News and Updates

How NameJet has changed over the past four years

Domain Name Wire - Wed, 2020-01-15 16:44

Joseph Peterson returns to write about NameJet. The Chinese market implosion and new expired domain deals have changed the face of NameJet since he last wrote.

I stopped writing articles about domains at NameJet for DNW about 4 years ago.  “My how time flies!” would be one reaction.  But some things never change.  Or do they?  How has the domain market changed?

Rewind to January 2016, and we were looking at a record-breaking month for NameJet – technically a recap of December 2015.  Indeed, 2015 set and broke new records almost every month, as sale prices soared and transaction volume ballooned.  Chiefly this sudden growth occurred within a few categories of short domains prized by China, which were traded eagerly by speculators worldwide.  It was the year of the Chinese surge, as the graybeards will remember.  Prices were only going up, would always go up.  And if that market sector has deflated somewhat since, well, that may explain some of the gray beards.

Now we’re reviewing sales from December 2019.  What changes can we observe?  Let me reproduce this data from exactly 4 years ago:

 Before 2015During 2015 Months > 100 Domains11.6%66.7% Domains Per Month (Mean)82.3142.1 Months w/ Domain > $100k13.3%58.3% Mean Price$5435$7220 Monthly Median Price (Mean)$3075$3229

As before, only sales above $2k are included in this analysis.  The vast majority of sales occur below that threshold.

Prior to 2015, it was very unusual for NameJet to see a month with more than 100 sales over $2k.  In fact, that happened only 11.6% of the time.  During 2015, however, such high-end sales volume became the norm, beginning in January with 148 domains, continuing through November with 233, and culminating in December with a staggering 383 domain sales.

And last month?  Only 68.  Even including an additional 14 sales from SnapNames over $2k, the total of 82 domains barely ties the average volume for NameJet alone during the years prior to 2015.  And compared to the Chinese surge, it’s a drastic drop-off.

Likewise, it was uncommon – prior to 2015 – for NameJet to score a sale above $100k.  Yet during 2015 this happened in 7 out of 12 months, compared to just 13.3% of months during all preceding years.

Once again, this past December at NameJet doesn’t measure up – not with a mere $23.1k as its high sale.  That’s a far cry from 4 years earlier, in which NameJet had 36 sales ABOVE $23.1k.  Those 36 higher sales ranged up to $184k and averaged $46.1k – double the highest sale of last month.

Both in terms of sale price and transaction volume, therefore, NameJet in December 2019 is a pale shadow of its 2015 glory.  But how should we interpret that fact?  Here, for the sake of argument, are 3 hypotheses:

  • Overall domain valuation and/or market activity has declined.
  • The real decline is primarily or solely due to the collapse of a bubble in the Chinese market sector.
  • An apparent decline in market activity is actually due to a shift away from NameJet toward other venues or methods of trading domains.

As contributing factors, any or all of those explanations might be true.  But which and to what extent?

Take a look at the average sale price.  Prior to 2015, the mean was $5435.  During 2015, it climbed to $7220, whether as a result of increased valuations or extra bidder competition or even due to the presence of certain kinds of premium domain inventory among NameJet auctions (which might no longer be offered to NameJet buyers with the same regularity).

So what was the mean sale price last month at NameJet?  $4670.  Unquestionably it’s lower – not just lower than 2015 levels but also down 14% compared to the multi-year average from years prior to 2015, which includes even the lowest-performing years of NameJet’s infancy.  If the overall domain market is appreciating AND there has been no decline in bidder activity at NameJet AND the same quantity of quality domains is being offered via NameJet, then we would expect this average sale price to increase faster than inflation.  But it has not.  Whereas the NASDAQ doubled during the past 5 years, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average nearly did so, the average price of high-end NameJet sales seems to have fallen.  Crucially, this is measured against levels prior to the Chinese surge.

Median sale prices show neither decline nor growth.  Last month, the median was $3200, which is pretty much identical to the pre-2015 average of $3075 and also to the average throughout 2015, which remained $3229.  In other words, exactly half of NameJet sales over $2k fall within the range of $2k to $3.2k with the other half above $3.2k.  This was true yesterday, and it remains true today.  If our data included sales below $2k too, then we could probably extract more useful conclusions from the median.

What about total spending?  The blockbuster month of December 2015 charted $2,964,861 from sales of domains above $2k.  But that’s not representative of 2015 overall.  NameJet didn’t surpass $1 million during the first half of 2015.  In fact, it set a record in November 2015 with $1.56M – just half of what the following month would go on to achieve.

Last month, NameJet scored a much more modest $317.6k.  Is that good, bad, or normal?  What I can say is this: Of the 70 months that happen to be represented in my database, which begin with June 2011 and run through March 2017, last month only outperformed 11 and was beaten by the other 59.  Therefore, even if we exclude the entirety of the Chinese surge during 2015, December 2019 would rank well below average – somewhere between the 15th and 19th percentile for that 6-year period.

From nearly $3 million in December 2015 to just over $300k last December – that’s a precipitous 90% drop-off!  On the other hand, it’s what we’d expect to see if the Chinese-style inventory at NameJet were to disappear altogether.  Quoting my article from 4 years ago:

By my estimate, as many as 328 of these [383] auctions can be credited to China … That would leave only 55 domains that were obviously non-Chinese. … [So] it seems that Chinese-style domains contributed 85.6% by count, 88.8% by revenue.

Remember, last month had 68 sales above $2k.  Of those, how many could be classified as fitting a Chinese-style category?  Well, there were 18 domains of 2, 3, or 4 characters.  Longer numerical domains did not appear.  And of the 18 short domains, 5 were pronounceable 4-letter .COMs, which I’d classify rather as western-style brandables.  That would leave 68 – 13 = 55 domains that are obviously of non-Chinese interest.

It’s surprising that the number of non-Chinese domain sales at NameJet turns out to be exactly the same in December 2019 as it was in December 2015.  Domains from the Chinese market sector have mostly disappeared from the NameJet charts, whereas other domains show up in the same quantity as 4 years ago.

Is that expected or unexpected?  If we think of there being two separate but overlapping domain markets – one for China and one for the west – then one has shrunk or slowed or depreciated or moved elsewhere, while the other remains as it was.  Domains in non-Chinese categories are still being sold as before.  What’s significant, however, is that spending on Chinese-style inventory – by people inside China and outside – has not been redirected to western domain categories.  Wherever the extra volume of investment / bidding from 2015 has gone, it definitely has not gone into other domain sales over $2k at NameJet.

It’s hard to disregard so many indicators of decline.  Yet we should be wary of simple explanations.  Let me stress the limitations of this analysis.  NameJet is only one marketplace – not the domain market as a whole.  Moreover, it is a particular kind of marketplace – an auction platform that mixes expired domain inventory and owner-listed items.  NameJet has lost much of its expired domain inventory, including the valuable Enom inventory, to GoDaddy Auctions. A large fraction of premium domains, which can fetch prices above $2k, are drawn from non-expired portfolios.  Insofar as owners choose to list their premium domains elsewhere – perhaps at Sedo or with brokers – that can cause a decline in high-end sales at NameJet.  Of course, December 2019 might be only a fluke – a weak month flanked by more robust sales before and after.  Is that so?  We shall see in articles to come.

Check back soon for a recap of December’s NameJet sales.

Joseph Peterson wrote over 140 articles for DNW between 2013 and 2017, followed by 2 years as Epik’s Director of Operations.  He is currently developing a marketplace for shared ownership of domains.

© DomainNameWire.com 2019. This is copyrighted content. Domain Name Wire full-text RSS feeds are made available for personal use only, and may not be published on any site without permission. If you see this message on a website, contact editor (at) domainnamewire.com. Latest domain news at DNW.com: Domain Name Wire.

Related posts:
  1. Should GoDaddy allow investors to list domains in the expired auction stream?
  2. How big is China? Big.
  3. A great week for domain sales. Here are some you might want to buy
Categories: News and Updates

Vint Cerf and Mike Godwin follow bad talking points for .Org deal

Domain Name Wire - Wed, 2020-01-15 15:44

Pricing and investment arguments are wrong.


Ethos Capital and Internet Society are working overtime to spin the deal to sell .org for $1.35 billion as a good thing. There are certainly some good things about it, but I cringe when I read certain talking points.

One is around pricing. Yesterday, from ISOC board member Mike Godwin:

But could it be at the public’s expense? What about the argument that the prices for domain-name renewals will soar? This argument ignores common sense — you don’t take over a successful business and price most of your customers out of the market or spur a mass migration to an alternative product. Not only would that permanently destroy any faith in .ORG — the business you just bought — but it also would undermine TLDs generally. (I’ve suggested, not entirely jokingly, that the proper response if anybody tries to extort huge renewal fees for .ORG is to launch a mass one-time conversion to the .WTF top-level domain. I’d happily lead any charge in the .WTF Resistance.) In any case, demand for TLDs isn’t inelastic, despite what the deal’s critics say — there are hundreds of TLDs and customers aren’t locked in. It takes only a few minutes of studying PIR’s year-by-year financials to see that jacking up domain-name renewal prices in the way the critics fear would be suicidal for PIR or any other registry that depends primarily on predictable renewal rates, and it would destroy the value of .ORG as well. I don’t think any of the companies that sought to buy PIR were dumb enough to invest a billion dollars in buying the .ORG business in order to destroy it.

And from Vint Cerf:

Moreover, as a for-profit company, PIR has a clear rationale for not driving away its customer base by any excessive raising of prices. Given current .org pricing, a 10% increase in price would be less than $1. Even if an organization had registered a dozen .org domain names, it is hard to believe that such an increase would be viewed as unsustainable for most non-profits. Of course, companies that hold domain names in the tens of thousands for speculative purposes might find such increases more troubling, but I don’t have much sympathy for that business model in the context of the organizations the .org brand is intended to serve.

This thinking ignores the economics of domain names. Godwin suggests that .org customers aren’t locked in. OK, then ISOC should figure out what would be involved with switching from InternetSociety.org to InternetSociety.charity. It would cost lots of money and time, and the headaches from switching email would last for years. True, there is price elasticity to domain demand. But for renewals, it takes a huge price increase to change demand.

