08-01-97 Electronic Filings on Internet Domain Names

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Number: 144
From:     Russell Nelson <nelson@crynwr.com>
To:  NTIADC40.NTIAHQ40(dns)
Date:     8/1/97 7:15pm
Subject:  dns issues

I do not believe that multiple competing top-level international names
are sensible.  First, because it's not possible to map national
trademark laws onto an international registry.  Either you have to
give up on applying U.S. trademarks to domain names (which I would
heartily encourage but which I doubt would happen) and regard the DNS
as a separate namespace from any existing trademark system, OR you map
the domain name system into the national trademark laws.

The existing system, of mapping *every* national trademark onto the
DNS, is clearly broken.  Yellow Pages is a trademark in the UK, but
public domain in the US.  A direct mapping won't work either.  Take
the case of the US system.  Apple Records and Apple Computers both
have a trademark on "Apple".  No conflict in the trademark laws since
they are in different name spaces.  Not possible with the top-level
international .com namespace.

Even if you think the existing system is working, replicating it will
not.  If you allow competing top-level international registries,
you'll get *exactly* the same effect that you see with 800/888
numbers.  Everyone with a mnemonic 800 number wants the same 888
number.  If you allow .WEB, .BIZ, .SHOP, you'll find yourself with
PEPSI.WEB, PEPSI.BIZ, and PEPSI.SHOP.  Ownership of any such registry
will be a license to print money, so you will see a LOT of pressure to
create MANY top-level registries.

My recommendation is to have a one-year transition period from .com to
.com.us (&etc).  During the length of this period, no new names will
be allowed in .com.  At the end of the transition period, .com will no
longer function.

.arpa is an exception because it is programmed into many operating
systems for reverse resolution of domain names.

-- 
-russ <nelson@crynwr.com>    http://www.crynwr.com/~nelson
Crynwr Software supports freed software | PGPok | good luck, have fun!
521 Pleasant Valley Rd. | +1 315 268 1925 voice | taxes feed the naked
Potsdam, NY 13676-3213  | +1 315 268 9201 FAX   | and clothe the hungry.

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Number: 145
From:     Thomas Leavitt <leavitt@webcom.com>
To:  NTIADC40.NTIAHQ40(dns)
Date:     8/1/97 2:27pm
Subject:  DNS

My opinion is that this should be an entirely free-market system;
Carl Oppendal's analogy of the 800# system a good example.

The U.S. Government has no business and no authority to impose it's
particular opinions on the Internet. Neither does any other
nation-state.

With regards to NSI... they're simply incompetent. Talk to any ISP
that deals with them on a regular basis, and the technical staff will
spout horror stories at you non-stop. They're got no incentive to
do anything else. They have a "premier" support service... which
they don't charge anything for, but require that you sign a contract
which gives them substantial advantages relative to any newly
emerged competitors, for a three year period (as I recall). The contract

struck me, when I read it, as an unfair exploitation of their existing
monopoly.

The day NSI loses it's monopoly, they're toast... tens of thousands
of registrants will immediately switch. Until then, they are pretty
much free to charge whatever the market will bear, provide lousy
service, and tie up ISPs and service providers with contracts that
grant NSI substantial long term preferences, in the hope of improved
service. Very lame.

Simply require reciprocal references for TLD root name servers...
enable any TLD, within a defined standard (i.e., TLDs must be
no more than xxx letters long), and leave it at that. Require all
root servers to service all TLDs, and allow second level domain
holders to transfer service from one root server company to another,
as transparently as they can transfer 800 or 888 #s.

If NSI would simply make the AlterNIC's name root name server a
recognized
root server, and refer all queries for TLDs hosted by it, the problem
would be solved over-night. Make it a requirement that all 'NIC's
accept registrations for any second level domain, under any TLD,
and you've got a free market. I don't see what the problem is here...
technically, DNS is pretty simple to operate and configure.

