US House Committee To Lend An Ear to IP Interests In Another New gTLD Beat Up

ICANN has been summoned to appear before the House Judiciary Committee who will hold a hearing called ICANN Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLD) Oversight Hearing. Getting the short straw from ICANN to appear has been Kurt Pritz, who will front a committee that seems mostly to have the ear of intellectual property interests.

“Arrayed against [Pritz] are a parade of intellectual property interests, some reasonable, some pur et dur lobbyists for complete corporate hegemony over all aspects of the Internet,” writes Antony Van Couvering on the Minds+Machiines blog. “Not invited are any existing registries, any potential candidates, anyone representing free-speech concerns or civil society. Except for Kurt, it’s all intellectual property interests, all the time.”

Van Couvering lists those attending as witnesses with their credentials. They are:

  • Steve Del Bianco, Net Choice. As a Washington insider, Steve Del Bianco is not a surprise choice. Last time he testified, he brandished a label-making machine, saying that new gTLDs were just labels. Expect a new prop or other easy-to-grasp soundbite prepared for the benefit of our elected representatives.
  • Mei-lan Stark, Fox Legal. I’m not familiar with this person, but I wouldn’t be going out on a limb to suppose that Fox Legal hates new gTLDs, especially given that “fox” is a common English word, which makes it hard to reserve entirely to themselves.
  • Steve Metalitz, Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP. Steve Metalitz sticks to his guns but he is someone looking for a solution, not a disruption.
  • Mike Palage, Pharos Global. Mike seems to love the exercise of government power, but sings to his own tune, preferably with a puzzling metaphor as lyrics.
  • Joshua Borne, CADNA. CADNA never met a restriction on domain names or free speech that it didn’t celebrate with a press release. A reliable source of the most extreme and outrageous positions.

CADNA, who has been strongly opposed to the introduction of new gTLDs said in a statement that:
“This hearing was absolutely necessary. Chairman Goodlatte, Ranking Member Watts and the Subcommittee will quickly learn through routine questioning that ICANN is badly in need of attention. It has failed time and time again to be responsive to the Internet community,” CADNA President Josh Bourne states. “This hearing is not about whether the ICANN model is right or wrong; the hearing is about whether ICANN is functioning properly and representing the interests of the Internet community in a manner commensurate with the responsibilities it was given.”

But CADNA has used some dubious statistics in its time against ICANN’s proposed new gTLDs, with Van Couvering demolishing these arguments in postings titled “Survey Shows Brands Don’t Register Defensively in New gTLDs” and “What Cost New gTLD Trademark Infringements to Brands?“, both back in February 2010.

Van Couvering writes that Pritz is a great choice to represent ICANN as “most of those testifying have been targeting Kurt Pritz for years now at ICANN meetings, and Kurt has always responded with civility.”

“It should be clear to everyone that there will be no new information coming out of this hearing. If previous meetings in front of this committee are any indication, the congresspeople have little insight into the issues. They will be reading the polemics handed to them by their lobbyists and staff, and will not be asking follow-up questions unless those too have been prepared.”

Van Couvering also believes the hearing should not derail the new gTLD process. And “while the House of Representatives can do what it wants, the ‘approved’ channel for governments to beat up on ICANN is the GAC, which is finally getting well integrated into the ICANN process and has become part of the ICANN community, whether you like its positions or not. Just another reason I’ve learned to stop worrying and love the GAC.”

To read Antony Van Couvering’s posting on the Minds+Machines blog in full, see:
www.mindsandmachines.com/2011/05/intellectual-property-interests-line-up-to-crucify-icann-in-congress