Cerf is correct that most charities won’t blink an eye at a $1 increase in the cost of renewing their domain name, at least in the first world. But this assumes that Ethos and whoever owns .org in the future won’t raise prices more than 10% per year. Calling on Godwin’s words, jacking up .org renewal prices would not be ‘suicidal’ to .org. Even if renewals were $100 a year, it wouldn’t be worth the pain for most non-profits to switch.

The other issue I have is with the idea that Ethos can invest in .org to create new products and services for non-profits. It certainly can, but there’s no reason PIR can’t under the current arrangement. Cerf writes:

Second, when the operation of .org was transferred to the Internet Society, it created the non-profit called Public Interest Registry, or PIR. PIR’s primary objectives were, first, to operate .org and, second, to provide significant support for the Internet Society by essentially allocating any surplus from the operation of PIR to fund the Internet Society’s work in promoting a more accessible and secure Internet. This amounted to about $50 million a year, which was hugely helpful to the Internet Society but limited PIR’s ability to invest in improvements to the operation of .org or even the creation of new products and services for the non-profit community.

The idea that Public Interest Registry is cash-strapped because it has to send its profits to ISOC doesn’t hold water. PIR has been able to increase prices 10% per year for the past decade but hasn’t always done so. If it raises prices 10% this year, it gets another $10 million in its bank account that ISOC isn’t depending on. That’s not enough to invest in new products or services?

This isn’t to say the deal isn’t good for ISOC. Godwin does a good job explaining that domain name revenues aren’t certain, and this endowment gives ISOC certainty. That’s a selling point for ISOC and its constituents. But let’s be honest about possible ramifications of this deal.

© DomainNameWire.com 2019. This is copyrighted content. Domain Name Wire full-text RSS feeds are made available for personal use only, and may not be published on any site without permission. If you see this message on a website, contact editor (at) domainnamewire.com. Latest domain news at DNW.com: Domain Name Wire.

Related posts:
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  3. Non-Commercial users ask for three changes to .Org contract
Categories: News and Updates

Red Sea Region Suffers From Multi-Day Internet Outage Following an Undersea Cable Cut

Domain industry news - Wed, 2020-01-15 02:33

Damage to a single submarine cable has left the entire Red Sea region disconnected from the Internet. Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Ethiopia have all suffered from the last week's cut of the so-called Falcon cable; however, Yemen has suffered the most with an 80 percent drop in capacity due to its underdeveloped infrastructure. Fixing the cable will not be so simple – Lily Hay Newman reporting in Wired: "Yemen has three submarine cable landings — a Falcon connection in the east, another Falcon connection in the west, and a third landing in the port city of Aden, which connects to two other cables altogether. Due to an ongoing civil war, Aden is the temporary capital of Yemen, controlled by the Hadi government; Houthi-controlled territory geographically divides the country. ... Even under ideal circumstances, it can take weeks to repair a cut cable."

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More under: Access Providers, Broadband, Telecom

Categories: News and Updates

Here's How We Can Truly #SaveDotOrg

Domain industry news - Wed, 2020-01-15 00:51

Many of my friends in the civil-liberties and Internet-law communities have been criticizing the Internet Society's agreement to sell the Public Interest Registry, which administers the .ORG top-level domain. I'm a free-speech guy, so I support their right to raise all these criticisms. But they often ask me directly — knowing that my track record as an Internet civil-libertarian is longer than most — why as a member of the Internet Society (a.k.a. ISOC) board I decided to join the board's unanimous approval of the deal. A key reason is this: I believe this deal is absolutely the best way to ensure that .ORG grows and thrives in the rest of this century.

But this consideration — which I'll explain in a moment — is obscured by the fact that the deal also results in the equivalent of an endowment that could guarantee the Internet Society's long-term economic independence. Still, the reality is that this "endowment" thing, big as it is, wasn't enough to make me vote yes.

True, I started out with the recognition that the sale of the Public Interest Registry (PIR), especially for an endowment-sized sale price, has great potential to improve ISOC's stability and prospects for the future — probably indefinitely. Even our critics acknowledge that the sale would be good for us. The sale gets ISOC out of the domain-name business, which may be helpful since it is unclear whether that business, in its current form, is central to where the Internet is going to be 10 or 20 or 50 years from now. Still, ISOC's charitable mission requires that we think that far ahead — not just in terms of coming years, but in terms of coming decades. It would be weird indeed if the Internet needed to evolve past the current domain-name system, yet ISOC had a monetary interest in sticking with a 1990s model that predates all modern search engines. (It was originally thought that top-level domains, known as TLDs, would be super-important in locating Internet resources. First AltaVista, then Yahoo!, Google, and Bing, altered that assumption.)

But even if the TLD framework will continue to change, and even though it's less necessary than ever when it comes to finding web resources, that doesn't mean it's necessarily static or should be allowed to waste away. Part of the controversy centering on .ORG is that this TLD has grown to have a powerful symbolic value, as well as a powerful branding value. That's why I figured it would be bad stewardship to approve a deal that produces a super-excellent outcome for ISOC at the expense of reducing or eliminating or damaging PIR (and .ORG). It would be better if any deal could guarantee to leave PIR in good shape (or, ideally, in better and improving shape). We helped build PIR into the success it is today — it would be silly to do anything that would undermine or destroy what we've built. Far better instead if we put PIR in a position superior to the one it's in right now, in order for it to thrive and adapt to an evolving Internet landscape.

Still, you may ask, what's wrong with things as they are right now? In a nutshell, it's this — both ISOC and PIR are legally organized as non-profits with specified charitable missions that we both have to follow and that neither can ignore. ISOC's mission, oversimplified, is to protect, promote, and advocate for a healthy Internet — but not necessarily to defend current conventions like the domain-name system. PIR's mission centers on administering, protecting, and securing .ORG ... but also on turning over its profits to fund ISOC. It is no more ISOC's mission to support today's (or, more accurately, yesterday's) TLD system as such than it would have been ISOC's mission years ago to support the bang path email routing that preceded it. At the same time, PIR's mission — as a non-profit project of a non-profit ISOC — isn't to invest in its own adaptation to evolutions of .ORG and related services. Instead, PIR is stuck with maintaining its 1990s-era asset and handing over any surplus (revenue minus costs) at the end of the day to ISOC.

This relationship seemed short-sighted to me. Running PIR as a for-profit enterprise that doesn't have to send most or all of its surplus to ISOC might give PIR the flexibility to reinvest in itself and adapt to a changing marketplace — in fact, it's probably the only credible path for doing that. Plus, there's nothing inherently bad for .ORG in being operated by for-profit companies, if history is any guide — Network Solutions, SAIC, and Verisign did just fine doing that job as for-profit companies. Nor is non-profit status any inherent blessing for .ORG — if anything, the hobbling of PIR by its non-profit status has limited investment in .ORG services. I know the current relationship between ISOC and PIR wasn't ever intended to be any kind of parasitism, but it seems to be functioning that way now. So I found myself more open to a solution that freed both organizations to grow and do better, and not at each other's expense.

But could it be at the public's expense? What about the argument that the prices for domain-name renewals will soar? This argument ignores common sense — you don't take over a successful business and price most of your customers out of the market or spur a mass migration to an alternative product. Not only would that permanently destroy any faith in .ORG — the business you just bought — but it also would undermine TLDs generally. (I've suggested, not entirely jokingly, that the proper response if anybody tries to extort huge renewal fees for .ORG is to launch a mass one-time conversion to the .WTF top-level domain. I'd happily lead any charge in the .WTF Resistance.) In any case, demand for TLDs isn't inelastic, despite what the deal's critics say — there are hundreds of TLDs and customers aren't locked in. It takes only a few minutes of studying PIR's year-by-year financials to see that jacking up domain-name renewal prices in the way the critics fear would be suicidal for PIR or any other registry that depends primarily on predictable renewal rates, and it would destroy the value of .ORG as well. I don't think any of the companies that sought to buy PIR were dumb enough to invest a billion dollars in buying the .ORG business in order to destroy it.

That said, I've also been haunted by my uncertainty as to how long we will have today's domain-name system with us. I'm 63, but it seems possible that even within my lifetime, the TLD system will grow, change unrecognizably, or even fade away entirely. Certain choices by ICANN leading to proliferating TLDs plus the growth of search engines and mobile device apps that don't need TLDs to find things (plus, also, the possibility that Internet-of-Things and other developments may marginalize TLDs altogether) make the future of TLDs hard to predict no matter what we choose today. Most likely, in my view, is that if we have TLDs around in 20 years or 50 years, they may serve different purposes above and beyond the branding purpose they serve for most domain-name holders now. A for-profit PIR has far more capital and far more flexibility to decide what new things can be done to maintain and improve .ORG and make it meaningful and helpful for generations of future Internet users.

That's the future I see that has the greatest potential to #SaveDotOrg — to increase the likelihood that the symbolic value of the TLD we've built adapts and stays strong and has the muscle to resist attempts to co-opt or erode it. Plus, thanks to the network of contracts that binds .ORG to the larger TLD system, it would be challenging for even the most foolhardy investor with a billion dollars to throw away to intentionally buy it up and destroy it.

There are other futures, however, that look less good for .ORG. Some critics propose that ICANN (or someone else) simply kill the deal, freezing .ORG into an already outdated setup and starving the registry that manages it of the ability to adapt and evolve. I have to object to this "austerity" approach — I believe that as an ISOC trustee I can't preside over decisions that lead to the decline of ISOC over time, and that as an ethical person I can't support committing PIR to float off as a non-profit on the possibly melting ice floe of the current domain-name system.

Another alternative future (other critics have embraced) would be for ICANN somehow to extra-legally end its contract with ISOC and hand over management of .ORG to a new consortium with even less capital (and that would deliberately accumulate less) and even less experience in stewardship of .ORG — transitioning .ORG from one parasitical relationship to a worse one, with less money to improve and maintain .ORG. The disadvantages of this second model also seem to me self-evident, but there does seem to be agreement between both models that it's somehow better for PIR to be less profitable and less able to invest in itself. Because we live in an evolving, challenging world rather than a static and predictable one, and because I am 100-percent dedicated to #SaveDotOrg, and — most important — because I want to maximize the chances that .ORG serves Internet registrants and users 100 years from now, I am compelled to respectfully disagree. I prefer that we #SaveDotOrg not as something that we've gotten used to, but instead as something that our children and grandchildren may find useful.

