ICANN Panel Sings Familiar Tune in Denying .music Community Bid


Are Beyoncé and a kid playing a recorder part of the same community?

ICANN evaluators recently said no. A second applicant for the .music web domain failed to convince the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers that it represented a recognized community.

That analysis matters because successful community applicants to operate top-level domains win the right to operate the domains over other applicants. Meanwhile, unsuccessful community applicants must vie with other applicants for the same name in negotiations or a winner-take-all auction—and the other applicants usually have deeper pockets.

In the case of the music community denial, DotMusic Ltd. received 10 of 16 points in its evaluation but needed 14 to prevail. It lost all four available points in the “community establishment” category.

DotMusic tried to define a broad community of people engaged in music creation, development, advocacy, promotion and education. But the evaluators thought it failed to connect the music industry with amateurs who play music just for fun.

DotMusic may take solace in doing better than its competition.

Another .music applicant, .Music LLC, scored a mere three points in its October 2014 evaluation—even with the backing of the Recording Industry Association of America. (The RIAA switched horses and backed DotMusic’s bid too—all to no avail.)

If past patterns hold true, DotMusic’s next step will be a reconsideration request.

Defining communities to ICANN’s satisfaction has been the trickiest and most controversial part of the community application process. Twelve of the 24 evaluations have awarded zero points for community establishment.

Only five applicants have passed 24 evaluations to date, with one more evaluation for .kids pending. Of those five, .osaka is available for registration, while .eco, .spa, .hotel and .radio are all on-hold while competitors challenge their evaluations through ICANN’s appeals processes.

Barring a successful appeal, .music will head toward what could be an epic auction battle. DotMusic and .Music LLC would be pitted against the largest top-level domain portfolio registry— Donuts Inc.—as well as Amazon, Google and three others.

As Beyoncé might say, .music could be the best domain the community applicants never had. But it may soon be time to face the facts that it’s the one that got away.