.free

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Status: Proposed
Type: Generic
Category: Commerce
Priority #: 805 - Donuts (Over Keep, LLC)
1161 - Amazon
1468 - Uniregistry, Corp.
1802 - Google (Charleston Road Registry Inc.)

.free is a proposed new generic top-level domain name to ICANN's New gTLD Program.

Applicants

  1. Amazon- The company applied for the TLD through its office in Luxembourg and partnered with Neustar to provide back-end registry services. Its goal is to use the .free domain name space as dedicated platform for Amazon to promote innovation, provide secure online communication and interaction and to protect its intellectual property rights.[1]
  2. Donuts (Over Keep, LLC)- This is one of the 307 domain name strings filed by Donuts, a start-up registry company with $100 million in capital. Its investment in new gTLD applications alone was $56 million. Its main objective in applying for the TLD is to provide an online identity and expression for internet users that is currently unavailable. The company partnered with Demand Media to provide back-end registry services; AusRegistry Pty Ltd. to provide Domain Name System (DNS) services and Domain Name Service Security Extensions (DNSSEC); Equinix and SuperNap for datacenter facilities and infrastructure; and Iron Mountain for data escrow services.[2] This applicant submitted a Public Interest Commitment, which can be downloaded here.
  3. Google (Charleston Road Registry Inc.)- This is one of the 101 new domain name strings filed by the search engine giant. Its main objective in applying for the .free TLD is to provide a dedicated online space for enterprises, small businesses, groups or individuals engaged in marketing and promoting free products, services, events and other activities. The Google Registry platform will be used to ensure the efficiency and security of entire technical registry operations of the TLD.[3]
  4. Uniregistry, Corp.- This is one of the 54 new gTLDs filed by the company, which was founded by domainer Frank Schilling. Its plan is to operate the .free TLD with a flat pricing, fixed renewal cost and without price increase for the first 5 years. Uniregistry partnered with the Internet Systrems Consortium (ISC) to serve as its back-end registry service provider.[4]

Former Applicants

  1. Top Level Domain Holdings- This was one of the 68 new gTLDs filed by the company on its own behalf. Its objective was to provide a dedicated platform for companies, not-for-profit organizations and individuals to share free products and services through the .free domain name space. Its subsidiary, Minds + Machines was to serves as its back-end registry service provider.[5] This applicant submitted a Public Interest Commitment, which can be downloaded here.

.free was WITHDRAWN by TLDH, along with another 3 TLDs (.zulu, .spa, .sale), in April 2013.[6]

European Commission Communiqué

The European Commission flagged all applicants for .free outside of ICANN's defined remediation processes.

Just after ICANN's GAC issued its Early Warnings, which are advice given from one GAC member country to an applicant warning it of potential issues within its application, the European Commission issued a letter to all applicants within the new gTLD program. The letter highlights 58 applications that "could raise issues of compatibility with the existing legislation .. and/or with policy positions and objectives of the European Union." It notes a desire to open a dialogue with each offending applicant.

The Commission specifically notes that this objection is not a part of the GAC Early Warning process, and goes on to note that "the Commission does not consider itself legally bound to [ICANN] processes," given that there is not legal agreement between the two bodies.[7][8]

Free Registration

Domainer, blogger, and gTLD consultant, Michael Berkens, noted that the free registration of any domains could be a cause for a great amount of cybersquatting. Mr. Berkens noted this in a blog post in response to comments that ICANN's New gTLD Program as a whole will create rampant cybersquatting. He argues that this is not the case given the fact that new gTLDs will likely have a higher registration price than current TLDs, and therefore create a more costly entry barrier for cybersquatters. However, he notes that Google is likely to give away free registrations for at least one of its nearly 100 new TLD applications, and that should it get .free this space could become a clear problem for trademarks and IP rights with regards to cybersquatting and typosquatting.[9]

Name Collision Issues

In October 2013 ICANN released their final assessment and mitigation plan for the Name Collision issue that was facing the New gTLD program. On 18 November 2013, ICANN announced the applied-for strings that were eligible for an alternative path towards delegation that would allow applicants to proceed without waiting for further mitigation research and plans to be published. 25 strings, including .free, were not eligible for the alternative path, and will have to wait for more plans to be published before continuing towards delegation.[10]

References

  1. Application number: 1-1316-21923 for Amazon EU S.à r.l.
  2. Application number: 1-1465-93738 for Over Keep, LLC
  3. Application number: 1-1141-1851 for Charleston Road Registry Inc.
  4. Application number: 1-845-38175 for Uniregistry, Corp.
  5. Application number: 1-1039-66889 for Top Level Domain Holdings Limited
  6. TLDh withdrawing 4 new gTLD applications fee sale spa zulu en.PaperBlog.com Retrieved 9 May 2013
  7. DomainIncite.com/Docs Published 27 Nov 2012, Retrieved 11 Dec 2012
  8. Europe Rejects ICANNs Authority As it Warns of Problems with 58 New gTLDs, DomainIncite.com Published 27 Nov 2012, Retrieved 11 Dec 2012
  9. Forbes New gTLDs Rich New Territories for Cybersquatters Why Forbes is Wrong Published & Retrieved 14 Feb 2013
  10. Announcement 17 Nov 13, ICANN.org Retrieved 20 Feb 2014