Written by Mike Godwin, Member Board Of Trustees at Internet Society

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Categories: News and Updates

Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) Satellite Internet Service Developments for 2019

Domain industry news - Wed, 2020-01-15 00:44

I posted reviews of important LEO-satellite Internet service developments during 2017 and 2018. I've been updating those posts during the years and have 16 new posts for 2019. In 2019 we saw four inciteful simulations, Leosat suspending operations and Amazon announcing the availability of a new ground station service and plans for a LEO constellation, progress in phased-array antennas but a lowering of expectations for inter-satellite laser links (ISLLs), new competition from China, worries about space debris and SpaceX racing ahead of the pack. The following are brief summaries of and links to those 2019 posts:

Simulation of OneWeb, SpaceX and Telesat's proposed global broadband constellations (January 2019) – Inigo del Portillo and his colleagues at MIT have run a simulation comparing OneWeb, SpaceX and Telesat's proposed LEO Internet service constellations. They estimated the average data rate per satellite and total system throughput (sellable capacity) for each constellation then computed the number of ground stations needed to achieve full capacity. The simulations were run with and without ISLLs. The configurations of SpaceX and OneWeb's constellations have changed somewhat since they ran the simulations, but del Portillo does not think the numbers for total throughput and number of ground stations would vary a lot for SpaceX and he expected the total system throughput would decrease slightly for OneWeb because of the reduction of the number of satellites from the initial 720 to 600.

Fifteen-dollar, electronically-steerable antennas for satellite and terrestrial connectivity (February 2019) – OneWeb founder Greg Wyler announced that his self-funded side project, Wafer LLC, has developed a flat, low-power phased-array antenna that could be mass-produced for $15. If that is the case, we can look forward to end-user terminals in the $2-300 dollar range. At this cost, one can envision deploying large numbers of two-antenna user terminals to act as ground stations when they are otherwise idle. A recent simulation shows that doing so would result in lower latency and jitter than today's terrestrial networks. Owners of these relay terminals could be subsidized.

Google balloons and Telesat satellites (February 2019) – Telesat will use Google's network operating system. In return, Google, which is also a SpaceX investor, may get access to some Telesat data in addition to compensation for their software. Another intriguing possibility is that Google might be planning to integrate Project Loon, their stratospheric balloon Internet service with Telesat's LEO satellite Internet service — to use Telesat's network as a global backbone. That integration would be facilitated by their both running the same SDN software — the same network operating system. (In the long run, I expect that all network layers will be integrated — from the ground to airplanes to geostationary orbit).

SpaceX's Starlink Internet service will target end-users on day one (March 2019) – Starting with Teledesic in 1990, would-be LEO satellite constellations have pitched their projects to the FCC, other regulators, and the public as a means of closing the digital divide, but they also have their eyes on lucrative aviation, maritime, high-speed trading, mobile backhaul, enterprise, and governments markets. (LEOSat, which had planned to focus exclusively on the enterprise and government markets recently suspended operations). SpaceX has filed an FCC application for one million ground stations, indicating that they will be focused on end-users and small organizations in addition to high-end customers from the start.

Are inter-satellite laser links a bug or a feature of ISP constellations? (April 2019) – OneWeb has decided not to include ISLLs in the first phase of their constellation, and SpaceX will not introduce them until near the end of 2020, at which time they may start with test satellites. OneWeb's decision was motivated by political issues in Russia as well as technical considerations. They will need more ground stations to offer global service without ISLLs, and a team of MIT researchers has run a simulation of a 720-satellite OnWeb constellation. They estimate that 71 ground stations would be required to reach maximum throughput.

Amazon's orbiting infrastructure (April 2019) – In his first annual stockholder letter, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos stressed that Amazon was focused on investing in infrastructure. Initially, they invested in retail distribution centers but have added an Internet backbone, trucks and planes, third party retail support, cloud computing and storage, and satellite launch and ground station service and are now working on a constellation of LEO satellites for broadband service. They use this infrastructure themselves and market it to competitors like online retailers and they have contracts to launch satellites for OneWeb and Telesat. This infrastructure yields both revenue and access to market data and there have been calls for antitrust action against Amazon.

Satellite Internet Service Progress by SpaceX and Telesat (May 2019) – Telesat has signed their first LEO customer, Omniaccess a provider of connectivity to the superyacht market, received a subsidy from the Canadian budget for providing service in rural Canada, is working with two teams that are competing to be the prime contractor for their constellation, and signed a launch contract with Amazon's Blue Origen. They also announced that they had demonstrated 5G mobile backhaul in tests with Vodaphone and the University of Surrey. SpaceX also announced ambitious plans for future launches, which have subsequently been surpassed.

SpaceX reports significant broadband satellite progress (May 2019) – SpaceX announced a significant reduction in the size and weight of their satellites and the addition of krypton-powered thrusters that would enable them to autonomously avoid collisions with on-orbit debris that was large enough to track. The thrusters would also be used to de-orbit obsolete satellites. Might the collective constellation "learn" to avoid smaller debris one day?

Might satellite constellations learn to avoid debris with sensors on satellites? (May 2019) – According to the European Space Agency, there are about 5,000 orbiting satellites, about 40% of which are still functioning. They estimate that there have been over 500 break-ups, explosions, collisions, or anomalous events resulting in fragmentation, and they estimate that there are 34,000 debris objects >10 cm, 900,000 from 1 to 10 cm and 128 million from 1 mm to 1 cm. NASA says there are more than 20,000 pieces of debris larger than a softball, 500,000 the size of a marble or larger, and many millions so small they can't be tracked. Space debris is a "tragedy of the commons." SpaceX plans to launch thousands of satellites. Could sensors on satellites detect and catalog small pieces of debris and, if so, could that lead to meaningful evasive action?

Hongyun Project — China's low-earth orbit broadband Internet project (June 2019) – China has announced two LEO broadband satellite projects and a LEO narrowband Internet of things constellation. While far behind SpaceX in technology, the Chinese companies have a large domestic market, access to government capital, and political and economic ties to many nations through their Belt and Road and Digital Silk Road infrastructure projects.

Amazon's AWS Ground Station service is now available (June 2019) – Amazon is offering satellite ground station access as a service. They list a number of advantages to their service, several of which are based on complementary Amazon offerings like access to their data centers and global network backbone and cloud computing and storage services. We can assume that Amazon's satellite constellation will use these ground stations at cost and, like their launch service, they will be made available to competitors. Amazon has been accused of predatory pricing in retail, and competing ground-segment companies may fear the same.

Latecomer Amazon will be a formidable satellite ISP competitor (July 2019) – In spite of being a latecomer to the race to deploy a constellation of LEO broadband Internet satellites, Amazon's Project Kuiper will be a formidable competitor. While far behind SpaceX, Amazon has in-house launch capability, and they have extensive complementary infrastructure including data centers, Web services, and a ground-station service. They also have the funds to finance the constellation as well as to develop or acquire critical technology like ISLLs and cost-effective phased-array antennas. They have also hired ex-SpaceX executives and engineers, and in Jeff Bezos, they have a leader who is comparable to Elon Musk.

An optimistic update from Telesat (August 2019) – Telesat received 685 million Canadian dollars from the government to subsidize rural connectivity. They plan to start service at the end of 2022 with 200 satellites in polar orbit, to add 100 more in inclined orbit in 2023, and perhaps eventually reach 500 satellites. Combining polar and inclined orbits and utilizing the far-north ground stations they already have for their profitable, established geosynchronous satellite service will help them gain a foothold in rural Canada and polar regions.

Inter-satellite laser link update (November 2019) – SpaceX initially planned to have five ISLLs per satellite but cut that back to four due to the technical difficulty of linking to a fast-moving satellite in a crossing plane and the short duration of such links. OneWeb has decided against using ISLLs for the time being due to cost and political considerations and Telesat remains committed to them. SpaceX is engineering its own ISLL hardware, but OneWeb and Telesat may be working with third parties. The situation with Hongyun is unknown, and LEOsat has abandoned their effort.

What to expect from SpaceX Starlink broadband service next year and beyond (November 2019) – By the end of 2020, SpaceX will have coverage in the heavily populated parts of the world between around 50 degrees north and south latitude. They expect to be launching 120 satellites a month and, by the end of 2020, the satellites will be equipped with ISLLs. However, by that time, they will have many legacy satellites in space, and those early ISLLs may just be for testing. They expect the next-generation Starship to be able to place at least 400 Starlink satellites in orbit, reducing the per-satellite cost to 20% of today's 60-satellite launches. They hope to compete with the "crappy" $80/month service in the US and, since the cost of the constellation is fixed, they will strive for affordable prices worldwide.

Starlink simulation shows low latency without inter-satellite laser links (ISSLa) (December 2019) – Mark Handley, a professor at University College London, has made two terrific videos based on runs of his simulation of the first — 1,584 satellite — phase of SpaceX Starlink. I discussed the first video, which assumes that the satellites have ISLLs, in a recent post. This one shows that, while not as fast as an equivalent ISLL path, long bent-pipe paths would typically have lower latency than terrestrial fiber routes between the same two points. It also considers the possibility of using end-user terminals as ground stations when they are idle, which would further reduce latency and jitter.

Written by Larry Press, Professor of Information Systems at California State University

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More under: Access Providers, Broadband, Mobile Internet, Telecom, Wireless

Categories: News and Updates

Vint Cerf Says He Is in Favor of .ORG Acquisition, Explains Why

Domain industry news - Tue, 2020-01-14 20:39

In a post published today titled, "A Stronger Future for .org and the Internet," by Vint Cerf — often referred to as one the father's of the Internet — he has expressed his disappointment with the controversy surrounding Ethos Capital's proposed acquisition of the Public Interest Registry (operator of .ORG domain). He notes that he is "in favor of this acquisition" and explains why. Among the various reasons provided, Cert notes:

"[I]t is worth remembering that .org was managed by several for-profit companies in the past: Network Solutions, SAIC and VeriSign. As nearly as I can tell, these operations were beneficial and, at least, not harmful, to the .org brand."

"[T]he Internet Society did not seek this transaction, but its Board of Trustees responded with due diligence and with the help of highly qualified financial advisors to conclude that this was a transaction in its interest, and that it would further the Internet Society's fundamental purposes regarding the Internet and its beneficial operation."

