Testimony of Domain Name Hearings on Capitol Hill

A preview with links to testimony for Wednesday’s hearing.

Wednesday morning, the House Committee on the Judiciary will hold a hearing on the expansion of top level domain names. Four witnesses will testify: Doug Brent, Chief Operating Officer of ICANN, Richard Heath
President of International Trademark Association, Paul Stahura, Chief Executive Officer/President
eNOM, Inc., and Steve DelBianco, Executive Director of NetChoice.

Here’s a preview of their testimony:

Doug Brent (ICANN): …any resultant delay of the launch of the New gTLD Program will inhibit competition in the use of generic, non‐trademarked terms, and runs counter to the generally accepted view that market entry benefits consumers by expanding output and lowering price. The potential innovations and uses for the new gTLD namespace will be stifled if limitations to entry are imposed.

…Similarly, delaying the introduction of new gTLDs for unsubstantiated fears of price gouging by way of forcing defensive registrations – based upon the omission of price caps in registry contracts – is not a sufficient reason to delay the benefits of introducing competition into the DNS. GTLDs without price caps exist today, yet the registry operators of those gTLDs have not been the subjects of complaints of opportunistic behavior.

While the New gTLD Program already included several protections for intellectual property concerns, and even more protections are under consideration right now, those requesting additional economic studies to take into account the costs to trademark holders fail to provide any specific evidence to support why entry into an entire market should be delayed.

Heath (INTA): The correct time for the introduction of new gTLDs is when it can be clearly demonstrated that the introduction will not cause instability to the domain name system, and will produce improvements in consumer welfare that outweight the cost and harm that will affect Internet users and other stakeholders, including owners of intellectual property. INTA believes ICANN’s new gTLD program has not yet made this showing.

Stahura (eNOM): …despite the fact that as the introduction of competition through new gTLDs is part of ICANN’s charter and is called for in the Joint Project Agreement between ICANN and the U.S. Department of Commerce, true competition in top level domains has not occurred. Yes, there are some more TLDs then there were 10 years ago, but the doors have essentially remained closed for entrepreneurs like me who have ideas for generic top level domains and are willing to risk significant capital and time in starting new businesses that cannot only create jobs, but benefit consumers in many ways…

…For generic names, a wireless company cannot get clear.com except by paying hundreds of thousands of dollars on the “after market” (the non-Registry market) but they may be able to get clear.phones, clear.wire or clear.web for $50 or less when new gTLDs launch. That is a 10,000 fold price reduction, and for a better, more meaningful, name.

DelBianco (NetChoice)
: While we are grateful for your attention to this issue, we regret that Congress has been drawn into this contentious debate. If ICANN were properly accountable to users and other stakeholders, we would have been able to address our concerns and resolve our differences. As it happened, however, we need Congress and the Commerce Department to focus ICANN on its core mission and hold it accountable to stakeholders.

…ICANN’s planned expansion of top-level domains would make it even less efficient to guess at domains. As the goliath in search, Google will be the big winner form an expansion of TLDs, along with the companies earning fees for defensive registrations. Likely losers in the planned TLD expansion would be website owners who would buy defensive registrations to reduce the risks and costs to fight cybersquatting and attempts to defraud their customers. These concerns have not yet been adequately addressed by ICANN…

In advance of the hearing, Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse released a call for a full scale audit of ICANN, citing ten major problems.


  1. says

    I love how people like Paul Stahura make statements they cannot possibly believe, know will get side ways looks but dont care because after all, it’s all about money. Whatever happened to your name being worth something, Paul Stahura in my opinion is now worth $50.

    To add to it his logic is wrong, how many $50 gtld are you going to release to combat maket values of dot com’s? Stupidity, greed and shameless.

  2. says

    The hardest one to swallow was the guy from eNom. He seems to only like the free market as long as he has all the inventory and gets to set the price. Someone should really kick him in the nuts.

    He says he’s got all this significant time and capital to invest in developing generic domains, but I guess he’s only got $50 or so to spend on the domain.

    Speak for yourself douche bag. I’ve risked plenty of time and capital not only buying domain names but developing them into far more than a mini-site (not intended as a knock on mini-sites)

    Seriously, how did this guy manage to get important enough to be speaking at capital hill.

