Guest post by Eliot Van Buskirk of Evolver.fm.
The internet is run by a loose consortium of wizards called ICANN. According to legends, which are true except that ICANN is mostly just a bunch of self-appointed people who gather to hammer out the internet rules every once in a while, this organization will announce the winning ideas for what “We The Internet” should do with several new domains. For music fans and the industry at large, the two big generic top-level domains (gTLDs) coming into play will be .music and .radio.
At some point in early 2013, after much debate, they will join .com, .edu, .fm, .tv and the rest of our gTLD pals. In the same way.edu connotes education, and .fm denotes music (only informally), these new domains will have certain purposes, and ideas vary greatly on what should be done with them. The RIAA proposes that .music be used only for official band websites with zero piracy on them, for example.
Evolver.fm caught up with Sedo director of strategic alliances Kathy Nielsen to find out what to expect. Sedo, which did not apply for any top-level domains itself, plans to handle auctions for some of the winning plans (if the RIAA’s idea wins, that could mean verifying that Kreayshawn.music goes to the actual Kreayshawn).
EDITOR'S NOTE: On Wednesday, ICANN will likely announce the competitors hoping to oversee the new .music domain. In addition the companies noted in this article dotMUSIC, founded by Constantine Roussos, began lobbying to establish the .music top level domain in 2005 and has the edge with the support of TuneCore, LyricFind, CD Baby, ReverbNation, The Orchard, INgrooves Fontana and many others in the industry.
“There are multiple proposals for .music, and we don’t know who will win,” said Nielsen. “Let’s say one applicant [the RIAA-backed FarFurther] wins. Let’s say there are two bands with the same name, and they both want their band name .music and both have rights to it. They can apply, and if they’re matching applications, that registry that runs .music might choose to send them to auction, and it would go to the highest bidder.”
So far, she says, most applicants are keeping quiet about their ideas “to maintain a competitive advantage,” so there’s not much more to know about the plans themselves until Wednesday — other than that there are multiple applicants for each doman (.music and .radio) and that we will know what their ideas are, in detail, as of this Wednesday.
However, one group with an alternate plan to the RIAA FarFurther’s proposal, LHL, says it has the backing of “artists, managers, producers, and lawyers” from the music industry.
We don’t know what they propose, but we do know this about the RIAA’s FarFurther plan: “They do intend to have this TLD restricted,” said Nielsen. “It wouldn’t be open to everyone and you’d have to join an organization [to use it]. They want to control it; they want it to be for the music industry, preventing any domains being used for piracy, they’d hold the rights to look at all the content, and crawl the site, and make sure that nobody’s violating any intellectual property right.”
So, basically, the RIAA’s proposal would turn the internet into what the RIAA always wished it was: A place where everyone played by its rules.