Frequently Asked Questions- last update June 1, 1998 

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*Frequently Asked Questions

*1.0 gTLD-MoU FRAMEWORK

*1.1 What is the gTLD-MoU?

The Generic Top Level Domain Memorandum of Understanding (gTLD-MoU) is the international governance framework in which policies for the administration and enhancement of the Internet's global Domain Name System (DNS) are developed and deployed. This includes, inter alia, the addition of new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) to the root of the DNS, selection of new domain name registrars, and development of equitable dispute resolution mechanisms over conflicts between parties concerning rights to domain names. These policies are developed in cooperation with the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), who manages the root of the Domain Name System (DNS) to promote stability and robustness.

In developing policies, the gTLD-MoU policy framework attempts to balance the many and often disparate interests of current and future stake holders in the Internet DNS. Toward that goal, the MoU is intentionally designed to be open-ended and will be adapted and amended to evolving requirements. The MoU was developed as part of a DNS administration plan from the now dissolved International Ad Hoc Committee (IAHC). The MoU is an explicit recognition of a need to formalize the consultative policy framework for continued evolution of the Internet DNS.

*1.2 How is policy developed in the gTLD-MoU framework?  


The policy framework related to the gTLD-MoU is developed by the gTLD-MoU Policy Oversight Committee (POC), in consultation with the Policy Advisory Body (PAB), the Council of Registrars (CORE), and public comments received through the POC's Request for Comments Proceedings.

*1.3 How can we participate in gTLD-MoU activities? 


The key participants in the DNS governance and consultative framework are the signatories to the MoU reflecting a wide range of Internet DNS stake holder interests - their common ground is that they have rough consensus on a core set of principles embodied in the gTLD-MoU and wish to participate in improving it and constructively advising on DNS policy decisions. If your organization also wishes to take part, please see Information on becoming a Signatory to the gTLD-MoU. Signatories to the gTLD-MoU can optionally participate in the gTLD-MoU Policy Advisory Body (PAB).

*1.4 Who are the members of the Policy Oversight Committee? How is it established? 


The gTLD-MoU now provides that the POC consists of  twelve members appointed as follows: The current members of the gTLD Policy Oversight Committee can be found here.

The terms of the above appointments are for three years, except that the organizations appointing two members initially appoint one for a one year term, and the other for a three year term. The gTLD-MoU directs each appointing group to endeavour to achieve equitable geographic distribution. In addition, the POC has agreed to an amendment to the gTLD-MoU to provide for the appointment of two additional members to be appointed by the gTLD-MoU Policy Advisory Body (“PAB”), made up from signatories to the gTLD-MoU. Pending this formal amendment, which requires action by IANA and ISOC, PAB has appointed two observers to POC.

*1.5 I've heard that there are planned modifications in the structure of the Policy Oversight Committee. What are they? 


From the inception of the International Ad Hoc Committee (“IAHC”) in October 1996, the IAHC and its successors, the interim Policy Oversight Committee (POC), and now the POC have explicitly and publicly recognized the need for evolutionary growth and development of the entire program for expansion of the generic Top Level Domain name system, including the composition of the POC.

The IAHC was formed and chartered by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (“IANA”) and the Internet Society (“ISOC”) to develop this expansion program. The original eleven members of the IAHC were chosen to represent as broad as possible a range of interests in the Internet community, as to be geographically distributed. The selection of members succeeded in bringing together a diversity of views and a geographically well-distributed group, but the limitation to eleven members, and the selection process, directed initially by IANA and ISOC, has been criticized as not giving explicit recognition to some interest groups.

Recognizing this, POC issued a first request for comments Notice-97-01: Review of Representation of Constituencies in the gTLD-MoU Policy Oversight Committee soliciting suggestions on how to improve the representation of stake holder constituencies in the gTLD-MoU Policy Oversight Committee. The responses to this request for comments can be found here. Consequently, POC issued a second request for comments Notice-97-04: Proposed Modification/Expansion of the gTLD-MoU Policy Oversight Committee (POC) and Amendment Process of the gTLD-MoU. The responses to this request for comments can be found here. In response to these two request for comments, the POC plans to make an announcement on restructuring of the POC.

*1.6 I've heard the Policy Oversight Committee (POC) is "based" in Switzerland? Is this true? 


No. Although some administrative activities for the gTLD-MoU are supported by ITU and the gTLD-MoU domain name dispute resolution process would be administered through the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (both located in Switzerland), the Policy Oversight Committee is legally established in Delaware, USA.