    It’s not just him though, it’s everyone that is pro gtld. Every last one of them will say or do anything to close the deal. I mean ANYTHING.

    On the flip side you take folks like Andrew here, or Mike Berkins, and even though neither seems thrilled about the relase of the gtlds, both seem to genuinly want to offer balanced and helpful suggestions to make it work, cause why not?

    Th worst part is what can congress do? Nothing right? JPA ends and all bets are off. I feel like they are just wasting our tax dollars on these pointless hearings that I wish weren’t pointless.

    An old saying goes “Never teach a pig to sing, it wastes your time and annoys the pig”.

    When this thing goes through it is going to be recorded in history as one of the biggest scandals of all time, and guys like Mr. eNom here are going to get their proper place in the history books. That’s right guys, this will be your legacy. Chew on that.

  3. says

    Just read those letters. More regurgitation of the worn out “bring innovation to the internet” mantra. Stahura even references the Carlton study … as if that was credible.

    That they continue to claim “consumer demand” is such a joke. Totally disingenuous. Sell the first 100,000 strong keyword reg’s in each tld until speculators go bankrupt. There’s their real business model couched behind “bring innovation to the internet”.

    Stahura says “Its obvious consumers would rather pay $10 to the new .MUSIC registry for bobs.music, or $10 for bobs.store (in a new .STORE gTLD) … but consumers get better names for lower cost with more open, generic meaningful TLDs.”

    He knows full well bobs.music and every other first name will be gobbled up on very first day. Consumers won’t have a clue. It’s all about registrars filling their accounts on new tld speculation by the masses. Case closed.

  4. says

    Why on earth is Doug Brent speaking for ICANN instead of Rod Beckstrom? Brent is going to stake a position that is going to come back to haunt ICANN and I am surprised that Beckstrom is allowing this. Brent sounds like he’s standing on the deck of the Titanic shouting, “What are you fools all worried about? It’s just a small iceberg and, besides, this ship is unsinkable.”

  5. says

    Thinkning about it some more, there are really only 2 alternative hypotheses other than these guys just being a bunch of Pigs

    a) They are just inept and don’t get it
    b) We are inept and we don’t get it

    My vote still goes with them being a bunch of Pigs.

  6. says

    Shades of “Wall Street”. Don’t trust eNom’s Stahura with your back. He tries to brand domainers as the “true” enemy and slings mud at anyone and everyone who might be in his way. Some brief examples:

    “It’s no wonder to me that the speculators who own these second level domains don’t want new TLDs.”

    And here’s mud in Verizon’s eye (though certainly well earned):

    “..although some large trademark holders profess dire consequences for trademarks if new TLDs are introduced, many of the issues of concern to them are already happening in an entirely unregulated way for many consumers. A large and growing number of ISPs currently resolve queries for non-existent domains to pay per click (PPC) websites. For example, a consumer who uses Verizon as their ISP in the United States and who types in a URL such as http://www.secure.financing will be taken to a website offering a variety of PPC links including, at the time of this writing, an offer – ‘Would You Like to Make $5,000 a Month Posting a Link on Google?’. Similarly, a Verizon customer who types in http://www.discountdrugs.pfizer will be returned a wealth of PPC links including those promoting products in competition with Pfizer.”

    Doesn’t eNom hold a large domain portfolio under a different name that they captured from their customers?

    • says

      “It’s no wonder to me that the speculators who own these second level domains don’t want new TLDs.”

      I’m confused by this statement, too. Demand Media is one of the biggest .com owners. They also peddle them through Acquire this Domain.

  7. Domain Investor says

    Enom quote –
    “the doors have essentially remained closed for entrepreneurs like me”

    Give me a break. Enom/Demand is probably worth $ 1/4 billion ++. As I have said many times, Enom gives nothing back to our industry. They are strictly “takers”.

    Domainers have made Enom what it is today. And, Enom will be the first one to sell us out.

  8. says

    This is Constantine Roussos (www.music.us) from the .music gTLD initiative.

    All of these assessments and comments are based on how things were traditionally run by registries.

    The .music extension will have different set of rules on who registers a .music domain name: the music community.

    Music.us has gathered over 800,000 signatures for .music. However the extension will be in a closed community. By no stretch of the imagination would someone be able to register bobs.music and park it or keep it for reselling purposes.

