FW: gTLD opinion piece

Jim Whitehead (ejw@ics.uci.edu)
Thu, 2 Oct 1997 10:48:09 -0700

I thought this was interesting enough to FoRK.

- Jim

-----Original Message-----
From: Robert J. DuWors [SMTP:rjd@csgroup.com]
Sent: Thursday, October 02, 1997 9:13 AM
To: Ing. I.D.J. van der Ven
Cc: 'Robert J. DuWors'; Jeff Williams; Jon Postel; Jim Fleming; IETF ORG; Carl Oppedahl; eDNS Discuss; gtld-discuss@gtld-mou.org
Subject: RE: What is the Private Sector?

At 11:06 AM 10/2/97 +0100, Ing. I.D.J. van der Ven wrote:
>Dear All,
>For me it is the first time I react. I'm a little bit chocked how the US
gov. thinks about the Internet:

Wow! Who knows what the US government thinks? :-O

But those are my words and, so let me say that I think they are
fundamentally a statement of fact. Others may, of course, hold other
beliefs: but, if you take the contrary position, do you really want to
argue the INTERnet is NOT " a federation of loosely coupled networks which
share the IP protocol suite in common"?

To the best of my understanding, it seems the rest of your communication
went on to agree with the view of Internet as a federation of networks. So
I think we are "vigorously agreeing", not disagreeing.

Somewhat more controversially, I also share your belief in the virtues of a
diverse IP community of multiple networks [referred pejoratively by the
politically correct as "fragmentation"]. Internet(s), Intranet(s), and
Extranet(s) all have their roles as do multiple DNS areas of administration
[to avoid overloaded terminology]. Long ago a wag pointed out that the
once fashionable term "Single Integrated Network" was really a SIN. :-)

The real issue comes from loading other constraints onto to IP technology,
particularly DNS name spaces. The most pernicious currently being the
inappropriate invasion of network name space by interest groups from other
name spaces, despite a long Internet tradition asserting the nature of
domain names as simple substitutes for IP address, i.e. string values to
help establish network signalling paths much like the use of other
alphanumeric addresses such as postal addresses.

No other network in the history of humanity has ever been so assaulted: not
the road system, not the rail system, not the postal system, not the
telegraph system, not the telex system, not the radio and television
system, not the cellular system, not the telephone system, and not other
digital networks. All of these predate the Internet, many predate the
formal codification of "trademarks", many use alphanumeric addresses, and
all had international aspects.

Today we have the trade mark vultures, tomorrow well ... anything goes in
this game of natural [and not-so-natural] language interpretation of domain
names ... perhaps Moslem's will take exception to domains which use the
wives of Mohammed, imagine a series of porno sites with the names of the 12
Apostles, the Dutch might claim certain food names as theirs by right,
perhaps the Noble committee will lay claim to the names of its winners,
cities can claim their "name" [doubtless clashing with trademark holders
sooner or later], countries can demand rights to their national heroes,
perhaps the Vatican could lay claim to "pope", "holyfather", if it felt
really fiesty, "church", ... Look around long enough, and you can find
precedence for just about anything.

Seems to me that public interest of the Internet community is to unite
against ALL of these claims, let the courts handle them where they will go
anyway, and to resist encouraging these attackers [certainly not to huddle
with any of them].

Amazingly, there are only a handful of precedents worldwide regarding
trademark rights versus domain name rights, and they go both ways. But
there is a much larger, darker, set of trademark threats being lodged
against domain names. The naive acceptance of specious trademark claims
and their legitimacy will, I firmly believe, help break down the barriers
to unremitting trademark warfare while increasing the barriers to effective
global communications [what an "community service", "Internet" or not!}

I fear by mismanaging this network we will also prejudice its inevitable
successors in the coming age of pervasive digital communications. We will
certainly start to see "trademark squatting" aimed at securing network
names ... my, will the same lawyerly indignation be expressed against that
entrepreneurial activity?

INTA and WIPO are using the gTLD-MoU to break new ground, expand the reach
of their claims beyond anything ever attempted before - if you don't
believe me, go read their websites. They are really quite unsubtle about
it. What delight reigns in their camps.

And why, oh why, would "the Internet community" be the place to settle
claims that are supposedly rooted in the law? By this tortured reasoning
perhaps we should set global guidelines for capital punishment since one
way or another it can or could effect every member of the online community
rather drastically...

Let them do their own dirty work. International registration and
harmonization of other name spaces is none of the Internet community's
business. They would rightfully throw us out of their own turf. The
gTLD-MoU should stop being used by WIPO to extend their rasion d'etre and
by INTA to take the rest of us to the cleaners [at least clean of our
domain names].

Kent Crispin, who I believe takes quite a different point of view,
nevertheless captured my feeling quite well in his signature:

"No reason to get excited",
the thief he kindly spoke...

Personally I view the ACP as blatant vigilante justice written by thieves
and best removed from the gTLD-MoU. I do believe that there is still time.

The cost, to answer Kent's earlier comment, is being reduced orders of
magnitude for the attacker, the defender gains no advantage whatsoever, and
faces no diminished risk from legal action. These cyberspace claim jumpers
can and do creep out from anywhere around the world and attack domain names
which are sitting ducks out in the open. The ACP puts a bulls eye target
on every domain name and provides every convenience for attack.

There is no advantage, however, for the defender to spot the attackers and
their maneuvering into position. And most terribly, there is no penalty
for abusive use of trademarks, no deterrent at all. It appears that INTA,
like the tobacco industry for many years before it, has a keen sense how to
influence the legislative process for public or private "governance" ...

In the future, as noted, there will be no deterrent to trademark
acquisition (purchased or newly created) aimed at domain name jumping and
playing both the ACP and legal game; whereas domain names have a strictly
second class status and no organized defenders - well, not within the
Internet establishment as we know it today, certainly not within the POC as

I have argued in correspondence to the POC that the ACP policy has the same
evil economics as SPAM: the cost of the process falls mainly on the
victimized recipient. So why not take a swing?

When, say an Italian maker of autoparts, attacks "songbird" perhaps we will
hear a different tune. Given the crowding of "meaningful names" versus the
size of Internet user base it is virtually inevitable. And what will be
lost? A means of communication surely, perhaps part of a legitimate
livelihood, and certainly a means of expression.

Good luck,
Rob DuWors

Robert J. DuWors <mailto:rjd@csgroup.com> tel:+1.440.255.2869
Connected Systems Group 7638 Aster Drive, Mentor, Ohio 44060