Regards,
Thomas Leavitt
Executive Vice-President
Web Communications
(speaking for myself)

###
Number: 146
From:     Ron Fitzherbert <ron@penguin.net>
To:  NTIADC40.NTIAHQ40(dns)
Date:     8/1/97 11:10pm
Subject:  DNS Comments (Attached, ASCII)



  ---------------- Ronald J. Fitzherbert, President ---------------
                  Flying Penguin Productions Limited
              Arlington, Virginia & Austin, Texas  (USA)
  -------------------- http://www.penguin.net/ -------------------- 

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE 

[Docket No. 970613137-7137-01] 

Request for Comments on the Registration and Administration of Internet
Domain Names 

A. Appropriate Principles 

a. The statement is acceptable as given within certain bounds.
Competition should be encouraged no matter what.  However, expansion of
the domain name space needs to be carefully managed.

b. The statement is acceptable provided that input from government(s) is
encouraged, but government(s) in and of themselves do not set policy.
Policy should be developed independant of government(s).

c. The statement is acceptable.

d. The statement is acceptable.

e. The statement is acceptable.

f. The statement is acceptable.

B. General/Organizational Framework Issues 

Note: It is unclear whether these questions pertain to the current
system(s) (post-IAHC) or not.  Responses to the questions assume that they
pertain to post-IAHC activities.

1. The advantages are the global nature and self-governing system.  The
disadvantages are the US-centric costs involved (both to register in some
domains as well as to participate at the registrar level).

2. The current system could be improved by it being sanctioned by
international treaty and for costs to be based upon locality rather than a
global value.

3. The current domain name systems should be administered by non-profit
entities, which could include governments and could include underwriting
by the private sector or governments.  However, costs should be spread
across all entities involved (to take into account locality costs).

4. Currently there are structures in place to accomodate these needs.  The
only role government(s) should play would be to sanction these
organizations via international treaty.

5. No, generic top level domains should not be retired.  gTLD and ISO
domains are separate issues.

6. The open model should address most if not all of the technological
concerns that exist currently under the current closed model.  gTLD
registrars should not operate or control root servers, root server are a
truely global asset.

7. Mechanisms to ensure this are already in place, however there could be
problems as there currently are registrars who operate/manage root servers
which is recommended against above.

8. Any transition should be accomplished with minimal impact.  The
question does not specify what transition is in question and therefore no
firm answer can be given.

9. Thousands, but the 8 above cover most of the main points and there are
already organizations in place to address them as they arise.

C. Creation of New gTLDs 

10. There are no technical constrants that can not be overcome.  However,
the purpose of domain names is to make it easier to remember and identify
an IP address so one would think that the oversaturation of TLDs would
ruin the purpose behind domain names.

11. Yes, but the number of them should still be open to discussion.

12. No, unless too many gTLDs are created (see 10 above).

13. Yes.

14. (see 9 above)

D. Policies for Registries

15. No, all gTLDs should be open and shared by their very nature of being 
global. However, there could be a new classification of TLDs created that
had a limited role that would not be shared (such as the current .GOV,
.MIL, .EDU and .INT).

16. Yes and there is already mechanisms in place for this purpose.

17. No.

18. Yes, primarily in the business arena, however that is due to the lack
of requiring non-profit registrars which is highly recommended.
Individuals or corporations do not need to make a profit off of a global
resource.

19. No, gTLDs should all be shared.

20. Yes, the currently contracted registrar will be (and is) collecting
fees from registrants that go beyond the end of its contracted period
(which has already been staed by the NSF will not be renewed). This causes
an unfair challange to new registrars by allowing the current contract
holder to collect monies beyond a period when it will be authorized to
registrar names.

E. Trademark Issues 

21. Internet names should require International mark registration
separate from national registration in order to receive
recognition/protection.


22. A review should be conducted based on #21 above, and the same
International body who issues the marks should handle disputres and all
disputes should be resolved prior to the registration being completed.

23. (see #21 above).  National courts do not have the ability or autority
to act globally.

24. (see #21 above).

25. Yes, by using mechanisms provided for by the entity described in #21
above.

26. Costs would be carried by the registrant if the steps above were
followed.  The registrar would only need to verify a database to see that
the name was "usable".

27. No, no technological solutions to two parties using the same name.

28. (see #9 above).