Note that in accordance with Section 6 (h) of the gTLD-MoU, the POC is to be made up of representatives geographically distributed around the world. In the Internet tradition, the POC does most of its work over the Internet or through conference calls and rarely meets in one physical location.

It is also important to note that the gTLD-MoU dispute resolution process administered through the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center can be performed on-line from any location in the world with Internet connectivity.

*1.7 How do you pronounce gTLD-MoU? 


"gee tee el dee em o you"  And yes, this wins the Internet's worst acronym contest.

*2.0 gTLDS 


*2.1 What are the new generic Top Level Domains? 
The new gTLDs are:
 
.firm for businesses, or firms 
.shop for businesses offering goods to purchase
.web  for entities emphasizing activities related to the World Wide Web
.arts for entities emphasizing cultural and entertainment activities
.rec for entities emphasizing recreation/entertainment activities
.info for entities providing information services
.nom for those wishing individual or personal nomenclature, i.e., a personal nom de plume

Note: an initial set of seven new generic TLDs was chosen by the International Ad Hoc Committee (IAHC) in its final report. Following a public request for comments on the new names (Notice-97-02: Review of new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs), and consultation with the Council of Registrars (CORE) and the gTLD-MoU Policy Advisory Body, all of the gTLD names in the IAHC final report were confirmed except .store which was replaced by .shop (also see 2.2).

*2.2 Why did you choose these names and why only seven? 


Broad categories were chosen, possible candidates were listed and then we drilled down to a set that represented a synthesis of public comments, previous proposals, contributions (e.g., see http://www.iahc.org/contrib/informal.html) and discussions during the International Ad Hoc Committee's activities.

We only selected seven as an initial number since given that the DNS is critical to the operation of the Internet, we thought it prudent to define initial changes on a relatively modest scale, with later evaluation and modification as appropriate. In addition, the trademark community has repeatedly expressed the opinion of its reticence that new gTLDs should be created because it increases their need to police for domain name registrations for trademark violations. Seven represented a compromise between different viewpoints within the IAHC and public comments on the number of gTLDs to introduce in a first phase. The intellectual property community was especially adamant that the viability of the dispute resolution processes being implemented under the gTLD-MoU be demonstrated before further expansion of the top level domain space.

Because of some criticism on the choice of names, the POC issued a public request for comments on the new names in Notice-97-02: Review of new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs). The partial results of this request for comments are available here. In consideration of these results, and after consultation with the Council of Registrars (CORE) and the gTLD-MoU Policy Advisory Body, all new gTLD names in the IAHC final report were confirmed except .store which has now been replaced by .shop.

*2.3 With whom and when can I register a domain name in one of the new Top Level Domains? 


Registrations can be performed through registrars who are members of CORE (Council of Registrars), some of whom are taking "pre-applications" for new names registered under the new 7 gTLDs (see 2.4 below). The launch of the actual registrations was planned for March 1998 but this has been delayed by the publication of the United States Government's Green Paper on January 30, 1998. While the Green Paper incorporates many of the ideas developed in
the gTLD-MoU framework, it also contains views divergent with the gTLD-MoU (e.g., the concept of profit-making registries which the POC believes is flawed). We hope for CORE to be able to begin full operations as soon as possible but no firm date can be given because of the intervention of the US government into this process.

Comments on the Green Paper are accepted until March 23, 1998, and should be sent to dns@ntia.doc.gov. All comments received are posted at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/domainname/130dftmail/.

*2.4 I've heard that some companies are offering "pre-registration" in the new gTLDs. Is this true? 


Yes, but there is considerable misunderstanding about this. What these companies are offering is that when registration activities commence for the new gTLDs, they will submit your application for the registration of a specific domain name in one of the new gTLDs. No CORE registrar can guarantee that your name will be registered since there will be many registrars from around the world submitting applications and they are delegated on a first-come, first-served round-robin basis (see 2.5 below).

There have been some suggestions that POC ban registrars from taking "pre-registrations". After carefully considering this, POC decided not to ban pre-registrations as it could not prevent other third parties (non-CORE members) from queuing registrations and submitting them through a CORE registrar. And indeed, there are many companies doing exactly this.

*2.5 How does the "round-robin" approach work for the allocation of new domain names? 


The principles for allocating domain names from all CORE registrars are based on fairness to users and registrars and "non-starvation" of the Shared Registry System (SRS). For a more detailed technical presentation on fairness issues during SRS startup, see the presentation by Jeff Silberman from Emergent Corporation: Playing Fair - The SRS Retirement Engine (HTML and PowerPoint 95 or 97). Generally, this is how it works:

Fairness among Registrar Submissions

Fairness to Users *2.6 Are there any advantages in attempting to pre-apply for a domain name with more than 1 registrar? 
Yes, for the following reasons: Finally, it should be said that considerable time and effort has been made in trying to make the fairest possible system to both registrars and users.