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More under: Domain Names, Internet Governance, Policy & Regulation, Registry Services

Categories: News and Updates

The Digital Decade – A Look Ahead

Domain industry news - Tue, 2020-01-14 19:55

As 2019 wrapped up, we took some time to reflect on some of the most impactful digital developments of the past decade and how they helped change our digital lives, including:

• The rise of mobile and tablet usage
• The importance of mobile apps
• The explosion of social media and online gaming
• Cloud computing
• Domain names, brand protection and the impact of GDPR

Now that we've passed the New Year, it's time to look forward. Here are our predictions for four important technological advances we expect to see take off in the next ten years and their potential impact on brand protection and security.

3D Printing:

3D printing is revolutionizing the print-on-demand world, helping usher in a new era of instant manufacturing, cutting edge product design, and in some cases, enabling medical innovation to leapfrog ahead at light-year speeds. 3D printing allows consumers to instantly create an item, a new advance in manufacturing that has had a huge impact on the creative industry.

It's also opened the door for a tidal wave of piracy and copyright issues.

The convenience of designing and printing products at home has made it even easier for consumers to create their own designs based on trademarked content. And with the relative newness of the 3D printing industry, legal professionals are suddenly grappling with cases that cover everything ranging from copyright, trademarks, and IP.

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing has revolutionized the way we access the internet and covers everything from infrastructure, computing power, servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and even entire business applications. While we covered it in our look back, the significance and impact of future cloud computing technological advances justified a spot on our look forward as well.

We expect that the reliance on cloud-based services will only continue to grow. Not only is it convenient, but utilizing cloud storage is also economical and eco-friendly. Unfortunately, there's a darker side to all this innovation. While cloud security has improved, cloud computing hosts are still vulnerable to hacking and scammers are stealing user credentials of cloud-based apps in targeted phishing attacks. In instances where sensitive or regulated data stored on the cloud is breached and released, companies have faced serious financial and reputational damage.

And as companies seek to streamline app development and delivery relying on code in cloud-based repositories they are open to vulnerability via hacker-sourced libraries containing malware.

AI, VR, and Deep Fakes

As social and broadcast media continue to embrace the integration of artificial intelligence and virtual reality, we predict the results are going to only become more refined. We expect interfaces like Alexa, Siri and Cortana to become even more lifelike. We also expect to see machine learning and natural language processing to continue to evolve as well.

Unfortunately, as the lines between what is real and what is digital blur, we also anticipate a rise in inauthentic and frighteningly convincing media content.

Deepfake, or the use of technology to create media that makes it appear a person is doing or saying something they never did is already a cause for concern. Because we tend to trust what we can see with our own eyes, the potential for bad actors to create deepfakes in a bid to manipulate and exploit public opinion is going to be a major issue in the coming years. While there is already technology being created to help detect deepfakes, the question of how to deal with them is still open. Although it might be possible to fight deepfakes by leveraging copyrights, trademarks, section 43(a) of the Lanham Act and the intentional infliction of emotional distress, the courts will also have to take into consideration free speech under the First Amendment, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and the fair use doctrine in copyright law.

Augmented Reality Integrations

Another trend we expect to see is more rapid adoption of Augmented Reality, or AR, especially when it comes to shopping and commerce. A handful of online retailers already use AR, allowing consumers to virtually visit showrooms and view products. Over 100 million users utilized AR technology when shopping online in 2019 alone. We anticipate those numbers will only grow as more and more retailers start integrating AR into their e-commerce platforms.

AR is showing up in other applications beyond shopping. Light AR tech already exists as a safety and convenience feature in some new cars, alerting drivers via heads up displays to important information like speed, gas levels, directions and more. Some manufacturers are also utilizing AR to aid workers in prototyping and assembling products.

While most AR applications are positive, there is always a concern it can also be utilized for more nefarious purposes. Hacks of this technology can be used to mislead consumers, interrupt transportation and supply chains, and could potentially introduce risks or sabotage to manufacturing processes.

Risks for Brands

The above innovations have expanded the digital footprint of consumers and companies exponentially but have also exposed them to an expanded risk surface, forcing brands to evolve their online brand protection and security strategies.

  • Brands need to remain vigilant across traditional digital channels: domains, websites, apps, social, marketplaces, and ads will continue to be a problem into the next decade and beyond.
  • Mobile commerce and gaming will continue to gain popularity, leading to increases in abuse on mobile platforms.
  • Branded-keyword click-through rates will continue to be effective, meaning brands will need to remain vigilant as growth in abuse in online advertising will continue to be a problem.
  • The critical role of cloud-based computing will mean potential attacks on these platforms will cause problems, both for the users/companies using them and the platforms themselves. Attacks will increase in both frequency and sophistication.
  • Social media usage growth continues, and as more people increasingly rely on social media and mobile commerce, brands can expect to see more abuse in these channels.
  • Introduction of AR apps to mobile devices will create opportunities for new forms of abuse including location hacking.
  • Accessibility of stolen data and the emergence of cloud-based Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning solutions will create opportunities for more abusive behavior as malicious actors employ these technologies to target and fool more users in a much more convincing manner.
  • Abuse will likely occur in voice apps and the data that those apps rely upon.

The future for brands in the digital space is exciting as advances continue to open up new ways to conduct business online. However, brands must remain vigilant to stay ahead of bad actors. Vigilance will not only help to ensure the safety of your customers and fans but will help to protect the integrity and reputation of your brand, too.

Written by Frederick Felman, Chief Marketing Officer at AppDetex

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More under: Cloud Computing, Cybercrime, Cybersecurity, Domain Management, DNS, Domain Names, Brand Protection, Malware

Categories: News and Updates

My thoughts on .Org

Domain Name Wire - Tue, 2020-01-14 18:51

ICANN made it possible for this transaction to happen. There’s only so much the internet community can do now.

It has been two months since Internet Society (ISOC) announced that it was selling Public Interest Registry (PIR), which runs .org, to private equity company Ethos Capital.

There have been many revelations since then, including that former ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé is advising Ethos, Ethos is run by the same person who led Abry Partners’ deal to acquire Donuts, and that Ethos is paying $1.35 billion for the assets. The deal comes on the heels of ICANN removing price caps on .org domains, meaning that PIR can raise prices as high as it wants for .org registrations and renewals.

I’ve written numerous articles about the deal, and I imagine my bias shows in these pieces. But I haven’t summarized my thoughts on the deal until now, including my two main concerns about the transaction.

This deal is going to happen

In my annual predictions podcast, I said that I believe the Ethos deal will go through. At this point, the only thing I think that could trip up the deal is delay. Some Senators say they plan to step in, and ICANN is asking questions. But assuming the deal is good enough for Ethos (and I believe it’s a great deal), I expect it to outlast any delays and complete the transaction.

Even if ICANN doesn’t like the deal, there’s not much it can do to stop it. Can it reasonably withhold consent, per the contract? I’m not sure on what grounds it can do so.

Recently, a group formed and asked ICANN to hand the reins of managing .org to it. But there’s no provision in the .org registry agreement that would allow ICANN to do this unless ISOC were to proceed with the transaction without ICANN’s blessing, which it wouldn’t do.

Should ICANN not give its consent to the transaction, I imagine there would be a legal battle. If it goes ICANN’s way, then it just means that ISOC continues to own PIR and the .org registry contract, not some other party.

If ICANN were to find grounds to transfer the registry contract to someone else, then all of ICANN’s registry contracts have a problem.

Blame ISOC or ICANN?

If you don’t like this deal, you might blame ISOC. After all, it’s the one that agreed to the transaction. It is exchanging $50-$75 million of cash each year in perpetuity (not guaranteed) into a lump sum of $1.135 billion. It probably makes financial sense for the non-profit, although you can make a good argument that it threw internet users under the bus to make it happen.

At the same time, it’s ICANN that made this deal possible in the first place.

I believe that the registry operator for .org and other legacy extensions should be looked at as a steward for the extension, not the owner of the extension. But that’s not what the contract states and ICANN has moved from the stewardship to ownership model over the past 10-20 years. Granting presumptive renewal, removing price caps, and making it easy to sell the contract to someone else has turned the stewardship of these top level domains into ownership.

ICANN awarded the .org contract to ISOC in a competitive process. But its contracts never required .org to be run by a non-profit. It also designed its agreements so that the registry contract could be sold to another entity. This was made more clear when ICANN decided to use its new top level domain name base agreement for .org. This agreement was built with transferability in mind.

So it’s easy to be angry with Ethos. Or ISOC. But if anyone is to blame, it’s probably ICANN.

It’s a savvy deal

I suspect there’s a bit of jealousy of Ethos. When I told some friends about the deal and how it was structured, they were shocked that no one else thought of it earlier. Perhaps no one thought of it sooner because they didn’t have former ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé’s background. He’s advising on the deal.

It seems that Ethos did the deal in a way that ISOC couldn’t reveal it until it was inked. It knew that, if it were made public beforehand, the pushback would have imploded the deal. Ethos also put time constraints on the deal that made it difficult for ISOC to shop it.

Any way you look at it, this deal should be a home run for Ethos.

My issues with the deal

There are two things I don’t like about the transaction.

First, it raises greater concerns about the lack of price caps on .org. After ICANN removed the price caps this summer, PIR noted that it didn’t always raise prices 10% a year anyway, even though it was contractually allowed to. Now, Ethos is giving assurances that it won’t raise prices more than 10% per year on average. Even if it’s true to its word, prices will increase more in the future than they did in the past. And once Ethos sells the registry to someone else, what will they do?

You can argue that my reason for wanting price caps is selfish. I own only about 10-20 .org domains, and I will pay more for the domains in the future.

That’s not too much money, though. Although my reasons are “selfish,” it is for the domain name ecosystem at large. My concern is what the lack of price caps does to domain names as a neutral way to publish on the web. Domain names are the great equalizer; Facebook can charge people to reach their audience on Facebook, but anyone can publish what they want on a website connected to their domain name.

If registries significantly increase renewal fees, people will be forced to switch domain names or shut down. Switching domains is very time consuming and difficult. This could make domain names lose their luster and role as an equalizer in the future.

Frankly, I don’t care if ISOC or Ethos or someone else gets the money from registry fees. I just want price certainty for the good of the entire domain ecosystem and the World Wide Web.

