Fight Over .Music Domain Approvals Continue
Fight Over .Music Domain Approvals Continue

The music industry still has concerns about the potential creation of a .music top-level domain name.

This time, they're taking their case to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, an agency of the Department of Commerce that is soliciting feedback on new proposed rules for how new top-level domains are granted. ICANN, the entity that administers the top-level domain name process, does so under a contract from the NTIA, and as such would have to follow any new requirements the agency sets, at least for the U.S. market.

The new proposed rules, among other things, would require ICANN or any other contractor of domain name functions to document how the proposed string has received consensus support from relevant stakeholders and is supported by the global public interest" before introducing new domain names like .music.

Early this year, a group of music industry entities that included the RIAA, A2IM, ASCAP and others wrote a letter to ICANN listing several concerns about the domain proposal. Their primary concern was that they wanted direct control over who could register a .music domain name. They don't want illegitimate online music services obtaining a .music domain, basically.

Last week, the same group of music industry associations reiterated these concerns to the NTIA in support of the agency's proposal to require stricter measures for measuring the support of any new domain name.

"We don't believe that ICANN has adequately addressed all of the concerns raised by relevant stakeholders in deciding to open the new [global top level domains] in the manner which was recently approved by ICANN's board," the letter reads (full text here), referring to ICANN's approval in June of a program to expand top level domains from the 22 accepted today to potentially hundreds more, including .music. The move means ICANN is formally accepting applications for the new domain names.

The RIAA and others behind the recent letters don't necessarily have a problem with the .music domain, but rather how the domain is awarded. At the heart of this issue is a debate over who "owns" the idea of music online. There are several music services operating online today that some music companies believe are operating outside the rules, but that are not necessarily illegal. It's a grey area.

Take Grooveshark. The streaming music service is licensed by EMI, yet being sued by Universal Music Group. Should it apply for a .music domain, would the music industry allow it to pass had they the control over its assignment? Good question.

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