*2.7 Some registrars are offering a fee-based preferred entry in their internal queues. What is your opinion on this? 


First, it is clear that this represents a phenomenon unique to the start-up conditions for CORE. Second, it also reflects a tremendous pent-up demand for new and interesting domain names. The POC take the position that each registrar member of CORE is subject to local law, including local law regarding competition, consumer protection, etc. As described above, no registrar will have a favored position in the initial application process (see 2.5 above).

The position of POC is that in a transition to a competitive environment, it is clear that consumers need to have a choice. This validates the concept of a shared registry system where consumers can choose among or change registrars based on price and service. If all CORE registrars were proposing only a tiered price registration scheme, then POC would be concerned. However, there are clearly choices available to users and it is up to the consumer whether they wish to pay additional monies to registrars in order to improve their chances vis-à-vis each registrar's internal queues. Consumers should be aware though that because of the round-robin approach described in 2.5 above, this may present absolutely no advantage to users.

*2.8 What is to prevent CORE registrars from speculating in names themselves? 


In a competitive and open registrar market, this is clearly a possibility. However, this activity is forbidden in Article 5 (i) of the CORE-MoU where it says "(i) CORE shall establish and enforce requirements that Registrars shall not register SLDs in the CORE-gTLDs for their own account or for accounts of an Affiliate for the purpose of trafficking in SLDs for sale, resale or transfer to applicants." Abuses of this rule should be brought to the attention of CORE or POC.

*2.9 I don't like the name .firm for businesses. Why didn't you choose typical business terms like .inc, .corp, .ltd, .plc, .gmbh, .sarl? 


These terms have legal significance and it is typically illegal to use them unless the registering entity actually is "incorporated", a "limited liability company", a "public listed company", etc. Verifying this would require pre-screening activities by domain name registrars (as is the case in the UK with plc.uk and ltd.uk). It was thought preferable to avoid gTLDs with specific pre-screening requirements at this time.

*2.10 I don't like the name .nom for a "personal" Top Level Domain. Why didn't you choose .id, .me, .ind, or .per?  


TLD
Reason for Rejection
.id
  • .id is already allocated as the ISO 3166 two-letter country code for Indonesia
  • all two-letter top level domain are reserved for future ISO 3166 country-code allocations
.me
  • all two-letter top level domain codes are reserved for future ISO 3166 country-code allocations
.ind
  • .ind is the three-letter ISO 3166 country code for India, we considered it prudent to hold this code in reserve
.per
  • .per is the three-letter ISO 3166 country code for Peru, we considered it prudent to hold this code in reserve

*2.11 Why don't you create a Top Level Domain like .xxx to indicate adult content? 
This suggestion is made very often with the argument that it could be useful in isolating and filtering adult-oriented content from minors on the Internet. There are differing opinions of the possible effectiveness of this. This proposal is under ongoing review following relevant solicitation of comments in: Notice-97-02: Review of new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs).

*2.12 Can any new gTLD Registrar register a domain name for me in any of the new Top Level Domains?


Yes. All gTLD registrars will be able to register in any of the new gTLDs. However, it could be possible that some registrars do not wish to service certain gTLDs. For example, if .xxx above was created, some registrars might refuse to service it.

*2.13 How much will I be charged for a registration in one of the new Top Level Domains?


This is not stipulated and it is up to registrars themselves to set prices. However, note that registrars must compete on price and service and since there will be many other registrars having access to the same gTLDs, they will have to compete to get and retain your business. It is entirely conceivable that some registrars might bundle domain name registrations for free with other services.

*2.14 I've got a great idea for a new Top Level Domain, how can I suggest it? 


The gTLD-MoU Policy Oversight Committee plans to formally solicit public comments on new gTLDs to be added, if any, in next phases. These Request for Comments Proceedings will be announced on both gTLD-MoU related mailing lists (see http://www.gtld-mou.org/docs/maillist.htm).

*2.15 Will holders of identical second-level domain names under one TLD (e.g. foobar.com) be able to assert some right to the identical second-level domain under another TLD (e.g. foobar.firm)? 


Not from the mere fact that they already have a domain name in .com or in another gTLD.  In fact, one reason for adopting additional gTLDs is to allow others to use some of the "good" names in the new gTLDs. If you are the first in line, you can obtain the domain names that you want in the new gTLDs, even if they are already registered by someone else in .com (just as there are many identical names registered in .com and .net which belong to different entities).

