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AFTRA Disses Domain Remake

Add the American Federation of Radio & Television Artists to the growing list of companies—including major advertisers, associations and the National Association of Broadcasters—calling on the Commerce Department to urge ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) to delay or scrap an unprecedented expansion in top-level domain names.

In June, ICANN approved allowing virtually any top-level Internet endings, pushing beyond the current list of 22 (such as .com, .org, .net) to a virtually unlimited number, including branded names like, say, .aftra or .nab.

As it now stands, applications for those new endings will be accepted starting Jan. 12, 2012.

In its letter, AFTRA, which represents more than 70,000 broadcast members, said that the change will be expensive and cause “irreparable harm to brand owners, small businesses and consumers.”

“To protect their intellectual property, businesses will need to purchase these Internet addresses at an extraordinarily high fee of $185,000 and then invest additional resources in surveillance and legal defense to ensure that cyber-squatters cannot harm a brand’s integrity, or pro! t from bad-faith domain registrations,” AFTRA representatives wrote. “In addition, consumers will be at high risk, as phishing and other forms of online fraud proliferate.”

AFTRA wants ICANN to hold off on opening up the domain land rush until the latter can demonstrate that expansion’s bene! ts will exceed the costs to the global Internet community.

Last week, advertising agency associations from around the world joined dozens of other business associations and individual companies—including Kellogg’s, Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble— to oppose the rollout, citing excessive costs to brands. The businesses pulled no punches, saying that not to do so would be failure to act in the public interest.

They have also formed the Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight (CRIDO) to “aggressively ! ght” the ICANN plan.

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