My second concern is that this deal makes the domain name industry look bad. We have the former CEO of ICANN advising a private equity company on taking over a top level domain that was entrusted to a non-profit. That makes excellent fodder for the public to say something fishy is going on in the domain name world.

What can be done

Even though I view the deal as a certainty, there is one thing that internet users or ICANN can push for: price certainty.

Ethos could agree with ICANN to reinstate contractual price caps. I don’t think there’s any way for ICANN to force this, but it would show that Ethos is serious about keeping prices in check. If nothing else, renewal fees must have certainty.

An alternative would be for PIR to amend its registry-registrar agreements to include price controls in perpetuity.

As for the domain industry looking bad? That ship has sailed. Thanks, ICANN.

 

© DomainNameWire.com 2019. This is copyrighted content. Domain Name Wire full-text RSS feeds are made available for personal use only, and may not be published on any site without permission. If you see this message on a website, contact editor (at) domainnamewire.com. Latest domain news at DNW.com: Domain Name Wire.

Related posts:
  1. ICANN proposes lifting price controls on .Org, .Info domains
  2. Ethos paid $1.135 billion for .Org
  3. Jon Nevett named new CEO of PIR (.Org)
Categories: News and Updates

Naturals.com loss is a “win” for Indian law firm

Domain Name Wire - Tue, 2020-01-14 17:12

Its client lost but the panelist didn’t find reverse domain name hijacking.

A chain of beauty salons in India that uses the domain Naturals.in failed to get Naturals.COM through UDRP.

A UDRP for Naturals.com that was filed in October has been found in favor of the domain name registrant. The case was filed by an India-based chain of hair salons and training centers.

It will come as no surprise that the Complainant lost the case for this dictionary-word domain name. But the law firm that represented the Complainant might view it as a win, because it wasn’t found guilty of reverse domain name hijacking again.

The law firm DePenning & DePenning represented the beauty chain. It has been on the wrong end of at least three reverse domain name hijacking cases, including one last week.

This case could have gone that way. The domain owner registered the domain in 2001, and it seems that the beauty chain’s presence, at least online, started well after that. It didn’t register Naturals.in until much later.

The Complainant’s arguments seem rather flimsly and misguided:

Complainant further states that the use and existence of Domain Name will cause damage to Complainant’s business and reputation, and to customers and the general public. Any misrepresentation caused on account of the Domain Name would result in confusion and deception in the minds of customers. In this regard, domain names are emerging corporate assets and have evolved as a fulcrum of a company’s visibility and marketing operations. Business transactions will soon be carried out only through Internet addresses rather than street addresses, post boxes or faxes. Complainant states that it will not be able to effectively pursue its business plans on the Internet unless the registration of the Domain Name is held by Complainant. Complainant states it is the legitimate owner of the domain names naturals.in and naturals.lk, through which it undertakes business and promotional activities. In view of the Domain Name’s registration, Complainant stands to lose financially and faces the imminent risk of dilution of brand value associated with the mark NATURALS.

Apparently, this concern didn’t develop until just last year.

World Intellectual Property Organization panelist Christopher Gibson gave the Complainant a pass on reverse domain name hijacking:

Panels have found that the mere lack of success of a complaint is not itself sufficient for a finding of RDNH. In this case, the Panel finds that Complainant satisfied two of the three elements under the Policy. Complainant seems to have been convinced that, while it has trademark rights in its NATURALS mark, Respondent was only using the Domain Name for the purpose of offering it for sale to Complainant at an amount clearly in excess of Respondent’s out-of-pocket costs. The file does not show that Complainant knew or should have clearly known that it could not succeed under any fair interpretation of facts reasonably available prior to the filing of the Complaint and before receiving Respondent’s Response.

I disagree. I think with a bit of due diligence, the Complainant would have known that this case was doomed to fail. The domain was clearly not registered in bad faith.

© DomainNameWire.com 2019. This is copyrighted content. Domain Name Wire full-text RSS feeds are made available for personal use only, and may not be published on any site without permission. If you see this message on a website, contact editor (at) domainnamewire.com. Latest domain news at DNW.com: Domain Name Wire.

Related posts:
  1. Lotto.com and Naturals.com hit with cybersquatting complaints
  2. Khloe Kardashian gets her (domain) name
  3. Lack of disclosure leads to Reverse Domain Name Hijacking finding
Categories: News and Updates

“Sino” vs “China” in domain names

Domain Name Wire - Tue, 2020-01-14 14:37

Kassey Lee examines usage of Sino in domains instead of China.

Recently a reader asked me a very interesting question. He wanted my opinion on “sino” vs “china” in a domain. As a matter of fact, I never thought about this issue in the past, so I decided to research a little bit to see if I could learn something about it.

Many readers know that I own a collection of “china” domains. However, I was never aware of the “sino” possibility so do not own any “sino” domains. To compare their popularity, I tried several sources.

The first one was dotDB.com. I looked at all domains, including those containing digits, hyphens, and IDNs. dotDB reported 292,000 “sino” domains registered across a variety of extensions, but the result on “china” was much bigger at 454,000 domains.

Next was domain sales reported by Namebio. I particularly focused on 2-word dictionary domains prefixed with “sino” and “china”. This is because otherwise a lot of “casino” domains would be included in the result. Anyway, dotDB reported 18 “sino” domains and 242 “china” domains.

Then, I entered “sino” into Baidu search which was set to display 50 results. I checked the results and found 31 of them using a “sino” domain, as shown below.

Sino.com, SinoFSX.com, SinoBiopharm.com, SinoRestaurant.com, SinoAutoid.com, SinoPowers.com, TianjinSino.com, SinoMachinegroup.com, SinoIndustry.com, Sino-mold.com, SinoSources.com, euSinoBC.com, Sino-i.com, ubmSinoExpo.com, Sino-laser.com, ChinaSinoPack.com, Sino-leasing.com, Sino-biochemlab.com, SinoFaith-ip.com, SinoPromise.com, SinoUnitedhealth.com.cn, SinoSola.cn, SinoIntl.com.cn, Sino-e.com.cn, SinoJobs.com.cn, LiveSino.net, SinoCard.sg, SinoTv.us, SinoMicro.org, SinoAlice.jp, SinoCoin.io

Then I repeated the same with “china” but found only 11 entries. I was surprised by the result. A wide guess is that “china” is a very popular word so there is a lot of good contents, which take priority over domain names in the search result. Here are the domains found in the search results:

China.com, LillyChina.com, Made-in-china.com, Assab-china.com, Chinadaily.com.cn, China.cn, China.com.cn, China.org.cn, ChinaDaily.com.cn, v-koolchina.com.cn, ThorlabsChina.cn.

While I have no definite answer to the “sino” vs “china” popularity question, my preference is still “china”. Nevertheless, I was surprised to see more “sino” domains than I thought.

© DomainNameWire.com 2019. This is copyrighted content. Domain Name Wire full-text RSS feeds are made available for personal use only, and may not be published on any site without permission. If you see this message on a website, contact editor (at) domainnamewire.com. Latest domain news at DNW.com: Domain Name Wire.

Related posts:
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  2. A look at the Chinese domain market by domain choice
  3. A look at .Net in China
Categories: News and Updates

20-Year Industry Pro Alan Dunn Launches New Podcast at DomainStories.com

DN Journal - Mon, 2020-01-13 22:02
This is going to be GOOD! One of the most knowledgeable people in this business has launched a new podcast & released 7 episodes right out of the gate.
Categories: News and Updates

A Stronger PIR and .ORG: Standing Behind Our Commitments

Domain industry news - Mon, 2020-01-13 17:41

We respect the right of all parties who wish to express a point of view on the Internet Society's sale of Public Interest Registry ("PIR") to Ethos Capital. However, it's important those views are based on facts — which has not always been the case. Some have expressed concern that for-profit ownership of .ORG will automatically mean .ORG prices will rise dramatically, or that .ORG's principles will change. Ethos, PIR and the Internet Society have listened carefully and responded to questions that have been raised, and have made a concerted effort to allay those fears through actionable steps and commitments.

As the Chief Purpose Officer of Ethos, I am dedicated to ensuring that we do right by all stakeholders, and so I am especially grateful that we have already had many opportunities to engage with .ORG users. Our openness and willingness to communicate as much as we have is an unprecedented step that has never been taken in other filings regarding a change in indirect control of a registry, as is the case here. These discussions have generated great ideas for how we can work together to best support the .ORG domain going forward. That said, given the ongoing discussions taking place, I want to set the record straight about false information and unfounded speculation that is still being circulated.

Free Speech

Concerns have been raised that, as a private company, PIR would "take down content it doesn't like." This notion is baseless and, frankly, a demonstration of the type of speculation that has taken the discussion surrounding the future of .ORG irresponsibly out of context. I want to make it clear that Ethos and PIR take freedom of expression very seriously, and the registry's commitment to free speech will continue unabated. The new PIR Stewardship Council under formation will ratify strong rules protecting freedom of expression and safeguarding against censorship.

Pricing

Shortly after announcement of the sale, speculators that warehouse .ORG and other domain names, with the aim of selling them later for huge profits, fueled rumors of potentially extreme price increases. What any relatively modest increase would mean for a nonprofit organization holding a single registration, would, of course, mean something entirely and substantially different for a speculator holding tens of thousands of domain names.

We responded to these unfounded claims by providing clear guidance on PIR's plans with respect to maintaining reasonable pricing and affordability: Ethos will maintain PIR's historical practices on pricing. We committed to limiting any potential increase in the price of a .ORG domain registration to no more than 10% per year on average, even though today there are no regulatory pricing constraints on PIR or virtually any other domain name registry. At less than $10 today, .ORG is one of the most affordable domains in the world, and a 10% increase would equate to about $1. As such, .ORG will continue to be one of the most affordable domain names to use.

These pricing commitments will be embodied in our governing documents and provide assurance that we stand by our promise.

Service Levels

There have recently been claims that .ORG could somehow suffer DNS outages in the event of a transfer to a for-profit entity. This is completely false. The idea seems to have originated from Packet Clearing House (PCH), which claims to run all of the technical aspects of the .ORG system. In reality, as Afilias so eloquently stated, it is Afilias — and not PCH — that is PIR's backend provider and responsible for ensuring that .ORG names remain available 100% of the time, which it has done with an exemplary record. Suzanne Woolf, PIR's Senior Director of Technical Community Engagement, and Joe Abley, PIR's Chief Technology Officer, also recently addressed this misconception in a blog post, clearly stating that PCH's claims are false.