However, your domain name registrations could be challenged by others if in fact they embody existing trademark or other intellectual property rights. Second level domains in the new gTLDs that embody exiting trademark rights may normally be held only by the owner of the trademark rights. If you register a domain name in any of the new gTLDs that embodies trademark rights owned by another person, the registration will be subject to cancellation if the trademark owner brings a challenge under the dispute settlement regime (see more details on the gTLD-MoU dispute resolution activities).
 

*3.0 gTLD REGISTRAR SELECTION


*3.1 Who will be the new gTLD Registrars?

The first set of new gTLD Registrars were selected through an application process open from July 18, 1997 - October 16, 1997. The results of the gTLD registrar selection process can be monitored here.

*3.2 I heard that the new gTLD Registrar would be allocated by lottery and geographical region. Is this true?


No. Following criticism of the lottery and geographical allocation selection process described in the IAHC final report, it was dropped. Please see the related press release and the final application form.

*3.3 Do potential new registrars need to sign the gTLD-MoU in order to apply?


No. But successful applicants will have to sign the CORE-MoU which is much more specific vis-à-vis operational and policy issues and it makes references to the principles in the gTLD-MoU. Also note that signatories to the gTLD-MoU can join the Policy Advisory Body where there are many discussions on policy and operational issues related to the gTLD-MoU - this is information which potential applicants may find useful.

*3.4 When will the selection process for new gTLD Registrars open again?


We do not know at this time but there is the necessity to coordinate the initial set of registrars in their new activities. Once these registrars are up, working and stable, we foresee the application process to be reopened, perhaps with entirely new qualification criteria. Our intent is to permit any qualified entity to become a registrar but those qualifications will require review of the experience from the first selection round and the evolving requirements that CORE sets for itself to assure operational stability.

*3.5 I wish to apply to be a registrar but can you give more information on the insurance requirements?


The registrar application states "Applicant must attach a certificate of insurance from an insurance company reflecting commercial general liability coverage in an amount no less than US$500,000, starting no later than October 1, 1997, and indicating the registration or reference number of the insurance company.  If the certificate is not in English, applicant must also attach a notarized translation."

Legal issues involving registrar liability may be treated differently in different countries. Your decision on what type of insurance to buy will depend on advice from your legal counsel and  insurance provider. There is no obligation to include intellectual property  insurance in the commercial general liability policy.
 

*4.0 OTHER GENERAL QUESTIONS


*4.1 What is "lame delegation"?

Lame Delegation is when a nameserver is pointed out for a domain from a parent domain, but the nameserver is in fact not authoritative for that domain. An example is if the nameserver for "web." points out the nameserver "foo.bar.web." as being authoritative (a master or slave) for the zone "bar.web.", even though it is not.

Specifically, from RFC 1612:

*4.2 How long can a domain be without an authoritative server?

A domain is not 100% reliable while it has some lame delegations in the parent domain. Because of that, the owner of the domain should at all costs keep the information in the DNS up to date -- which includes the information in the parent domain.

Theoretically a domain can be registered without any authoritative servers, but that domain will not be accessible from the rest of the Internet.

*4.3 What's the advantage of the optional 60-day waiting period at registration time?


When you request the 60-day waiting period, there are several advantages (if your planning will allow you to wait for this period). First, the name you requested will be posted during this time so that you can wait to see if any third party comes forward to challenge the proposed name.  Thus, you would become aware of any potential conflict before you begin to use the name in your business.  Second, the fact that you did voluntarily wait for 60 days would be a factor to be considered in your favor if, after your use commences, a third party came forward to challenge your domain name.  In sum, the 60-day waiting period should be viewed as a prudent measure from a legal and business planning point of
view.

*4.4 In the registration form, there is a field "Applicant declines mandatory submission to arbitration in the case of Claims...". What does this mean?


If a third party seeks to challenge your use of a particular domain name, there are several approaches that a third party may use.  One is to commence litigation against you, which could be costly and time consuming to both parties. An alternative would be for the third party to elect to use one of 3 potential dispute resolution alternatives: mediation, expedited arbitration (optional as noted) or the ACP procedure (see related information on gTLD-MoU dispute resolution activities).

The ACP procedure will consider only the issue of which party has a superior right to the domain name itself.  The mediation and arbitration procedures will also allow the decision-maker and the parties to consider any monetary damages issues, if one of the parties has raised such issues.

Thus, if you tick the arbitration paragraph, you will bind yourself to that procedure, should a third-party challenge your domain name. But both parties would gain the benefits of an efficient, inexpensive and quick dispute resolution procedure (especially when compared to the litigation alternatives).


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