    While I am not too confident about opening the whole internet with any random TLD, I have to say you have to give some possible gTLDs some credit. I see .movie as an example.

    .music is about development and the monetization for the music industry. It will not be an extension for domainers / speculators. The keyword is community.

    It is all about the business plan and execution. I agree on most about the issue of domains. They mean nothing if they are just treated as names. The challenge is how can you solve certain issues eg help a certain community with some innovative technology and monetization methods and create something that is useful.

    I agree that all the new extensions have not been an overwhelming success. I agree the “real” public needs to know about the issues. In .music, it is the music community. The .music extension and music.us will not function in the best interest of domainers who prefer to park than develop. I am sorry but making general statements about all the gTLD initiatives does not give credit to communities like the music community that wants this.

    Unless the few hundred thousand musicians who signed up at http://www.music.us over the last few years for .music interest are not considered significant.

    Some will be a success and some will fail. Most people have not heard of .jobs, .travel, .pro or .tel. Why is that? I always believe in execution and a sound business plan. Just releasing domains to the general public and domainers is not my idea of a business plan.

    Does it add value to the internet? Does it add value to the extension’s stakeholders? In the case of .music, it definitely does. The backend we built for it with Music.us is quite innovative – the full 360 model for the music community.

    I think we need some competition against the .com monopoly. However, like most people here have said: we need to add value.


    Constantine Roussos

  9. says

    So you have 800,000 signatures but the registration will not be open to everyone and be a closed community?

    Beyond rap.music country.music etc what is the purpose? Will every new song or group have a .music with it? Even that will run it’s course. Great little gimmick to turn a quick buck by convincing the music ” community ” they need something.

    Up to today most industy advertisers have turned to hyphens and starting with the word THE. Spending $8 and using a .com seems a better choice, at least someone in the next 50 yrs will actually type that in.

  10. Mike says

    Then comes music.rap after rap.music. What about rap.music.rap? Or music.rap.music? Talk about bastardizing the name system! It’s already confusing enough.

    Following up on what David Castello said about Doug Brent speaking, it almost makes you think they are saving Rod Beckstrom for another time. Maybe they don’t want him to be the fall guy out of the gate, or they are going to hit ’em with the good cop / bad cop routine where Rod is the nice guy and Doug does the dirty attacking.

    So far, Doug is only taking the pro gTLD stance, and again has ignored the domain investor/owner communities outcry. To this date, ICANN has never heard us or even acknowledged us other than Rod peeking his head into these forums a couple, three times.

  11. says


    How does ICANN decide who should be awarded .music? Doesn’t even just allocating simply award a private monopoly in perpetuity?

    Where as using the second level only allows lots of companies and individuals to compete on an almost level playing field (OK .com has immediate advantage but if the offerings at other TLD’s like music.us or music.mobi sufficiently differentiate, the advantage is so great.)
    Since there can only ever be one .music. What happens if it is awarded to one of your competitors or they out bid you in an auction allocation? If new gTLDs are perceived to be definitive sources of information and sales in users’ minds won’t one of your competitors have a huge advantage over your businesses in the second level?

  12. says

    correction bad typo :( above message should have been the advantage isn’t so great

    Oh and thanks for the post – I visited music.com for the first time and found a great album to buy :)

  13. Ted says

    Not sure if anyone can believe a word from Constantine Roussos or what his motivation is for the gTLD name .music. Could it be greed? From what I’ve heard, thats the only reason!

  14. says

    @Constantine – Music.us is perfect. I’d love to see you put your creative energy behind THAT domain. Music.us has great potential NOW! You already have a winning domain right there. Get going!

    For the record, I am not against the introduction of a few new tld’s. But, the unlimited release proposal is indefensible, and a catastrophe in waiting for internet consumers and global businesses.

    If you have that many signatures for .music, then it could become one of three new tld releases for 2010, for example. That would be realistic, manageable, not overwhelm consumers with too many confusing choices, and allow for market assimilation.

    New tld releases need to be all about gradual introduction and adoption. Proponents of a tld orgy are driven by $ exploitation.

    Let’s hope that logic and moderation prevail. A few tld’s selectively released. Not every word in the dictionary dumped onto the internet like a bucket of chum in a fishbowl.

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