It is important to remember that we are talking about an indirect change of ownership — PIR will continue to operate the .ORG registry in the same way, and with the same services, as it does today.

Accountability in Our Commitments

Our commitment to being a responsible steward of PIR is paramount. We are the first to recognize that actions speak louder than words, which is why we have developed mechanisms to implement our commitments. These include:

  • Anchoring PIR in a Public Benefit LLC structure, which will enshrine the mission of PIR in governing documents. In fact, today we will be publishing the key points contained in the parent company certificate of formation, which includes the commitment not to permit any increase in annual domain name registration or renewal prices for .ORG by more than 10% on average: https://www.keypointsabout.org;
  • Establishing the PIR Stewardship Council, which will be an independent and transparent body that will serve as a resource for both PIR and .ORG registrants, within 90 days of the transaction closing. Once established, the Council will seek input from .ORG registrants to convey advice and recommendations to PIR's leadership on key matters;
  • Creating a Community Enablement Fund that will invest in initiatives serving .ORG users and benefiting PIR's educational and outreach efforts around the world. The Fund will be overseen by the Stewardship Council, and it will be substantially larger than what PIR has been able to invest today; and
  • As noted above, continuing PIR's commitments to uphold freedom of expression and human rights more broadly, including empowering the Stewardship Council to ratify strong rules protecting freedom of expression and safeguarding against censorship.

A For-Profit Entity Can Run .ORG

Contrary to the view that only a nonprofit can support another nonprofit, .ORG was formerly operated by a for-profit company (VeriSign). And nonprofits rely on for-profit businesses every day to achieve their online goals — from web designers, to Internet providers, to hosting services, and beyond.

So let's focus on the facts. We stand by our commitments and remain guided by our ultimate mission of ensuring that the registry remains secure, reliable, and stable. Let's encourage a healthy meeting of the minds and focus on building an even stronger PIR and .ORG together.

Written by Nora Abusitta-Ouri, Chief Purpose Officer at Ethos Capital

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More under: Domain Names, Internet Governance, Registry Services

Categories: News and Updates

Saw.com – DNW Podcast #268

Domain Name Wire - Mon, 2020-01-13 16:30

Amanda Waltz and Jeffrey Gabriel discuss their new venture and what is happening in the domain market.

Domain name brokers Amanda Waltz and Jeffrey Gabriel have teamed up to form Saw.com. On today’s show, the two discuss what brought them to this point and their decision to start a new brokerage firm. They also explain what they are seeing in the market and what’s hot right now.

Also: NamesCon agenda, Lotto .com, domain sales and more.

Sponsor: DAN.com

Subscribe via Apple Podcasts to listen to the Domain Name Wire podcast on your iPhone or iPad, view on Google Play Music, or click play above or download to begin listening. (Listen to previous podcasts here.)

© DomainNameWire.com 2019. This is copyrighted content. Domain Name Wire full-text RSS feeds are made available for personal use only, and may not be published on any site without permission. If you see this message on a website, contact editor (at) domainnamewire.com. Latest domain news at DNW.com: Domain Name Wire.

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  3. John Pollard: How to grow the usage of domain names – DNW Podcast #188
Categories: News and Updates

Unfamiliarity and Unpreparedness in Proceedings Under the UDRP

Domain industry news - Mon, 2020-01-13 16:29

There is a difference, of course, between asserting a claim that cannot possibly succeed in an administrative proceeding under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) and being unprepared to prove a claim that may have merit with the right evidence. Still, there is also an overlapping similarity in that complainants are either shockingly unfamiliar with UDRP procedures and jurisprudence (and should have retained counsel who are) or know they have no actionable claim but plow ahead anyway perhaps in the hope their abuse of the proceedings will not be noticed.

The Panels' exasperation is evident, to take a couple of examples, in Adventure SAS v. Mike Robinson, BlackHawk Paramotors USA Inc., D2019-2489 (WIPO December 12, 2019) involving a dispute over a soured distributorship in which it noted that "those responsible for the drafting of the Complaint [Complainant was represented by counsel] and/or the person who authorized the filing of the Complaint knew that the Complaint should not succeed because on any fair reading of the available facts the Respondent registered the Domain Name in good faith." In Nalli Chinnasami Chetty v. Anthony Nalli, FourPoints Multimedia Corp., D2019-2642 (WIPO December 18, 2019) (<nelli.com>) the "Complainant and its counsel also provided no evidentiary support whatsoever to support their argument that the Respondent must have registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith… ]T]hey [also] completely ignored the requirements set out in the Policy for establishing bad faith registration and use of a domain name [and] disregarded precedent and unfavorable facts in concluding that the webpage (which makes no connection whatsoever to the Complainant) was an attempt to misappropriate its trademark reputation, and offered no more than unsupported allegations."

The consensus as to what is expected of complainants (implicit in Adventure SAS and Nelli has been expressed succinctly in a number of memorable decisions: "[Complainant] should at least be minimally versed" and "[i]t is no excuse that a party or its representative is unfamiliar with clear Policy precedent, much less the clear language of the Policy and the Rules themselves" [D2012-1555], or "the deficiencies [of proof] must have been obvious to anyone remotely familiar with the Policy" [D2016-0126], or "[i]t is no excuse that Complainant may not be familiar with clear Policy precedent, the Policy, or the Rules" [D2012-2455].

The gamut of mark owners included in these rebukes ranges from the confused (mistaking the UDRP as a trademark court), through the clueless (who ought to have known otherwise) through the hapless (insofar as marshaling proof) to the manipulative (alleging bad faith when the facts contradict the allegations). The "confused" can be forgiven since while domain names are central to their complaint, the claim actually sounds in trademark infringement. The "clueless" are generally not forgiven; they should have known better.

Recent examples of the confused are: Altiplano Voyage v. Terra Holding Ltd. / Pierre Boyer, D2019-2141 (WIPO November 12, 2019) (<voyagealtiplano.com>) and Taffo SRL v. Contact Privacy Inc. Customer 0141464573 / Agenzia Funebre Taffo di Taffo G. & C. SAS Societa/Ditta, D2019-2266 (WIPO November 19, 2019) (taffo.com>). As a general rule, where domain names are incidental to the offense the claim is outside UDRP's subject matter jurisdiction which is limited to claims of cybersquatting.

In Altiplano Voyage, the Panel notes that "this case presents a more nuanced trademark dispute (at least on the papers presented) than that for which the Policy is equipped." The Panel also comments on Complainant's evidentiary deficiencies. In Taffo, the Panel "incidentally notes that the Policy is designed to resolve standard cases of abusive domain name registrations, while the present one is a complex trademark matter that will be more appropriately handled by the Court of Rome before which an Ordinary Proceeding is already pending." If there is a remedy at all it must be for trademark infringement.

The "clueless" are mark owners whose rights postdate the registration of challenged domain names. They have no claim for cybersquatting under the UDRP (even though they have standing to maintain the proceeding), and no statutory claim or even standing under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA). The possibility that this kind of "clueless" is not clueless at all but deliberately abusive of the administrative proceeding cannot be discounted and is commonly dealt with as such.

A number of recent UDRP decisions illuminate how mark owners attempt to justify their complaints. There is no remedy because owing to the timing of mark owners' right, there can be no actionable violation. In Advice Group S.P.A. v. Privacy Administrator, Anonymize, Inc. / Michele Dinoia, Macrosten LTD, D2019-2441 (WIPO December 2, 2019) (<advicegroup.com>) the Panel explains that the "Respondent acquired the Domain Name some two years before the Complainant obtained a trademark, and nine months before the Complainant even filed its trademark application.") In another case, Gary Chupik v. Shant Sarkuni, FA1910001868583 (Forum November 18, 2019) (<elitemindset.com>) Complainant tried another, equally unpersuasive maneuver by applying for a trademark, strangely believing (one supposes) that having a trademark is conclusive of a right to the corresponding domain name:

a. the disputed domain name was registered on April 18, 2017;

b. Complainant made unsolicited offers to purchase the disputed domain name which were rejected by Respondent;

c. Complainant filed his trademark applications with the USPTO on January 30, 2019, after his offers to purchase the disputed domain name were rejected;

d. the filing of the Complaint on or about October 28, 2019.

Complainant appears to have believed that because "he made an offer to purchase the disputed domain name from Respondent" and because the "Respondent refused to sell the disputed domain name to him for the highest price that he was willing to offer" that he had asserted a claim for cybersquatting. The Panel found the conduct sanctionable: "In the circumstances, this Panel finds that Complainant, being aware that he was not entitled to succeed, nonetheless brought this Complaint with the hope that he may secure the transfer of the disputed domain name, after he had failed to purchase same in open commercial arms-length negotiations."

Other recent Complainants represented by counsel (who ought to have known better!): Pet Life LLC v. ROBERT RIESS / blue streak marketing llc, FA181000181087 (Forum November 11, 2019) (<petlife.com> registered more than 5 years after registration of domain name) and Glovoapp23, S.L. v. Wang Shun, D2019-1986 (WIPO September 30, 2019) (<glovo.com> registered 17 years before trademark right). Complainants in both these cases were sanctioned for asserting claims they could not possibly prove.

The second group, those I call hapless, may have meritorious claims, but either lack proof or have not marshaled what they need to establish bad faith. The inference with deficiency of evidence is that if no proof is offered, no proof exists. The point is illustrated in Assurity Life Insurance Company v. DOMAIN MAY BE FOR SALE, CHECK AFTERNIC.COM Domain Admin / Whois Foundation, FA1911001872882 (Forum December 21, 2019) (<assuritylife.com>): "Complainant asserts both registered and common law trademark rights. Complainant owns several USPTO registrations but none earlier in time than ... March 21, 2006 and so even its filing date postdates the registration of the domain name [May 2004]." However, in this case.

Complainant's assertion of common law rights is premised, not on proof of public awareness and reputation, but on the above statement, which in turn rests on the claim of first use in commerce date of June 12, 1996, shown in Reg. No. 3,070,343. That date is provided to the USPTO by a trademark applicant. There is no proof of a common law trademark by May 2004 when the domain name was registered.

