Tuesday, 4 August 2009

IRT Recommendation and ICANN's Inconsistencies

It has been a very interesting experiment: the way ICANN has, so far, approached the addition of new gTLDs and the subsequent expansion of the Root. Where almost a year ago the new gTLDs were the contested issue, over the past three months (basically after the ICANN meeting in Sydney and up till now) the debate has shifted to ICANN's proposal on the Rights Protection Mechanisms - basically, the always controversial issue of trademark protection in the DNS. In all truth, it is not really ICANN's proposal per se; the IRT was an initiative of the Intellectual Property Constituency (IPC) and after today (August 4, 2009) it is officially dismantled.
Here is the weird thing, however. Although the meetings in London and New York focused on the trademark protection and the IRT report, the agenda of the similar meetings in Hong Kong and Abu Dhabi does not list any members of the IRT team (http://www.icann.org/en/topics/new-gtlds/consultation-outreach-en.htm). Why is that?
To be honest with you - I am not sure. The panel in both meetings (Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong) as well as the presentations were dominated by the ICANN staff. Does this mean that trademark protection was not so much discussed? This is also unclear. People have twitted and re-tweeted (http://twitter.com/kkomaitis) about remote participation not being available in Abu Dhabi and I know for a fact that remote participation was difficult in all previous meetings.
I really have many legitimate questions here: why was it so difficult for ICANN to ensure public participation? If the four meetings were meant to be the on the same issues, why the change of agenda and speakers in the last two meetings? Is ICANN seeing the western hemisphere's issues (NY and London meetings) different than the ones of the other part of the world? Why this inconsistency?
I find it surprising that this process has not stopped and the more I am engaged the more I understand the real power of ICANN. Especially, with the issue of trademark protection and the IRT recommendation, the whole process is purely and simply: ILLEGITIMATE.

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