Minutes | New gTLD Program Committee 2 February 2013

A Meeting of the New gTLD Program Committee of the ICANN Board of Directors was held on 2 February 2013 at 5:00 pm local time in Los Angeles, California.

Committee Chairman Cherine Chalaby promptly called the meeting to order.

In addition to the Chair the following Directors participated in all or part of the meeting: Fadi Chehadé (President and CEO), Chris Disspain, Bill Graham, Olga Madruga-Forti, Erika Mann, Gonzalo Navarro, Ray Plzak, George Sadowsky, Mike Silber, Judith Vazquez, and Kuo-Wei Wu.

Thomas Narten, IETF Liaison and Francisco da Silva, TLG Liaison, were in attendance as non-voting liaisons to the committee.

Heather Dryden, GAC Liaison, was in attendance as an invited observer.

ICANN Staff in attendance for all or part of the meeting: Akram Atallah, Chief Operating Officer; John Jeffrey, General Counsel and Secretary; Megan Bishop, Michelle Bright, Samantha Eisner, Dan Halloran, Karen Lentz, Denise Michel, Margie Milam, Cyrus Namazi, David Olive, Diane Schroeder, Amy Stathos, and Christine Willett.

  1. "Closed Generic" Top-Level Domains
    1. Rationale for Resolutions 2013.02.02.NG01 – 2013.02.02.NG03


  1. "Closed Generic" Top-Level Domains

    The Chair introduced the topic of "Closed Generic" TLDs, noting that this has been a topic of conversation in the community and in the Committee, and that it did not appear to be possible to craft a solution to the issue at this time. The recommendation therefore is to take this issue out for public comment and to direct staff to produce additional research and analysis. The proposed resolution will help demonstrate that the Committee takes this issue seriously and is directing work that can advance the consideration of this issue.

    Chris Disspain noted that one of the purposes of the work will be to try to put some boundary around what is meant by a "closed generic" TLD.

    Ray Plzak asked if there was any benefit of discussing the vertical integration issue as part of the resolution.

    Erika Mann commented that there has to be some caution to the terms used, as there are intellectual property and trademark laws and analogies that could be used. There has to be a clear idea of what we want to protect or prohibit. Erika also requested that staff provide a short summary on the principles of international law to help with further conversation on this topic.

    Thomas Narten confirmed his understanding that part of what we're trying to say is that there is not an explicit policy statement that can be identified from the past work on the development of the New gTLD Program.

    The General Counsel and Secretary confirmed that even if this was considered within the GNSO work on this – which is one of the items that we will try to determine through the anticipated research – that there is not a clear policy statement on this issue. There could be an absence of policy that was the subject of GNSO discussions.

    The Committee then reviewed the proposed resolution.

    Ray stated his support of the resolution, and cautioned that the rationale will have to be carefully crafted.

    Gonzalo Navarro noted his support for the resolution, and echoed Erika's concern that the Committee has to be careful about the words used, particularly to remove any suggestion that we are trying to modify trademark law, even if those are the words that have been used in the community discussions on those items.

    The Committee then discussed some proposed line edits to the resolution.

    Thomas asked if there had been any sort of preliminary review of what the impact of this work could be on the schedule, and what the timeline would be for committee review. Thomas also noted that the public comment as proposed is for 21 days, but really should be longer because we know the SOs will have trouble responding that fast, and we are likely to receive requests for extension. When public comment is sought, we have to make sure that we are framing the issue properly to get helpful responses.

    Dan Halloran confirmed that the public comment posting would include background and context to frame the issue.

    Amy Stathos explained that the 21 day comment period was proposed to allow for the Committee to review the outcomes of the comment period prior to the March 23 release of the first initial evaluation results, in the event any of those strings are impacted by this work.

    After proposal from the President and CEO, the Committee agreed to extend the comment period to 30 days.

    The Chair expressed his concern that the Committee may try to get too far into the details now and not focus on the need to have a clear time frame on taking further action on this issue. While this topic could have surfaced earlier, it is not incumbent on the Committee to determine if a substantive decision is necessary on this item before the Beijing meeting, as that will require additional meetings of the Committee after the comment period closes.

    Margie Milam offered a suggestion that it is important to recognize the role of the GNSO in this, as the conversation is focusing on the GNSO's policy recommendations and earlier discussion. This could be achieved, possibly, by requesting guidance from the GNSO on this topic.

    Erika and Ray supported taking a decision on this issue prior to the Beijing meeting, but acting carefully in reviewing and considering all of the comments prior to decision.

    The Chair confirmed that a meeting will be coordinated prior to the Beijing meeting for further consideration of this issue.

