From: "Franklin, Mari" <>
To: NTIADC40.NTIAHQ40(dns),NTIADC40.SMTP40("hperritt@k...
Date: 4/30/98 9:29am
Subject: Comments to Proposed Rule re: Improvement of Technical Management of Internet Names and Addresses

Word 97 format

Mari Hoashi Franklin
Gooitech, Inc.
fax 847.879.4860

April 29, 1998

via email

Comment Re: NTIA 15 CFR Ch. XXIII, Docket #9802120368036-01
Improvement of Technical Management of Internet Names and Addresses
Proposed Rule, Request for Public Comment

In addressing the need to change the methods of managing Internet names and addresses, the NTIA proposes the introduction of competition through selective and controlled privatization of several aspects of the current government-run system. NTIA generally believes that the move to competition will create a more technically and commercially responsive system; will address the need for global participation in the management system; address trademark, forum shopping and jurisdictional challenges associated with Internet-based interactions; and acknowledge the inherent value in internet domain names. This comment addresses three issues raised by the Proposed Rule and Request for Public Comment dated 2/12/98: the concentration of power in U.S.-based entities, the need for the registry function to be a centralized function, and the need for TLD naming to be based on an arbitrary naming strategy.

The mechanism for management of Internet names and addresses is a legacy of the history of the Internet. First functioning to link military and research organizations, then moving into the link of academic institutions, the Internet is increasingly dominated by commercial traffic. As the Internet increases in its role of linking commercial applications, the demands on establishment and maintenance on technical and etiquette protocols continuously involve. More importantly, the use of the Internet in commerce introduces the notions of commercial value and property to the Internet space, a space previously dominated by non-commercial entities.

The Concentration of Management Power in the United States

The NTIA proposes centralizing certain functions under a not-for-profit US corporation with a globally representative board of directors. These centralized functions will include management of technical standards, management of traffic routing at the top level, operating the root server. As a US not-for-profit corporation, this organization will operate under relevant US corporation laws, leaving a fair amount of power in the hands of a U.S. entity. Although this objection is addressed to some extent through the proposal that the board be globally representative, it does still skew the organizational power in a US corporation. This may be overcome by one of two methods:

The Registry would be more effective as a non-competitive function

The NTIA suggest that the domain name registration has emerged as a thing that has inherent value. Similarly to trademarks, domain names carry an inherent value that is recognized by the fact that people will pay money to the registration holder for the right to use a specific domain name on the internet. The notion of property in Internet space is a notion of intangible property; intangible property has historically been protected through national laws for copyright, trademark and patent. The notion of protecting intellectual property through a registry is an important one, in part because the registry helps ensure the registrant and potential infringers that the subject matter can be presumed to be owned property. The more rigorous the registration process, or more "bullet-proof" the property claim is generally considered.

Because the registration of a domain name is considered valuable, and because much of the privatization of many of the Internet management processes is designed to make the Internet more "commerce-friendly," any revision in the domain name system should include better protection of domain names as property. This includes a need for a centralized registry that could be searched for conflicts, and a protocol for rejecting domain name applications that fail some set of standards (such as infringement of registered trademarks). The higher the due diligence performed before granting a registration, the more commerce-friendly the Internet space becomes.

Because trademark registrations are typically local registration (on state or national levels), some standard would have to be set for which registry or registries should be searched for trademark conflicts. One solution would be to acknowledge the international nature of the Internet space, and to protect against trademark infringement of domain names only for those registered with an international organization, such as the World Trade Organization or the United Nations. The other alternative would be to continue the domain name registration on the first come, first served basis that domain names are currently issued. This approach has the disadvantage of being commerce-unfriendly, especially for businesses that have the intellectual capital typical of many of the businesses doing commerce on the Internet. Because the best solution does seem to be some sort of due diligence before registration, and because it would be difficult to coordinate multiple registries in a single top-level domain, it appears best to have the registry operated as a centralized operation.

Portability of Top Level Domain Zones

Regarding the portability of top level domains, the NTIA supports greater use of .us and other country-related gTLDs to help alleviate the shortage of available addresses in some of the TLDs, such as .com. The push to geographical extensions is counterproductive in the international internet space, for three reasons: 1- these definitions can change over time, 2-many organizations are simply international in nature, and 3- some of the beauty of doing commerce on the Internet is the obfuscation of your actual geographical location.

The shortage appears to be more closely related to the fact that TLDs have traditionally been functional in nature, causing registrants to cluster to extensions like .com and shun geographically limiting extensions like .us. By moving to an arbitrary TLD naming schemes, you transition to a system more akin to area codes – the number 202 has no inherent meaning in an of itself, it just happens to be how you get to Washington, D.C. on a phone call. A better example still is the toll free number system, where 800, 888 or 900 could all get you to your intended target—all the customer cares is that s/he did not have to pay for the call.

Thank you for your consideration.

Mari Hoashi Franklin

Fourth Year Student, Chicago-Kent School of Law/ Illinois Institute of Technology

Director/ Sales Support, Gooitech, Inc.