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The PunkLawyer Blog January 2011 - The PunkLawyer Blog

Archive for January, 2011

Whose Domain Is It Anyway?

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

I posted a while back about the introduction of new generic top level domains (gTLDs) by ICANN, the organization charged with regulating domains and the like on the internet.  Trademark owners are keeping an eye on the proposed process for registering for these new domains, as well as how potential domain disputes will be handled.  The buzz has already started, as the introduction of the .jobs domain recently sent a shudder through the online classified advertising community, as some of these sites provide job listings for free as opposed to the sites where businesses would have to pay to post jobs.

Another interesting domain related dispute that is before ICANN is that over the .music TLD.  As was reported this week on Billboard.biz, some of the trade organizations representing record labels and songwriters, among others, have sent a letter objecting to the proposed means of registering domain names with the .music extension.  Citing concerns about piracy sites being able to register for .music domains, the trade organizations expressed a desire for the ‘music community’ to have control over the granting of .music domains.  This control would include not granting a .music domain to parties offering free unlicensed music on their sites, a determination that could be difficult to make given all of the new sites and technologies for sharing content.  It will be interesting to see how this debate pans out, particularly for artists as well as new music technology companies creating music apps and the like.  Control of domain names has been an area of contention for artists over the years, who have signed contracts only to find out later that the contract gave their record label ownership and control of the artist’s domain name.  The issue of where independent artists seeking to register a .music domain would fall if control was given to the requesting parties would be an interesting one as well, particularly given all of the artists using social media and other platforms to share their music.  Hopefully once ICANN releases its procedures for registering these new gTLDs it will provide some clarity to situations like this.  I’ll be keeping an eye on these domain issues, not only for the blog but also because I’m speaking on a panel about gTLDs for trademark owners at the American Bar Association Section of Intellectual Property Law Annual Meeting in April.

As you are probably aware or have learned reading the posts here, there is quite a bit of activity going on at the intersection of new technologies, media, and the law.  I’m fascinated by this area and how the law develops in response to issues that might arise.  That’s why I’m really excited to have been invited to speak about legal issues in the use of social media at unGeeked Orlando March 3-5, 2011.  What is unGeeked?  It’s a 3 day social media, marketing and branding retreat designed to engage both the speakers and attendees.  It’s not your typical conference where a speaker will give a presentation with lots of slides and only a few minutes for questions.  At unGeeked you will get the chance to participate with the speakers, and build professional relationships while learning about how to leverage your brand.  For more information about the event, as well as the national and regional speakers, check out the website here.  If you’re interested, contact me for a 10% discount on registration.  I hope to see some of you there