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July 24, 2000-- Newsletter #90
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HTMLGOODIES EXPRESS (tm)
July 24, 2000--Newsletter #90
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Greetings, Weekend Silicon Warriors,
I finally got my DSL lines installed. I am not and never have I claimed to be a hardware guy. I deal with software only so I hired a company to put the system in. I bought a package where I networked two computers together. I had already dropped 200 feet of Cat5 wire from room to room through the wall and attic when they arrived. I can do that menial labor stuff.
The speed is amazing. Here's an example. We set up a new office in the house complete with a new computer. I waited until the DSL was in before downloading any large programs. My first download was the 4-megabyte Real Player. The download took one minute, 18 seconds. I needed to upload around six megabytes of images to our server in California. That took about 3 minutes total.
Surfing is a dream as long as there isn't any net congestion. If you're surfing and a thousand people all want the same file, your DSL doesn't much matter. You'll be served when you're served. In the morning and later at night when the net is a little less crowded, surfing is like loading the pages off of your hard drive. CNN.com is one of my regular stops. It's pretty image intensive. I'm telling you, it pops up just about all in one shot. No sooner do you click than it's up.
The only downfall that I have found so far is that my email seems to be a lot slower, the connection I mean. It takes longer to connect to the pop server. Once the connection is made, the mail itself just flies.
I've installed security software and can now surf in a quarter the time I use to. What will I do with the rest of time I have? I know!
Now onto today's topic
We knew this was coming, it was just a question of when. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), meeting in Japan has apparently given the thumbs up to new top-level domains. I couldn't find a complete list, but those touted included .shop, .tel, and .news. Each will be a Top Level Domain (TLD) akin to the same stature as the common .com, .net, .org, and .edu.
ICANN stated that it would begin accepting submissions from companies that want to start selling the names in August. If all goes well, by the end of the year, you could be logging into Amazon.shop, and USATODAY.news.
However, .com and .net can be exchanged pretty easily. Something with a .net extension can work just the same as something with a .com. Perception aside, .com and .net are pretty much the same thing in terms of doing business.
The companies that request permission to sell the new TLDs, known as registrars, will need to explain to ICANN how they will go about disallowing confusion between the names. My guess is that the purchaser will need to provide proof of his or her intentions for the name. That's going to upset some people. Plus, once the name has been sold, what if the buyer simply ignores their original plan and decides to use the domain in a different way than first suggested.
In addition, what will the registrars do with regards to people creating cross-topic sites? Let's say I create a site that provides news about shopping. Do I buy a .shop or a .news? One might suggest that I can only have a .shop if I sell something. OK, fine. I'll sell a weekly magazine offering news about shopping. Now what?
The bigger Now what? question may very well be how will we stop cybersquatters from buying up these new TLDs? A clever cybersquatter can create a phony reason for buying as quickly as anyone else. Until the penalty for cybersquatting is made strong, the practice is going to go on because it's profitable. Often it's easier to just simply buy the name than to make a legal stink over it. It's that trademark argument that is going to start popping up that will be the fun to watch.
Where does trademark begin and end? I keep waiting for this legal battle to come up. Let's say I purchase NBC.shop. Of course, NBC is going to say that they should have it. If I can produce a legitimate reason why I wanted NBC, can I not simply suggest that they own NBC.com so leave me alone? That's totally different that NBC.shop. I am selling No Bake Cookies after all. Get it? NBC?
I ask that because if trademark is strong enough to cross into these new domain names, what's the point of offering them? The registrars simply need to prove that the people that own the .com are the same people that are trying to buy the .shop, .news, and .tel.
Those who would fight a cybersquatter buying something close to, or including, a .com domain name would certainly argue that simply changing the extension is not enough difference and is also protected under trademark. Well? Is it?
So, does this all mean that setting up these new domain extensions is not really a move to offer more names, but rather an attempt to make the net more navigation friendly? Is the decision to bring new names into the fold nothing more than an attempt to make all the news sites end with .news and all of the commerce sites to end with .shop? Will .net now be relegated to only networks? Will .com start to only represent company public relations pages?
Oh sure, you may go into Buy.com, but a quick redirect throws you over to Buy.shop. You never even see the .com.
The new domain extensions are being touted as a method to expand the Web and offer new names. I don't see it that way. Those who own the .com names will claim rights over the same names with different extensions through trademark law.
I see this as the beginning of a Web where extensions describe the site, probably the way it should have been from the beginning. There will be some legal wrangling over names, but when the dust settles and we ring in 2003, I'll bet .com, is little more than a welcome domain that will then send you to the shop domain or to the news domain or to the communication domain.
I don't see the new names expanding the web. I see them making the Web an easier place to negotiate, and that's good too. I also see trademark lawyers making out pretty well.
Thanks for reading. I'm off to surf some more. I have the time.
Joe Burns, Ph.D.
And remember: The next time you're invited to a wedding, drop this little piece of trivia. We always say the bride walks down the aisle. That may be true, but more than likely she walks down the middle aisle. That's actually called the nave. The aisles are the paths on the other sides of the sanctuary.