One of the questions here which the Panel frames as a preclusion issue can also be thought of as a credibility issue: if Complainant really believed it had a claim, why did it wait so long to assert it. The Panel noted that "although opinions have differed as to whether the equitable doctrine of laches applies to UPRP proceedings, it has been recognized [that is, the consensus among panelists is] that delay in bringing proceedings is likely to place a higher burden on a complainant attempting to prove a state of affairs long ago." The same point is also made in NovAtel Inc. v. Registration Private, Domains By Proxy, LLC / Domain Admin, FindYourDomain.com, D2019-1939 (WIPO October 4, 2019) (<novatela.com> and DK Company Vejle A/S v. Cody Favre, C4 Squared, D2019-2676 (WIPO December 17, 2019) (<shopcasualfriday.com>). In NovAtel, "[w]hile the Complainant asserts that its NOVATEL trademark has been in use since 1992, it provides no evidence as to how widely the mark was known at that time or, more importantly, in 2007." In DK Company Veile, the Panel explains that

[t]he difficulty with that case is that the Complainant has provided no information as to the size or reputation of its business, and such limited evidence as it does provide indicates its business is entirely European. The Complainant says that its CASUAL FRIDAY trademark is "widely known" in the European Union but provides no evidence to substantiate that assertion. There is nothing before the Panel to suggest that a United States retailer would have had any knowledge of the Complainant or, had it carried out searches, would have found any reason to conclude it could not adopt the words as part of a name for use in the United States.

In failing to produce supporting evidence necessary to establish common law rights or the repute of a mark at the time of the registration of the domain name or any other indicia of consumer recognition, the inference must be that it has none. The consensus is as the Panel states in Adventure SAS, namely that "the natural inference in the absence of any evidence to the contrary would be that the Respondent registered the Domain Name in good faith."

The third group, less hapless I think because they simply do not have enough information until the response is filed, are mark owners complaining of domain names held or used by commercial businesses offering bona fide goods or services (distinguishing these respondents from investors reselling domain names). Two recent examples are Lexon v. Registration Private, Domains By Proxy, LLC / Surety Management, D2019-2365 (WIPO December 12, 2019) (<lexon.com>) in which Respondent offered proof that "the Disputed Domain Name was acquired as part of a legitimate business transaction when the Respondent purchased the Lexon Surety company and its trademarks"; and DSN Software, Inc. v. Rob Bay, FA1910001865961 (Forum December 10, 2019) (<practicesnapshot.com>) in which the descriptive phrase identified the services Respondent offered.

Included in the hapless group are complainants whose marks are composed of common words, descriptive or common phrases, and arbitrary letters (to distinguish marks composed of coined words or nationally or international famous). These strings are notoriously hard to prove domain names were not registered for their semantic (rather than trademark) values. In Service Spring Corp. v. hao wang, D2018-2422 (WIPO December 17, 2019) (<ssc.com>) the "Complainant submits that bad faith should be inferred from (i) the Respondent's use of a privacy service, (ii) the Respondent's provision of incomplete address details in the WhoIs record and (iii) the Respondent's failure to respond to the Complainant's cease and desist letters," but these factors, even if considered, are not conclusive of liability; they do not add up to bad faith.

One final note, a reminder, that these cases rejecting claims of cybersquatting represent less than 10% of all disputes that go to award. To the extent that strings of words are common in the language community, unsurprising and common expressions, descriptive phrases, not clearly associated with any one commercial user there is a corresponding increase in the evidentiary demand for proof of bad faith registration; bad faith use alone does not prove cybersquatting under the UDRP if there is no proof of bad faith registration.

Written by Gerald M. Levine, Intellectual Property, Arbitrator/Mediator at Levine Samuel LLP

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More under: Domain Management, Domain Names, Law, UDRP

Categories: News and Updates

How to sell domains to China

Domain Name Wire - Mon, 2020-01-13 14:36

Consider hiring a broker or using Afternic.

China is an attractive place for domain investors. We hear of exciting news of domains sold to Chinese buyers for incredible prices. Naturally, we want to know how we can do the same too and reap a handsome return.

In the high end, there have been many multimillion sales to China. Some examples are 360.com for a reported $17 million and Le.com for a reported $10 million to Chinese companies. Even domains of other extensions can sometimes achieve great prices. For example, 1377.cc and 1877.cc were sold for $17,000 and $13,000 respectively last December and I wrote about them in Two interesting .cc domain sales.

If you have domains in the 6 figures or higher price ranges, it may be a good idea to solicit help from a China-based domain broker. However, if you are like me and the majority of domain investors holding domains of average quality, that option may not be available. But, you can try an MLS (multiple listing service) provider.

One MLS provider I use is Afternic. Afternic is owned by Godaddy which provides Chinese content and payments (Alipay and China UnionPay) on its website to sell domains to Chinese buyers. Afternic also partners with domain registrars in China such as Wan Wang (万网), Chengmi.cn (橙米网), Xinnet (新网), Yijie.com (易介网), eName (易名), and na.wang (纳点网). They remove the language and payment barriers usually faced by domain investors.

For example, last year I sold several domains to Chinese buyers (although unintended) via Afternic and one of them was Tcozy.com. I set a price and forgot it until Afternic notified me of the sale with subsequent payment of the proceeds into my bank account. The domain was bought by a Chinese end user in the heating/cooling device business. This experience also shows that a good domain will sell to anywhere in the world, including China.

© DomainNameWire.com 2019. This is copyrighted content. Domain Name Wire full-text RSS feeds are made available for personal use only, and may not be published on any site without permission. If you see this message on a website, contact editor (at) domainnamewire.com. Latest domain news at DNW.com: Domain Name Wire.

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Categories: News and Updates

Top Domain Name Stories

Domain Name Wire - Fri, 2020-01-10 16:41

A look back at 2019, including December’s top stories.

The domain name industry finished 2019 with a bang, and it’s off to the races in this new decade. What will be in store? Listen to the 2020 Predictions Podcast for forecasts from 15 different people.

Over the holiday break, I published analyses of some of the top stories in the domain name business last year.

Of course, the big news was a private equity company announcing plans to acquire .org after ICANN lifted all price caps.

Other top stories include Alpnames shutting down and a  record-smashing domain sale. On the lighter side, a lot of dead people got domain names in 2019.

Also, I hope you are enjoying having Kassey Lee cover the Chinese angle on domain names for Domain Name Wire. It seems that people like his stories; 2 were among the top five in December!

China can be mystifying to people like me, so it’s great to have Kassey breaking down why specific domain names are worth more than you think. He’s also analyzing the market for certain TLDs in China and much more. You can read all of his stories here.

Here are the top five stories from last month, as ranked by pageviews:

1. A four character domain for $16,500? Here’s why – Kassey Lee breaks down why 23ZW has meaning to this Chinese company.

2. Namecheap adds cool new feature to domain search – It could help domain name investors.

3. This elite startup uses a long numeric domain – Another story about a Chinese company’s domain name was popular this month.

4. This is how thieves trick customers into wiring money to them – Thieves use typo domain names to trick people into wiring money that is due to another party.

5. A fractional domain ownership idea – Aron Meystedt offered shares in his domain NNR.com. Expect more fractional domain ownership opportunities in 2020.

Miss a podcast? Listen now

2020 Predictions episode – hear predictions about the domain industry from 15 people.

Sending out the Bat-signal – Learn how to get someone’s attention to do a domain deal.

Last year’s predictions – Listen to the 2019 predictions episode to see who was right and who was wrong. One of my predictions just came true: Verisign will pay ICANN as part of a deal to raise prices on .com domains.

Doron Vermaat – The Efty co-founder talks about domain sales trends and landing pages.

© DomainNameWire.com 2019. This is copyrighted content. Domain Name Wire full-text RSS feeds are made available for personal use only, and may not be published on any site without permission. If you see this message on a website, contact editor (at) domainnamewire.com. Latest domain news at DNW.com: Domain Name Wire.

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Categories: News and Updates

21 end user domain name sales

Domain Name Wire - Fri, 2020-01-10 14:23

A pipeline construction company, a calculator app and a dental anesthetic company bought domain names.

Sedo kicked off the new year with a combined list of sales during the recent holiday period. While the holidays can be a slow time for sales, Sedo turned in some nice sales.

Here’s a look at some of the domains end users bought at Sedo in the last few weeks. See prior end user lists here.

OGE.net $62,000 – Open Grid Europe, which is using the very long domain open-grid-europe.com.  It’s a European company specializing in the design and construction of pipelines from conceptual design, project management and engineering to implementation.

Jurnal.com $15,000 – Forwards to Jurnal.id, an Indonesian financial and accounting software provider.

Invierto.com €15,000 – Invierto means “invest” in Spanish. This domain was purchased by 10 Segundos in Guatamala.

Bitcoin.africa $6,000 – Forwards to Bitcoin.ng, the site for Bitcoin Nigeria.

Kuepper.de €5,950 – A German construction company with several locations. They specialize in upscale bathroom renovations and remodeling projects.

Co-Da.com €5,500 – This unique hyphenated domain forwards to a coming soon page that states “lifestyle technology that simplifies and inspires.” The copyright is RBCW Enterprises.

VisibleLearning.com $3,795 – Purchased by Sage Publications, an independent academic publishing company that has purchased other domains from Sedo previously.

Logopress.com €3,500 – This domain was purchased by Autoform Engineering, an engineering firm that provides software solutions for die-making and sheet metal forming industries for the automotive industry. The company acquired a business called Logopress last year.

TheWand.de €3,488 – You know that horrible numbness you have after having a cavity filled at the dentist? The one were you can’t drink or eat for a bit and keep biting your cheek? Well, this company promises the anesthesia will be painless and the numbness won’t last as long.

PeerCollective.com $2,795 – Forwards to PeerCollectiveMentalHealth.com, a website to search for mental health services and counselors. Nice upgrade!

SEO-Agentur.com €2,500 – This domain was bought by the German digital marketing agency, Maxx Marketing GmbH.

Vinke.com €2,500 – Forwards to Vinke.biz, a German digital agency specializing in e-commerce sites.

Unternehmerzeitung.de €2,500 – Forwards to Frankfurt-BM.com, the website for Frankfurt Business Media, a German publishing company based in Frankfurt that publishes a business and media magazine. It translates to “entrepreneurs newspaper”.

