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ICANN Completes First Sponsored TLD Agreement; .museum to Go Live in November

Marina del Rey, California, USA (18 October 2001) The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced the signing of an agreement with the Museum Domain Management Association (MuseDoma) to oversee the operation of the first "sponsored" top level domain, ".museum". This new TLD is targeted to meet the needs of the international museum community. It will allow museums and other qualified organizations and individuals to register domain names ending in ".museum."

"This is the first of several such specialized TLDs authorized by the ICANN Board of Directors," stated M. Stuart Lynn, ICANN CEO/President. "They represent a whole new direction for top level domains. ICANN is pleased to join with MuseDoma in taking this important step for museum lovers everywhere and for the global Internet community."

Sponsored TLDs are coordinated by policy-making organizations – like MuseDoma – responsive to a defined group of stakeholders with a common purpose as defined by the organization's charter. These oversight organizations operate in an open, fair, and transparent manner. The charter of ".museum" limits domain name registrations only to bona fide museums, their professional associations and individual members of the museum community.

MuseDoma is a not-for-profit corporation established for the purposes of overseeing the ".museum" TLD. Its founding members are the International Council of Museums (ICOM), headquartered in Paris, France, and the J. Paul Getty Trust, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. Its bylaws provide for the addition of other members drawn from the international museum community. Initial start-up funding for MuseDoma was provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust, and ICOM, but MuseDoma intends to become self-supporting through ".museum" operations.

"We are delighted to be joining with ICANN in launching ".museum" for the ultimate benefit of museums and museum professionals across the world," said Cary Karp, President of MuseDoma. "It will provide a home on the Internet for those who work to make our museums such great cultural assets."

It is expected that by early November, 2001, ".museum" will become a functioning TLD able to resolve domain names ending in ".museum". Over 500 museums have already requested their ".museum" domain names as part of an early registration process that will last through the end of October.


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Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as""icann.org"" is not an IDN."