Sincerely,

Ronald J. Fitzherbert
President
Flying Penguin Productions Limited
Austin, TX (USA)
ron@penguin.net

###
Number: 147
From:      Hal Varian <hal@alfred.sims.berkeley.edu>
To:        NTIADC40.NTIAHQ40(dns)
Date:      8/1/97 3:55pm
Subject:   Re: Electronic Filing of Comments on Internet Domain Names

              Comments on Internet Domain Name System
                         Carl Shapiro
                         Hal R. Varian
                         UC Berkeley

[This is an extract from a longer document entitled "US Government
Information Policy" which was sponsored by the Office of the Assistant
Secretary of Defense (Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence).]


The Domain Name System (DNS) links up ``domain names'' such
as {\tt info.sims.berkeley.edu} with IP addresses such as
{\tt 123.45.67.8}.  The purpose of this system is to allow users
to refer to use meaningful names when referencing Internet sites
rather than difficult-to-remember lists of digits.  Originally domain
names were assigned on a first-come-first-served basis by the Internet
Network Information Center (InterNIC) at no cost.  By the mid-90s, the
size of this task had become quite larger and the InterNIC was allowed
to charge a fee to register and maintain names.

One of the problems with the current system of domain name
registration is its interaction with trademark law.  There can be only
one {\tt sun.com} even though Sun Oil and Sun Microsystems might both
like that name.  Recently, the Internet Ad-Hoc Committee (IAHC) has
proposed adding several new top-level extensions ({\tt firm}, {\tt
store}, {\tt web}, {\tt arts}, {\tt rec}, {\tt nom} and {\tt info})
to enlarge the set of names available.
  
Unfortunately, this doesn't really help much with the trademark
problem.  Large firms will simply attempt to register their names in
all of these top-level domains.  It also doesn't help users find what
they want: how do I know whether I am looking for a {\tt firm} or a
{\tt store}?  A better long-run solution would be to harmonize the
top-level domain names with an industrial classification systems such
as the \htmladdnormallink{Standard Industrial Classification
  (SIC)}{http://www.nordexent.com/codes.htm}.  This would yield names
like {\tt sun.oil-gas} and {\tt sun.computer}, which would allow for
harmonization with trademark law {\it and\/} would help avoid user
confusion.

Difficulties arise with ``trademark dilution'' for very well-known
trademarks (like {\tt disney.com}) but dilution cases could be handled
on an ad hoc basis, as they are now.

The other problem would be achieving consensus on appropriate
shortened forms of the names and the appropriate granularity.  There
are 10 top level categories in the SIC codes with about 97 distinct
categories at the two-digit level.  What is important is that the
Internet names map onto the SIC classifications in a reasonable way,
not that the mapping be perfect.  It also may make more sense to use
UN industry classifications in order to encourage international
acceptance.  \htmladdnormallink{Agmon, Halpern, and Paulker
  [1996]}{http://www.law.georgetown.edu/lc/internic/domain1.html}
suggest essentially the same idea using the
\htmladdnormallink{International Trademark
  Classes}{http://www.naming.com/icclasses.html} defined by the World
Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Related problems arise in other aspects of managing the Internet.
Despite the fact that the Internet is highly decentralized, both
respect to its technology and its management structure, there are some
areas that could qualify as natural monopolies.  For example, the
Internet Assigned Number Authority (IANA) ensures that each Internet
domain has a unique IP address.  Although this process can be
decentralized to some degree, there should be some final authority for
resolving problems.  Such an authority would likely have to have some
legal standing, which would presumably be backed by the courts.  There
are other issues, such as the Domain Name System mentioned above,
where industry efforts at coordination that arise need to be
legitimized by legislation.

Such coordination roles may well involve some degree of monopoly
power, though the amounts of money involved are often quite small.
Deadweight loss considerations are much less important that quality of
service and operations efficiency.  One sensible solution is to put
the contract out for bid in the same way that local communities
contract for trash collection.  Tasks such as domain name registration
could be divided among a few contractors and their performance could
be compared.  This kind of ``yardstick competition'' may help provide
efficient and cost-effective service.