Nov/Dec 2007                 DNJournal.com               The Domain Industry News Magazine

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Welcome to DN Journal Newsletter #17! This publication is sent only to subscribers who registered at DNJournal.com to receive our free monthly newsletter and email notifications when new articles are posted on our site. You may unsubscribe at any time by sending a removal request to editor@dnjournal.com.


 Back from an Unplanned Break

Our free monthly newsletter was emailed to subscribers for 16 consecutive months until this past July when my wife Diana and I closed on the purchase of a new house located just a few miles north of our previous location in Tampa, Florida. Moving to a new home and office for DN Journal has been a grueling process as it had to be juggled around business trips every few weeks (Seattle in August for Domain Roundtable, Los Angeles in September to research our recent Cover Story on Kevin Vo and Ammar Kubba

 DN Journal now originates from our new home 
office in Florida. There is a nice pond in back 
but unfortunately no time for fishing!

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East in Hollywood, Florida in October and back to the West Coast for this month's GeoDomain Expo in San Francisco.). 

Moving was also complicated by the fact that Diana and I are both pack rats, so we had a lot to move. I'm a media nut so I had thousands of books, CDs and DVDs to transport - most of which Diana thought I should get rid of. Diana is an antique collector (and once owned an antique store) but I thought most of her antiques were junk that she should get rid of. Funny how your perspective changes if it is your stuff someone has earmarked for the trash! Neither one of us was willing to budge so we moved it all. 

In the midst of all of that packing, unpacking and traveling I had to keep up with an already full editorial schedule. Something had to give, so this monthly opt-in newsletter went on hiatus from July through October. We are finally settled in the new place now, so barring another major disruption in life (which I assure you will not be moving - after this experience I am never moving again) we expect to get back on our regular monthly schedule in 2008 (this publication is sent out in the final week of each month to those who sign up to receive it). 

Internet Commerce Association Gains Traction As Threats Mount

In a fast moving industry like this, a lot of water has gone under the bridge since our last newsletter. We covered the key events on our site, but there was one development during the past few months that I think was particularly important for the industry as a whole that

should be expanded on. That was seeing new supporters step up during the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East conference in October to provide the money needed to keep the Internet Commerce Association funded for another year so the non-profit group 

can continue to give domain owners a voice on Capitol Hill, in front of ICANN and in communications with mainstream media outlets. 

As domain names have become more valuable, opponents are looking for any way they can to separate domain investors from their assets. That includes getting both UDRP procedures and laws changed to make it easier to take domains away from their current owners, including generic domains they have no right to. The only way to fight this disturbing trend is to band together and support an organization that can effectively counter these moves. That takes significant resources and to date, the ICA is the only viable organization that has formed to fill that role.  

For those not familiar with the non-profit organization, it was founded just over a year ago when a half-dozen concerned industry individuals and corporations donated $50,000 each to 

ICA's Phil Corwin (left) and Michael Collins

seed the effort. The money was used to hire an Executive Director and a Legal Counsel/Washington D.C. lobbyist. The latter dual role has been filled exceptionally well since day 1 by Phil Corwin. The current Executive Director is former Afternic Executive Michael Collins (who replaced the first ED Jude Augusta) and Michael has also proven to be a good fit. Those two are the only paid employees of the ICA. They answer to a Board of Directors that is subject to annual 
change, as are the organization's officers, so that new people and ideas get involved to broaden the group's base and keep it moving forward.

The six original founding board members were Frank Schilling (Name Administration, Inc. and the author of the popular SevenMile.com blog), iREIT, Oversee.net, Sedo, Straat Investments and the World Association of Domain Name Developers (the organization that stages the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conferences). A few months after the ICA was founded, the board invited to me join the board in the newly created role of Independent Director to broaden its base beyond corporate and large portfolio owners and to add transparency to the organization's operations by having a member of the industry media sit in on and have a vote in board decisions. 

The ICA board members do not receive (or want) anything from the organization. Quite the opposite - their participation in the ICA effort is costly to them in them both time spent and money donated, but they have made that sacrifice knowing that without such an organization in place, the rights of domain owners will be steadily whittled away until there is nothing left to build a reliable foundation on. 

Frank Schilling
One of six ICA founding members

In October, after one year in existence, the board held its annual meeting in Hollywood, Florida during the 2007 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East conference. At that meeting, original founding members iREIT, Frank Schilling and Straat Investments gave up their board seats. Now that the ICA has gotten off the ground, Schilling and Straat are turning their primary attention back to their businesses, though both remain active ICA members and strong financial supporters of the organization. Despite giving up his board seat (and vote on ICA issues) Schilling donated another $50,000 to help fund the ICA's second year. 

iREIT, which has undergone a change of leadership in the wake of a legal battle with Verizon, has left the ICA. Many felt iREIT's presence was an obstacle to increasing ICA support because the lawsuit Verizon filed against them centers on domains Verizon contends infringe upon their trademarks.

The ICA recently adopted a Code of Conduct that, among other things, requires members to "follow accepted trademark law and respect the brands and trademarks of others." It will be up to the court to decide the merits of the Verizon/iREIT case, but that is likely to be a long process. By departing the ICA now, iREIT has helped the organization move forward by eliminating their role in the organization as an issue. 

As iREIT left, four new donors, including TrafficZ.com, Reinvent Technology, Worldwide Media and an anonymous giver stepped up to fill the funding void by donating $25,000 each to the ICA effort. Many smaller portfolio owners also signed up at the standard $295 membership level after hearing Corwin detail the increasing threat to domain owners during a speech at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East. Corwin spoke to the same issues earlier this month at the GeoDomain Expo in San Francisco as he continues to log thousands of miles traveling wherever it is necessary to get the true story of the domain industry out.

For those of you who have not heard Corwin speak, I will have a follow-up to this piece in the next newsletter giving you specific details about the opposing interests who are lining up against domain owners. Corwin has been meeting those challenges head on and without him out there working on our behalf, we would already be sidelined in the critical game being played out in Washington, in the courts and before ICANN that will decide our financial futures. I would urge all domain owners to visit the ICA site and become familiar with the organization's mission. If you have any questions, contact Michael Collins through this link on the site and I'm sure he will be happy to answer them. 

In Phil Corwin, domain owners now have a man 
in Washington speaking up for their rights - 
but everyone's help is needed to keep him there.

You recognized an opportunity in domains and risked your capital to take advantage of those opportunities long before anyone else saw them. Others now want what you have and they want it without paying you what those assets are worth. Your livelihood is increasingly at risk - and I am talking about generic domain owners, not obvious TM infringers who will always be at risk (and rightfully so). To win the fight we need everyone on our side in the game.


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Sincerely,
Ron Jackson
Editor/Publisher
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