New.net offers '.movie' domain names

International

New.net, an internet start-up launched last year aiming to speed up the domain name registration process, has released another new domain name suffix - '.movie'. New.net has entered more than 1,000 of the most popular official film sites into a catalogue so internet users can access the sites by typing in the name of the movie followed by '.movie'.

New.net is one of the most well-known companies providing alternate domain name roots, that is, domains that end with something other than the ICANN-approved endings like '.com', '.net' and '.org'. New.net offers internet users the chance to register one of 29 alternative global domain names. These include many which were dismissed by ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) in its review of domain name policy, like '.kids', '.shop' and '.xxx'.

The new domain name will not be sold however. New.net is aiming the '.movie' domain name squarely at film fans who can find, for example, the Spiderman movie site by typing in 'www.spiderman.movie' instead of the less obvious 'www.sony.com/spiderman'.

New.net's service has been welcomed by internet users who are frustrated by ICANN's delay in tackling the problems caused by the dwindling numbers of top-level domains (TLDs). New.net claims that over 75 million internet users have access to the new URLs, which may only be accessed via a technological fix either to the user's browser or the user's internet service provider (ISP). ISPs who partner with New.net modify their own name servers to accommodate New.net's domains. Alternatively, if an internet user's ISP does not support New.net domains, a downloadable 'plug-in' will enable the user's browser to recognize the new domain name.

This is a technological solution to the widespread perception of a lack of TLDs. What New.net is essentially doing is selling sub-domains of its own domain name. So, for example, if you buy the domain 'Simmons-Simmons.law' for $35, you are in fact buying 'simmons-simmons.law.new.net'. The browser plug-in simply removes the 'new.net' off the end. This pseudo-TLD looks to the user like a true TLD in the ICANN-coordinated Domain Name System, but is actually a third-level domain name.

ICANN has attacked alternative roots such as the system offered by New.net. ICANN claims that, besides technology concerns, the fundamental problem with New.net's unilateral approach is that it facilitates domain name conflicts across the Internet and breaks the notion of universal resolvability. 'Universal resolvability' means the ability to find the same answer to the same query from anywhere on the Internet. ICANN has expressed the view that adoption of the solution proposed by New.net would produce a dramatic change in the functionality of the Domain Name System. At the very least, it would appear that ICANN is taking the solution offered by New.net extremely seriously, which may lead to a re-think on the ICANN board as to how the issue of new TLDs will be dealt with in future.

Peter Brudenall, Simmons & Simmons, London

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