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Internet Commerce Association Membership

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In an effort to promote transparency, the Internet Commerce Association has revealed its membership directory. The membership is beginning to take shape as a “Who’s Who” in the domain investment and developer community. As the Internet Commerce Association is able to continue to spread their message, I think the membership will continue to expand. I still believe the ICA is the only trade group that is looking after the rights of domain registrants.

Domain Industry Tsunami

In 2004, Thailand, Indonesia, and nine other countries suffered one of the deadliest natural disasters in history, when a tsunami killed well over 200,000 people. Thousands of tourists and other people in the area were killed when an unexpected giant wave quickly swept onto land and through their villages. There were just a few seconds available to decide whether to climb a tree, enter a building with a solid foundation, or run as fast as possible to beat the wave. Many who made the wrong decision died while trying to survive. It was a terrible tragedy, and the affected areas are still in the process of recovering three years later.
An interesting thing happened just moments before the tsunami reached land that saved countless lives. As the ocean began to recede, many natives who saw this began running in the opposite direction. They grabbed their children, warned their friends, and they booked it as fast as they could run, leaving most of their possessions behind. They knew that a receding ocean meant a tsunami was about to devastate their area, and they didn’t stick around to see what would happen. They grabbed what they could and took cover as far away as their legs could take them in the five minutes they had.
While changes to the domain industry certainly are not

Rick's Last Blog Post

Rick posted that yesterday’s blog post will be his last. While Rick offers some poignant thoughts, I think one of the comments on his blog post sums things up best:

I hope you all realize what is going on here. The message should be loud and clear. Rick has been warning everybody all year to help him mount a defense against what is coming. Very few are paying attention, and very few are helping him build the fort to protect against the coming invaders. So, rather than waste is time blogging to people who don’t listen, he is leaving us to fend for ourselves and he will use his new found time to mount his own defense (probably by developing some of his domains and selling others). We have lost our visionary and a big industry voice.
WAKE UP PEOPLE! Rick stops blogging, Frank stops blogging, Yahoo kills arbitrage, Ask/Google, Snowe Bill.
The writing is on the wall.
Fast forward to 2010 and do a “Where are They Now” on the domainers of yesteryear. Some will have cashed out and be wealthy and happily retired. Some will have developed domains into businesses worth millions or maybe even billions. Most, however, will be EMPLOYEES working for a BOSS, wasting their hours thinking about the good old days and wondering what went wrong.” – Posted by: Robert Pearl

Everyone really needs to think about what is going on here. Our industry is changing. We had a much better chance a year ago when Rick first started discussing the problems that were on the horizon. They are no longer on the horizon – they are here. I hope it isn’t too late.

Join the ICA Already

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Mike Berkens has a great post that I think everyone who has invested in domain names should read. Large corporations have been trying to take our generic domain names for us for some time via UDRP, and the Snowe legislation will make it much, much easier and even less expensive.   Just to reiterate the most potentially damaging section of the Snowe legislation in case you might have missed it:
SEC. 3.(b)(1)(A)
“…such domain name is or contains the identical name or brand name of, or is confusingly similar to the name or brand name of a government office, nonprofit organization, business, or other entity;”

In short, this is considerably more broad than the Lanham Act, which targets cybersquatters from owning trademark-related domain names. The bill was presented as a “Anti-Phishing” bill, but you wouldn’t have to be involved in phishing or anything nefarious to have your domain name taken under this provision.
A company can claim that your generic domain name is confusingly similar to their name, and they can ask the Attorney General to go after the domain name owner.   The owner can be liable for up to $6,000,000 (yes, SIX MILLION DOLLARS) in damages. The threat of a lawsuit like this will have a severe impact on domain values. Who would spend $10k on a domain name if a larger company can poach it?
As I see it, the Internet Commerce Association is the only group standing up for domain investors. Sure, other large domain companies have much to lose, but we can’t rely on them to lobby for us.   Most will lobby for their own purposes.   When a large company files a UDRP against a trademark domain name that is making good PPC revenue, do you see the parking company help the owner defend his name so they can continue monetizing it? NO. So why should you rely on large companies to foot the bill?
The funny thing is that domain owners are mostly entrepreneurs trying to start their own business online. They are real go-getters. From the looks of Mike’s post, it seems that most domain owners are sitting on their hands. Why? Please tell me why you aren’t joining the ICA.
This isn’t a fund to pay for Rick’s next floral shirt or another addition to Frank’s palace.   THIS IS TO PREVENT THE SNOWE BILL FROM BEING PASSED TO SAVE THE DOMAIN INDUSTRY!
If you have no good reason not to do it, please join the ICA or make a donation – it’s 80% tax deductible. The industry needs everyone to help.
I will also match contributions – up to $1,000. In the comment box, mention Elliot’s Blog, and they will let me know how much I need to send.

Moniker Auction to Benefit Internet Commerce Association

 Moniker  recently announced that they will auction domain names at no cost to benefit the  Internet Commerce Association  at the TRAFFIC East conference in Orlando. This is a great opportunity to help the Internet Commerce Association while earning a tax deduction (for contributors) or enhancing your portfolio (for buyers). Moniker plans to auction the best 5 names in their live auction format, and the remaining names that were selected will be auctioned in the silent auction.Thank you to Moniker and TRAFFIC for supporting the rights of domain registrants by supporting the Internet Commerce Association. Please submit donated names to  Michael Collins  and he will forward them to Moniker.  

Jay: Part of Snowe Bill "Overreaching in its Authority"

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When I first read Jay’s analysis of the Snowe legislation, I was surprised that he wasn’t as concerned with it as many others in the industry. While I am no legal scholar, I’ve been doing my research on the Snowe Anti-Phishing Consumer Protection Act (S. 2661), and there are sections of the proposal that could really hurt small businesses with domain names, like my own. Michael Collins from the Internet Commerce Association and Michael Berkens from Most Wanted Domains both posted their viewpoints on Jay’s Domaintools blog, to which Jay asked follow-up questions.
Later yesterday afternoon, Michael Collins followed up his post and pointed out where the most concerning language lay within the proposed bill. Within hours, Jay responded in the comment section:

UPDATE BY JAY: Michael, You are quoting Section 3.(b)(1)(A) on page 7. You are right about that section. I think it is overreaching in its authority however Section 3.(a)(1)(A) is much better worded. Thankfully this is a draft bill and I will lobby to fix that wording in that section!

It is important that our industry leaders understand how this proposed bill could impact every small company with a domain name. The way it is written could give large companies the tool they need to take away our domain names if they think a name is confusing to their own name. The proposed legislation is dangerous to all domain owners, and it is nice that we will have Jay lobbying on behalf of domain owners.

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