complication of the owner of philly.com (a newspaper) challenging a .philly application.
  • Tom Lowenhaupt (at 21 minutes) - Asking about nexus and who qualifies for a second level city domain name, he inquired if contract and certificate were the best methods for determining eligibility. How do you avoid the slippery slope leading to a .
  • Michael Palage (at 23 minutes) -  As the industry standard is the more names sold the better, standards have been lax. He sees nexus as another issue the NTIA might look into when it examines the appropriate level of support for a TLD application.
  • Seth Johnson (at 25 minutes) - Observed that it was difficult to create nexus policy without having decided the footprint question - who makes the decisions on geo boundaries.The tradition is first-come first-served and Intellectual Property rights, and nexus discussion is highly dependent on footprint.
  • Michael Palage (at 27 minutes) - The state and federal trademark law get involved here with junior and senior rights.
  • Michael Palage (at 28 minutes) - He sees this "Hangout" as important is that it seeds a discussion, a dialogue on these issues. So that when the NTIA starts discussing these issues they are not doing so in a vacuum.
  • Robert Pollard (at 30 minutes) - Glad to see that we are raising what is actually a global issue.
  • Joly MacFie (at 31 minutes) - (question inaudible)
  • Michael Palage (at 33 minutes) - Responding to Joly's question about bulk registrations(?), Pale responded that the latest guidebook, responding to GAC pressure mandated that both sunrise and registration be used at launch. In the .mobi situation, 3-5K generic identifiers were set aside. Golf and Tennis were removed due to trademark claims from Time-Warner, as owners of magazines with those names. With .nyc the question of how second level names conflict with trademark claims needs to be answered. 
  • Joly MacFie (at 36 minute) - (inaudible question)
  • Michael Palage (at 37 minutes) - It's important to pay attention to intellectual property interests, they are an elephant that does not fit under the rug. 
  • Seth Johnson (at 38 minutes) - Observed that governance legitimacy can be buttressed by pointing to "statutory rights." IP rights are by country and treaty. We must make clear that rights are set and modified soverignties. We'll be better off if we involve the people who create sovereignties which in turn create IP rights within a "federalism" of jurisdictions. How do we relate these rights to the people who created those rights.
  • Michael Palage (at 40 minutes) - Said bottom up is more responsive way to address these issues. But governments pass laws and what do we do if a city council passes a law about use of a domain. And then the state decides to pass a law. When these laws conflict with one another or other law sets is an area we'll soon run up against. He noted that the refrain from Singapore (where the ICANN met when passing its new TLD program) was that the approval of the application guidebook was just the end of the beginning. Having worked with 1/2 of the new TLDs issued over the last decade he said we can expect each TLD to have unique issues, and this will like apply to city-TLDs. 
  • Seth Johnson (at 42 minutes) - We'll face a contentious future if we assume that IP rights are fixed and not assigned through the people.
  • Michael Palage (at 43 minutes) - Thinking about IP from a nexus perspective one might see additional complexity of city contracts to sell a trademarked good from another jurisdiction - whose rights? 
  • Joly MacFie (at 45 minutes) - Raised the issue of the NTIA's FNOI (Further Notice of Inquiry) and the IANA contract. It seemed to amount to throwing a spanner into the process and a response to the .xxx situation. What now?
  • Michael Palage (at 46 minutes) - NTIA is still developing the final document. IANA is working under a six month extension ending March 30. This a few days prior to the closing of the ICANN filing window of April 12.
  • Parting identification notes by participants:
    • Seth Johnson is with New Yorkers for Fair Use.
    • Robert Pollard is founder of Information Habitat: Where Information Lives, a U.N. affiliated NGO
    • Joly MacFie is V.P. of ISOC-NY and an active member of ALAC.
    • Michael Palage is CEO of Ferris Global, providing consulting services to registration authorities in the domain name space and a former member of the ICANN's board of directors.
    • Thomas Lowenhaupt is founding director of Connecting.nyc Inc.

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