    After a further review of the language of the proposed resolution, George Sadowsky moved and Olga Madruga-Forti seconded the following resolution:

    Whereas, the New gTLD Program Committee has received correspondence from the community addressing "closed generic" TLDs and understands that members of the community term a "closed generic" TLD as a TLD string that is a generic term and is proposed to be operated by a participant exclusively for its own benefit.

    Whereas, ICANN implemented the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) policy recommendations on the "Introduction of New Generic Top-Level Domains", and within those policy recommendations there is no specific policy regarding "closed generic" top-level domains (TLDs).

    Whereas, members of the community have expressed concerns regarding applications for "closed generic" TLDs.

    Whereas, the New gTLD Program Committee considers that it is important to understand all views and potential ramifications relating to 'closed generic' TLDs.

    Resolved (2013.02.02.NG01), the New gTLD Program Committee directs the President and CEO to open a 30-day public comment forum on this topic, which should include a call for identification of proposed objective criteria to classify applied-for TLDs as "closed generic" TLDs.

    Resolved (2013.02.02.NG02), the New gTLD Program Committee directs the President and CEO to, concurrently with the opening of the public comment forum, request the GNSO to provide guidance on the issue of "closed generic" TLDs if the GNSO wishes to provide such guidance. Guidance on this issue is requested to be provided by the close of the public comment forum.

    Resolved (2013.02.02.NG03), the New gTLD Program Committee directs the President and CEO to:

    1. Summarize and analyze all comments submitted in the public comment forum.
    2. Review materials supporting the policy development process resulting in the GNSO policy recommendations on the Introduction of New Generic Top-Level Domains and provide analysis of any discussions relating to the limitations on potential new gTLDs.
    3. Analyze the feasibility of objectively classifying applied for TLDs as "closed generic" TLDs.
    4. Provide an analysis as to whether the public interest and principles of international law are served by adopting a clear approach regarding 'closed generic' gTLDs.
    5. Provide a report to the New gTLD Program Committee informed by the comments received and analysis conducted, including alternatives to addressing this issue.

    All members of the New gTLD Program Committee voted in favor of Resolutions 2013.02.02.NG01, 2013.02.02.NG01 and 2013.02.02.NG03. The Resolutions carried.

    Rationale for Resolutions 2013.02.02.NG01 – 2013.02.02.NG03

    Why is the New gTLD Program Committee is addressing the issue now?

    ICANN has received numerous requests for clarification in this area, including recent correspondence expressing concerns about "closed generic" applications.

    What are the proposals being considered?

    Various proposals have been raised to the Committee's attention in correspondence, including rejection of certain applications, adoption of new requirements regarding TLD registration policies, and suggested criteria for applying or exempting registries from the Code of Conduct in the Registry Agreement. The Committee believes that a full analysis and discussion are necessary to inform any actions to be taken on this issue.

    What Stakeholders or others were consulted?

    The resolution initiates a public comment period to enable stakeholder consultation and consideration of relevant information and analysis, including a request for guidance from the GNSO.

    What concerns or issues were raised by the community?

    Recent correspondence has expressed concerns about the potential impact on competition and consumer choice, as well as phrasing the issue in terms of potential impact on the public interest.

    What significant materials did the New gTLD Program Committee review?

    The Committee reviewed all recent correspondence on this issue, as well as current provisions in the Applicant Guidebook, including the gTLD Registry Agreement.

    What factors did the New gTLD Program Committee find to be significant?

    The Committee considered it important to understand all views and potential ramifications relating to "closed generic" TLDs. Some in the community have urged the Board/New gTLD Program Committee to issue direction in regard to these applications to address their stated concerns.

    Taking action (such as the potential incorporation of a requirement to reject certain applications, or adoption of new requirements regarding TLD registration policies) that changes the fundamental provisions and criteria in the Applicant Guidebook must be balanced very carefully.

    Are there Positive or Negative Community Impacts?

    The resolution initiates a public comment period, and is intended to allow the Committee to examine and consider possible positive and negative community effects of the issue, and the extent of such effects. The resolution also invites guidance from the GNSO, as well as comprehensive research and analysis to better understand any broader effects of future action on this issue.

    Are there fiscal impacts/ramifications on ICANN (Strategic Plan, Operating Plan, Budget); the community; and/or the public as a result of taking this action?

    The analysis called for in the resolution will be conducted as part of budgeted work functions. No significant fiscal impacts are foreseen. The inputs are being requested on a short time frame to allow for minimal impact on operational planning/timelines.

    Are there any Security, Stability or Resiliency issues relating to the DNS as a result of taking this action?

    The Committee is not currently aware of any security, stability, or resiliency issues relating to the DNS as a result of this action.

    The Chair called the meeting to a close.

Published on 12 April 2013