PangeaReptiles.com $2,212 – Forwards to PangeaReptile.com, an online reptile food supplier. Smart brand protection.

HawaiianRentals.com $2,009 – A rental listing website in Hawaii for just about anything such as property, beach equipment, boats, clothing, personal items and more.

Calculatrice.fr €2,000 – Forwards to Calculateur.com. Calculatrice is the French word for “calculator” while Calculateur means “calculating”. This website provides a basic calculator app with tabs for other more advanced math functions.

Santiago.de €2,000 – Forwards to Santiago-Advisors.com, an international management consultancy firm headquartered in Germany.

AmericanFirearms.org $2,000 – American Firearms Institute uses this domain for a firearm resource portal with information such as gun reviews, manufacturer guides, advice for beginners and more.

Franke.pe $2,000 – Forwards to Franke.com, a Swiss company that manufactures and installs kitchen equipment such as stoves and hoods, commercial kitchen systems, high-end coffee systems and water filtration systems. It previously bought Franke.id so it appears this company is buying its brands in alternate TLDs.

Radio.com.pe $2,000- Forwards to RadioEnVivo.com, a Hispanic radio station streaming service featuring multiple stations.

JustCrashed.com $2,000 – This is a clever name for Commonwealth Accidenty Injury Law, a Virginia personal injury law practice.

© DomainNameWire.com 2019. This is copyrighted content. Domain Name Wire full-text RSS feeds are made available for personal use only, and may not be published on any site without permission. If you see this message on a website, contact editor (at) domainnamewire.com. Latest domain news at DNW.com: Domain Name Wire.

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Categories: News and Updates

The Early History of Usenet, Part IX: Retrospective Thoughts

Domain industry news - Fri, 2020-01-10 03:29

Usenet is 40 years old. Did we get it right, way back when? What could/should we have done differently, with the technology of the time and with what we should have known or could feasibly have learned? And what are the lessons for today?

A few things were obviously right, even in retrospect. For the expected volume of communications and expected connectivity, a flooding algorithm was the only real choice. Arguably, we should have designed a have/want protocol, but that was easy enough to add on later — and was, in the form of NNTP. There were discussions even in the mid- to late-1980s about how to build one, even for dial-up links. For that matter, the original announcement explicitly included a variant form:

Traffic will be reduced further by extending news to support "news on demand." X.c would be submitted to a newsgroup (e.g., "NET.bulk") to which no one subscribes. Any node could then request the article by name, which would generate a sequence of news requests along the path from the requester to the contributing system. Hopefully, only a few requests would locate a copy of x.c. "News on demand" will require a network routing map at each node, but that is desirable anyway.

Similarly, we were almost certainly right to plan on a linked set of star nodes, including, of course, Duke. Very few sites had autodialers, but most had a few dial-in ports.

The lack of cryptographic authentication and hence control mechanisms is a somewhat harder call, but I still think we made the right decision. First, there really wasn't very much academic cryptographic literature at the time. We knew of DES, we knew of RSA, and we knew of trapdoor knapsacks. We did not know the engineering parameters for either of the latter two and, as I noted in an earlier post, we didn't even know to look for a bachelor's thesis that might or might not have solved the problem. Today, I know enough about cryptography that I could, I think, solve the problem with the tools available in 1979 (though remember that there were no cryptographic hash functions then), but I sure didn't know any of that back then.

There's a more subtle problem, though. Cryptography is a tool for enforcing policies, and we didn't know what the policies should be. In fact, we said that quite explicitly:

  • What about abuse of the network?
    In general, it will be straightforward to detect when abuse has occurred and who did it. The uucp system, like UNIX, is not designed to prevent abuses of overconsumption. Experience will show what uses of the net are in fact abuses, and what should be done about them.
  • Who would be responsible when something bad happens?
    Not us! And we don't intend that any innocent bystander be held liable either. We are looking into this matter. Suggestions are solicited.
  • This is a sloppy proposal. Let's start a committee.
    No thanks! Yes, there are problems. Several amateurs collaborated on this plan. But let's get started now. Once the net is in place, we can start a committee. And they will actually use the net, so they will know what the real problems are.

This is a crucial point: if you don't know what you want the policies to be, you can't design suitable enforcement mechanisms. Similarly, you have to have some idea who is charged with enforcing policies in order to determine who should hold, e.g., cryptographic keys.

Today's online communities have never satisfactorily answered either part of this. Twitter once described itself as the "free speech wing of the free-speech party”; today, it struggles with how to handle things like Trump's tweets and there are calls to regulate social media. Add to that the international dimension, and it's a horribly difficult problem — and Usenet was by design architecturally decentralized.

Original Usenet never tried to solve the governance problem, even within its very limited domain of discourse. It would be simple, today, to implement a scheme where posters could cancel their own articles. Past that, it's very hard to decide in whom to vest control. The best Usenet ever had were the Backbone Cabal and a voting scheme for the creation of new newsgroups, but the former was dissolved after the Great Renaming because it was perceived to lack popular legitimacy, and the latter was very easily abused.

Using threshold cryptography to let M out of N chosen "trustees" manage Usenet works technically but not politically, unless the "voters" — and who are they, and how do we ensure one Usenet user, one vote? — agree on how to choose the Usenet trustees and what their powers should be. There isn't even a worldwide consensus on how governments should be chosen or what powers they should have; adding cryptographic mechanisms to Usenet wouldn't solve it, either, even for just Usenet.

We did make one huge mistake in our design: we didn't plan for success. We never asked ourselves, "What if our traffic estimates are far too low?"

There were a number of trivial things we could have done. Newsgroups could always have been hierarchical. We could have had more hierarchies from the start. We wouldn't have gotten the hierarchy right, but computers, other sciences, humanities, regional, and department would have been obvious choices and not that far from what eventually happened.

A more substantive change would have been a more extensible header format. We didn't know about RFC 722, the then-current standard for ARPANET email, but we probably could have found it easily enough. But we did know enough to insist on having "A" as the first character of a post, to let us revise the protocol more easily. (Aside: tossing in a version indicator is easy. Ensuring that it's compatible with the next version is not easy, because you often need to know something of the unknowable syntax and semantics of the future version. B-news did not start all articles with a "B", because that would have been incompatible with its header format.)

The biggest success-related issue, though, was the inability to read articles by newsgroup and out of order within a group. Ironically, Twitter suffers from the same problem, even now: you see a single timeline, with no easy way to flag some tweets for later reading and no way to sort different posters into different categories ("tweetgroups"?). Yes, there are lists, but seeing something in a list doesn't mean you don't see it again in your main timeline. (Aside: maybe that's why I spend too much time on Twitter, both on my main account and on my photography account.)

Suppose, in a desire to relive my technical adolescence, I decided to redesign Usenet. What would it look like?

Nope, not gonna go there. Even apart from the question of whether the world needs another social noise network, there's no way the human attention span scales far enough. The cognitive load of Usenet was far too high even at a time when very few people, relatively speaking, were online. Today, there are literally billions of Internet users. I mean, I could specify lots of obvious properties for Usenet: The Next Generation — distributed, peer-to-peer, cryptographically authenticated, privacy-preserving — but people still couldn't handle the load, and there are still the very messy governance problems like illegal content, Nazis, trolls, organization, and more. The world has moved on, and I have, too, and there is no shortage of ways to communicate. Maybe there is a need for another, but Usenet — a single infrastructure intended to support many different topics — is probably not the right model.

And there's a more subtle point. Usenet was a batch, store-and-forward network because that's what the available technology would support. Today, we have an always-online network with rich functionality. The paradigm for how one interacts with a network would and should be completely different. For example: maybe you can only interact with people who are online at the same time as you are — and maybe that's a good thing.

Usenet was a creation of its time, but around then, something like it was likely to happen. To quote Robert Heinlein's Door into Summer, "you railroad only when it comes time to railroad." The corollary is that when it is time to railroad, people will do so. Bulletin Board Systems started a bit earlier, though it took the creation of the Hayes SmartModem to make them widespread in the 1980s. And there was CSnet, an official email gateway between the ARPANET and dial-up sites, started in 1981, with some of the same goals. We joked that when professors want to do something, they wrote a proposal and received lots of funding, but we, being grad students, just went and did it, without waiting for paperwork and official sanction.

Usenet, though, was different. Bulletin Board Systems were single-site, until the rise of Fidonet a few years later; Usenet was always distributed. CSnet had central administration; Usenet was, by intent, laissez-faire and designed for organic growth at the edges, with no central site that in some way needed money. Despite its flaws, it connected many, many people around the world, for more than 20 years until the rise of today's social network. And, though the user base and usage patterns have changed, it's still around 40 years later.

This concludes my personal history of Usenet.

Written by Steven Bellovin, Professor of Computer Science at Columbia University

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More under: Internet Protocol, Networks

Categories: News and Updates

Industry Veteran Toby Hardy Joins Forces with Don Nelson to Launch New Domain Sales & Consulting Firm

DN Journal - Thu, 2020-01-09 22:53
After meeting for the first time at a domain event last summer, two domain industry (and military) veterans have launched a new company together.
Categories: News and Updates

Full NamesCon schedule released, GoDaddy CEO Aman Bhutani to keynote

Domain Name Wire - Thu, 2020-01-09 18:23

Bhutani to speak at “Domain Economic Forum”.

GoDaddy CEO Aman Bhutani will keynote NamesCon Global 2020.

NamesCon has published the full schedule for its event taking place in Austin January 29-February 1.

Aman Bhutani, who became the CEO of GoDaddy last year, will be the main keynote speaker. Bhutani will speak on January 30 at 1 pm.

On Friday at 11 am, I will moderate a panel “Threats and Opportunities: New TLDs 5 Years In.” I will be joined by Christa Taylor, CMO of MMX, Christina Beavis, COO of Vox Populi Registry, and Matt Overman, SVP of sales at Donuts.

While the main hotel for NamesCon is sold out, NamesCon is offering discounted rates at three nearby hotels.

Discounted show tickets are still available using the code DNW30.

© DomainNameWire.com 2019. This is copyrighted content. Domain Name Wire full-text RSS feeds are made available for personal use only, and may not be published on any site without permission. If you see this message on a website, contact editor (at) domainnamewire.com. Latest domain news at DNW.com: Domain Name Wire.

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